British Airways accidentally flies ‘traumatised’ labrador to Saudi Arabia

The dog ended up travelling 7,000 miles in the wrong direction

Helen Wilson-Beevers
Wednesday 21 December 2022 07:08 GMT
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Related video: British Airways plane makes U-turn four hours into journey to Egypt

A black labrador was accidentally flown 7,000 miles in the wrong direction on a British Airways flight earlier this month, leaving her “traumatised”, according to her owners.

The pet dog  – who is called Bluebell – was put on a flight to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, instead of travelling with her owners to Nashville, Tennessee, in the US. Bluebell’s journey had been arranged with cargo handling company IAG Cargo.

The mistake happened on 1 December, when James and Madison Miller began their journey to move overseas from Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire.

After travelling from Heathrow Airport on the long-haul flight, the couple went to collect Bluebell from customs staff at the airport  – only to be met by the wrong dog, a cockapoo puppy.

As reported by The Sun, Ms Miller said: “When I walked into the office everyone went totally white.”

“The people at BA looked up what happened and I couldn’t believe it when they said, ‘well, we’ve sent your dog to Saudi Arabia’. We wanted our Bluebell, not a little golden dog,” Ms Miller added.

Five-year-old rescue dog Bluebell was found to be in Riyadh and, according to The Mirror, “was eventually flown back to London Heathrow and then on to Nashville, spending a total of 60 hours in cargo.”

The couple allege that British Airways was “unwilling” to fly the dog directly back to Nashville, and instead say she “endured three long-haul international flights.”

Claiming that Bluebell was “traumatised” after the error, the owners allege this has caused thousands of pounds-worth of damage to their home as they now cannot leave her alone. The couple are asking British Airways to pay for medication and rehabilitation costs.

“We did everything right moving Bluebell to America with us, and it’s been an absolute nightmare. The first time we tried to leave her at home alone after the ordeal she ripped through her kennel in the first 10 minutes,” Mr Miller said.

“The next time she chewed through a wooden door crying the whole time,” he added, saying, “So now we can’t leave her - she could harm herself. Being apart from us is too traumatic for her.”

“We’re working closely with a vet team and behaviourist to help calm her anxiety, and she’s on anxiety medication three times a day. But we don’t know if she’ll ever be the same. It’s breaking our hearts,” Mr Miller added.

An IAG Cargo spokesperson said: “We are very sorry for the recent error that occurred during Bluebell’s trip to Nashville. We can confirm that she was on the first flight back and that every dog that travels long-haul with transfers will be checked and their water bowls replenished.”

The statement continues: “At London-Heathrow the team at Heathrow Animal Reception Centre cared for Bluebell, allowing her to stretch her legs, and receive refreshments prior to her onward journey home.

“We take the responsibility of caring for people’s loved animals seriously and remain in regular contact with the owners.”

The Independent has approached British Airways for comment.

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