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United Airlines Is Changing Its Pet Policy To Avoid High-Profile Problems!


Taking your furry companions on flights has become a contentious issue following several high-profile animal fatalities on planes in the past year. Nonetheless, Pet Policy of United Airlines UAL (+2.35%) stated that it is attempting to address this, announcing a collaboration with animal welfare group American Humane on Wednesday. 

Additionally, it is updating its procedures for handling pets and prohibiting the flying of specific breeds on its aircraft.

Many dog breeds are now forbidden to fly on United Airlines, including Mastiffs, American Bullies, Pekingese, Bulldogs, Boston Terriers, Pugs, Boxers, Shih-Tzus, and Pit Bulls. The airline forbids the transportation of non-human primates, giant rabbits, piglets younger than eight weeks of age, and chickens.

Sugar glider flights will only be available from May 15 to September 15 due to heat restrictions.

Studies have shown that animals with short or snub noses are more likely to die on flights due to breathing issues. Even in normal circumstances, dog breeds with snub noses, or brachycephalic breeds, are more likely to experience respiratory issues, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association.

Unlike dogs with normal-length snouts, short-snout dogs find it difficult to breathe and to cool down during play, exercise, or stressful situations,” according to the AVMA.

Adjustments were made in response to incidents of pets dying in transit.

United made adjustments after King Charles Spaniel died in the cargo hold in August. The death of another dog in March that went into an overhead bin also had an impact on these changes.

Since then, she has initiated a petition to enhance pet safety protocols on airlines.

After her post about Jacob went viral, she started a campaign to allow pets on flights because there had recently been a dog fatality in cargo.  

Despite three United UAL incidents, Susan Smith of Pet Travel insists this doesn’t mean the airline is bad at transporting pets or that flying is inherently unsafe. 

She said Pet Travel routinely ships animals with United, which may have more pet deaths simply because it transports more animals than other carriers. Actually, in 2016, it carried 109,149 animals, as compared with 81,070 for Delta and 80,888 for American.

United’s death rate is 2.11 incidents per 10,000 animals, surpassing Delta’s 1.23 and American’s 0.62 incidents per 10,000 animals.  No matter which airline passengers opt to transport pets, there are numerous steps that can be taken to lower the risk, according to Smith.


While there’s no excuse for a pet’s death, pet owners can prevent mishaps by ensuring crates are secure and properly handling their pets.

Here are  some of her top suggestions 

Keep your Pet With You If Possible 

Pets can be flown in the cabin, as cargo, or as baggage in one of three ways. Some airlines permit pets under the seat, treating them as carry-on bags if they fit, providing a traditional travel option for owners. 

Check the pet policy of united airlines to see if you can bring the pet before buying a ticket.  We strongly advise bringing your pet into the cabin whenever possible, Smith stated. “It’s much safer.

For safe and comfortable travel, the majority of airlines enforce a one-animal-per-carrier policy and require pets to fit in carriers that permit standing and turning. Ensure your animal can travel on the flight and reserve early to avoid capacity-related bumps.

Travellers can protect their furry companions in the skies by adhering to these guidelines.

Verify the well-being of your pet.

According to Smith, poor health is the main cause of pet deaths during travel, aside from improper handling. In order to make sure they are ready for the flight, she suggests having a pet exam at least ten days prior to the departure. 

 She said that the majority of the deceased pets were not well before the flight. Without fail, your pet should not travel in the cargo hold if it has health concerns. Get the veterinarian to fill out the animal travel forms you can download and submit to your airline

. Vaccination records are necessary for the majority of international travel.

Buy top-notch equipment

Smith emphasizes securing animal cages prior to inspection, as animals often seek their owners, risking escape when doors are left open. 

Equipment must adhere to IATA regulations: pets must stand and turn, with ventilation on both sides, ensuring comfort and safety during travel.

 Metal or other rigid materials must be used to make crates that are used to inspect cargo.

 There are businesses that sell carriers and crates designed especially for use on airplanes, such as Pet Travel, Inc. For added pet safety, owners can utilize metal hardware like cables at each cage corner and a spring lock mechanism.  Handling poses the greatest risk to a pet, according to Smith. Things get really scary if a pet manages to escape a crate.

Get the timing right

Cargo holds, meant for pet safety during travel, can become excessively hot or cold, potentially causing discomfort due to external weather conditions.

Smith recommends flying in the fall or spring to evade extreme temperatures. Airlines may decline pet transport if temperatures exceed 85°F or drop below 10°F at airports.  To make sure it is not too hot to fly in the summer, if you must, make sure to take a red eye or early morning flight. Avoid layovers if at all possible and always choose the most direct flight path.

Layovers often result in pet injuries or fatalities. For example, Considine’s dog Jacob passed away during a 20-hour layover in Chicago, despite the original plan being for just one hour.

Some airports allow cargo-traveling dogs to eat and walk outside of their crates in designated recreation areas. This depends on the route.  When possible, choose direct flights whenever possible; never change airlines while traveling.

Be Proactive 

According to Smith, passengers have every right to check in their pets before, during, and after a flight. Upon boarding, confirm with a flight attendant that the pet has gotten there at the airport, then inform the captain of the “precious cargo” below.  

This could enable the pilot to monitor the cargo’s temperature. Cargo areas can become warmer on the runway, even though they are kept at a set temperature during a flight.  . Passengers can ask a flight attendant to check on their pet or the temperature below in the event of a delay or divergence.


While pet policy of united airlines poses hazards, taking preventative measures can increase safety.  Select direct flights to avoid the frequently occurring incidents during layovers. . For extra security, give priority to cabin travel over cargo holds. Make sure your pet is well before you leave, and make an investment in top-notch gear that complies with airline regulations. 

Choose to travel during the milder seasons to avoid extreme temperatures. Recall that travellers have a right to keep an eye on their pets’ welfare at all times. Keep checking back to our website, Mint Fares, for more details of this nature.