Irvine, California – A family’s flight from Irvine to Jordan ended in desperation after their cat died of extreme heat in the hold of an airplane.
Sam the cat began his journey on June 8th with the owner Haba Mahmoud, who was flying from Los Angeles International Airport with her two daughters Taya and Maya Salman.
The family flew to Doha, where they planned a connecting flight to Jordan.
It was Taya’s last summer before college and she wanted to spend time with her cat Sam in Jordan before leaving.
The family said they flew on Qatar Airways, but after the 16-hour flight from Los Angeles to Doha, Qatar Airways refused to allow the family to check in with Sam. The temperature in the city was around 104 ° F and the connecting flight was delayed, the family said.
“He was in danger all our connecting flight time and we didn’t know where he was,” Taya told The Epoch Times, saying they had an inkling that Sam was stuck in the hold with other luggage without air conditioning on an extremely hot extremely hot day.
She continued: “Qatar has failed in many ways because they did not keep us informed. If there was a delay, they should have let us know and stepped in and said, ‘Hey, can you take care of your pet until we sort this out?’ or ‘Hey, we’ll take care of the pet’, but they didn’t do it at all. “
The situation worsened when the family boarded their connecting flight to Jordan.
“I was the second person to board the flight and when I got on I felt a huge wave of heat on my body,” Mahmoud said, and after asking the flight attendant if this would be the case all the time, they assured her the air conditioning would be on soon.
The cat Sam died while traveling from Los Angeles to Jordan with owner Haba Mahmoud and their two daughters Taya and Maya Salman. (Courtesy Taya Salman)
After takeoff, she said the air conditioning was not on and passengers were upset from the heat, and some called for ice to cool off.
Mahmoud said she went to the bathroom to wash her hands and the water was so hot she couldn’t use it. Then she went to speak to a flight attendant about her deep concern with Sam in the cargo below, and they assured her that he would be fine.
“It was horrible, we had to take our clothes off because we were sweating like crazy,” said Taya. “I was concerned about my mother’s health, she is a cancer patient and with the medication she takes it is important that her body maintains a certain temperature and that she cannot tolerate heat, which also puts her life at risk.”
The two and a half hour flight had air conditioning for only the last 20 minutes, the family said.
Upon arrival at the destination, the family received Sam back from Qatar Airways and he did not move.
“I touched the cage and it was really hot,” said Mahmoud. “And when I touched the cat’s body once, it was boiling.”
The family also said they know Sam died on the second flight because the cat’s cage had a label showing it was examined between flights, meaning he was alive at the time.
“That’s the problem with Qatar Airways, they will treat your animals like luggage or clothing,” said Taya. “You don’t care about your pets. They will stow them with your luggage, and as far as you know they could sit there suffocating. “
In addition, the family said the box Sam was in did not have the airline’s “Live Animal” label, which was also worrying as the box could easily have been placed around them with other luggage without them Cat would have room to breathe.
In the days since then, the family said Qatar Airways had opened an investigation to find out what happened, despite only being called once about the incident to tell them the investigation was still open.
“Sam was my best friend for 17 years and he was our baby,” said Taya, adding that his recent health tests showed that he was in excellent health. “He was so playful and nice, and he was there for my mom all of her time [cancer] Treatment.”
Sam had also made the international trip more than 10 times before without any problems.
To this day, the Qatar Airways family only says “We’re really sorry”, but nothing else. While nothing can bring Sam back, they want Qatar to re-evaluate the pet safety protocol on their planes to make sure this doesn’t happen to any other pet and improve communication with passengers traveling with animals.
When asked by The Epoch Times, Qatar Airways said, “Qatar Airways wholeheartedly apologizes for the tragic loss of our passenger’s pet cat, which is being fully investigated.
“Qatar Airways transports tens of thousands of animals every year with no problem and we are deeply concerned about this tragic loss. The airline has implemented strict procedures for the transport of live animals and has a state-of-the-art facility in Doha for their transport that meets all regulatory and legal requirements. “