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United relents on high-priced pet transport for military families

Post by John Gillie / The News Tribune on Feb. 29, 2012 at 11:34 am |
February 29, 2012 11:34 am

Faced with a backlash from angry military families, United Airlines has relented on its policy requiring military families to transport their pets as cargo, not as checked baggage when going to or returning from overseas posts.

United recently changed its pets transport policy to match that of its merger partner, Continental Airlines. That policy requires pets too large to be transported in the cabin to be handled as cargo through a third-party vendor.

Military families had complained that the third-party vendors were adding hundreds of dollars in handling fees to the bill for transporting their pets. That meant that for some financially-strapped military families that they’d have to leave their pets overseas when returning from an overseas assignment using United.

United is a contract carrier for the military meaning that military members must use that airline if they want the military to pay the fares of their spouses and children. Pet travel expenses were personal expenses for the families.

Military families complained that in some cases the change increased their pet’s fare from $250 as baggage to $2,000 including the third-party shipping company’s fee.

An on-line petition secured hundreds of signatures from military families upset by the change.

United said its policy reversal, which will allow pets to be transported as luggage, applies only to military families relocating under orders. Civilians unconnected with the military will continue to pay the higher fees.

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