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"Frequent flyer" complaint to AA threatens dog and cat rescue program

"Frequent flyer" complaint to AA threatens dog and cat rescue program

 
Old Jun 5, 13, 6:08 pm
  #1  
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Thumbs down "Frequent flyer" complaint to AA threatens dog and cat rescue program

http://virginislandsdailynews.com/ne...rays-1.1500374

The Humane Society of St. Thomas-St. John partnered with the local American Airlines operator to start the program about two years ago.

With the blessing of the airline's regional management in Puerto Rico, American Airlines agreed to waive the cost to fly a shelter dog or a cat from St. Thomas to the mainland, Humane Society shelter manager Rhea Vasconcellos said.

The agreement allows any traveler already booked on an American flight to chaperone a local shelter animal to another shelter or adoptive family in the states.

According to Vasconcellos, a frequent flier was behind a large group checking in dogs for transport at the American Airlines ticket counter at King Airport.

When the flight arrived at its destination, that person complained to the corporate company about it, she said.

"We wait on line just like everyone else," Vasconcellos said. "It's not like we jumped in front of him."

She did not have any other information about the complaint.
JUNE 15, 2013 UPDATE: AA has ended its sponsorship of the program.

http://stthomassource.com/content/ne...-wings-program

American Airlines ended its sponsorship of Humane Society of St. Thomas’ Pets with Wings program that provided free air transportation for dogs to the mainland, American said in a prepared statement on Friday.

“After careful review during our company’s restructuring process and due to the large number of requests we receive, we are unable to continue to support this program,” American Airlines communications manager Dori Alvarez said via email after two requests for information. “We continue to evaluate community requests on a case by case basis.”

Alvarez’ email indicated that “American Airlines is committed to serving the communities in which we live, work and do business. We are proud of our work with local organizations in the U.S. Virgin Islands, including with the Humane Society, which we have helped to transport shelter dogs when possible.”

Last edited by usviflyer; Jun 14, 13 at 11:30 pm
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Old Jun 5, 13, 7:34 pm
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That frequent flier may be reading this!
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Old Jun 5, 13, 8:13 pm
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Pets from Paradise Threatened

For many years AA has supported the Pets from Paradise Program that transports homeless pets from the USVI to the mainland. This program has saved hundreds of lives of stray pets over the years. Now, according to the events below, AA is considering stopping this wonderful program because of the complaint of one passenger. Let's hope AA continues this great program that saves the lives of hundreds of pets a year.

http://virginislandsdailynews.com/ne...rays-1.1500374
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Old Jun 5, 13, 8:17 pm
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Let's please not start another thread about animals on planes. Views are going to be highly polarized, brown stuff will hit the fan and it will all end in tears
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Old Jun 5, 13, 8:29 pm
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Originally Posted by JHark View Post
For many years AA has supported the Pets from Paradise Program that transports homeless pets from the USVI to the mainland. This program has saved hundreds of lives of stray pets over the years. Now, according to the events below, AA is considering stopping this wonderful program because of the complaint of one passenger. Let's hope AA continues this great program that saves the lives of hundreds of pets a year.

http://virginislandsdailynews.com/ne...rays-1.1500374
Were you actually there and do you know how much impact to check in was caused by a group turning up each with a dog to check in?

The complaint of the passenger may well be reasonable ; suppose every passenger decided to take a dog.

If this group did cause a long delay to the checking in of passengers, it would seem reasonable to assess whether some changes or limits on how many can be taken at any one time should perhaps be imposed
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Old Jun 5, 13, 8:34 pm
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Originally Posted by MarkedMan View Post
Let's please not start another thread about animals on planes. Views are going to be highly polarized, brown stuff will hit the fan and it will all end in tears
It's not evident from the story that the animals are even in the cabin. Are there really people who get that riled up about dogs and cats being kept in the cargo hold? Especially when the options are either 1) cargo hold animal or 2) dead animal?
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Old Jun 5, 13, 8:48 pm
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No... and not even the complainant in this case.... It seems the number of folks checking in animals may have caused delays for everyone else...Does it take longer?? I don't know.

If however this program causes unusually long delays at check in for others then - as said in the other thread - perhaps some "per-flight" limits might be sensible?

(Or some special arrangements made???)
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Old Jun 5, 13, 8:57 pm
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Somebody corrected me if I'm misunderstanding something.

AA's PR regional office agreed to waive the pet fee for animals being flown from this shelter to the mainland.

There was a large group checking-in animals/kennels at the airport. (Hold animals, from the photo).

There was a FF behind them that got upset at the delay *at the check-in counter*

The FF complained to AA corporate about delays at the counter (due to hold animals on fee waivers).

AA corporate may now revoke the shelter's fee waiver.
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Old Jun 5, 13, 10:23 pm
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All the statements seem accurate

What is missing is that AA could choose to revoke the fee waiver at any time anyway; if AA did choose to revoke it, I would suspect that there are other events that may have occurred or would be using this as an excuse

e.g. perhaps the shelter is causing problems by having large numbers being taken on any one flight - I would be very surprised if it does not take a lot longer to check person + animal in rather than just the person

AA "may" choose to give all passengers on AA142 next monday a pony
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Old Jun 5, 13, 10:32 pm
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Originally Posted by warthog1984 View Post
Somebody corrected me if I'm misunderstanding something.

AA's PR regional office agreed to waive the pet fee for animals being flown from this shelter to the mainland.

There was a large group checking-in animals/kennels at the airport. (Hold animals, from the photo).

There was a FF behind them that got upset at the delay *at the check-in counter*

The FF complained to AA corporate about delays at the counter (due to hold animals on fee waivers).

AA corporate may now revoke the shelter's fee waiver.
Sounds right to me.

What I'm curious about is whether this "frequent flyer" was checking-in at the business class counter or was in the regular line with the kettles... I guess it's possible that one or more people in the group were traveling in business class or have elite status (rarer here than on the mainland), but I somehow doubt it.
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Old Jun 5, 13, 10:42 pm
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Originally Posted by Dave Noble View Post
All the statements seem accurate

What is missing is that AA could choose to revoke the fee waiver at any time anyway; if AA did choose to revoke it, I would suspect that there are other events that may have occurred or would be using this as an excuse

e.g. perhaps the shelter is causing problems by having large numbers being taken on any one flight - I would be very surprised if it does not take a lot longer to check person + animal in rather than just the person

AA "may" choose to give all passengers on AA142 next monday a pony
I've never checked in an animal, but everything at the STT airport is just plain slow, period... Combine a predominently leisure travel market (inexperienced travelers, lots of checked bags), workers who are on island time, all passengers having to go through customs screening for "domestic" flights back to the mainland, along with all the normal airport issues, and everything can drag on forever (hence why all the flights that land here from the mainland advise passengers to arrive 3 hours early for their return flights).

Of course, all this is known to anyone who has flown down here more than once, so I'm wondering if the complainant hasn't been here before and thinks the slow movement of the line was due to the dogs and not just STT being STT.
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Old Jun 6, 13, 1:20 am
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There is a lot of manual paperwork involved when you check a dog as baggage. Seeing these are shelter dogs where the passengers checking them in don't know the procedures or the numbers (a seasoned passenger can tell them "my dog weighs 78 pounds including the kennel or "it's 11 points" or even "no need to fill all this out again because it's still attached to the kennel from the last flight" which speeds thing up considerably) this can easily take twenty minutes and more per animal even at, say, DFW.
Combine that with the general situation described by usviflyer above and the "frequent flier" in line behind the group getting upset is understandable.

edit: There is limitations in place on how many dogs can be taken on any given flight already. The compartments only hold a finite number of crates. I once had to rebook and wait one day when trying to fly from MXP to JFK as there were a bunch of dog show attendees checking in dogs who turned up at the airport earlier than me and there was no more space for my dog.

Last edited by bhomburg; Jun 6, 13 at 1:33 am
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Old Jun 6, 13, 2:26 am
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Do we really know if it was the result of only one complaint?

Gotta love this math though
"Vasconcellos said more than 150 animals have been flown out of the territory by American Airlines in the last year, which means the lives of about 300 animals have been spared. When an animal is flown off-island, it frees up space in the St. Thomas shelter, saving two lives, she said."

Doesn't it also prevent an animal in another shelter from being spared?
After all, there are plenty of animals in the states that go unadopted without the need to import them from USVI.
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Old Jun 6, 13, 2:58 am
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Originally Posted by mvoight View Post
Doesn't it also prevent an animal in another shelter from being spared? After all, there are plenty of animals in the states that go unadopted without the need to import them from USVI.
This is the part that I don't understand, are there really insufficient unwanted animals available for adoption so they have to be imported to meet the demand?

This feels a lot more like a PR exercise than a genuine net improvement in the welfare of animals.
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Old Jun 6, 13, 6:55 am
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Pets With Wings

As a long-time and frequent traveller between Boston and St. Thomas, I can assure you that:

1. despite a dedicated AA Priority line, the check-in process at the STT AA ticket counter is slow at best (no fault of the AA staff; all checked baggage, which is usually what tourists have, must be checked-in at the counter and then removed by the pax to take through customs);

2. rescue animals in the Virgin Islands are in desperate need of stateside homes (this program has turned around an awful situation when 'dumpster' dogs used to be the norm in the US Virgin Islands);

3. I have never met a dog (or cat) with Elite status (or even a Citibank Aadvantage credit card) which would entitle them to any of my cherished benefits.

American Airlines -- keep this program going (and congrats for having done so to-date)!
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