Before you book
Some pets can handle the stress of travel easier than others, so we recommend reviewing these special considerations before you book to make sure your pet is healthy and ready for travel.
Puppies and kittens traveling within the U.S. and Puerto Rico need to be at least 8 weeks old to travel with United. If you’re planning to transport puppies and kittens that weigh less than 2 pounds, they must be at least 10 weeks old.
The minimum age for international travel varies depending on where your pet is traveling to and from. For travel into the U.S., the rabies risk designation of the origin country determines the requirements. Puppies being imported into the U.S. from high-risk locations need to be at least 16 weeks old and fully immunized against rabies before being brought into the U.S. The rabies vaccination must be given when puppies are at least 12 weeks old and at least 30 days before they arrive at a U.S. port of entry. Puppies being imported into the U.S. from a country with no- to low-risk of rabies can travel under the same policy as pets traveling within the U.S. or Puerto Rico. Puppies entering the U.S. as commercial shipments for the purposes of resale or adoption must be at least six months old, vaccinated for rabies and require a USDA permit-regardless of the country of origin.
International requirements can be complicated, so please contact an International Pet and Animal Transport Association (IPATA) shipper for help planning your pet’s trip.
Pets can sometimes have reactions to vaccines, so we recommend that they don’t travel for at least 24 hours after they’re vaccinated. It’s important to note that puppies younger than 16 weeks who haven’t received a complete series of vaccines might be more likely to get sick while traveling. We suggest asking your veterinarian to give your pet a more comprehensive exam, including testing for intestinal parasites, so they have a healthy travel experience.
Pets that are overweight or that have pre-existing health conditions are more likely to have a difficult time during air travel. If your pet falls into any of these categories, please talk to your vet about their travel plans to make sure they’re fit to fly. Pregnant cats and dogs more than two-thirds of the way through their pregnancy won’t be able to travel with us.
Larger high-energy breeds like Labrador and Golden Retrievers, and dogs with separation anxiety, have injured themselves trying to escape from travel crates because they’re not acclimated properly. If your pet continues to chew or claw while inside their crate after they’re acclimated, we strongly recommend using a reinforced crate for their safety. If we notice your pet chewing or clawing a lot, it may mean that they’re not well-acclimated to their crate, and we reserve the right to deny their travel.
Hairless pets can wear lightweight pet clothing if necessary, and nervous pets that respond well to anti-anxiety shirts can wear them as long as they’re fastened securely. When you check in, we might ask you to remove your pet’s clothing, so we can check them for injuries.
Every pet is unique, but we have to give special consideration to certain breeds that have physical attributes and behaviors that may make it less safe for them to travel. The cat and dog breeds listed below won’t be allowed to travel with us through the PetSafe program since they have physical or behavioral traits that put them at a higher risk to be negatively affected by air travel.
United PetSafe will no longer accept the following breeds for transport (including purebred and mixed breed where the dominant breed is on the embargoed list):
- Dog breeds
- American Bully
- American Pit Bull Terrier/Pit Bull
- American Staffordshire Terrier/"Amstaff"
- Belgian Malinois
- Boston Terrier
- Brussels Griffon
- Bulldog – all types
- Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
- Chow Chow
- English Toy Spaniel/Prince Charles Spaniel
- Japanese Chin/Japanese Spaniel
- Lhasa Apso
- Mastiffs – all types
- Pug – all types
- Shar-Pei/Chinese Shar-Pei
- Staffordshire Bull Terrier/"Staffys"
- Tibetan Spaniel
- Cat breeds
- Exotic Shorthair
- Dog breeds
The length of your pet’s flight and the number of connections they have can increase their stress and put them at a higher risk for harm. To help protect your pet, we won’t accept PetSafe itineraries with more than three flight segments (or two connections).
Our PetSafe program uses climate-controlled vans at most major airports and many other locations. We also keep animals in holding areas within a temperature range of 45–85° F. However, your pet might experience some changes in temperature during their journey depending on the outside temperature and the PetSafe facility locations along their route. Pets might also spend some time in a noisy cargo warehouse environment while waiting to board their flight or be picked up at their destination, which may be stressful. Some older, or very young pets, as well as hairless breeds, may be more sensitive to these environmental changes and have a greater risk of being negatively affected during travel.
Your pet’s safety is our top priority, so we won’t accept reservations to and from these airports for travel between May 1 and September 30 because of high (and potentially dangerous) temperatures:
- Las Vegas (LAS)
- Palm Springs (PSP)
- Phoenix (PHX)
- Tucson (TUS)
We’ll monitor weather conditions and assess each location’s ability to handle pets during extreme weather. We may change your pet’s planned travel date, their route or not accept your pet for travel if temperatures aren’t safe.
To comply with the Animal Welfare Act, comfort stops are required for all cats and dogs who are booked to travel for more than 24 hours. Comfort stops are at designated kennel facilities, and if your pet needs a comfort stop, you’ll be charged for the comfort stop fees based on the connection city. Depending on your pet’s itinerary, you can request to purchase an optional comfort stop when you book.
While your pet is at a comfort stop, we’ll give them well-being checks to make sure they aren’t sick or distressed. We’ll also give adult dogs a chance to relieve themselves, clean crates that have been soiled, if needed, and throw away any soiled bedding. We’ll also refill your pet’s water and feed them depending on their travel schedule. If your pet has an overnight stay or lengthy delay, we’ll put them in a secure kennel and feed them appropriately. There are often times when we intentionally may not feed your pet, based on how long their comfort stop is, whether or not they’re a very young age and the total time of their journey. Through controlled feeding times, we can avoid giving them an upset stomach on their flight.
In many cases, pets are booked weeks before they’ll travel, and sometimes changes to aircraft, flight schedules and routes, or weather or temperature conditions might require us to change your pet’s itinerary. We may also need to change your pet’s travel plans if we notice that any of their travel documents or forms need to be corrected. To confirm your pet’s itinerary, please contact our PetSafe Service Center via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 1-800-575-3335 or 1-832-235-1541.
In the unlikely event that your pet gets sick or injured while in our care, we’ll make sure they get the veterinary care they need.
When you sign our Customer Acknowledgment Form, you authorize United to transport your pet to a veterinary clinic, animal hospital or similar facility for care in the event of an emergency. You also acknowledge and agree that United won’t be liable for any loss, damage, delay or expense arising from injury to or illness of your pet. You further acknowledge and agree that you will reimburse United for charges and fees United incurs with respect to veterinarian care for injuries to or illnesses of my pet. You should also understand that you may be prohibited from using PetSafe for your pet’s future travel on United if you fail to reimburse United for any such charges or fees.