United Airlines, Facing Backlash, Retreats on Expensive Pet Fee for Military

United Airlines’ new policy for pets too large for cabin travel – which includes reclassifying these animals as cargo instead of checked baggage – drew protests from many, since it would force pet owners traveling from destinations like Japan to pay as much as $3,000 or more for animal transport.

The airline has now beat a retreat on the fee, waiving it for many military members.

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Many of the protestors were Japan-based military U.S. members and their families where, according to Japanese law, cargo “must receive customs clearance through a third-party vendor” which results in the huge fee.

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United now says because of “constructive feedback” on its Facebook page and elsewhere (translation: howls of protest) – it decided to revise the policy.

Some but Not All Military Members Exempt from High Fee

The revision affects military personnel only, and only those who are traveling on orders or changing duty stations. That was enough to turn comments on United’s Facebook page from boos to hurrahs. The airline notes that military traveling with pets should contact United for details.

To be clear: non-military pet-owning passengers are still subject to the higher prices, and may wish to think twice before transporting an animal to and from certain countries.

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Published: February 24, 2012