Saturday night, just a day after Alaska Airlines increased its monitoring of ramp operations at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, a baggage worker threw a crate containing a border collie into the cargo hold of a plane instead of using a conveyor belt.
The dog’s owner, Lisa Ross of Woodinville, was watching from inside the terminal around 11 p.m. when a ramp worker picked up the crate holding her 40-pound dog, Jace, tipped it at a 45-degree angle and then heaved it over his head into the jet.
Fortunately, her 50-pound Australian shepherd, Tucker, was spared the trauma because the baggage handler couldn’t lift the crate.
Ross complained to an Alaska gate agent, who went down to the tarmac and spoke with the workers. They admitted throwing a dog but said it was a different one, Ross said.
Oh. Well, that’s okay then. I mean, as long as it was a different dog, then no harm done.
An Alaska supervisor told Ross that the airline would pay for any veterinarian bills, according to the Alaska incident report. “I do not know why the ramp agents didn’t use a belt loader when boarding the first dog except they must of [sic] been in a hurry,” the supervisor wrote in the report.
Or perhaps, they just really like throwing dogs.
Last May, Alaska fired its unionized ground crew and replaced them with low-priced contractors from Menzies Aviation. But as long as the Airline can keep its ticket prices down, I’m sure passengers will forgive the occasional dog tossing or sudden decompression at 22,000 feet.