We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.
We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Any Tips for Pets and United Airlines?

Zurich, Switzerland
posts: 1
reviews: 9
Any Tips for Pets and United Airlines?

Have recently moved to Zurich from Houston, Texas - heading back to Houston to get my dog and move him here now that I have found a place to live. I'm booked on United Airlines from Houston through Newark and on to Zurich. It looks like United has a PetSafe program that should track my dog through all of the flights etc. Does anyone have any experience with United/international flights/dogs? Anything good? Anything to watch out for? Any tips for packing him? He's a 10 year old Corgi.

32 replies to this topic
Longmont, Colorado
Destination Expert
for Traveling with Pets
posts: 570
reviews: 15
1. Re: Any Tips for Pets and United Airlines?

Not sure about United for pets in cargo. We flew with our Jack Russell in cabin with them and no problems. We flew Den-Newark and then Lufthansa (great with dogs!) to Zurich. I assume you have all of the relevant USDA paperwork for Switzerland? If your dog is in cargo, ask the attendant to verify he is on board for each flight. Get a good crate with room for him to stand comfortably and turn around. Make sure there is bowel fixed to the front of the crate for water.You need to book in advance for your dog, don't just show up at the airport with him.

Seattle, Washington
posts: 6,781
reviews: 85
2. Re: Any Tips for Pets and United Airlines?

You should be able to find all the tips and requirements on UA's webpage.

united.com/web/…default.aspx

Is your dog small enough to travel in the cabin? That would certainly be my choice over shipping as cargo if it was possible.

I would hope there is not a "bowel" fixed to the front of the crate

Bangkok
Destination Expert
for Bangkok, Air Travel, Thailand
posts: 13,656
reviews: 71
3. Re: Any Tips for Pets and United Airlines?

Hi,

I agree with #2,.... be sure you've read IN FULL the program rules qnd comply..

The carriage of pets is tightly controlled by the US' Department of Agriculture... and this is things like kennel size, etc... So, be sure you know what's allowed or not, as UA can't waive them if you show up with something missing, wrong size, etc.. as these are not UA internal policies, but USDA regulations- thus non-discretionary.

My two suggestions is to make sure the kennel itself is the right size (read the rules about what's right sized or not) and that the door is secure and sturdy.

You usually also get talk of "to medicate or not"... That to me, is a question you need to take to your vet or other qualified professional for guidance as each animal is different.

What's the transport like? On a wide-body aircraft (like the B767, B777, B747, etc) all animals are loaded into what's called the "manual pit" which is a smaller cargo space in the very rear of the aircraft. The manual pit is designed for smaller cargo and late bags, but not much else.. most airlines use the manual pit for odd-sized things, fragile or high-value items.

Here's what the manual pit looks like on the B747:

http://tinyurl.com/9sc53gg

The cargo holds are pressurized just like the passenger cabin is.. It's temperature controlled and is about 5 to 10c cooler than the passenger area is.. It's very close to dark when in flight as there's only a few sources of illumination. Just imagine the passenger area a bit cooler and dark-- that's what it's like,

On a narrow body (like the B737 or A319/A320, B757) they loaded (usually last in so right next to the door) into one of the two general baggage compartments. There is no manual pit on a narrow body aircraft.

The conditions on a narrow body is the same as wide body-- pressurized, a bit cooler and dark. The only major difference is that on a narrow body, animals are in the same general space as the baggage, whereas with a wide-body, they're separated and stored in the manual pit.

Travel Safe,

Longmont, Colorado
Destination Expert
for Traveling with Pets
posts: 570
reviews: 15
4. Re: Any Tips for Pets and United Airlines?

For travel in the hold a bowl affixed to the front of the crate is required. Opps not bowel, that would be unpleasant (:-). We also went to Vienna last Christmas with a dog in cargo and that was one of the requirements. Ground crew gave him water between flights in the bowl. The Captain is notified (at least on Lufthansa)when there is a pet and adjusts the temp so it is comfortable for the dog. FA's always told us when the dog was aboard and that the captain had adjusted the temp. You are lucky, Switzerland is VERY dog friendly, with the exception being the Canton of Ticino where they are more restrictive. You may get dinged for 88 CF when you arrive at customs in Switzerland with your dog. How much does your Corgi weigh?

Madrid
posts: 2,630
reviews: 7
5. Re: Any Tips for Pets and United Airlines?

You may wish to check the thread on flyertalk about a dog in Uniteds care at IAH that got heatstoke,and it was necessary to Euthanase.Happened during august.

Longmont, Colorado
Destination Expert
for Traveling with Pets
posts: 570
reviews: 15
6. Re: Any Tips for Pets and United Airlines?

Does your Corgi have a docked tail? If you are moving to Switzerland that will be a problem.

…admin.ch/themen/…

Seattle, Washington
posts: 6,781
reviews: 85
7. Re: Any Tips for Pets and United Airlines?

^^^^^^^

No, it's not a problem. Did you read the entire document?

"Also anyone who moves to Switzerland from abroad may bring his

docked dog with him. It is essential to obtain information from customs in good time before relocation

to establish whether the criteria are met in your case, so that your dog can be classed as so-called

personal property (http://www.ezv.admin.ch)."

OP should be fine, even if his dog has a docked tail.

Longmont, Colorado
Destination Expert
for Traveling with Pets
posts: 570
reviews: 15
8. Re: Any Tips for Pets and United Airlines?

I stand corrected about the docked tails.

If you can change from United to Lufthansa for your flight you will be happier. They have their prices clearly marked on their website for what you will be charged, you can book over the phone with them as well. Lufthansa is very committed to being pet -friendly.

Edited: 2:20 pm, September 07, 2012
Orlando, Florida
posts: 837
reviews: 2
9. Re: Any Tips for Pets and United Airlines?

I brought 2 cats with me in the cabin when I moved to Africa, and 5 cats back in cargo (although not on United).

Re: medication - you can ask your vet but most vets do not recommend medication. Just as it is with humans, some animals have reactions due to the altitude. The animals generally do fine in the hold. I saw a video of a cargo area simulator with animals loaded. They are all a bit anxious when first loaded into the hold, but once the doors were closed and the engines started, they calmed down. It's dark and temperature controlled and the engines are basically a white noise.

I don't know what size carrier you will use but if it's one of the typical plastic snap together carriers with the metal grill door, make sure you use plastic tie-wraps (those sliding wraps that lock once you put the end through the eye) to secure the top to the bottom. There are slots in the latch areas where you can thread a tie wrap. I also tie-wrapped the door to the frame. There have been instances of animals escaping at airports when their carrier is lifted and the snaps come undone. You don't want that.

I also made a luggage tag for each carrier which I laminated with a picture and name of each cat, their basic description and age (5 year old gray & white) and my contact info and flight info on the other side. Yes, you'll have tons of paperwork attached to the carrier but it's nice to have the tag then handlers can easily talk to your dog using his name.

In terms of what you line the bottom of the carrier with for the long-haul, I highly recommend the product from DryFur company. It's like a wicking pee pad but designed and sized for the bottom of various size carriers. The web also has great info on traveling with pets whether in cargo or in the cabin.

http://www.dryfur.com/

It would be great if you could take him in the cabin but I suspect he may be too large/heavy. Check with the airline. I took two cats over in the cabin (I carried one, my SIL carried the other). There is a limit on how many pets are allowed in the cabin. And some airlines now do not allow pets in the cabin for international flights.

Good luck. It seems like a long haul for the dog -- could you not break it up in Newark? If not, I'm sure he'll be fine - -they just hunker down. I was a nervous wreck worrying about them but they did just fine. And yes, on each flight the FA told me they were on board. I think I did fly United from IAD to MCO, and they put a two-part luggage tag on the carrier. Once the pet was loaded, the handler tore off part of the tag and gave it to the FA who gave it to me.

Woodside, California
posts: 1
reviews: 23
10. Re: Any Tips for Pets and United Airlines?

We just returned from Canada RT on United SFO to YVR (Vancouver). We used to fly Alaska Airlines when they had direct flights. We travel in the summer to British Columbia but we drive. We were only going for a few weeks and decided it would be best to just fly and use Frequent Flyer tickets for my husband and myself. We knew that United took pets and had this "Pet Safe" program but unfortunately we booked the flights before reading the fine print. 1. We have two cats and fortunately they go in one carrier but United charges $125 EACH WAY and no one at United touches them and they go under your feet and you don't get one additional benefit. NONE. I am sure they'd charge $250 if they knew there were two cats. 2nd. United now treats your regular size dog as CARGO. PetSafe sounds like something that was designed by lawyers. Previously, and I understand that this is still true on Alaska, you checked in your dog in their cage when you checked in (my dog is 52 pounds). Now you have to go 3 hours ahead of time to CARGO and drop off your dog. It took them 55 minutes just to get the stickers on the containers. Once we got to Canada we had to go out to Cargo and get the forms and go BACK to the airport and get agriculture to sign off. All this for $425 EACH WAY. On the return the Canadians were more helpful (at the Cargo company) but once we got into SFO we had to go to Cargo again and wait 90 minutes AFTER the flight and once the dog was brought to Cargo you had to drive over to Customs and Immigration, who take their own sweet time hand typing in everything again (anyone heard of bar codes?) and then the dog could be released. So United does this big promotion about loving dogs but it's ridiculous. There is no extra care and lots of indifference to the pet owner - as if the cargo was some vases from overseas. Next time we'll either drive (2 full days) or take Alaska which now stops in PDX or SEA but the dog will be treated as baggage and not cargo. Alaska is $100 for IN CABIN and BAGGAGE pets - for us that is $400 RT Vs. over $1K on United plus all the time at Cargo. So much for pet friendly. I suppose if your corporation is paying and you are traveling outside of North America and it was you only choice it is what you have to do. If you have options choose another carrier.

Edited: 5:07 pm, May 26, 2013
Reply to: Any Tips for Pets and United Airlines?
Get notified by e-mail when a reply is posted