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Mon, Feb 20, 2012

United's New 'Anti-Pet' Policy Sparks Military Backlash

Cost To Transport Pets Increases

United Airlines has recently announced changes to its pet transport policy that will increase the cost for military service members transporting their pets up to 1,300 percent. According to an article published in Stars & Stripes, military personnel transferring from the Asian Pacific region back to the United States currently pay an average of $283 to fly their pet home. The military contracts with United to provide transportation for military members at a reduced rate, but the cost for transporting pets is the service member's responsibility. Under the new policy due to go into effect on March 3, 2012, that cost will skyrocket to between $1,440 - $3,869.

"Service members and the flying public in general are outraged that the United-Continental merger is having such a negative impact on mans' best friend," said FlyersRights.org spokesman Kate Hanni. "They are literally forcing people to abandon their pets because they cannot afford to transport them. This specifically hurts our military servicemen and women serving overseas, who cannot afford this prohibitive new pricing."

Comments posted on the UAL Facebook page have been overwhelmingly negative and many have contacted FlyersRights.org for assistance. Jessica Simmons, a servicewoman stationed in Okinawa, reached out to us about her dilemma in trying to transport her cocker spaniel home and her concern about other pets and their fate. "Military service members have so many costs during a move and to charge a minimum of $1400 per pet when moving overseas just adds to the cost. Unfortunately, this may lead to pet abandonment on the island for those who can't afford their new prices."

FlyersRights.org says it attempted to contact United to seek clarification on their new policy, but an agent stated that she knew nothing about the planned changes. The company web site also includes no information about it. The organization says it will continue to follow this situation.

USA Today reports that United says shipping pets as cargo is not significantly more expensive that checking them as luggage from most places. Spokeswoman Mary Ryan said the prices changes were due to a government-mandated fee charged by a third-party handler for pets being transported from Japan.

FMI: www.flyersrights.org, www.united.com

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