What you need to know about United Airlines pet policy in 2023
United service dog policy

What you need to know about United Airlines pet policy in 2023

ESA Pet Staff

Updated on - Written by

Flying with pets can be a very daunting task without the right help. Thankfully, more airlines are embracing the concept of emotional support animals and are allowing them on flights. United Airlines is one airline that allows passengers to travel with their pets or emotional support animals (ESA). With United Airlines, pets can travel in the cabin on specific flights as carry-on baggage or as cargo baggage.

To travel with ease, there are paperwork requirements that you need to have. These include a health certificate, proof of vaccination, customer acknowledgement forms, and the pet’s picture.

These paperwork requirements are not limited to these only; different aircraft could have more form requirements. There are many other policies on pets allowed, pet age, pet crate requirements, breed restrictions, and more. All these policies affect the amount of paperwork you will submit.

This article aims to shed light on all the paperwork and documentation for your pet that you will need to fly with United Airlines. We will also look at the differences between in-cabin pet policy, cargo pet policy, and policies for service animals.

Things you need to know about United Airlines pet policy

Document Requirements to Fly With Pets on United Airlines

You must prepare adequately before traveling with an emotional support animal or pet. United Airlines requires you to submit certain documents before your flight for review and approval. You can send these documents through their online portal, preferably five days before your trip.

Failure to submit these documents before your trip can cancel your reservation. You will also need to carry printed copies of the same documents.

Form Requirements Pre-Flight

Here are the forms you need to send for review and approval before your flight date.

  • A scanned copy of your emotional support animal’s health certificate. The certificate should be signed by a licensed veterinary doctor and preferably within 10 days before travel.
  • A scanned copy of the customer acknowledgment form, signed and dated. This shows that the pet owners agree to follow all the pet travel requirements and adhere to the rules set on United Airlines flights.
  • A picture of your pet to verify its breed because United Airlines have certain breed restrictions.
  • A photo of your pet crate to verify if it is the correct size for your pet and ensure it follows all the pet crate requirements set by United Airlines. The photo should be a clear view that shows all the different sides of the crate.
    After submitting all the documents, United Airlines will review everything to make sure everything checks out or not. If it doesn’t, they will reach out to help sort out the issue before the traveling date. They will also verify this information when you drop off your pet on the travel date. Pets cannot travel if they do not meet all the requirements.

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United Airlines in-Cabin Pet Policy

Flights operated by United Airlines and United Express have an in-cabin pet policy that makes room for pets to fly in the cabin. The rules for in-cabin pet travel vary from flight to flight. When connecting to multiple flights, you must check with individual flights to know their policies.

What Pets do United Airlines Allow in the Cabin?

United Airlines allow domesticated cats, dogs, rabbits, and small household birds.

Kittens and puppies must be at least two months old for domestic flights. They must be at least 16 weeks old and be fully weaned on international flights.

The policy on the number of pets you can travel with entails that you can only travel with one pet carrier per passenger. If you want to travel with more than one in-cabin pet, you must purchase an additional ticket.

Each kennel must carry only one pet; only household birds can share a kennel. They also have kennel size restrictions for in-cabin pets. Hard-sided kennels should be 44cm long, 30 cm wide, 19cm high, and not more. On the other hand, soft-sided kennels should be 46cm long, 28cm wide, and 28 cm high or less.

The pet carrier must have a waterproof bottom and be well ventilated. It should also be spacious enough to allow movement if the pet gets restless.

In-cabin Pets Restrictions

There are certain restrictions on United Airlines for pets traveling in the cabin. Here are some of the restrictions;

  • There are restrictions on pets traveling in the cabin on certain flights to or from specific destinations. These destinations are Hawaii, Panama, Tahiti, South Africa, New Zealand, Trinidad, and Tobago.
  • Only four pets per flight can travel in the cabin on all United Airlines flights.
  • Pet owners traveling with pets cannot occupy exit rows, bulkheads, or premium plus seats. When traveling with Boeing 757-200, they must also take the window seat because it has more space under the seat.
  • Two household birds can travel in one carrier, but it is only one pet per carrier for other pets.
  • The pet must always remain inside the pet carrier.
  • The person responsible for the pet must also be an adult.

Pet Fees

United Airlines charges $125 for in-cabin pets. An additional service charge of $125 for flights with stopovers of more than four hours. You pay the pet fees during check-in at the reservations counter.

For pet reservations, you can contact United Airlines reservations through “My Trips” or call them at (1-800-864-8331).

United Airlines Pet Policy for Cargo Pets

Pets traveling in cargo do so under the PetSafe program. If your pet is too big to travel in the cabin, it can travel in the cargo. The only downside to pets traveling in cargo is you do not get to be so close to them. Specific policies are different for pet travel in the cabin and the cargo.

The airline only allows cats and dogs to fly in cargo.

Form requirements to travel in cargo

You need to have specific documentation to travel under the pet safe program. Here are some of the paperwork that you need to have ;

  • You need to have an original health certificate that has been signed within 10 days of departure.
  • A rabies certificate from a licensed veterinary doctor within 30 days before travel.
  • You need to sign the customer acknowledgment form to say that you will adhere to the pet safe program rules.
  • A photograph of the pet crate showing all sides to verify that it is IATA compliant.
  • A photo of the pet to verify its breed.

Cargo Travel Policies

The pet needs to be at least eight weeks old for domestic flights to travel. For international flights, they need to be at least 16-weeks-old.

Unlike cabin pets, two puppies or kittens can travel in the same carrier as long as;

  • They are of the same species.
  • They weigh less than 20 lb/9 kg each.
  • They are less than six months old.
  • They are small enough to fit into the carrier comfortably.

The crate should also have excellent ventilation. It can be made of wood, plastic, or metal. The crate should be spacious enough for the pet to stand, sit, turn around or lie down.

Cargo Restrictions

United Airlines has restrictions on pets traveling in cargo to and from specific destinations. Some route restrictions are on flights to Nigeria, Australia, Dubai, or India. It also doesn’t allow cargo travel on flights from Beijing, Chengdu, or Seoul.

It also has breed restrictions on the type of dogs that can travel for health reasons. Here are some of the breeds that cannot travel in cargo on United Airlines;

  • Boston Terrier
  • Belgian Malinois
  • Boxer
  • American Bully
  • Bulldogs
  • Mastiff
  • Cavalier King Charles spaniel
  • Chow Chow
  • Pug
  • Pekingese
  • Shih-Tzu
  • Tibetan Spaniel, among others.

Another restriction is due to temperature. United Airlines does not take pet travel bookings to Palm Springs, Phoenix, and Las Vegas. These periods have very high temperatures that interfere with the animals.

Pet Reservations

Pet reservations need to be done five-30 days before the day of travel. For international flights, you can book your travels through the IATA agent.

Pet Fees

The pet fees depend on the route taken. There are different pet cargo fees charges by the route.

The pickup and drop-off location will depend on each flight. Some pets are taken to a United Airlines cargo facility where an agent will clear them. The fees are payable when you go to pick up your pet.

United Airlines Service Animals Policy

United Airlines Service Animals Policy

United Airlines and United Express accept service animals accompanying people with disabilities without charges. The airlines only recognize dogs that have undergone training as service animals.

Passengers can travel with up to two dogs of more than four months of age.

How Do I Get a Service Dog on United Airlines?

United Airlines welcomes service dogs on board within their cabin. The dogs need to be performing a specific task for an individual with a qualified disability. The qualifying disabilities can be but are not limited to a physical limitation, intellectual disability, or a psychiatric ability.

To get a service dog on United Airlines, you need to;

  • Ensure the dog has undergone training and qualifies to help you with your disability.
  • Ensure all the paperwork for your service dog is in order.
  • Submit copies of the paperwork requirements for your dog at least 48 hours before your flight time.
  • You will also need to submit these documents on the day of travel for further verification.
  • Contact the United Accessibility desk for further assistance if you have any more queries.

What Are the Paperwork Requirements for Service Animals?

You need to complete a few forms before flying with a service dog on a United Airlines. These are the forms you will need to fill out from the Department of Transportation;

  • U.S. Department of Transportation Air Transportation Service Animal Training and Behavior Attestation Form: This form confirms the dog meets the behavioral and training standards for safety. This test is compulsory for all service animals. It is proof that they are indeed service animals.
  • U.S. Department of Transportation Service Animal Relief Attestation Form (Relief Form): This form mainly applies to flights that take eight hours or more on air. It helps the dog owner understand that the dog can relieve itself in an unsanitary way to others. These are things the handler should consider as they board a flight.

The pet owners need to complete these two forms and sub them to the airline agent at the airport. You can also contact the United Accessibility desk to inquire about any other additional documents for the flight you will book.

Travel Policies for Service Dogs

Here are some of the rules that passengers need to adhere to while traveling with service dogs;

  • The service dog must have a proper leash.
  • The service dog should always be under the handler’s control.
  • The dog should also not stretch into the aisle and interfere with other passengers.
  • The dog should know how to follow instructions and have the proper training.
  • You cannot fly within 30 days of a service dog’s rabies vaccination.
  • The service dog should sit on the floor in front of your seat.
  • The dog must be at least four months old.
  • Therapy animals are not service animals, so the same pet policy rules apply to them.
  • Traveling with service dogs is free of charge.

Service Dogs in Training

United Airlines also make room for dog trainers to bring one service dog on board as long as it assists someone. Service dogs under training also pay no pet fees. These also need to meet the proper documentation and follow all the service animal requirements.


As one of the major American airlines, the United Airlines pet policy has helped many people travel with their furry little friends. Favorable pet policies are significant for people who need to have pets on board for one reason or another. It is essential to have the paperwork for your pet in order before traveling. Most airlines use these documents to verify your pet’s suitability to travel on their airlines.

It is also important to remember that due to the interference caused by the pandemic, United Airlines is not accepting emotional support animals on board. Hopefully, when things settle down, it will go back to normal.

ESA Pet Staff