Most airlines have policies restricting pets that can experience problems breathing from flying at certain times of the year, for the safety of the pets – but United has gone further, labeling nine dog breeds as “dangerous” and banning them from all flights. Last week United announced their new PetSafe® program, billing it as an improvement over their previous pet travel options.
“United is committed to providing a safe and comfortable travel experience for all of our customers, including pets. Because we share our customers’ concern that their pets’ flights are stress-free, we have enhanced our animal acceptance policy to transport pets as both baggage (accompanying a passenger on the same plane) and cargo. Our program is called PetSafe®.”
Under the new PetSafe Program, United will continue to accept small pets in the cabin and their policy for service animals has not changed – they will be welcomed on board or as checked baggage. However, pets that are too large to fly in-cabin are now flown on separate planes using United’s cargo service.
Pets flying in cargo must be checked in at United’s cargo facilities or cargo shipping counters. They’ll no longer be accepted at passenger ticket counters, unless these counters are designated as cargo shipping locations.
To assuage pet owner’s concerns about their pets, United has implemented the following safeguards:
- A dedicated 24-hour live animal desk (1-800-575-3335 or 1-832-235-1541)
- Confirmed booking prior to departure
- Weather conditions constantly monitored at all points
- The ability to track and trace the animal from its origin to its destination
- Personal handling in climate-controlled vehicles for connections over United’s hubs when the animal will be exposed to temperatures above 85°F (29.5°C) degrees for more than 45 minutes
- United recommends (but does not require) that senior dogs and cats (more than 7.5 years old) receive a more extensive health examination (i.e., liver and kidney screens).
As part of their new policy, United has also banned these nine breeds and mixes of these breeds from any flight, because they consider them “dangerous”:
- Pit Bull Terriers
- American Staffordshire Terriers
- Presa Canario
- Perro de Presa Canario
- Dogo Argentino
- Cane Corso
- Fila Brasileiro
- Tosa (or Tosa Ken)
- Ca de Bou
The merger between United and Continental makes them the world’s largest air carrier and the only US-based airline that has breed discrimination rules.
What Can You Do?
Want to let United know that it’s wrong to discriminate based on appearance. You can start by choosing a different airline – and we’ve gathered the airline’s pet policies to make that easier for you. Contacting United to voice your disappointment will also help – they’re paying especially close attention to customer feedback during the merger period.
You can also support Jessie Huart’s petition at Change.org. Jessie discovered United’s new policy when she tried to book a flight with her dog and was told that Slaw, her 10-year-old pit bull, wasn’t allowed because of his breed. Jessie’s petition emphasizes that each dog is an individual with his own unique personality and should be judged based on temperament, not on appearance or breed. Sign the petition to let United know you agree.