Thursday, February 16, 2012

United and Continental to start Gouging our Service Members -again

Save $ -let Fido fly himself
According to a resent story in Stars and Stripes, many servicemembers flying internationally on official orders could face steep fare increases for pets beginning next month due to a change in airline baggage policies. Following its resent merger with Continental Airlines, United Airlines has announced that on March 3 it will drop its current flat rate for pets that are checked as excess baggage and instead require all animals to be shipped as cargo. For those changing duty stations in the Pacific, the change could mean paying about $1,440 to $3,869 to fly with an animal back to the United States, depending on its size. Currently, United charges $283 for most pets.

United and Continental are both federal contract carriers, so servicemembers traveling on official duty are often booked to fly on the airlines at a reduced cost to the military, but the cost to transport pets must be paid by the servicemember.

This is going to be very hard on our people in uniform and pets are going to be left behind. The price increases are going to put the cost of transporting a pet out of reach for lower-ranking servicemembers who do not have the income to spend thousands of dollars on airline tickets for the family pet.

The impact in Europe is likely to be minimal, as starting this month, soldiers and their families began using the Defense Department-chartered Patriot Express for flights between Baltimore and Ramstein Air Base, instead of flying into or out of Frankfurt Airport. Patriot Express charges $110 to ship a pet, according to U.S. Army Europe. The Air Force also uses Patriot Express to move airmen relocating to and from Germany, and commercial carriers only when seats are not available on Patriot Express flights.Last year, about 1,500 soldiers and families went through Frankfurt Airport each month. The command hopes to have all incoming personnel flying into Ramstein by the end of September.

The merger between United and Continental created the world’s largest carrier. According to Continental’s website, that airline alone is contracted to handle more than 1,700 city-to-city routes for the military and federal government.

The point is that the airlines do not even try to claim that the severe increase in costs to what is basically a captive audience (as a result of the government contracts) are necessary due to increases in costs to the airlines, such as fuel or taxes. Instead they simply took the high fess charged by the larger airline for the sole purpose of increasing profits -at the expense of our military members and their families. The move is outrageous and the public (whom are mostly blissfully unaware of this blatant profiteering) should be letting Continental and United know this is unacceptable. I have already fired off a blistering letter and I hope some of you will as well. If enough people complain, the airlines will revert back to the lower rates -if no one says anything, they will be happy to stay with the higher rates and our military families will lose many of their loved family pets when they are transferred.

Live Long and Prosper....

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