What To Know About United Airlines' Pet Policy

When you have pets, planning an upcoming trip is a bit more complicated. Do you hire a petsitter, opt for overnight boarding, or allow your tail-wagger to tag along? Although many major airlines allow pets to fly, each airline has its own unique policies, prices, and restrictions. United Airlines' pet policies are relatively straightforward, though there are a few details of the policy unique to United.

First, we should mention that United Airlines no longer allows pets to fly in the cargo hold. Before 2018, United was actually known for its PetSafe program, which allowed flying your pet in the cargo hold. Unfortunately, a few notable (and highly publicized) pet deaths occurred on United flights, mostly among short-nosed breeds. United Airlines was one of the only airlines to allow these breeds to fly, as they're prone to respiratory issues. Fairly or not, the airline was largely blamed and has since suspended its PetSafe program indefinitely.

So, if you own a larger dog, you'll need to research the policies of another airline. Currently, the only major U.S. airlines to allow pets to travel in cargo are Alaska, Hawaiian, and American. However, if your pet can travel in the cabin, we'll cover how to book your pet's United flight, the typical cost, and the airline's pet policies.

Make sure to check pet availability

There are two simple ways to book your pet's flight with United. On its website, you'll see a link to book a flight with a pet. But if you've already booked a flight, you can choose to add your pet by searching for your flight on the United website. After you locate your itinerary, choose "special accommodations" and "add pet."However, it's wise to add your pet when initially booking your flight. United only allows a limited amount of pets on its flights, so you'll want to make sure there's room for your pet before booking your own ticket. 

United allows both soft- and hard-sided pet carriers. Hard-sided carriers cannot be any larger than 17.5 inches long, 12 inches wide, and 7.5 inches high.Soft-sided carriers can be larger, as long as they fit under the seat in front of you. Also, United's policy stipulates that only one animal is allowed per carrier, which is different than some other airlines. If traveling with two pets, you'll need to purchase an additional seat. United's policy also states that your pet should have ample room to stand up and turn around in the carrier.

Avoid long layovers to prevent extra cost

Once you arrive at the airport, you'll need to check in to your flight at the ticket counter to receive a bag tag for your carrier. We should mention that you'll need both your confirmation number and your pet's confirmation number, which you can find in your emails or on the United website.

Your in-cabin companion will cost you $125 for each one-way itinerary, though you'll want to make sure to avoid long layovers if possible. For domestic flights, United charges an additional $125 if the layover is longer than four hours. On international flights, you'll be charged an additional $125 if the layover is longer than 24 hours.

While there aren't any breed restrictions, your pet must be at least two months old to fly domestically and four months old to fly internationally. And, finally, United only allows dogs and cats on their flights. If you're traveling with your pet rabbit, you'll need to hop on another airline.