Before you book

New acceptance policies

On June 18, 2018, United implemented new embargoes and restrictions for travel via United PetSafe.

  • United transports cats and dogs only via our PetSafe program.
  • Please note new breed embargoes for certain purebred and/or mixed-breed brachycephalic (or short- or snub-nosed) cats and dogs and strong-jawed dogs.
  • You may book your pet's travel up to 30 days in advance, but all reservations must be made at least 5 days prior to each pet’s departure.

Limitations and risks to consider

Age of your pet

  • Puppies and kittens traveling within the U.S. and Puerto Rico must be at least 8 weeks of age to be accepted for travel on United. Puppies and kittens weighing less than 2 pounds must be at least 10 weeks of age. International requirements can be complex, so please contact an International Pet and Animal Transport Association (IPATA) shipper for assistance.
  • It’s important to note that puppies younger than 16 weeks who have not received a complete series of vaccines may be more susceptible to illnesses transmitted by pathogens in their environment. Because these illnesses may not be detected by a brief pre-travel health checkup, we recommend you ask your veterinarian to perform a more comprehensive exam, including testing for intestinal parasites, to ensure a healthy travel experience.
  • Puppies imported to the U.S. must be at least 16 weeks of age and must be fully immunized against rabies before being imported into the U.S. The rabies vaccination must be administered when the dog is at least 12 weeks of age and at least 30 days before arrival to a U.S. port of entry.

Overall health of your pet

  • Overweight pets or those with pre-existing health conditions are more likely to have a negative reaction to air travel.
  • Pregnant cats and dogs more than 2/3 through their pregnancy will not be accepted for travel.
  • Please discuss your pet’s travel plans with your veterinarian to ensure that your pet is fit to fly.

Risk factors for certain breed types

While every pet is unique, there are specific physical attributes and characteristic behaviors common to certain cat and dog breeds which require that special consideration is given to whether the pet can be transported safely by air. Other factors, including the design of the travel crate and weather conditions along the route, should also be considered. The specific cat and dog breeds listed below have physical or behavioral traits that place them at a higher risk to be negatively affected by air travel. Those pets deemed by United to be at greatest risk, including the breeds below, are not permitted to travel on United via our PetSafe program.

  • Effective June 18, 2018, United PetSafe will no longer accept the following breeds for transport (including purebred and mixed breed):
    • Dog Breeds*
      1. Affenpinscher
      2. American Bully
      3. American Pit Bull Terrier/Pit Bull
      4. American Staffordshire Terrier/"Amstaff"
      5. Belgian Malinois
      6. Boston Terrier
      7. Boxer
      8. Brussels Griffon
      9. Bulldog – all types
      10. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
      11. Chow Chow
      12. English Toy Spaniel/Prince Charles Spaniel
      13. Japanese Chin/Japanese Spaniel
      14. Lhasa Apso
      15. Mastiffs – all types
      16. Pekingese
      17. Pug – all types
      18. Shar-Pei/Chinese Shar-Pei
      19. Shih-Tzu
      20. Staffordshire Bull Terrier/"Staffys"
      21. Tibetan Spaniel
    • Cat Breeds
      1. Burmese
      2. Exotic Shorthair
      3. Himalayan
      4. Persian

    * Including mixed breeds

  • Larger high-energy breeds, including Labrador and Golden Retrievers, as well as dogs with separation anxiety, have injured themselves trying to escape from a travel crate. The risk of injury or death is much higher if the dog is not properly acclimated to being confined to their crate.
  • If your pet displays behaviors such as excessive chewing or clawing even after they are acclimated to a travel crate, United strongly recommends that you use a reinforced crate for increased safety.
  • United reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to deny travel to any pet who demonstrates excessive chewing or clawing or who is not properly acclimated to travel in its crate.
  • If desired, lightweight pet clothing may be worn on hairless pets when deemed necessary. Anti-anxiety shirts are allowed for nervous pets who respond well to wearing them, provided they are fastened securely on the pet. Upon check-in, United PetSafe staff may request that any clothing is removed to allow inspection of the pet for signs of injury or for the safety of the pet.

Flight length

  • The duration of the journey, including flight length and number of connections, can increase the stress level on your pet and put them at a higher risk for injury or death.
  • United will not accept PetSafe itineraries with more than three flight segments (or two connections). Moreover, to comply with the Animal Welfare Act, cats and dogs are required to have a comfort stop if the total length of their journey is more than 24 hours.
  • Comfort stops take place at a designated kennel facility.
  • Customer will be charged applicable comfort stop fees based on connection city.

Temperature and environment

  • United’s PetSafe program uses climate-controlled vans at all major airports and many other locations, and keeps animals in holding areas within a temperature range of 45-85° F. However, depending on the outside temperature and the PetSafe facility locations along the route, your pet may encounter temperature variations during their journey, and may also be exposed to a noisy cargo warehouse environment while waiting to board their flight or be picked up at their destination. Some pets, such as hairless breeds, or old or very young pets, are more sensitive to these environmental changes and at greater risk for injury or death.
  • Due to high temperatures, United PetSafe will not accept reservations to and from the following airports annually between May 1 and September 30:
    • Las Vegas (LAS)
    • Palm Springs (PSP)
    • Phoenix (PHX)
    • Tucson (TUS)
  • United will also monitor weather conditions and assess each location’s capability of handling pets during extreme temperature or other operating conditions. United may decline acceptance, change the planned booking date, or alter the routing if temperatures are outside of a safe range.

Comfort stop and kenneling overview

Comfort stops are required for all cats and dogs booked to travel on a route that exceeds a travel time of 24 hours. Depending on your pet's itinerary, you may choose to purchase an optional comfort stop.

  • All cats and dogs are provided a well-being check to ensure there are no signs of distress or illness.
  • Adult dogs are given an opportunity to relieve themselves.
  • Soiled cat and dog crates are cleaned and pets are wiped or bathed, if needed. Soiled bedding is removed and discarded.
  • Water/ice is replenished and pets are fed based on the travel schedule.
  • Pets with overnight stays or lengthy delays are placed in secure kennels and fed accordingly.

Changes to planned travel

In many cases, pets are booked weeks in advance of the planned travel date. Operational adjustments, such as changes to aircraft type, flight schedules and routes, or weather or temperature conditions, sometimes require pets to travel on a different itinerary from the route originally booked. In addition, items that must be corrected to meet requirements at time of acceptance may result in changes to travel plans. To confirm your pet's itinerary, please contact the experts at our PetSafe Service Center at 1-800-575-3335 or 1-832-235-1541.

Emergency veterinary support

United PetSafe will seek veterinary treatment in the unlikely event of a pet becoming ill or injured while in our care. If in the course of this treatment, the consulting veterinarian determines that the diagnosis or health issue is not transit-related, such as a pre-existing condition, customers are responsible to reimburse United for the cost of veterinary care.