As United and Continental grapple with how to merge these two airline giants, it's nice to hear that they are considering animal welfare in the mix. A recent Wall Street Journal article mentioned - albeit briefly - that airline officials had to decide whether to adopt Continental's policy of sending animals up the conveyor belt facing the cargo hold, or United's policy of sending the animals facing the cargo workers. Apparently, they wondered whether it would be scary for the animals to see the hold, so United's policy won.
Ok, I admit, this isn't much. But it is something. Airlines are not going to give up the extra revenue from allowing pets on board so long as travelers request the service, and there's no sign that travelers are cutting back on requests to take their companions "with" them on a flight by sticking them in a cargo hold. So in the meantime, at least maybe the changes in federal law a few years back are really starting to take root in airline culture (even if the horror stories that prompted the changes hasn't had the same effect on customers).