United Airlines does not plan to grant an exemption to military members and families who need to move their pets, despite an announcement from the Navy's chief of personnel to the contrary, United officials said Monday.
"We understand that there's many active military in the world that are looking toward us for assistance," said Charles Hobart, a United spokesman. "We understand that, we know that, we're looking into it -- it's a part of this top-to-bottom policy review."
United announced March 20 that it is suspending its pet moving program, known as PetSafe, until it has finished a system review after a series of recent pet transport disasters, including animals being delivered to the wrong families and the death of a small dog in an aircraft cabin.
All PetSafe reservations made before March 20 will be honored under the original policy, officials said. The review is expected to be finished by early May.
But the airline, which moved an estimated 3,000 animals for military families last year, had been the only pet transport service available to the 7,000 troops stationed on Guam's two military bases. The suspension announcement sparked panic among military families, who worry that without the service they'll be forced to abandon their animals during the upcoming busy military move season.
An announcement on the Navy's Chief of Personnel Facebook page Friday said that United had updated its policy to exempt troops on military move orders. But when military families called United to confirm the exemption, agents there said one did not exist.
Navy officials later removed the statement, instead posting an apology.
"We apologize for the confusion from today's earlier post on United's pet policy. We are getting further clarification and will update when we have obtained more information," the post said.
Hobart said he did not know where the Navy got the bad information, but guessed it came from a misunderstanding of a policy statement on the carrier's website.
"I think they may have misread," he said.
-- Amy Bushatz can be reached at email@example.com.