U.S. Airways: Disastrous in-cabin pet policy, and rate hike
Alerted by reader Mia, I just called U.S. Airways to talk about the airline’s in-cabin pet policy. The customer service representative I spoke to confirmed that today, U.S. Air increased its fee for in-cabin pets to $125 each way (it had previously been $100). That’s unfortunate, but not unexpected, given that United, Continental and American all charge $125 for in-cabin pets.
What really disturbed me was hearing confirmation that U.S. Airways does not keep a cabin pet listing ahead of time. Instead, a traveler with an in-cabin pet must arrive at the airport she’s departing from early enough to ensure that her in-cabin pet has one of the available slots on board her flight. How many slots are available? U.S. Air has never specified a number — in the past, they said there was “limited” availability, and as of today, the relevant web page doesn’t even say that.
The customer service rep I spoke to suggested that I purchase a seat for my pet, if I wanted to be perfectly confident that she’d make it on board. Really? Is that the answer? I should pay hundreds of dollars for an empty seat? In fact, it’s not the answer, because having a second seat reservation would in no way guarantee that my in-cabin pet would be allowed on board. (Keep in mind, too, that even if I did purchase a companion seat, Chloe’s carrier would still be slotted in its under-seat space.)
I called U.S. Air again, a few hours later, because I realized that I hadn’t asked what happens to a traveler who learns that her in-cabin pet cannot travel on her flight. The customer service rep I spoke to told me that in the past, U.S. Air only allowed 2 in-cabin pets per flight (which really is “limited”). Now, they’re allowing 6 in-cabin pets per flight. She told me that the airline has never had a situation where a seventh pet owner showed up at the ticket counter. Pet travel is on the upswing, I told her — what will happen to that seventh owner? She told me that the owner’s trip would be canceled and that an airline credit would be issued for a future flight.
I was astonished and dismayed by our conversation. When I expressed my concern — and I did so with unusual moderation, given how astonished and dismayed I was — the customer service rep suggested that I leave a written comment with U.S. Air’s customer relations. Here’s the link, in case you want to leave your own comment. Please note that U.S. Air makes it difficult: You have to specify your upcoming flight date and destination to have your comment accepted, but I just typed in a generic departure date and destination. Until this policy changes, we will certainly not be flying on U.S. Air — and I can’t recommend that you do either.