Troops will pay average $350 to ship pets under new United policy
By TRAVIS J. TRITTEN | STARS AND STRIPES Published: February 24, 2012
CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — Military families who are changing duty stations will pay on average $300 to $400 to fly pets back to the U.S. on United Airlines under the policy announced by the airline Wednesday, according to a company spokeswoman.
For many servicemembers, the policy will mean an increase over the current $283 flat fee for pets checked as excess baggage, but it is much less than the $1,440 to $3,869 cargo cost that will be charged to all other United passengers beginning next month.
Military passengers with pets that weigh less than 10 pounds will pay less than the current flat fee, spokeswoman Mary Ryan wrote to Stars and Stripes in an email response.
The airline had planned to charge the full PetSafe cargo fee to servicemembers who make a permanent move back to the U.S. but changed course and announced a special exception earlier this week following thousands of online complaints about the high costs for flying pets.
“The fees for PetSafe depend on the size of the animal and the length of the trip,” Ryan wrote. “In some cases it will be less than what they paid before … and in some cases it might be a bit more.”
Under the special military program, servicemembers will continue to check their pets as luggage and will not pay a freight fee, she said.
United is a federal contract carrier that services many Pacific routes, so servicemembers traveling on official duty are often booked to fly on the airline at a reduced cost to the military. The cost to transport pets, however, must be paid by the servicemember.
The change in fees for pets is part of the airline’s merger with Continental Airlines, which is also contracted with the federal government and already charges the cargo fees for pets.