Alaska Airlines has once again used it's monopoly in Southeast Alaska to tighten the financial noose around the necks of those who can afford it least. Many Southeast communities do not have any veterinary services and any accident or illness requires owners to ship their animals for treatment or humane euthanasia. Alaska Airlines has doubled the cost of shipping an animal as part of it's new Cargo "SPOT" program. Unfortunately that means round-trip airfare for treating a sick kitten is an unbelievable $480 in addition to the average vet bill of several hundred dollars.
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When I called to complain about the new shipping prices the Alaska Airlines agent on the phone replied, "What are you going to do? It's not like there is another airline." After a little bit of research, I found out this is not true. Alaska Central Express serves most of the communities in Southeast Alaska and offers free connecting service to the Lower 48 and their price for shipping an animal is a very reasonable $35.
While veterinary services have improved in Southeast Alaska over the years, some surgeries and treatments are only available in the Lower 48. It is sad that Alaska Airlines thinks so highly of its monopoly that it is cheaper to have an animal or other cargo shipped from Seattle to Anchorage on Delta Airlines for $153, and then picked up for free by ACE and transported to a Southeast community for $35. And sometimes it's faster than the milk run.
There is a reason why Alaska Airlines has always remained profitable: According to the Department of Transportation Essential Air Service Web site, Alaska Airlines receives $7,340,932 in federal subsidies to service rural Alaska in addition to their normal revenues derived from fees. If you think charging $480 to ship a sick 3-pound kitten from a community already subsidized by $7.4 million dollars in free federal money is unfair, please join me in calling their complaint line at (800) 523-1223, Ext. 239.