No Snakes on a Plane (or Dogs or Cats)? – Breaking Down United Airlines New Pet Policy

May 7, 2018

After a week in March in which United Airlines loaded three dogs onto the wrong planes and a fourth died in an overhead bin, United decided to review its PetSafe program for pets traveling in the cargo compartment. Of the nearly 507,000 animals that flew on U.S. commercial carriers in 2017, 24 died, with 18 of those deaths happening on United, according to the Department of Transportation.

Effective June 18, 2018, United will implement several new policies and customer requirements for pet air transportation. The biggest change being their prohibition for 47 different breeds of dog and 4 breeds of cats (more on that below).

United’s pet traveling transportation program, named “PetSafe” in an aptly made public relations move, only accepts dogs and cats. No other household pets or animals will be accepted.

United has also stopped any Petsafe transportation until June 18, 2018. On June 18, 2018 United will resume taking reservation for pets traveling on the same flight as their owner beginning July 9, 2018. On July 16, 208 they will allow reservations for pets traveling alone beginning July 30, 2018. Owners cannot book pets on routes with more than two connections.

The bulk of the breed restrictions are for short- or snub-nosed (brachycephalic) dogs and cats and strong-jawed dog breeds, including mix breeds. The following breeds are no longer accepted for reservations:

  1. Affenpinscher
  2. American Bully
  3. American Pit Bull Terrier/Pit Bull
  4. American Staffordshire Terrier/”Amstaff”
  5. Belgian Malinois
  6. Boston Terrier
  7. Boxer
  8. Brussels Griffon
  9. Bulldog
  10. American Bulldog
  11. English Bulldog
  12. French Bulldog
  13. Old English Bulldogges
  14. Shorty Bulldogs
  15. Spanish Alano/Spanish Bulldog/Alano Espanol
  16. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
  17. Chow Chow
  18. English Toy Spaniel/Prince Charles Spaniel
  19. Japanese Chin/Japanese Spaniel
  20. Lhasa Apso
  21. Mastiff
  22. American Mastiff
  23. Boerboel/South African Mastiff
  24. Bullmastiff
  25. Ca de Bou/Mallorquin Mastiff
  26. Cane Corso/Italian Mastiff
  27. Dogo Argentino/Argentinian Mastiff
  28. Dogue de Bordeaux/French Mastiff
  29. English Mastiff
  30. Fila Brasileiro/Brazilian Mastiff/Cao de Fila
  31. Indian Mastiff/Alangu
  32. Kangal/Turkish Kangal
  33. Neapolitan Mastiff/Mastino Napoletano
  34. Pakastani Mastiff/Bully Kutta
  35. Pyrenean Mastiff
  36. Presa Canario/Perro de Presa Canario/Dogo Canario/Canary Mastiff
  37. Spanish Mastiff / Mastin Espanol
  38. Tibetan Mastiff
  39. Tosa/Tosa Ken/Tosa Inu/Japanese Mastiff/Japanese Tosa
  40. Pekingese
  41. Pug
  42. Dutch Pug
  43. Japanese Pug
  44. Shar-Pei/Chinese Shar-Pei
  45. Shih-Tzu
  46. Staffordshire Bull Terrier/”Staffys”
  47. Tibetan Spaniel

The following cat breeds are also no longer accepted for reservations:

  1. Burmese
  2. Exotic Shorthair
  3. Himalayan
  4. Persian

Additionally, United will no longer accept any reservations to and from India and Australia year round, and will no longer accept reservations to and from the following US airports annually between May 1 and Sept. 30, due to high temperature restrictions:

  1. Las Vegas (LAS)
  2. Palm Springs (PSP)
  3. Phoenix (PHX)
  4. Tucson (TUS)

Travelers may still bring small pets, including dogs and cats, into United cabins so long as they are in carriers that fit under the seat. Other airlines such as Delta and American already had restrictions on pet travel during extreme temperatures or for snub-nosed breeds. It is also important to note that United’s new policy does not address service animals and emotional support animals.

United will honor PetSafe reservations confirmed as of March 20, 2018. For United’s full pet policy visit their website.

Rob Townsley is an associate attorney at Colligan Law LLP, whose practice areas primarily relate to natural resources and commercial real estate law, but who has also represented pet owners in local civil and criminal matters.