Home PCS Shame on United for Lying to Families PCS’ing with Pets

Shame on United for Lying to Families PCS’ing with Pets

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February 22, I re-published a USA Today article which portrayed United Airlines as a military-friendly company, helping families and their pets PCS to far away destinations.  I was disgusted and dismayed to discover on May 27, this was not the case. Friends of ours received orders to Okinawa and wanted to take their 50-pound dog Kelly. She is a part of the family and they would never consider leaving her behind.

To move Kelly, they are being forced by UNITED to pay $1100+ to get their pet to Japan.

The “break” that they received was a $75 freight processing and fuel fee savings– Wow. Thanks United. Even worse, they are made to pay for the size of the crate by weight, not the size of the dog.

How many military families can afford to do this? Not many I fear. Pets are going to end up getting left behind, tearing a family apart in the process. Losing a pet only heightens an already stressful situation dealing with foreign customs, languages and adjusting to living life overseas. The simple fact is that children rely upon pets as a source of comfort and will never cope well to leaving a pet behind. What’s worse is that some pets may never find a suitable home and end up at a shelter. This is wrong on so many levels.

United – don’t tell us that you support the military in public and fleece them in private. It’s bullsh!t. I’m offended and the whole military community is too.

See original article below.

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After facing a backlash from pet-owning American military families stationed in Asia, United Airlines told the Houston Chronicle Wednesday it will add a special exception to its soon-changing pet program.

The families were upset about a change to the airline’s pet policy coming next month that could have cost them hundreds – even thousands – more dollars to fly their four-legged friends home at the end of their tours of duty. The change is part of the airline’s ongoing integration with Houston’s former hometown carrier, Continental Airlines.

As part of the merger, the two airlines’ parent company has selected what it considers the best policies and programs from each airline as it creates what it calls “the new United.” On March 3, the Chicago-based airline will switch to Continental’s pet program called PetSafe.  PetSafe – which is somewhat pricier than United’s program – requires pets that are too big to be carried in the cabin with their owners be checked as cargo rather than excess luggage, as they were with United.

All cargo shipped to the U.S. from some countries in Europe and Asia, including Japan, must be inspected by a third-party vendor before it is flown out. So pets shipped as cargo also will have to clear a vendor, which charges the airline a fee sometimes as high as several thousand dollars that is passed down to the pet owner.

An online petition opposing the policy change and its effect on military personnel had collected more than 2,400 unique signatures – many accompanied by livid comments.  In an interview Tuesday, United defended its decision to implement PetSafe and said the associated fee causing the cost increase is “not our fee.” But it also acknowledged the cost increase would be avoidable if the airline checked pets as excess luggage rather than cargo.

In a statement released Wednesday to the Houston Chronicle, the airline said it had reconsidered its policy and added an exception for military personnel.  ”As a result of the constructive feedback about our PetSafe Product, we more fully understand the impact of our implementation of this product on our military families,” the statement said. “We evaluated our policies and developed a special process for military families traveling on Permanent Change of Station (PCS) or Orders only. This process allows them to transport their four-legged family members using the PetSafe product without the need for a third-party freight forwarder.”

The statement said military families should contact United’s PetSafe desk for details on the special process. The number for the 24-hour PetSafe Desk is 800-575-3335 or 832-235-1541.

Article by Kiah Collier, kiah.collier@chron.com, originally published in USA Today.

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