Home > Travel information > Travel for animals > PetSafe frequently asked questions
Before you book
- What features does the PetSafe® program offer for my pet's travel?
The PetSafe program has the following features:
- Pets travel within United's specially designed plane compartments that are pressurized in the same way as passenger cabins.
- There is a dedicated 24-hour PetSafe desk (1-800-575-3335 or 1-832-235-1541).
- Each pet receives a confirmed booking prior to departure.
- You have the ability to track your pet's transport from its origin to its destination online.
- 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 United's hubs if the animal will be exposed to temperatures greater than 85°F (29.5°C) for more than 45 minutes.
- How much does it cost to ship my pet?
The cost to ship your pet depends on the combined weight of your pet and its kennel. For more information, go to the PetSafe Rates section of our website. Please note that the posted rates do not include additional fuel and freight processing service charges. Certain international routes may also include additional travel service charges.
- How do I book PetSafe travel for my pet?
Please use our online booking form or call a PetSafe agent at 1-800-575-3335 or 1-832-235-1541.
- How far in advance should I book travel for my pet?
We encourage you to book as far in advance as possible, as space is limited.
- What information is required to book PetSafe travel for my pet?
Please have the details below available when booking travel for your pet:
- Origin, destination, preferred date and time of your pet's travel
- Breed, age and weight of the animal and the measurements of the kennel your pet requires to freely sit and stand with its head erect, turn around and lie down in a normal position
- Name, address and phone number of the person who will drop off the animal
- Name, address and phone number of the person who will pick up the animal
- Why am I unable to book my pet on a flight that I see online?
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 spaces available for pets.
- Is a health certificate required for my pet to travel?
All animals are required to have a health certificate issued by a 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. 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. Visit the Pet Restrictions page for more information about destination-specific restrictions.
- Are there age restrictions for pets?
For travel within the U.S. and Puerto Rico, dogs and cats must be at least eight weeks old. If your pet weighs less than one pound, the pet must be at least 10 weeks old to travel. For more information, go to the Restrictions for puppies section. United recommends, but does not require, that senior dogs and cats (more than 7½ years old) receive a more extensive health examination (e.g., liver and kidney screens) before traveling.
- Can more than one pet travel in a single kennel?
Each kennel should contain no more than one adult cat or dog, or no more than two puppies or kittens younger than six months, of comparable size, and weighing less than 20 pounds (9 kg) each.
- What happens if my pet does not ship as planned?
At United, we are committed to providing our customers and their pets with the highest level of service possible. If your pet does not ship as planned, please complete and submit a performance guarantee claim form on unitedcargo.com within seven days of your originally planned shipment in order to request a refund. Please note that no refund can be processed if United does not receive your performance guarantee claim form within seven days of your originally planned shipping date.
Before you go
- What type of kennel should I use?
The kennel must be sturdy, properly ventilated and large enough for the animal to freely sit and stand with its head erect, turn around and lie down in a normal position. To prevent accidental injury, no part of the animal's body can protrude through any openings in the kennel. For this reason, kennels made exclusively from wire are not accepted. Please go to the Kennels section of our website for more information.
- What can I include in my pet's kennel?
Toys or medications of any kind are not permitted in or on the roof of pet kennels. Items that can be securely attached to the outside of your pet's kennel include: less than one pound of food, one leash and one collar. Place some type of absorbent material on the bottom of the kennel (towel, blanket, shredded black-and-white printed newspaper, etc.). The kennel must also have two dishes (one for food and one for water) attached to the inside of the kennel, which must also be accessible from outside of the kennel so they can be filled without opening the kennel door. If maintenance medication is necessary en route (e.g., during an overnight kenneling), please arrange to send the medication directly to the kennel company. It cannot be taped to the crate. If you have questions about sending a shipment to a kenneling company, please contact us using the form on the PetSafe contact information page.
- What can I do to prepare my pet for its trip?
One of the most important steps you can take to ease the stress of travel for your pet is to make sure it becomes familiar with its kennel. Purchase the kennel as far in advance as possible. Veterinarians recommend leaving the kennel door open in the house with treats or a familiar object inside, so that your pet may spend time near the kennel and perhaps venture inside on its own. Since it is important that your pet is as relaxed as possible during the flight, familiarization with the kennel is essential.
You should also exercise your pet before leaving for the airport. Carry a leash with you so you’re able to walk your pet before transferring him or her to United’s care and again after pick-up at your destination.
- How should I label my pet's kennel?
Label the top of your pet's kennel with your pet's name as well as the names, addresses and telephone numbers of the customers at both origin and destination. When you drop off your pet, we will provide you with other required labels for your kennel. Please see the Required Labeling section of our website for more information.
- Should I sedate my pet before the flight?
No. We do not accept animals that have been sedated or tranquilized.
- Should I feed my pet before the flight?
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 four hours before the flight, if possible.
- Where do I drop off my pet?
Our drop-off locations vary by airport. View our PetSafe Drop-off and Pickup Locations (PDF) page for airport locations in the U.S.
- How early should I drop off my pet?
Pets should check in at least two hours and no more than four hours prior to the flight's scheduled departure time.
- Can I track the status of my pet?
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.
- What happens if I am delayed in picking up my pet?
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-airport 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.