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United will fly Guam-based troops’ pets despite suspension

United has announced an exception to its suspension of new PetSafe reservations for servicemembers and State Department personnel shipping their pets out of Guam.

STEPHEN BEARD/U.S. MARINE CORPS PHOTO

By LEON COOK | STARS AND STRIPES Published: April 3, 2018

United Airlines will resume flying servicemembers’ pets off Guam until the end of the month despite a worldwide suspension of its pet shipment service, the carrier announced Tuesday.

“Effective April 3, we are allowing an exception to our suspension of new PetSafe reservations for members of the military and their spouses, and State Department Foreign Service personnel and their spouses, who wish to travel with or ship their pets out of Guam between April 3 and April 30,” United said in a statement posted on its website.

The exception also applies to Department of Defense civilians but doesn’t include military contractors working on the island, United PetSafe staff said.

Guam’s congressional representative-at-large, Madeleine Bordallo, said in a statement that she was “very pleased that United Airlines is working to accommodate Guam families and their pets, including our military service members who are re-deployed.”

Bordallo said she would work with the Defense Department, other federal agencies and airlines serving Guam to make sure pets could travel safely off the island with their owners.

United has suspended its pet shipment program until no later than May 1 following multiple delivery mistakes and the death of a dog placed in an overhead bin at the behest of a flight attendant last month.

The suspension was a voluntary action to “conduct a thorough and systematic review of our Petsafe program, and make improvements that will ensure the best possible experience for our customers and their pets,” United said in earlier statement.

Because Air Mobility Command rotator flights don’t visit Guam and United is the only carrier flying directly to the U.S. from the island, United's decision to suspend pet shipments drew ire from military families and servicemembers stationed in the U.S. territory.

Some people scheduled to leave Guam for new duty stations thought they would have to find accommodation for their pets until the ban was lifted.

Troops on Guam aren’t the only servicemembers impacted by the suspension. A Coast Guardsman in Japan said last week that she’s facing a $31,000 bill to ship her 221-pound English mastiff to the U.S. on a Japanese carrier.

cook.leon@stripes.com
Twitter: @LeonCook12

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