That means that pets — newly classified as cargo instead of excess baggage — can cost several thousand dollars to transport, instead of a few hundred. And since cargo is treated differently than baggage, the pets must undergo more complicated inspections and connections — and some have even died en route, Foreign Service officers say.
Because United is so ubiquitous — and because many officers must travel on a U.S. airline — it’s often the only option.
But at least the four-legged companions have friends in high places. U.S. Ambassador to China Gary Locke — a former commerce secretary — weighed in with a letter to United’s CEO.
“As a pet lover myself, I am deeply concerned about this policy change,” Locke wrote. “The sharply increased costs will likely place transporting the family pet beyond the reach of some of our diplomats.”
So basically, he’s advocating a no-pup-left-behind policy. And some 3,000 Foreign Service officers wrote, too. The issue, we hear, is reaching top desks on the seventh floor at the State Department.
Pet puns aside, the Foreign Service Association says it’s a serious issue that affects the morale of the diplomatic corps across the globe.
Still find even the lower rates too pricey for schlepping Fido?
Ask a fiscal conservative like former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, and he’d tell you to strap the pup’s crate to the top of the minivan. That would work at least from Ottawa to Buenos Aires.
Just don’t say ‘clown’
Seems everyone’s gotten so uptight about federal workers and conferences these days — thanks for nothing, General Services Administration! Managers at other agencies might be casting a beadier eye than ever on their employees’ requests to travel.
How helpful, then, that the sponsors of one upcoming government conference have provided an excellent rationale that would-be attendees can use to justify their presence at what sounds like a lovely three-day affair on the Eastern Shore of Maryland.
In an invitation e-mail, the organizers of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s Leadership Conference, taking place next month at the Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay Resort, Spa and Marina, offered a phrase government workers could use as a “suggested justification for your agency’s authorization form.”
Here are the magic words they think will help get the boss’s thumbs-up — and all one needs to do is a simple cut-and-paste job: “This unique professional development opportunity will give the EEO professional the skills necessary to plan and run a successful EEO program.”
Sounds like a winner.
GSA minding p’s and q’s
Meanwhile, GSA itself, reeling from revelations of lavish spending at agency events, has issued new rules restricting travel by agency employees and requiring top management approval of budgets and justification of conferences.