Effective March 3, United Airlines bans pets as checked baggage and adopts partner Continental’s PetSafe® program. PetSafe transports pets as cargo only, which is more expensive but safer for pets than transporting them in the cargo hold. United continues to allow passengers to bring small pets in the cabin.
Pet parents, particularly those in the military, are fuming over the additional costs for shipping their little pal. According to the military newspaper Stars and Stripes, a person flying with a pet from Japan to the United States currently paying around $283 will have to shell out between $1,440 to $3,869 under the new policy. The increase could result in families leaving their pets behind.
We understand the cost will be prohibitive for many and no one wants to part with their pet over the cost of transporting their furry pal. However, some praise should be given to United and Continental, which merged in 2010, for caring enough about their four-legged passengers. Shipping pets as cargo rather than checked luggage will lead to a better experience for pets, United spokeswoman Mary Ryan told ABCNews.com. Ryan added that pets will now have a dedicated staff and temperature-controlled vans instead of the inhospitable baggage compartment.
Also, keep in mind that members of Continental’s OnePass frequent flier program can earn miles through PetPass. OnePass members can earn one (1) OnePass mile for every dollar spent (including tax, fuel and security surcharges) when transporting a pet using Continental’s PetSafe service (in-cabin pets and service animals do not qualify for this program). Simply present your OnePass number at the time of booking your pet, and the miles will be credited to your account within 6 to 8 weeks.
More pets died on Delta than other airlines in 2011
Coincidentally, the news regarding the change in United’s pet policy came at the same time as the release of a government report stating that 35 pets died on airplanes last year. Delta Air Lines accounted for 19 of those deaths, three more than in 2010.
“The loss of any pet is unacceptable to us,” Delta spokesman Anthony Black told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “We are working to improve the processes and procedures to ensure that every pet arrives safely at its destination.”
American-based airlines are required to report any companion animal incidents that occur in the cargo holds of their planes, including any deaths, injuries, or losses of these pets. For a complete month-by-month breakdown of these animal incidents and the annual reports, see the U.S. Department of Transportation Aviation Consumer Protection and Enforcement’s Air Travel Consumer Report.