(MSNBC) — A new United Airlines fee set to take effect next month would dramatically increase the cost of shipping a pet home from Japan and surrounding areas to the United States — to as much as $3,900 for large animals — and may especially affect members of the military transferred under orders.

The rule will reclassify pets as cargo, rather than as excess checked baggage. Many military personnel are placed on commercial flights with United because of government contracts with the carrier, but personnel must pay any fee to ship a pet.

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