United Airlines Pet Policy

Is United Airlines Pet Friendly? – United Airlines Pet Policy (2024)

Written By: Michelle Kelgord

United Airlines is a popular airline with flight connections across the globe, making it a convenient option for travelers – whether they’re flying domestically or internationally. The good news is that United is known for being pet-friendly as well. 

At this time, United Airlines’ pet policy to carry on small pets is relatively relaxed, making it a cinch for pet owners to bring their small furry friends along for the ride. (Unfortunately, it’s more complicated for cargo, as only the U.S. military on permanent change of station or State Department foreign service officers are allowed to take their larger pets in cargo.)

Are you thinking about booking a flight with United Airlines? Find out whether or not this major airline can accommodate your needs by checking out our in-depth look at the United Airlines pet policies below!

Is United Airlines Pet Friendly?

United Airlines is known for being very pet-friendly. It’s regarded as one of the most accessible airlines to travel with small pets in cabin, without a long list of rules and regulations to follow.

One thing to keep in mind is that United Airlines does not currently allow pets to be shipped via cargo (unless you are part of the U.S. military or a State Department foreign service officer on a permanent change of station). 

As long as your pet is small enough to sit comfortably in a hard-sided or soft-sided carrier, there is little to no reason why you can’t bring them along for the ride – unless, of course, there’s no space on the plane!

United Pet Policy Dog Friendly

Furbulous photo courtesy of 

United Airlines Pet Policy Details

Before you book your ticket, it’s essential to know the ins-and-outs of the United Airlines pet policies. Below, you’ll find essential information regarding United’s pet policy, including rules and regulations for carry-on pets and pets in cargo.

United Airlines Pet Policy for Carry-On Pets:

The easiest way to travel with your pooch on United Airlines is through carry-on. United Airlines allows guests up to two pets per person as long as there is room on board.

Keep in mind in few important rules:

  • There is a $125 fee for traveling with your pet each way. There is an additional $125 fee for any layovers that last more than four hours in the United States or 24 hours for international travel.
  • If traveling with two pets, you must purchase a second seat directly next to you. That way, both pets can remain beneath the seats, and you can keep an eye on them simultaneously. 
  • Travel credits cannot be used to pay fees.
  • Pets must remain in their carrier throughout the flight, with the door closed.
  • The carrier must remain underneath your seat.
  • Health and rabies certificates are required for dogs and cats flying internationally. The rabies vaccine must be completed at least 28 days before arrival in the United States.
  • Puppies and kittens must be two months old to fly domestically and four months internationally.

Carry-On Carrier Information:

One of the perks of going with United Airlines is that there are no weight or breed limitations. However, your pet must be able to sit comfortably in a hard-sided or soft-sided carrier (unless you’re traveling with a service animal, in which case no carrier is required). Your pet must be able to stand up and turn around without difficulties. 

Your carrier must not exceed the following dimensions:

Hard-Sided Carrier
7.5 inches
17.5 inches
12 inches
Soft-Sided Carrier
11 inches
18 inches
11 inches

United Airlines Pet Policy for Pets in Cargo:

You may consider flying your pet cargo if they’re too big for a carrier. While this is a good idea, it’s important to note that pets are not allowed to fly cargo on United Airlines at this time.

The only exception is if you are a part of the U.S. military on permanent change of station orders or a State Department foreign service officer. 

If you qualify, there are specific rules and regulations to adhere to:

  • Certain documents must be submitted when booking, including a health certificate dated within ten days of travel, active PCS orders, and a signed acknowledgment form.
  • Only four pets are allowed from Guam to Honolulu, and two from Honolulu to Guam.
  • Only one pet is allowed per PCS order – multiple trips are prohibited.
  • The pet(s) flying cargo must be your pet.
  • Your pet and carrier must not exceed 99.9 pounds.
  • No tracking devices are allowed in the crate.

Cargo Crate Information:

All crates must meet USDA and International Air Transport Association (IATA) requirements. Your pet must be able to stand, turn around, sit up, and lie down comfortably inside the crate, and there should be ventilation on at least three sides. 

All crates must be made of the following materials: rigid plastic, wood, or metal, and have a solid roof with no openings; those made with cardboard, welded or wire mesh, wicker, or other collapsible materials are not accepted. It must have a metal door (no plastic or fiberglass doors allowed) that will close securely and contain nuts and bolts that firmly connect the top and bottom of the crate.

At this time, the following sizes are permitted:

Crate Type
Aircraft Acceptance
21 L x 16 W x 15 H
28 L x 20.5 W x 21.5 H
32 L x 22.5 W x 24 H
36 L x 25 W x 27 H
40 L x 27 W x 30 H
All Mainline
52 L x 32 W x 32.5 H
All Mainline

*Note: At this time, 700 series crates are not accepted. Crates must not exceed 34 inches in height.

Not all breeds are accepted for cargo travel on United Airlines. The following dog breeds are restricted:

  • Affenpinscher 
  • American Bully 
  • American Pit Bull Terrier/Pit Bull 
  • American Staffordshire Terrier
  • Boston Terrier 
  • Boxer 
  • Brussels Griffon 
  • Bulldog
  • Cavalier King Charles Spaniel 
  • Chow Chow 
  • English Toy Spaniel
  • Lhasa Apso 
  • Pug
  • Tibetan Spaniel 
  • Mastiff 
  • Pekingese 
  • Shar-Pei
  • Shih-Tzu 
  • Staffordshire Bull Terrier

United Airlines also does not allow a few cat breeds, including Burmese, Exotic Shorthair, Himalayan, and Persian.

United Airlines Pet Policy for International Travel

As of right now, United Airlines will not allow pets to fly to or from the following areas:

  • Australia
  • Barbados
  • Brazil
  • Cuba
  • Guam (Pets are allowed from Guam to Tokyo-Narita, but they are not permitted on the flight back to Guam)
  • French Polynesia
  • Hawaii
  • Hong Kong
  • Iceland
  • Ireland
  • Jamaica
  • Marshall Islands
  • Federated States of Micronesia
  • New Zealand
  • Northern Mariana Islands
  • Norway
  • Palau
  • Philippines
  • Saint Kitts and Nevis
  • South Africa
  • Sweden
  • Trinidad and Tobago
  • United Arab Emirates
  • United Kingdom
United Airlines Dog Friendly Policy

Pawsome photo courtesy of @sullydabulldog

The Process of Flying with Your Pet on United Airlines

United Airlines makes it easy to travel with pets! Find out how to book and reserve your pet’s ticket and discover the simple check-in process below.

Booking and Reserving Your Pet's Ticket

Booking and reserving carry-on pets for domestic travel is a cinch. All you need to do is select the “Travel With a Pet” option when booking your trip on United.com. If you’ve already booked your ticket and forgot to add your pet, don’t worry – simply go to “My Trips” and add your pet.

*Note: Adding a pet on the United app is currently not allowed!

Those planning to fly internationally must call 1-800-864-8331 to add their pet to their reservation. 

If you’re flying cargo as military personnel or a State Department foreign service officer, you must make advanced reservations five to ten days before takeoff.

Checking In and Boarding with Your Pet

Checking in is as easy as heading to the ticket counter, showing you and your pet’s confirmation numbers, and going on your journey. An employee will double-check to ensure your carrier meets the requirements. If so, they will provide a special tag for your pet’s carrier.

During the Flight: Tips for a Smooth Journey

It can be nerve-wracking to travel with pets, especially if it’s your (and their) first time. Luckily, there are a few ways you can make the trip go smoother:

  • Find a crate/carrier they’re comfortable in.
  • Acclimate your furry friend to their crate/carrier a few weeks before departure.
  • Add a comfort item to their crate/carrier, such as a favorite blanket or toy.
  • Make sure they exercise and use the bathroom before takeoff.
  • Feed them a small amount of food and water before takeoff.
  • Remain calm at all times – your doggy friend can pick up on your emotions!



Simply put, United Airlines’ pet policy strives to accommodate travelers with pets, especially those flying as a carry-on in cabin. There isn’t a long list of requirements – as long as your furry buddy can sit and stand comfortably in an approved carrier, you’re good to go. However, it is essential to double-check the United Airlines website regularly for current information, as rules and regulations can change at any time.

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