Holiday travel tips for four-legged family members
For many of us, bringing family together is a highlight of the holiday season. This frequently means traveling near or far, and travelers often include four-legged, furry family members. Some families also bring new pets into their homes during the holidays. Since pets are cherished family members, we asked the experts on United's PetSafe Advisory Board for some important tips to make sure pets traveling during the busy winter holiday period enjoy a safe and comfortable journey.
1. Know your pet
While pets are transported in pressurized, ventilated and climate-controlled compartments on our planes, and our staff is trained to handle animals with the utmost care, travel can still be stressful. Your pet will be seeing new people, experiencing different environments and may be confined in a crate for a longer time than ever before. Individual pets react differently to the stress of travel based on their personality, age, breed and behavior patterns. Before you make plans to fly your pet, please evaluate these characteristics and talk with your vet about whether there is any reason your pet may not be fit to fly.
Also, if you are acquiring a new pet that is being sent to you, be sure to ask the breeder or rescue organization about their travel preparations and confirm your new pet is healthy and ready to fly.
2. Plan ahead
Begin to plan your pet's trip at least two to three weeks prior to travel. Planning starts with obtaining the correct type and size of crate approved for airline travel. All crates must comply with IATA and USDA regulations and your pet must be able to freely stand, turn around and lie down without being cramped by the roof or walls. Much more information about selecting the right crate can be found on United.com's Kennel Requirements page.
If your pet isn't used to being in the type of crate needed for airline travel, it is extremely important to get them familiar with their travel environment and accustomed to spending time in it. A pet that feels secure and comfortable in their crate feels much less stress during travel. Ask your vet or trainer for additional tips on how to effectively acclimate your pet.
3. Prepare the paperwork
Now is the time to visit the vet to ensure all your pet's vaccinations are up to date and your pet is in good health for air travel. A health certificate issued by a veterinarian and dated within 10 days of travel is required for both the outbound and return trips. You will need to bring this certificate when you check your pet in for their journey.
Please note that puppies younger than 16 weeks may be more susceptible to illnesses transmitted by pathogens in their environment. These illnesses may not be detected by a brief pre-travel health checkup, so ask your breeder or rescue organization to obtain a more comprehensive veterinary exam to ensure a healthy travel experience.
If your pet is traveling outside the United States, you may need additional paperwork to comply with the requirements of your destination country. The USDA pet travel website provides guidelines for pet travel to and from the U.S. and most countries.
4. Get ready to fly
There are two key things to do before you bring your pet to the airport for their trip: get their crate ready and get your pet ready. Getting the crate ready involves following the rules for what should and shouldn't be included in your pet's crate. To get your pet ready and help them relax on their flight, take them for a long walk before their travel. A "tired" pet does much better on a flight than a "wired" one. To avoid discomfort, do not feed your pet in the two hours prior to its flight – instead give them small amounts of water. Healthy, large breed adult dogs should be fed a smaller meal than usual no later than four hours before their flight. Small breed puppies younger than 16 weeks and less than 10 pounds may be fed a small meal two to three hours before flight.
5. Check in for the journey
Airports are very busy places during the holiday season, so give yourself plenty of time to arrive at the designated airport drop-off area at least two to three hours before the scheduled departure of your pet's flight. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) requires screening of all pets and crates, so please allow time to complete this process and remember to bring a leash in case you need to remove your pet from the crate during screening.
6. Picking up your pet
When your pet arrives at its destination, you will need to come to the designated airport pick-up area to reunite with your pet. We recommend you bring along some wet wipes to clean the crate, along with your pet's paws and face, at journey's end. Once they are out of their crate, take them for a little walk, treat them to a good meal and enjoy the happy reunion!
7. Learn more about pet travel
Visit United's PetSafe page for more information about flying your pet, including handy checklists to ensure your pet will be ready their trip and details on breeds with country-specific embargoes and requirements. United's PetSafe team of pet travel experts are available 24/7 at 1-800-575-3335 (from the U.S. & Canada), +1-832-235-1541 (from other locations) or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Right now, around the world, brave members of America's armed forces are on duty, defending our freedom and upholding our values.
When not laser-focused on the mission at hand, they're looking forward to the day when their service to our nation is fulfilled and they can reunite with their families.
They are also imagining how they can use their hard-earned skills to build an exciting, rewarding and important career when they return home.
I want them to look no further than United Airlines.
That's why we are focused on recruiting, developing and championing veterans across our company, demonstrating to our returning women and men in uniform that United is the best possible place for them to put their training, knowledge, discipline and character to the noblest use.
They've developed their knowledge and skills in some of the worst of times. We hope they will use those skills to keep United performing at our best, all of the time.
That's why we are accelerating our efforts to onboard the best and the brightest, and substantially increasing our overall recruitment numbers each year.
We recently launched a new sponsorship program to support onboarding veterans into United and a new care package program to support deployed employees. It's one more reason why United continues to rank high - and rise higher - as a top workplace for veterans. In fact, we jumped 21 spots this year on Indeed.com's list of the top U.S workplaces for veterans. This is a testament to our increased recruiting efforts, as well as our efforts to create a culture where veterans feel valued and supported.
We use the special reach and resources of our global operations to partner with outstanding organizations. This is our way of stepping up and going the extra mile for all those who've stepped forward to answer our nation's call.
We do this year-round, and the month of November is no exception; however, it is exceptional, especially as we mark Veterans Day.
As we pay tribute to all Americans who have served in uniform and carried our flag into battle throughout our history, let's also keep our thoughts with the women and men who are serving around the world, now. They belong to a generation of post-9/11 veterans who've taken part in the longest sustained period of conflict in our history.
Never has so much been asked by so many of so few.... for so long. These heroes represent every color and creed. They are drawn from across the country and many immigrated to our shores.
They then freely choose to serve in the most distant and dangerous regions of the world, to protect democracy in its moments of maximum danger.
Wherever they serve - however they serve - whether they put on a uniform each day, or serve in ways which may never be fully known, these Americans wake up each morning willing to offer the "last full measure of devotion" on our behalf.
Every time they do so, they provide a stunning rebuke to the kinds of voices around the world who doubt freedom and democracy's ability to defend itself.
Unfortunately, we know there are those who seem to not understand – or say they do not - what it is that inspires a free people to step forward, willing to lay down their lives so that their country and fellow citizens might live.
But, we – who are both the wards and stewards of the democracy which has been preserved and handed down to us by veterans throughout our history – do understand.
We know that inciting fear and hatred of others is a source of weakness, not strength. And such divisive rhetoric can never inspire solidarity or sacrifice like love for others and love of country can.
It is this quality of devotion that we most honor in our veterans - those who have served, do serve and will serve.
On behalf of a grateful family of 96,000, thank you for your service.
Each year around Veterans Day, Indeed, one of the world's largest job search engines, rates companies based on actual employee reviews to identify which ones offer the best opportunities and benefits for current and former U.S. military members. Our dramatic improvement in the rankings this year reflects a stronger commitment than ever before to actively recruiting, developing and nurturing veteran talent.
"We've spent a lot of time over the past 12 months looking for ways to better connect with our employees who served and attract new employees from the military ranks," said Global Catering Operations and Logistics Managing Director Ryan Melby, a U.S. Army veteran and the president of our United for Veterans business resource group.
"Our group is launching a mentorship program, for instance, where we'll assign existing employee-veterans to work with new hires who come to us from the armed forces. Having a friend and an ally like that, someone who can help you translate the skills you picked up in the military to what we do as a civilian company, is invaluable. That initiative is still in its infancy, but I'm really optimistic about what it can do for United and for our veteran population here."
Impressively, we were the only one of our industry peers to move up on the list, further evidence that we're on a good track as a company.
The question of where David Ferrari was had haunted retired U.S. Army Sergeant Major Vincent Salceto for the better part of 66 years.
Rarely did a week go by that Salceto didn't think about his old friend. Often, he relived their last moments together in a recurring nightmare. In it, it's once again 1953 and Salceto and Ferrari are patrolling a valley in what is now North Korea. Suddenly, explosions shatter the silence and flares light up the night sky.
Crouching under a barrage of bullets, Salceto, the squad's leader, drags two of his men to safety, then he sees Ferrari lying face down on the ground. He runs out to help him, but he's too late. And that's when he always wakes up.
Italian Americans from opposite coasts – Salceto from Philadelphia, Ferrari from San Francisco – the two became close, almost like brothers, after being assigned to the same unit during the Korean War. When Ferrari died, it hit Salceto hard.
"After that, I never let anyone get close to me like I did with Dave," he says. "I couldn't; I didn't want to go through that again."
When the war ended, Salceto wanted to tell Ferrari's family how brave their son and brother had been in battle. Most of all, he wanted to salute his friend at his gravesite and give him a proper farewell.
For decades, though, Salceto had no luck finding his final resting place or locating any of his relatives. Then, in June of this year, he uncovered a clue that led him to the Italian Cemetary in Colma, California, where Ferrari is buried.
Within days, Salceto, who lives in Franklinville, New Jersey, was packed and sitting aboard United Flight 731 from Philadelphia to San Francisco with his wife, Amy, and daughter, Donna Decker, on his way to Colma. For such a meaningful trip, he even wore his Army dress uniform.
That's how San Francisco-based flight attendant Noreen Baldwin spotted him as he walked down the jet bridge to get on the plane.
"I saw him and said to the other crew members, 'Oh my goodness, look at this guy,'" she says. "I knew there had to be a story."
The two struck up a conversation and Salceto told Baldwin why he was traveling. She got emotional listening to him talk and made a point of fussing over him, making sure he and his family had everything they needed.
About halfway through the flight, Baldwin had an idea. She and her fellow crew members would write messages of encouragement to Salceto and invite his fellow passengers to do the same.
"We did it discreetly," says Baldwin. "I asked the customers if they saw the man in uniform, which most had, and asked them if they wanted to write a few words for him on a cocktail napkin. A lot of people did; families did it together, parents got their kids to write something. After the first few rows, I was so choked up that I could barely talk."
When Baldwin surprised Salceto with dozens of hand-written notes, he, too, was speechless. He laid the stack on his lap and read each one. At the same time, the pilots made an announcement about the veteran over the loud speaker, after which the customers on board burst into applause.
"It seems contrived, and I hate using the word organic, but that's what it was; it just happened," Baldwin says. "Mr. Salceto was so loveable and humble, and what he was doing was so incredible, it felt like the right thing to do. And you could tell he was touched."
On June 27, Salceto finally stood before Ferrari's grave and said that long-awaited goodbye. As a trumpeter played "Taps," he unpinned a medal from his jacket and laid it reverently on the headstone.
"I had gotten a Bronze Star for my actions [the night Ferrari died] with a 'V' for valor, and that was the medal I put on Dave's grave," says Salceto, pausing to fight back tears. "I thought he was more deserving of it than I was."
For the first time in years, Salceto felt at peace. His mission was accomplished.