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United Airlines' pet policy: Here’s how to fly with your cat or dog on United

July 16, 2022
5 min read
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Traveling can be a stressful experience under the best of circumstances. Bringing along your pet can make the process much more complicated.

While service animals are widely permitted, the United Airlines pet policy for other animals has several key details that can trip you up. In this piece, we'll cover the most important details you need to know about United Airlines pet travel, including the United Airlines dog policy.

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United Airlines' pet policy

(Photo by frantic00/Getty Images)

United Airlines will only accept cats and dogs as in-cabin pets. There is a $125 charge for each one-way itinerary where your pet accompanies you in the cabin. Additionally, United will charge another $125 for any one-way itinerary within the U.S. with more than a four-hour stopover or any one-way international itinerary with more than a 24-hour stopover.

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One of the most important details of the United pet policy is that your pet will need a reservation. United limits the number of animals it allows in-cabin on certain flights. So, although United will allow you to add a pet to your booking any time after you book, it's best to make sure there's availability for your pet when you book your flight. Even though United no longer has change fees, you'll be stuck rescheduling your trip if your particular flight isn't allowing more in-cabin animals.

Related: A comprehensive guide to traveling with pets

United Airlines' pet carrier requirements

(Photo by Su Arslanoglu/Getty Images)

The United pet policy allows for both hard-sided and soft-sided carriers. Hard-sided carriers must be no more than 17.5 inches long by 12 inches wide by 7.5 inches high. Meanwhile, United recommends that soft-sided carriers be no larger than 18 inches long by 11 inches wide by 11 inches high. However, the only firm requirement for soft-sided pet carriers is that the carrier fits under the seat in front of you (hard-sided carriers must also fit underneath the seat in front of you).

United stipulates that only one pet is allowed in each pet carrier. Additionally, the United pet policy states that the animal must be able to stand up and turn around in its carrier.

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Related: 8 things to consider before flying with your pet

United Airlines' pet cargo policy

(Photo by Tobias Titz/Getty Images)

United Airlines does not currently allow any pets in cargo. Previously, the United pet policy did allow pets to travel as cargo. However, United's program for pets in cargo, PetSafe, was suspended a few years ago after some tragic pet deaths. There is no indication when (or if) this program will resume.

Related: What you need to know about traveling with dogs on a plane

How to use the United pet policy

United has multiple options for booking a pet on your flight. First, there's a link to book a new trip with your pet. But, if you already booked your trip, you can add a pet to your existing trip by searching for your flights on the United website.

Once you have the specific itinerary in front of you, scroll down for the drop-down menu labeled "Special accommodations" and look for "Add pet."

(Screenshot from united.com)

Related: How to change or cancel a United Airlines flight

Bottom line

The United Airlines pet policy can make it challenging to travel with your pet. After all, United is one of many airlines that doesn't allow animals to travel in the cargo hold on flights. Further, the United pet policy is restrictive regarding the types of pets that can travel. In particular, you'll only be able to fly with cats and dogs that can fit into a pet carrier of the appropriate size.

Finally, United will only accept a certain number of pets in the cabin per flight, so you'll need to reserve space for your pet early.

Featured image by Getty Images
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
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4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S.
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There's a lot to love about the Amex Gold card. It's been a fan favorite during the pandemic because of its fantastic rewards rate on restaurants (that includes takeout and delivery in the U.S.!) and U.S. supermarkets. If you're hitting the skies soon, you'll also earn bonus points on travel. Paired with up to $120 in Uber Cash (for U.S. Uber rides or Uber Eats orders) and up to $120 in annual dining statement credits at eligible partners, there's no reason that the foodie shouldn't add this card to their wallet. Enrollment required.

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  • Not as useful for those living outside the U.S.
  • Some may have trouble using Uber/food credits
  • Few travel perks and protections
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S., and earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • $120 Uber Cash on Gold: Add your Gold Card to your Uber account and each month automatically get $10 in Uber Cash for Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the U.S., totaling up to $120 per year.
  • $120 Dining Credit: Satisfy your cravings and earn up to $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the American Express® Gold Card at Grubhub, The Cheesecake Factory, Goldbelly, Wine.com, Milk Bar and select Shake Shack locations. Enrollment required.
  • Choose the color that suits your style. Gold or Rose Gold.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Annual Fee is $250.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees