United Airlines Hates America. And Cats.

Those of you who read all the other FS blogs have already heard this story and may go about your business, but if the rest of you could pay attention for a minute I’d appreciate it. There’s a cat picture in it for you.

I have posted before about the trials of flying overseas with pets, but things are getting worse. United recently changed its pet policy in a way that makes things hugely more complicated and expensive to fly overseas with a pet, especially if you have to make a connection with a different carrier. You can’t send pets as extra baggage anymore, only as cargo, and United won’t transfer them to your connecting flight. This means you’d have to get off flight A, get thee to the cargo terminal, collect your pet, and go back to the passenger terminal to check them in for flight B, sometimes in the span of a pretty tight layover.

Recognizing the hardships this could present to the dedicated hard-working government employees who sacrifice for their country, United instituted a waiver for military personnel moving overseas on government orders. FSOs were not included. The American Foreign Service Association ran a letter-writing campaign asking United to waive the policy for FSOs as well, and in response were told that the policy would be limited to the military only, “in recognition of the commitment made by members of our military and the family members (including the four-legged ones) who share in their sacrifice.”

Because FSOs don’t make a commitment. They don’t sacrifice. It’s not like the government ever sends FSOs anywhere isolated or dangerous for their country. It’s not like they ever put their lives on the line in the service of the United States of America. And there’s absolutely no reason they might want to be able to bring their pets with them. Surely FSOs never need a furry snuggle when the power goes out in Deepest Darkest Africa. Of course not. They’re too busy living it up at fancy cocktail parties in Vienna or whatever.

Look at this face, United. How can you say no to this?

I have mixed feelings whenever FSOs complain that our service isn’t really appreciated like the military’s is. It can seem a little whiny and pathetic. I do my job because I like it and I think it’s important, not because people tell me how awesome I am. But this time I completely agree. We’re not looking for applause and adulation. We don’t need medals or anything. We just want to bring our pets to post without a ridiculous hassle and major expense. Is that so much to ask?

United seems to think so. And even though my parents live at a big United hub, even though I have a bunch of flyer miles with them and even have their loyalty credit card, I will do my damnedest to avoid flying United until they think otherwise.