United Airlines Tightens Restrictions on Its PetSafe Program

United Airlines has further enhanced its restrictions on the transportation of pets with its PetSafe Program which became effective as of Monday, June 18, 2018 — which includes no longer accepting reservations for certain breeds of dogs and cats.

United Airlines Tightens Restrictions on Its PetSafe Program

United Airlines already implemented stricter requirements for emotional support animals earlier this year — including requiring all passengers traveling with emotional support animals to provide documentation of proof of health or vaccinations 48 hours in advance of the departure of a flight — effective as of Tuesday, March 1, 2018.

In 2017, United Airlines was responsible for 75 percent of the deaths of animals aboard airplanes operated by domestic carriers in the United States; as well as almost 87 percent of injuries to animals, according to the February 2018 edition of the Air Travel Consumer Report of the Department of Transportation of the United States.

Additionally, the French bulldog puppy of a passenger died after the bag in which it was stored was placed in an overhead bin aboard an airplane operated by United Airlines back in March of 2018; and a giant rabbit also died during a flight operated by United Airlines from London to Chicago.

Of the 189 deaths of animals aboard commercial flights between June of 2005 and June of 2011 as reported by the Department of Agriculture of the United States, 98 of them — which is more than half — were brachycephalic breeds of dogs, which have trouble breathing due to their short noses; and their respiratory conditions worsen when flying at high altitudes in the cargo holds of airplanes where temperatures can be too hot or too cold for them.

In an effort to reduce the number of fatalities and injuries to animals aboard its airplanes, the following changes to the policies of the PetSafe Program of United Airlines were last updated on Tuesday, May 1, 2018 — and embargoes and information will be updated as detailed requirements are rolled out and is subject to change at any time:

NEW PETSAFE EMBARGOES Effective Monday, June 18, 2018, United Airlines PetSafe:
Animals Accepted for PetSafe
  • Accepts cats and dogs ONLY. NO other household pets or animals will be accepted as PetSafe.
Reservation and Travel Resume
  • Allows reservations beginning Monday, June 18, 2018 for pets traveling on the same flight as their pet parent or guardian beginning on Monday, July 9, 2018.
  • Allows reservations beginning Monday, July 16, 2018 for pets traveling alone for travel beginning Monday, July 30, 2018.
Dog Breeds and Cat Breeds For Which Reservations Are Not Accepted By United Airlines Not accept reservations for the following brachycephalic — or short- or snub-nosed — dogs and cats and strong-jawed dog breeds, out of concern for higher adverse health risks:

Dog Breeds

  • Affenpinscher
  • American Bully
  • American Pit Bull Terrier/Pit Bull
  • American Staffordshire Terrier/“Amstaff”
  • Belgian Malinois
  • Boston Terrier
  • Boxer
  • Brussels Griffon
  • Bulldog
    • American Bulldog
    • English Bulldog
    • French Bulldog
    • Old English Bulldogges
    • Shorty Bulldogs
    • Spanish Alano/Spanish Bulldog/Alano Espanol
  • Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
  • Chow Chow
  • English Toy Spaniel/Prince Charles Spaniel
  • Japanese Chin/Japanese Spaniel
  • Lhasa Apso
  • Mastiff
    • American Mastiff
    • Boerboel/South African Mastiff
    • Bullmastiff
    • Ca de Bou/Mallorquin Mastiff
    • Cane Corso/Italian Mastiff
    • Dogo Argentino/Argentinian Mastiff
    • Dogue de Bordeaux/French Mastiff
    • English Mastiff
    • Fila Brasileiro/Brazilian Mastiff/Cao de Fila
    • Indian Mastiff/Alangu
    • Kangal/Turkish Kangal
    • Neapolitan Mastiff/Mastino Napoletano
    • Pakastani Mastiff/Bully Kutta
    • Pyrenean Mastiff
    • Presa Canario/Perro de Presa Canario/Dogo Canario/Canary Mastiff
    • Spanish Mastiff / Mastin Espanol
    • Tibetan Mastiff
    • Tosa/Tosa Ken/Tosa Inu/Japanese Mastiff/Japanese Tosa
  • Pekingese
  • Pug
    • Dutch Pug
    • Japanese Pug
  • Shar-Pei/Chinese Shar-Pei
  • Shih-Tzu
  • Staffordshire Bull Terrier/“Staffys”
  • Tibetan Spaniel

Cat Breeds

  • Burmese
  • Exotic Shorthair
  • Himalayan
  • Persian

Including mixed breeds

Weather Restrictions
  • Monitors weather and assess the station capability of handling during extreme temperature or other operating conditions. United Airlines may decline acceptance or alter the routing if temperatures are outside of a safe range.
  • No longer accepts reservations to and from the following airports annually between May 1 and September 30, due to high temperature restrictions:
    • Las Vegas (LAS)
    • Palm Springs (PSP)
    • Phoenix (PHX)
    • Tucson (TUS)
Reservation Timeframe
  • Accepts pre-reservations between 30 days in advance maximum and five days minimum prior to travel for customers traveling with their pets and/or for pets traveling alone
  • Requires additional conditions for acceptance — see below — prior to reservation confirmation.
Additional Conditions for Acceptance
  • Requires the customer to provide PetSafe with several pieces of information — for example, documents, photos, crate information, etcetera — before any reservation is confirmed. PetSafe Customer Service Center will be able to provide additional details of this requirement at the time of booking
Locations Served
  • Not accept any reservations to and from India and Australia at this time. To confirm service in other locations, please contact the PetSafe Customer Service Center.
Flight Segments or Connections
  • Places limitations on the number of connecting cities in the routing. Please consult the PetSafe Customer Service Center for available routings.
International Routings
  • Requires international routing to be arranged through an International Pet and Animal Transportation Association — or IPATA — pet shipper only. A list of IPATA members near you can be found at https://www.ipata.org
  • Not accept crates taller than 30″ — including the 700 series crates.
  • No longer sells or provides crates at airport facilities. All cats and dogs traveling with a PetSafe reservation must have a compliant crate, which may be purchased via united.com/petmate in advance for acclimation and travel.


The additional restrictions are for the protection of certain breeds of animals — as well as another way for airlines to carefully toe the line of protecting its customers and employees while simultaneously supporting the rights of customers with legitimate needs, which has not been easy to balance.

I have written extensively over the years pertaining to service dogs and emotional support animals in the form of articles posted here at The Gate — including:

Photograph ©2017 by Brian Cohen.

2 thoughts on “United Airlines Tightens Restrictions on Its PetSafe Program”

  1. James says:

    It’s about time.
    Airlines need to determine if they are in the animal hauling business or the people hauling business.
    Ever hear about kennels??

  2. Edwin says:

    Does anyone know why United will only allow reservations for pets 30 days in advance of the flight at the earliest (Delta is even a shorter time frame of only 14 days in advance)?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.