PetSafe frequently asked questions

On June 18, 2018, United implemented several new policies and customer requirements for pet air transportation to improve the safety of the travel experience following a comprehensive review of our PetSafe® program in partnership with American Humane, the country’s first national humane organization. 

Throughout the remainder of the year, United and American Humane will continue to make enhancements as needed to further improve the safety and care of animal transportation.

Before you book

  • The PetSafe program has the following features:

    • Cats and dogs travel within United aircraft compartments that are pressurized and climate-controlled in the same way as passenger cabins.
    • There is a dedicated 24-hour PetSafe desk:
      • 1-800-575-3335 (toll-free in U.S.)
      • +1-832-235-1541 (outside the U.S.; regular call rates apply)
    • There is also a dedicated cargo contact number for shipments originating in Japan:
      • +81 3 6732 5078 (available Monday - Friday from 9:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.)
    • Each pet receives a confirmed booking prior to departure. Reservations must be confirmed at least 5 days prior to travel.
    • You have the ability to track your pet's transport from its origin to its destination online.
    • The majority of our warehouse facilities and aircraft are climate-controlled for the safety of your pet. To ensure comfort in any weather conditions, pets will be the last cargo loaded and the first cargo unloaded from the plane.
    • Pets receive personal handling in climate-controlled vehicles for connections in most of United's hubs if the animal will be exposed to temperatures greater than 85°F (29.5°C) or lower than 45°F (7°C) for more than 45 minutes.
    • PetSafe’s Performance Guarantee provides a 100 percent refund of the shipping charges when pets do not travel as booked, if they are dropped off by the required time and meet all acceptance criteria. To request a refund according to the Performance Guarantee, please submit a claim request form. No refund will be paid if United determines that the delay was caused by weather conditions, mechanical delay of aircraft, or for any other reason beyond United’s control. Performance Guarantee claim requests must be submitted within seven days of the promised time of availability.
  • The cost to ship your pet depends on the combined weight of your pet and its crate. For more information, go to the PetSafe Rates section of our website. Please note that the posted rates do not include some charges, for example, kenneling or comfort stop fees. International routes may require additional service charges, such as forwarder and customs broker fees.

  • Your pet's safety is our top priority. Due to pressurization requirements, certain aircraft are not able to accommodate pets. In addition, the ability to book your pet on a specific flight is dependent on the space available for pets, along with crate size limitations on some aircraft.

  • Health certificates are required for all cats and dogs traveling with United PetSafe. It is strongly recommended that a pre-travel veterinary health exam is obtained for any pet prior to travel.

    Health certificates must be issued by a licensed veterinarian, dated within 10 days of travel for both outbound and return flights. If your return flight occurs more than 10 days after the date when your pet’s initial health certificate was issued, you will need to obtain a new health certificate for your return flight.

    Please note that if your pet’s travel on United precedes or follows international travel, the health certificate must be issued in English or, if in another language, must include an English translation. For international trips, customers should contact the appropriate embassy or consulate at least one month before departure to ensure all country-specific entry procedures are followed.

  • Older pets, as well as very young animals, are more sensitive to the effects of stress from travel conditions. We recommend you consult with your veterinarian about additional health screenings to assess the risk of injury or death during air travel to very young or older pets.

    For travel within the U.S. and Puerto Rico, cats and dogs must be at least 8 weeks old. If your kitten or puppy weighs less than 2 pounds, the pet must be at least 10 weeks old to travel. For more information, go to the Age of your Pet section in our Before you book page.

  • Each crate should contain no more than one adult cat or dog, or no more than two kittens or puppies younger than 6 months, of comparable size, and weighing less than 20 pounds (9 kilos) each. No crate may contain both cats and dogs (or kittens and puppies).

  • At United, we are committed to providing our customers and their pets with the highest level of service possible. PetSafe’s Performance Guarantee provides a 100 percent refund of the shipping charges when animals do not travel as booked, if they are dropped off by the required time and meet all acceptance criteria. To request a refund according to the Performance Guarantee, please submit a claim request form.

    No refund will be paid if United determines the delay was caused by weather conditions, mechanical delay of aircraft, or for any other reason beyond United’s control. Performance Guarantee claims requests must be submitted within seven days of the promised time of availability.

Before you go

  • Your pet’s crate must be constructed of rigid plastic, wood or metal, properly ventilated, and secured by metal bolts. It must be large enough for your pet to freely sit and stand with their head erect, turn around and lie down in a normal position. To prevent accidental injury, no part of your pet’s body can protrude through any openings in the crate. For this reason, crates made exclusively from wire are not accepted. Please go to the crates section of our website for more information.

  • Toys or medications of any kind are not permitted in or attached to pet crates. Items that can be securely attached to the outside of your pet's crate include: up to one pound (16 ounces) of dry food, one leash and one flat-style collar. Absorbent material less than 3 inches thick should be included on the bottom of the crate (towels, blankets, or a crate pad; shredded black-and-white printed newspaper, etc.). The crate must also have two dishes (one for food and one for water, or a single divided dish) firmly attached to the inside of the crate. Dishes must be accessible from outside of the crate so they can be filled without opening the door.

  • One of the most important steps you can take to ease the stress of travel for your pet is to make sure they become familiar with their airline travel crate. Purchase the crate as far in advance as possible — at least 2-3 weeks at the minimum. Veterinarians recommend leaving the crate door open in the house with treats or a familiar object inside, so that your pet may spend time near the crate and perhaps venture inside on their own. Since it is important that your pet is as relaxed as possible during the flight, familiarization with the crate is essential. Please watch this video for tips on how to acclimate your pet.

    You should also exercise your pet before leaving for the airport. Carry a leash with you so you’ll be able to walk your pet before transferring them to United’s care and again after pick-up at your destination.

  • United PetSafe acceptance locations will have the required labels available to adhere to the crate when you drop off your pet. Label the top of your pet's crate with your pet's name as well as the names, addresses and telephone numbers of those who will be dropping off and picking up your pet. United will affix additional labels as required by Federal regulations to safeguard your pet.

  • No. We do not accept animals that have been or appear to be sedated or tranquilized.

  • The USDA requires that your pet be offered food and water within four hours before being transferred to the care of a transportation service. We recommend not feeding your pet during the two hours prior to departure, because a full stomach can cause the animal discomfort during travel. We recommend feeding your pet around four hours before they will be checked in for their flight, if possible.

  • Our drop-off locations vary by airport. View our PetSafe Drop-off and Pickup Locations section of our At the Airport on Travel Day page for airport locations in the U.S.

    For information about drop-off and pickup locations at international airports, please visit the United Cargo website and enter the airport code or city name.

  • Your pet must be fully checked in at the designated airport drop-off area no later than the minimum time before flight departure. To allow sufficient time to complete the check-in process, please arrive at least 30 minutes before the minimum time shown below. This helps to ensure your pet is boarded on his or her planned flight.

    Minimum times are:

    • Flights within the continental U.S.: 2 hours
    • Flights from the U.S. to international locations: 3 hours
    • Flights originating outside the U.S. have local requirements that vary widely, so please contact PetSafe for more information.
  • Yes. When you drop off your pet for travel, you will be given an air waybill number. Enter your air waybill number into our online tracking tool to monitor your pet's status.

  • If your pet arrives at the airport and you are on a later flight or are otherwise unable to pick up the pet for a short period of time, pets may be kenneled. United operates on-site kennels at its Chicago O'Hare United Cargo facility, Houston Intercontinental United Cargo facility and at New York/Newark Terminal C. Pets traveling to airports other than Chicago O'Hare, Houston Intercontinental and New York/Newark may be boarded at off-site kennels. Depending on the situation, additional kenneling charges may apply.

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