United Officially Tightens Its Pet Travel Policies

May 1, 2018

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United Airlines is tightening its rules for pet travel in its cargo holds, the carrier announced Tuesday.

After several pet-related incidents earlier this year, including a few dogs sent to the wrong locations and the death of a passenger’s French bulldog puppy that was placed in the overhead bin by a flight attendant, United announced in March that it would be suspending PetSafe, its animal cargo travel program, for a review.

Now, it has released the new regulations for flying pets in the cargo hold, which it devised in consultation with American Humane, an organization that advocates for safe treatment of animals.

The airline said starting June 18, 2018, it will limit the type of animals it transports in its cargo holds to dogs and cats only. No other household animals will be able to fly as part of the PetSafe program. It will also stop transporting more than 20 different types of dog breeds, including short- or snub-nosed dogs like bulldogs and pugs, and will no longer transport four different cat breeds.

The move puts United on par with its competitors American and Delta, which do not fly short-nose dog breeds, either, as they’re more prone to travel-related health problems. In fact, Department of Transportation data shows that 40% of United pet deaths from 2015 to 2017 were short- or snub-nosed dog breeds.

The regulations also place weather restrictions on pet travel in the cargo area. United says it’s too hot to fly cats and dogs in the cargo hold from May 1 to September 30 to or from the following airports: Las Vegas (LAS), Palm Springs (PSP), Phoenix (PHX) and Tucson (TUS).

United has previously reported the most animal deaths of any American airline. According to numbers from the DOT, United had 18 animal deaths on its flights in 2017.

The airline said in a press release that it continues to review its in-cabin pet travel policies. Earlier this year, it began issuing brightly colored luggage tags for pet carriers in an effort to avoid any miscommunications about whether a bag contained animals, which was what reportedly happened when the French bulldog died.

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