Holiday Travel Tips for Four-Legged Family Members - United Hub
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Holiday travel tips for four-legged family members

By The Hub team, December 13, 2017

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.

United employee removing a pet safely from the plane

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 petsafe@united.com.

United Cargo operates more than 11,000 cargo-only flights in one year

By The Hub team, March 19, 2021

On March 19, 2020, United operated its first flight carrying cargo without passengers on board. While the passenger cabin was empty, its cargo hold was completely full, carrying more than 29,000 pounds of commodities from Chicago O'Hare International Airport (ORD) to Frankfurt Airport (FRA).

A year later, United Cargo has operated more than 11,000 cargo-only flights carrying more than 570 million pounds of freight. To support the COVID-19 pandemic recovery efforts, United Cargo has also transported more than 113 million pounds of medical and pharmaceutical products on both cargo-only and passenger flights as well as approximately 10 million COVID-19 vaccines, providing global communities access to the items they have needed most.

10 tips for spring travel

By The Hub team, February 24, 2021

Whether you haven't flown with us for a while or just need a quick refresher before your spring trip, read this list of tips to know before your flight and arrive at the airport travel-ready:

1. Download the United app for contactless bag check, travel assistance and more

Before your flight, download the United app to view your flight status, check in, sign up for flight notifications, locate departure gates, access our free personal device entertainment when available and more. We've also updated our app with new features that can make your trip a little safer, including contactless bag check.

Don't forget to use Agent on Demand for help with any and all questions you may have before your flight. This new capability is available at all our U.S. hub airports and allows you to use your own mobile device to contact a customer service agent via phone, video or chat to help with day-of-travel questions while you're at the airport. Learn more about Agent on Demand here.

United joins UNICEF COVAX initiative

By The Hub team, February 19, 2021

This week, we were honored to become the first U.S. airline to join the UNICEF Humanitarian Airfreight Initiative to combat the COVID-19 pandemic by transporting the vaccine and other critically needed supplies to underserved areas of the globe.

"We are committed to helping the global community in any way we can, and we all must work together to do our part to bring this health and humanitarian crisis to an end," said Director of Cargo Specialty Products Manu Jacobs.

We will leverage our expertise to transport these critical pharmaceutical and healthcare shipments around the world safely, efficiently and expediently. We are proud to partner with the United Nations to support this global effort and provide equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines.

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