Pet Travel: United Airlines adopts Continental PetSafe plan

Policies for pet travel at United Airlines are particularly confusing these days. The airline has announced that they will be conforming to Continental’s PetSafe program as of March 3 due to the merging of these airlines. This will mean that United will no longer offer checked baggage as an option for pet travelers. There will be an exemption for military personnel who have been relocated from Guam.

The March 3 date may or may not be in effect at this point, but we suggest that, if you use United, that you get written verification from United officials if you are attempting to transport your pet as checked baggage.


Pet Travel: United Airlines adopts Continental PetSafe plan — 29 Comments

  1. Thank you for sharing such a very informative blog. We are also provided united airlines customer service. United Airlines Customer services provide cheap flight booking deals compared to other online travel portals & one is wishing to travel from United Airlines flight then they can get inquiry on deals by calling on United Airlines phone number.

  2. Omg, thanks very much for posting this! It’s going to be so helpful when I am thinking about going to AMC Veterans 24 in Tampa! I am from Warrington, PA so I am not familiar with Tampa. Next time I see my family will be much better! So Fabulous!

  3. Hi Whitney – you need to give the Animal Quarantine Station in Japan over a month’s notice prior to entry. Your pet will need a microchip, vaccination and health certificate endorsed by the USDA. Requirements can change, so you will need to check closer to the time you leave. You can find details here:

    A lot of people need to fly with their pet in the cargo hold. The key is preparation and picking the best route. Your pet must stay on the same airline the entire trip as airlines do not interline pets. Find the most direct route and try to keep the layovers short (2 hours or under), especially if your pet is traveling as checked baggage. The cost for that will be less, but the airlines may not care for your pet as long during the layovers. We don’t recommend airlines except for route preferences, but US based airlines take this business very seriously and have to report incidents to the Department of Transportation. This is not to say that foreign based airlines are poor because this is not the case. KLM and Lufthansa have very good records for transporting pets as do other airlines.

    Get your pet in its crate and out of its environment a lot prior to travel. Take it to the dog park in its crate. Travel to a friend’s house. The more you get your pet out of the house in the crate, the easier it will be come travel day. Pets are resciliant and will sleep most of the trip. Keep your pet in good health and it should be fine.

  4. My husband and I are planning on relocating to Japan a year from now and are in the research stage (we don’t yet have jobs but are in the process of applying.) Our big concern after a lot of research is how safe is it really to fly our dog, a 30 pound corgi mix, to Japan with us. We don’t want to leave him but worry about his safety. What are some things we should know? Is this way more common than I think and worrying too much? Which airlines and methods of transportation do you recommend and feel are the safest? What kind of cost am I looking at incurring? If you think of anything else I should know, that would be great! Thanks for the help.

  5. My dog will be shipped here to Frankfurt, Germany; which terminal do I pick him up at on 30 June 2013. We are having him shipped here by United Airlines Petsafe. Flight 46.

  6. Where do I pick-up my pet being shipped to Seattle (SEA) and what are the hours and do they have a direct phone number?

  7. Hello – small pet dogs and cats can travel in the cabin on certain airlines depending on their pet policy. United, most likely, will not and there may be a requirement that a pet transporter handle the transaction. If your kitty travels as checked baggage in the hold, you would claim it at baggage claim (pets are normally put beside the baggage carousel, but it varies by airport – the airline will be able to tell you depending on your destination.) Then you and your pet would go through customs. If your pet has a health certificate issued within 10 days of entering as well as a current rabies vaccination certificate, you should be fine. Have your vet inspect your kitty for ticks and fleas as well.

  8. Hello,
    You seem to be very helpful. I have recently moved back from Guatemala to the States. My fiance and my cat still live in Guatemala. I usually fly United and am wondering if you know anything about flying internationally with a cat? Can I have it in the cabin with me? If not, how would I pick it up (at customs and my final destination)? Also, my fiance’s sister is a vet, so she is making sure all the shots are good and recorded, but is there anything that I should be aware of that will make my life easier while going through customs?

    Thanks a ton for your help!!!

  9. Hello Rita – you will need a veterinary certificate issued shortly prior to your travel to the United States. If your pet’s rabies are up to date, then you should be fine. be sure and carry your pet’s rabies certificate.

  10. My pet is a German Sheppard. I would like to travel by car from Vancouver,BC Canada to Bellingham Washington State, USA. What are my requirements. He shots are all updated including rabies.

  11. If you are traveling with your dog, then United will make every effort to have it on the same flight and will board it before animals traveling as manifest cargo. United ships many thousands of pets every year without incident. They have put a lot of effort into their PetSafe program. You should not have any problems assuming your dog is fit for travel and you acclimate it to the crate it will be traveling in.

  12. Hi I would be traveling with my dog from IL to CA with United and was wondering if Petsafe was any good, So far I have only seen bad reviews about it. How does Petsafe ship the animals? on the same flight? different/ separate flight?

  13. Susan – Delta will allow pets to travel in the cabin to destinations other than South Africa, Hong Kong and the UK because those countries require that pets arrive as manifest cargo. Every airline has exceptions on certain routes and different times of year. I am sure that you let Delta know you were traveling with a pet when you made your reservation. It is important because they limit the number of pets per class of travel.

  14. I have noticed that you mentioned several times that airlines will not allow pets to travel in the cabin on international flights, as they are too long. However, Delta is permitting my cat to travel in the cabin from Portland, OR to Paris, with a change of plane in MSP. Since I’ve had the same trouble obtaining consistent information as everyone else seems to be having, I’ve started worrying about this. Do you anything about Delta’s policy, and why it would be different?

    Thank you, Susan

  15. I believe Delta also has a change, in that they will no longer fly pets internationally (either in cabin or cargo) unless they are at least 15 weeks of age. This will affect me when I want to import a puppy from Sweden as I did back in 2009.

  16. Hello. I am traveling to the USA from Frankfurt Germany on United Airlines and I want to take my cat. I have booked my flight and told the agency that I have a pet to ship and that it will cost 150 Euro. What they don’t seem to know is where, when and who do I pay this fee to. Do I check him in with my luggage at the check in counter as cargo and pay the fee there, or do I take him somewhere else to do this? Also, when I get to the states I will have to go through customs before I get my baggage. I would hate to think that my cat is going around on the luggage conveyor belt while waiting for me to clear customs. He could be stolen. Is there a way to collect him as soon as I get off of the airplane, say at the gate, or will he be kept in a special place for me to pick him up when I’m through with customs?

    RESPONSE: You will need to contact United directly to find out the drop-off location in Germany. You can call 1-888-575-3335 or email [email protected].
    When you land in the States your cat will be taken to a special section of baggage claim, awaiting your arrival, then you will pass through customs. I can assure you that your cat will not be on the luggage belt 🙂 Let us know if you have any more questions. Happy Travels!

    Pet Travel Inc.

  17. I have recently booked a flight with United – the international portion of the flight is Chicago to Frankfurt. I will be bringing my cat with me. I noticed on one of the replies, you mentioned that United/Continental won?t allow pets in cabin on international flights.
    RESPONSE: United has stated to us that they do not accept pets in the cabin on international flights, but they are not clear on that ruling on their website. You can send them an email at [email protected] to confirm.

  18. Hello, I am relocating from Texas USA to china , Shanghai and i would like to take my cat , could you please help me to understand what kind the document i need ? I try to contact the consulate but i wasn’t very lucky… United said i don’t need anything.and i only have 3 weeks to move.Thank for your help
    To enter China with your cat it must be vaccinated for rabies and be accompanied by the China certificate of good health completed by a licensed veterinarian here in the US. There is a mandatory 7 day quarantine unless prior arrangements are made to avoid it. We recommend that you use a pet transport agent in China who has assisted others in getting their pet through immigration in China. Chinese immigration does not always impose the 7 day quarantine but they can and that is why we recommend you seek the assistance of the local company. You can find the complete pet passport information and forms here. the package includes the contact information for the Chinese agent. United did not give you proper advice.

  19. Hi
    I am relocating to Singapore and wanted to understand what my options were for travelling with my dog. I have a 20 pound puggle. Any help, advise would be great.
    Since I do not know what country the pet is traveling from I cannot completely answer your question. The only method of transport would be as checked baggage on an airline that flies between the two cities. The pet cannot change airlines enroute without your complying with the rules of entry for that country.
    Singapore has a number of requirements for a pet entering that country including the need for a blood titer test well in advance of the travel date and an import permit and veterinary certificate. You can find the complete pet passport package of instructions and all necessary forms here:

  20. I have recently booked a flight with United – the international portion of the flight is Chicago to Frankfurt. I will be bringing my cat with me. I noticed on one of the replies, you mentioned that United/Continental won’t allow pets in cabin on international flights. I have spent hours on the phone with United Reservations, and they have all assured me that my pet will be allowed in cabin on that flight – and I even paid the pet fee over the phone.

    Seeing your post has made me nervous, as I do not want to get to the airport only to find that the people at United don’t know their own policies. I have called at least 10 times, with each representative confirming my flight with my pet – several have even checked with supervisors. I am wondering where you found your information about pets not being allowed in cabin on international flights. Thank you!

    RESPONSE: after the merge with Continental, United policies on international travel has become non consistent and they do not publish them on their website. It will depend on the route and also if any of the route is served with another contracted carrier. Each route is different. If you have spoken with supervisors at United, you should be fine. Good idea to write down their names in case of issues at the gate.

  21. As of today, I have spent over two hours on hold with PETSAFE, once to be traeted with total contemt as I tried to find out if I was able to fly a dog back on a flight from Chicago. The agent was very rushed and complained they are too busy to aswer all my questions, but assured me i would be able to get a pet on the flight in question. Sadly, I neglected to get a cost of the flight for the dog.

    Today I called back three times, have been on hold for well over thirty minutes, at which time my phones have died. I tried to call an agent for the airline, only to be hold she couldnt answer my questions. i had to g through Pet safe. When I told her I had been on hold for a very long time, she asked which number I dialed. i told her and she admonished me in a very cindescending tone that i had the wrong number. I dialed her number, pressed nine for the united option, and VIOLA! Same voice message about how much they cared about me but I was gonna be on hold a loooong time.

    Now the most upsetting thing about this is I know i will have to call back AGAIN..if I ever get then book the pet AFTER I book my flight. The only reason i am flying is to pick up the dog, because I have been informed there are no direct flights to ship just the dog.

    I am not sure about the nature of customer service for this airline, but I can tell you that it will be a very long time before I would willingly have anything to do with them again.

    Ah yes, still listening to the muzak, and dreading investing more of my day being spoken to by another overworked underhappy employee. Pet Safe you suck.

    RESPONSE: Despite the fact that United has hired many additional employees as of late, they are having a hard time keeping up with demand. I would encourage anyone calling to have all questions detailed and research done prior to the call. Also, it is best to call late at night or on weekends.

  22. Hello,
    I’ll be relocating to Houston, TX at the end of July this year. We have a 3kg (6.6 lb) Maltese dog and will be flying from Israel via NY on Continental. There is different information on every website, so it’s hard to understand what is a general rule. I thought it will be possible to have our dog in cabin during both flight, international and local but now I am not sure it is possible. Do we have to send her as checked luggage? Will she fly as cargo? Could you confirm please.

    I’ve also read in few places that if the temperature is higher than 85F at the place of destination, she will not be taken aboard as cargo by the company. We are flying Tel-Aviv – Houston at the end of July. The temperatures will be higher than 100F in both places. What should we do? Thank you very much!

    RESPONSE: Continental will not allow your pet in the cabin on international flights, however, both KLM and Lufthansa will and that will eliminate the temperature problem in Houston. KLM flies through Amsterdam and Lufthansa through Frankfurt. Air France also flies this route and will allow your pet in the cabin but they stop in Paris and Atlanta on the way to Houston.

  23. I am moving out of country to Norway. At first, our travel agency booked the flight and we paid for our cat’s place in-cabin on the plane. As we recently checked this, we noticed some changes which we weren’t informed of and there was no place for a cat as had originally been reserved. We asked about this and was told our cat cannot stay in-cabin from the US to Norway. I’ve been trying to contact PetSafe about this so we can figure out what to do. My questions are:

    1) We have one flight from Kentucky to Newark. Can she ride in cabin during that flight or will it be best if she is riding in cargo the entire trip? I only want what’s best for her.

    2) If we do have her riding in cargo from KY to Newark, how will we be assured she is getting to the next flight okay?

    3) How, when and where do we hand her off?

    4) How, where and when we do pick her up in Norway? Will you make arrangements with veterinarian at the airport in Oslo?

    5)Will you make all the arrangements with United so we don’t have to contact them about this?

    6) How much will it cost?


    RESPONSE: The flight from Kentucky to Oslo is too long to have the kitty in the cabin with you, and it is disappointing that the original agent you spoke with was not aware of that.

    The problem with flying the first leg of your trip with your pet in the cabin with you is that the carrier in which your kitty will travel will differ from in-cabin to cargo. It will be difficult to provide for that change of equipment. Additionally, there would be problems with documentation so I would recommend that your kitty travel cargo all the way. As long as she stays on United to Oslo, United will transfer her from plane to plane. You can confirm that she has been loaded in Newark and you should inform United personel that there will be a cat traveling in cargo and you want confirmation of loading.

    You will turn her over your kitty in KY and you need to ask United whether they have a PetSafe drop off at the Kentucky airport.

    There are very specific requirements involved in importing a pet to Norway including micro chipping, vaccinating, USDA endorsement and a tapeworms test prior to entry. If you are interested in assistance in helping you with the transport, please fill out the form here: We would be happy to help.


  24. i will be flying with my husband from guam to san diego. we are in the navy flying on orders, and we have a dog we want to take with us. i see that with the new petsafe policy we can fly our dog as checked baggage because we are military. i still cant get an answer as to what the cost will be to fly the dog to san diego with us. any one know what they charge military?
    If you books space on an AMC flight or a commercial flight arranged for by AMC the cost will be between $80.00 and $150.00 depending on the combined weight of the pet and the IATA compliant pet crate. You need to contact AMC to make the arrangements.

  25. This is the most, perhaps only, useful place to talk about this. I am so grateful for the info about United Airlines Beware! I am booked on a “flights” (i.e., 3 flights, in truth) to fly from Tampa, FL, to Prague, Czech Rep. After I had paid for all, I was told that my cat, my 7.4 pound little cat, had to fly in a cage as cargo, and that it would cost me $500. One way.

    This is so outrageous. My Czech cat has been flying under my seat since she was a tiny kitten. She takes up no room. Sadly, Expedia is not helpful. Watch out.

    RESPONSE: If you are traveling with a pet, whether domesticly or internationally, you need to call the airlines to make your reservation. It cannot be done online, because you need to notify the airline you are traveling with a pet. The airlines will not allow pets in the cabin on international flights because of the length of the flight. If you are traveling with your pet, it can travel as checked baggage which is not as expensive as cargo if your airline offers that service.

  26. I am going to travel to Thailand from ATL and my route will be as followed:
    Ney York to Washington DC
    Washington DC to Narita (Japan)
    Tokyo to Bangkok
    With above flight details I would like to have my cat travel with me and wonder if I could have him in the cabin with me or not? If not please kindly suggest and it is possible to have the price estimations as I could not reach to UA staff by phone so far.
    Thank you.
    Your cat should be able to travel in cabin to Washington DC but it is unlikely that it can travel in cabin to Japan as the flight is too long. If you are changing airlines in Japan or if you are staying over then you will need to comply with their immigration requirements which are quite stringent as well as the pet passport requirements for Thailand. You will need to keep calling United Airlines Reservations office to get a quote on the cost and to make the booking, it cannot be done online. If you need the complete pet passport requirements for Japan and Thailand they are available here:

  27. I plan on moving from Monterey CA to Oahu HI and I would like to take my two, healthy, adult, tortoises with me, they are Russian tortoises, ” Testudo horsfieldi”, one weighs 2 lbs, is 6 ” long, 5″ wide and the other is 6″long and is 4 1/2 ” wide, what do I need to do in order to take them with me ? And how long is quaratine and the cost ?
    Thank you.
    I suggest you contact Hawaii for an answer to your question.
    Chairperson?s Office
    Phone: (808) 973-9560
    Fax (808) 973-9613
    Email: [email protected]
    1428 S. King Street
    Honolulu, Hawaii 96814

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