Dog flown from Heathrow to Saudi Arabia instead of Nashville after BA cargo mistake

Five-year-old Bluebell is now 'traumatised' and suffering with behavioural problems, owners say

Bluebell spent 60 hours in cargo. Photo: Madison Miller
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A family pet was flown thousands of miles in the wrong direction to Saudi Arabia instead of the US after a mistake by British Airways’ cargo handlers.

Madison Miller was relocating to Nashville with her husband James when she boarded a BA flight in London, Heathrow, believing their dog had been placed in the hold.

But after attempting to pick Bluebell up on arrival in the US, she was told an error had been made and the five-year-old dog had been flown to Riyadh instead.

The black Labrador mix is now back with her owners after a 60-hour separation, but they say she is suffering with behavioural problems following her ordeal.

IAG Cargo, which handles BA cargo, has apologised.

Mr Miller wrote on Facebook: “Imagine you get off a plane and your wife calls you in tears ‘They've shipped Bluebell to Saudi Arabia … I thought Bluebell was with me the entire time.' Instead, she was on a plane to Riyadh, seven hours in the wrong direction.

Bluebell was confined to her crate through the ordeal. Photo: Madison Miller

“What followed next was 60 hours of straight hell. Through a delirious phase of jet lag and tears, we were finally reunited with our dog. She was confined to her crate almost the entire time. She was scared, frightened, and alone. We felt paralysed to protect a member of our family.”

He said Bluebell had been hurt by the experience and is now fearful and destructive. The couple are seeking compensation from British Airways and IAG to pay for training to help her cope.

“She's a shell of herself, she's destructive, protective over resources (as she was barely fed), and in a constant panic. We'll need medication and training just to help her cope.”

He said all they wanted was compensation to help pay for the costs, but the airline and cargo handler offered us 50,000 Avios points.

“Not once, but twice; even when we pushed back and explained our costs to them,” he said.

“Their position was clear — they couldn't compensate us as all costs were 'absorbed by the airline'. Whatever that means.

“IAG group (their owner) takes $8.5 billion in revenue a year.

“This is unacceptable, and inhuman, and it makes me sick. This has turned our lives upside down.”

IAG Cargo said it understood how upsetting it had been for the family.

Bluebell pictured in the UK. Photo: Madison Miller

It added: “During Bluebell’s time with us she received refreshments frequently and had time outside to stretch her legs — including regular walks and eight hours with the team at the Heathrow animal reception centre who cared for her.

“Despite these measures, we understand that this has been an upsetting situation for Bluebell and her owners, and remain in contact with them to resolve the situation.”

Updated: December 22, 2022, 3:15 AM