New United Airlines Pet Travel Policy Bans Nine Breeds

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®.”

Traveling Dog in Lea

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 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.

Planning a pet friendly trip of your own? We’ll make it easy:
Pet Friendly Hotels | Pet Friendly Destinations | Pet Friendly Activities

115 thoughts on “New United Airlines Pet Travel Policy Bans Nine Breeds

    1. You got that right!!! My Pitt Bull is like my child!!! She sleeps with me watches T.V. with & even trys to cook !! Lol!! Just saying!! She is my life!!

  1. Unbelieveable! To think we shipped our rescue pit bull, one of the sweetest dogs ever, back and forth across the country at a big expense in order to save her and that wasn’t easy. Now this!

    1. Also

      I will NEVER fly United again. If they are that ignorant, I would not trust my life to that airline.

    2. Either use or and other animal-oriented airlines are popping up.

      I would never fly United. Not only are they so NOT friendly, but so tremendously ignorant that I would not trust MY own life with that airline!

  2. This is crazy for sure. I’ve seen more little dog biters than big and it is clearly discrimination. I am not quite suite what kind of breeds some of them are but regardless, I think if you have a biter, you probably aren’t travelling in an airlines with them.

  3. Disgusting that they can get away with this. When will people learn that IT’S NOT THE BREED, IT’S THE INDIVIDUAL DOG (and it’s usually the owner’s fault)! I disliked United before, but now I think boycotting them altogether is a great idea. Who is with me????

    Not that I would EVER let one of my dogs fly cargo. Too many chances for things to go wrong.

  4. Won’t be flying with United anymore. Peanut goes everywhere with me and NOT in cargo OR on a separate plane.

  5. This is unbelievable!

    I thought we were progressing forward and becoming a smarter, better informed population and yet here we are moving backwards yet again. Despite the research proving there are no naturally aggressive breeds only aggressive individuals and despite proof that even dogs subjected to horrific conditions (Vick dogs, abused shelter dogs…..) can rise above their abusive beginnings to become excellent family companions, we return to ignorance and hysteria.

    It is time we take back our rights and demand a stop to policies based on fabricated information that is not based on truth. Where is their documented proof of aggressive breeds on flights? Where is the statistics showing this policy is based on actual evidence?

    There isn’t any!

  6. United has gone nowhere but downhill since their merger with Continental. This is unbelievably ignorant.

  7. They should ban the owners of those breeds. Just as they should ban the parents of misbehaved and unruly children. Good manners and respect of others start at home..

  8. Boooo to United…they suck! I agree with KeriJo Halpine. I, myself, would never put my pet in a cargo hold…I think I would have a heart attack! I understand why some people might have to do that, but it would just break my heart to put my pups in cargo!

  9. “They should ban the owners of the breeds and also ban the owners of misbehaving and unruly children”?? While I agree that you should teach your children manners and respect, its foolish to think you can ban someone for their child throwing a temper tantrum. How about we ban everyone who upsets us or makes life a lil more difficult and then we can all live in bubbles and never have any contact with anyone else. People drive me nuts!! Get a grip and pray to heaven above that you or your children never have a bad day or even a bad mood!

  10. If Shiloh was going with me then I would drive before I would ever put her in the cargo hold… She would lose her poor lil mind and be terrified in the belly of a big plane with sounds and smells that she has never experienced before..

  11. They say they are still for helping the disabled, but what if the dog helping the disabled is one of the “unsafe”breeds listed below. Then what?! It’s NOT the breed, it’s the OWNERS!!!!! Unbelievable!!!

  12. Won’t be flying with them ..telling my family also. It’s not right. What’s next banning people..wrong colored luggage. People are the ones that make these animals the way they are. Wonder what makes them the way they are..?

  13. Sadly, dogs really SHOULDN’T b in cargo in the first place- it’s not a controlled environment. There is a dog airline w limited locations but for example, I would never fly my boxer in cargo- it’s too hot and dogs like her ( pug/ Boston/ mastiff w short face) can’t cool themselves. Too bad they ban- but I think flying dogs in cargo SHOULD be banned all together for animal safety. -doglover071709

  14. its just simply crazy do they not understand dogs and even if they wanted a check on them before flying to see the temprement but to just ban out right is ludicrious

  15. Honestly… I have to say… I would never do this to my dog…. she would be terrified… and yes I know you drug them so them relax… but I would be worried sick something would go wrong… if I am taking my dog, I would drive…

    That being said…. with all the airline / TSA stuff… I never intend to fly again….

  16. Just totally ridiculous……Now we discriminate against Breeds. I would love to see the genious that gets paid 6 figures that dreamed this baby up!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  17. I hope someone with a therapy dog from a breed that is on their list books a flight. They cannot ban a therapy dog due to the ADA. Then what are they going to do?

  18. Bloody hell!! This is horrendous!! Seriously?!?! So they’re basically saying all of these “dangerous” breeds can’t travel?!?! Its hard enough for ppl to travel on the road with them now they’re not allowing them to fly!!! That is messed up!!! why is it that the lawmakers can only think of brutally attacking animals making it harder for ppl to travel and own their beloved family members?!

  19. Silly me! I thought I would see bulldog on the list because of concern of the health and safety of the breed. Instead, it’s just a meaningless, stereotyped list made by uninformed people that serves no purpose. Dislike!!!

    1. Stupid even becomes more stupid. I thought the same thing; Any type of dog that has a short snout like a Boxer, Pug, English Bulldog, etc. But noooooooo, now it’s more discrimination
      against dogs! Guess I’ll have to charter a jet now to avoid such nonsence (if only).

  20. This is why I don’t fly United Airlines. This ban is stupid. I bet some people saw a Pit Bull being loaded into the belly of the plane & threw a shit fit! Pits are “Nanny Dogs” & “America’s Sweethearts”. They’re built for hugging. That’s why they’re round. They’re “Hug Shaped”!

    I understand the part about dogs with breathing problems. Such as an English Bulldogs, Pugs or Pekes in the summer heat. They have problem on a normal basis. Adding heat & travels stress, can be a fatal combo.

  21. I have mixed feelings on this…I dont think they should b banned 4 the reason they are, I’ve flown my pit when he was 8mo w/Southwest across the country but I freaked the whole time. Terrible, terrible things happen 2 animals in the cargo hold of airplanes, they’re stuck in their cages extended amounts of time, often ending up in their own filth out of either being unable to hold it for so long or fear..or both, not to mention being subjected to however the ppl down there decide to treat them & a whole host of other things, short-nosed breeds (bullies incl) are particularly sensitive to flying, making it actually dangerous. I kind of wish they would ban live animals in cargo holds PERIOD. That said, I know it can be life saving to ship an animal, they’re still small, pricey, & only go to like 4 cities making it particularly inconvenient, but there’s a new airline that is “animal only”, they’re set up to fly animals only, take any breed & the animals are in the CABIN-no matter the size. I would LOVE to see this airline do well & expand to make it cheaper & more convenient to everyone-(esp rescues!!) but I’ll never ship another dog in cargo, it wasn’t worth the stress I felt let alone what he may have gone thru, even tho he was relatively ok (he had pooped all over himself), I’d much rather drive…or pay extra to know my dog is safe w/a vet tech on board, in the cabin so fairly comfortable, w/water & potty breaks on long flights….just my opinion. Not saying anyone who does ship their animal is a horrible person & the airlines shouldn’t be discriminating for the reason they are but, I also personally dont like the idea of shipping them in cargo on planes…

    1. Those were my thoughts when I read it, too
      . I have always been so afraid of putting my animals on a plane. Although, I would prefer my animals be with me, I have boarded them occasionally for an out of country vacay. I only board them with the vets I know and trust and witnessed how they care for the animals. Other times, well, I have chosen to add a couple of days and drive, find pet friendlies or camp.

      My pets are my family.

  22. @stephanie, you are right a lot of times they have no choice but if they do, animals belong WITH their people not with the luggage. I drive.

  23. We tend to fly Luftansa. They have been very kind and caring with both of our boys. I would highly recommend them. Never a problem never any bullshit. They love our dogs.

    But lets not pretend all dogs are created equal. They are not. They are not people. This isn’t racism. This is a fact of nature. Pit bulls don’t growl. They don’t give the usual warning. They don’t register pain the way other dogs do. They are highly agressive and with misshandling or due to overly stressful circumstances, can become extremely violent. There is a reason the bad owners choose certain breeds. None of this means in good hands and a stable environment that they can not make fabulous loving pets. All the same, if a dog like that gets loose for any reason on a plane in the air full of people and children….. An island in the sky….. In such a stressful circumstance, such a dog could become extremely violent and then what? There have also been instances where dumb ass dog owners are trying to wreck it for the rest of us as well where they take their dogs out of the crate while flying….. I can understand these restrictions. Not entirely sure i agree with them completely…. But… I can see how this can happen. And i am sick to death of people screaming about racism. It’s not racism. If you assault a black person the same way as you assault a white person you get the same pain response. If you assault a pit the way you assault a cocker it is an entirely different thing. And a black person like a white person generally lets you know the same way a white person or asian does that in a moment fists are gonna fly if you are not careful. A cocker spaniel gives warning a pit doesn’t. Lets not pretend this is rascism. It isn’t the same thing at all. Is it nice? Perhaps not, is it right? I really dunno where i stand on this one…. But is it doggy racism. Oh fuck no.

    1. I agree with you that not all dog breeds are equal or the same. However, there is a lot in your post that screams ignorance. I doubt seriously that you have ever spent any time with any of the breeds that make up the dogs we call pit bulls. They are among the least aggressive breeds, and they have to be put through horrible things for them to become aggressive. Cocker spaniels, on the other hand, certainly all the ones I’ve met are way more territorial and aggressive than any pittie I’ve ever met. Of course there are different personalities between the dogs of the same breed based on individuals and their environments. The other part of your post that lacks understanding is the idea of a pit coming out of a crate during a flight. They don’t fly in the cabin; all medium or large dogs have to fly with the luggage, which is horrible in itself. Anyhow, your paranoid dream of a dog coming out in the cabin and attacking children could only happen with yorkies (or other small breeds) because their carrier must fit under the seat.

  24. Most airlines have a large list of breed restrictions, pit bulls make every list (insane). Use Pet Airways, or drive!

  25. This is ridiculous. Any dog can bite or cause trouble. It depends on circumstances and training and life experiences. This is ridiculous. What about freedom? This is against every thing I stand for!

  26. @ Robin – I couldn’t agree more. Cargo is not safe for any animal…and one note on Pet Airways, be prepared to drop some $$. We looked into flying our pup from Phx to BUF. They only go to JFK, then we would have to have him ‘couriered’ to BUF. To the tune of $5K approx, round trip….. we decided to leave them home, with our house sitter, better for him anyways 😉

  27. sad sad sad sad nothing eles i mean for crying out loud any breed can be marked as dangerouse even the small breeds like chihuahuas for example king charles caviler or any other breed it is just how the owners train them and treat them man i mean my little one emily (chihuahua) is a sweet heart to every body she loves ppl she gets so happy and exited to see other ppl but if you show her aggression well then sure we will have issues so baning those 9 breeds its sad and just outragiously stupid and just sad

  28. Okay, I’m really getting tired of the intolerance or these breeds of dogs. The real crime is the people that own them and leave them chained up outside 24/7 and throw food at them, never socializing them. A black lab would be mean under those circumstances! Nobody considers the treatment of these dogs in their formative years when they are banning them. Seriously, a chihuahua would bite you sooner than my pit bull. As far as the point of this article I wouldn’t put any of my dogs in the cargo hold of a plane anyway, I would drive if I was taking them with me. I am just seriously tired of the discrimination. The owners should be held to bear as it is in the training and raising. A dog is a sponge, you love them and they love you back. It’s that simple.

  29. Hey can I pick a category to ban? Cause I’d rather have drunk fat assholes banned from flights. You don’t even see the dogs since they’re in cargo! F*cking idiots.

  30. I wouldn’t fly my pets either. I am actually quite discerning about any handlers/care givers to my disabled German Shepherd.

  31. @amanda gynther, there have actually been scientific studies (not uneducated news reports), that indicate that pit bulls types DO indeed give warnings, just like other dog breeds. And you’re right, it’s not racism, because they’re not a race. It’s breedism.

  32. Not defending United here, but I highly doubt this was Uniteds choice (pet shipping is easy money for these guys). Just like when renting an apartment you have to agree not to have these types of breeds. More than likely this was a policy change United HAD to make per their insurance carrier.

  33. United can kiss my and my pit bulls ass… if it was their insurance carrier then why don’t they change it .. no other airlines has band these breeds.hmmmm. bad move

  34. This is complete and utter foolishness on United’s part. What’s next, are they going to ban people with tattoos and piercings because some folks think they look “dangerous” as well?

    They are going to lose a ton of customers over this policy.

  35. @Amanda Gynther You don’t know as much about dogs as you think you do. I don’t know where you heard that pit bulls don’t growl, but thats a load of bull shit. They are not “highly aggressive” by nature. I work around them all the time and have never ever been threatened even by a stressed and panicking pit bull. And if a dog were to get loose on a plane, they are in a cargo hold, and therefore would have no access to terrorize children as you so naively believe, not that they would just randomly start mauling people anyway. Thats the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard, you’ve obviously watched snakes on a plane too many times. The only dogs that are with passengers are small dogs.

    When I groomed dogs, I was bit by plenty of cockers who didn’t like to be groomed. At the shelter, I handle pit bulls that have been abused and have never once been bit. Don’t go around spouting off “facts” as if you have any experience in this area. You are just as ignorant as the fools who believe that the only dogs who bite are pit bulls, because those are the only ones they see on the news channels. Instead of believing everything you hear, why don’t you go and do some actual research and get some experience, you will find that pit bulls are called “nanny dogs” because of their loving and protective nature of children, and that there are thousands and thousands of pit bull service animals, and therapy dogs who work with children and the elderly, as well as millions of pit bulls living in happy healthy families because they are not aggressive by nature. Thugs choose them because of their history bull baiting and dog fighting, and because of their muscular appearence, and they beat them and starve them to try to make them aggressive. And even after all that, if they are rescued, they are able to be trained, socialized and adopted.

    Also, they register pain just as well as any other dog. Ever step on a pit bulls tail accidentally? They yelp and run away just like any dog would.

    Besides, this policy isn’t just about pit bulls. They’re basically banning any muscular, “tough” looking dog. Dogo argentinos are hunting dogs for god sake. Gimme a break. So sick of ignorant morons thinking they know what they are talking about.

  36. I signed and will avoid any United flights. This is ignorance and discrimination and outright ridiculous, and it does not matter if they HAD to do it because of insurance..Time to rewrite some policies here folks.

  37. So why not ban drunks, annoying kids, and parents who can’t handle their kids, the seat kickers, the loud gum smacker, and the person next to you who has to take a Lisa every 5min, and who also wants to tell you their life story. Can we ban them?

  38. Maybe I should send them a video of my miniature pocket beagle playfully attacking our rottweiler, who lays there and takes it. Or send them a picture of said rottweiler sleeping on my husband’s lap on the recliner. Ignorance, pure stupidity.

  39. This could have been a reasonable “breed ban” if they banned dogs who, due to physiology might not do well in flight (for example, if pugs or dogs with similar snoots have difficulty breathing in that type of environment). But to ban for being “dangerous” – that’s a different story. Shame on them!

  40. Anyone who would put their dog in the cargo hold of a plane is INSANE! I worked for AQIS years back and saw frozen pets arrive to grief stricken families, pets that had died choking on their own vomit, pets who were literally scared to death. If your pet can’t fly in the cabin with you, take a boat, drive or stay home. The cargo hold of a plane is NO place for your beloved pet!

  41. A small charter company could make a bloody fortune flying people and their pets in cabin across America or across the Atlantic. Hell…even if they had one flight a week cross country for people and their pets….or maybe half a dozen destinations and folks could drive the rest of the way….it could be a solution for people travelling with pets. Charge the pet a full adult fare….the pet and parent would all fly together. Private planes aren’t an option for the average joe…but I’d certainly work my vacation around flight schedules of a smaller charter airline if it meant taking my Ollie with me on holidays.

  42. I find it amazing that all of the breeds on the list are known for being loyal-family dogs, yet they are banned from flying in a crate. These are just the dogs that get the bad press and not bad dogs. I wish business and cities (like Denver) would do more research before banning breeds on their planes, in their apartments, or in hteir cities. I find it offensive as a dog and pit bull owner that people mis-judge the breed.

  43. How completely stupid. I mean the dogs are crated anyway so what difference does breed make? Way to hurt themselves, people will just choose a different airline for traveling with their pet. I hope all dog owners (no matter the breed) will ban them and choose a different airline.

  44. I am a dog lover, but I have to say that some dog breeds still have their natural wildness that stays with them through their genes. Some breeds are more prone to those genes. Yes, pit bulls are one of those breeds. If you research dog breeds hard enough, which you should do before getting your breed, then you would know this. Yes, I have seen some cute and sweet pit bulls, but their genes could make it to where they can turn on you at any given moment, no matter what type of training you put them through. The airlines are only trying to protect their employees and passengers in case they get out of the crates, which does happen at times.

    1. Thinking before speaking is great, but it doesn’t do you any good if you are ignorant of that which you speak. I happen to have a primitive breed dog. I also have a pittie mix and am aquainted with many Am. Stafs, Stafs and Am. Pits. Primative dogs are at the opposite end of the spectrum from most more domesticated dogs, including the pit bull breeds. The genes of very domesticated dogs, including pits, does not make them more prone to “turning on you at any given moment.” That you would make such a statement shows your own ignorance, lack of research, and lack of first hand experience with different dog breeds. Pits have neither the physical characteristics nor the personalities of primative/pariah type dogs. Have you ever met a Xolo, Canaan Dog, New Guniea Singing Dog, Thai Ridgeback, Dingo, Basenji, Cirneco dell’Etna? None of these dogs calls to mind, either by temperment or physical characteristics, a pit bull.

      For that matter, I’m not concerned about my primative girl “turning on me at any given moment,” although she is closely managed around small animals.

    2. Thinking before speaking is great, but it doesn’t do you any good if you are ignorant of that which speak. I have a primitive breed dog as well as a pittie mix. I’m also very well acquainted with several American Staffordshire Terriers, Staffordshire Terriers, and American Pit Bull Terriers. Suggesting that the pit bull breeds will “turn on you at any given moment, no matter what type of training you put them through” shows your ignorance, lack of research and lack of experience with dogs. Lumping pitties in with primitive/pariah breeds is laughable. They are at opposite ends of the spectrum in both personality and physical characteristics. Have you ever met a Canaan Dog, Dingo, New Guinea Singing Dog, Basenji, Thai Ridgeback, Xolo, Cirneco dell’Etna, or Pharaoh Hound? None of these dogs calls to mind pit bulls for me.

      Oh, and neither am I worried about my dog that does actually have primitive genetics turning on me, although she is heavily managed around small animals.

    3. Thinking before speaking is great, but it doesn’t do you any good if you are ignorant of that which speak. I have a primitive breed dog as well as a pittie mix. I’m also very well acquainted with several American Staffordshire Terriers, Staffordshire Terriers, and American Pit Bull Terriers. Suggesting that the pit bull breeds will “turn on you at any given moment, no matter what type of training you put them through” shows your ignorance, lack of research and lack of experience with dogs. Lumping pitties in with primitive/pariah breeds is laughable. They are at opposite ends of the spectrum in both personality and physical characteristics. Have you ever met a Canaan Dog, Dingo, New Guinea Singing Dog, Basenji, Thai Ridgeback, Xolo, Cirneco dell’Etna, or Pharaoh Hound? None of these dogs calls to mind pit bulls for me.

      Oh, and neither am I worried about my dog that does actually have primitive genetics turning on me, although she is heavily managed around small animals.

  45. United is a VERY unreliable airline. I won’t fly them any more because of downed computer systems, delays, being bounced off flights, all kinds of unpleasant surprises, etc. Why on earth would I fly on that airline and then trust them to handle my pet properly out of my sight? I couldn’t even count on arriving when the pet does. What then? I shudder to think…..

  46. This is the stupidest thing I have ever read. Seriously?! They are banning those breeds just because of how they look. A Ca de Bou, Fila Brasileiro, Tosa Inu and Dogo Argentinos are very RARE breeds! It’s ridiculous this is based on just how they look! This is the same if I say all blacks steal so I’m banning them from my flights. It’s pure racism! Guess what, not all blacks steal and not all of those breeds are vicious.

    The people that have them train them to be vicious! I have a labrador that I bought from an irresponsible woman, my lab has a lot of aggression problem, human and dog aggression especially when he sees children. It’s because my lab has never been socialized when he was a puppy. I also have an american pit bull terrier that is for me the best dog ever.

    I’m NEVER flying with United ever again and I am going to tell my friends this too.

  47. In my opinion, this is a very unwise decision. Pet owners that travel with their pets are the people that are willing to spent the extra money on traveling expenses and obviously care more about comfort since they are not willing to part with their pet. I have an english bulldog that is my baby just as much as my son and daughter. As for banning breeds, bull***h. I have been bitten by three different Chihuahuas in my life. Never by a pit bull. My mothers pit bull is a big sissy (very smart though) that’s like banning blacks or Latinos from an airline.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.