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 email@example.com.
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.
"At the beginning of the pandemic, we knew we were uniquely positioned to utilize our widebody aircraft and our network to keep commodities moving, so we quickly mobilized various departments throughout the airline to launch a cargo-only network of flights that would keep commodities moving," said United Cargo President Jan Krems. "Thanks to those efforts, United Cargo has delivered millions of items to countries all around the world. We would not have been successful without the steadfast support of our employees, industry partners and our customers."
Since last March, United Cargo has transported almost 850 million pounds of freight on cargo-only and passenger flights. The airline will continue to monitor market trends adjust its cargo-only flight schedules to help ensure we are meeting our customer's evolving shipping needs.
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.
2. Check out the Travel-Ready Center
Our Travel-Ready Center makes it easy to get a personalized overview of everything you need to do in preparation for your flight. Just enter your confirmation number or MileagePlus® number and you'll find detailed information on all the documents, tests and more that you'll need for your trip.
3. Read and sign the Ready-to-Fly checklist
Before completing check-in, all United travelers will need to read our Ready-to-Fly checklist and confirm that they understand and agree to our policies. These include:
Acknowledging that you haven't had any symptoms of COVID-19 in the last 14 days
Agreeing that you will not fly if you have tested positive for COVID-19 within the last 21 days
Confirming that you will follow all policies regarding face masks, social distancing and other health and safety measures we've adopted
4. Arrive early; avoid the stress
Airports can be busy, especially during peak travel periods like spring break season. The TSA advises arriving at the airport two hours before your flight for domestic travel and three hours for international travel in anticipation of long security lines. This can help ease the stress when navigating busy check-in areas, security lines and crowded boarding gates.
5. Get familiar with CleanPlus
United CleanPlus℠ is our commitment to delivering industry-leading cleanliness as we put health and safety at the forefront of your experience. We've teamed up with Clorox to redefine our cleaning and disinfection procedures and Cleveland Clinic to advise us on enhancing our cleaning and disinfection protocols, like:
Disinfecting high-touch areas on board and in the terminal
Using electrostatic spraying, Ultraviolet C lighting wands and more advanced measures to clean aircraft cabins before boarding
Redesigning our mobile app to allow for touchless check-in and contactless payment, along with enhanced travel assistance features
Implementing high-efficiency (HEPA) filters on our aircraft that completely recirculate cabin air every 2-3 minutes and remove 99.97% of airborne particles, including viruses and bacteria
Studies show COVID-19 exposure risk is minimal when air filtration systems and masks are in use, so you can rest assured that the steps we've taken to keep you safe truly make a difference.
6. Wear your mask
Federal law requires all travelers to wear a face mask in the airport, including customer service counters, airport lounges, gates and baggage claim, and on board during their entire flight. Make sure you review the requirements for face masks, including what an acceptable face mask looks like.
7. Get ready for a safer boarding process
To make boarding even safer, we now have travelers board their aircraft from back to front. At the gate, just listen for your row number to be called – we'll ask a few rows at a time to board, starting with the last row of the plane. This helps everyone maintain a safe distance from each other during boarding without slowing things down. As you step onto the plane, flight attendants will hand each passenger a sanitizing towelette, which you can use to wipe down your seat to ensure it's extra clean.
8. Pack smart
Before packing your bags, check to see what exactly you can carry on and what you should plan to check. You can also copy your confirmation number into our Baggage Calculator tool to learn about the bag allowance included with your reservation, as well as the cost of checking any additional bags.
9. Check your flight status, important notices and weather
Check the United app regularly for the latest updates on weather conditions, flight status, gate numbers and seat assignments. You can also visit our Important Notices page to find essential information and updates about travel waivers, international travel, TSA and security, airports and United Club locations.
10. Relax and enjoy your flight
Once you're on board, it's time to sit back and enjoy your flight. Our flight attendants will be happy to help you with anything else you need.
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.
Together, we are facing an unprecedented challenge. United Together, we rise to meet that challenge.
Calling all AvGeeks and travelers! Take your next video call from a United Polaris® seat, the cockpit or cruising altitude with United-themed backgrounds for use on Zoom and Microsoft Teams.
Newly added to our collection is a background encouraging our employees and customers to vote. Our mission is to connect people and unite the world — and one of the most important ways to do that is to engage in the democratic process. No matter which party you support, we know our democracy will be stronger if you make your voice heard and vote.
So for your next meeting or catch up with friends and family, download the app to either your computer or mobile device to get started.
To use on Zoom:
- Start here by downloading your favorite United image to your computer or mobile device. Just click "download" in the bottom left corner of the image.
- Next go to your Zoom app (you'll need to download the app to access backgrounds) and click on the arrow to the right of your video camera icon in the bottom of the screen.
- From here select, "choose virtual background" to upload your uniquely United photo.
To use on Microsoft Teams:
- Start by downloading your favorite United image to your computer. Just click "download" in the bottom left corner of the image.
- If you're using a PC, copy the image you want to use into this folder:
- C:\[insert your device user name here]\AppData\Microsoft\Teams\Backgrounds\Uploads
- If you're using a Mac copy the images to this folder on your computer:
- /users/<username>/Library/Application Support/Microsoft/Teams/Backgrounds/Uploads
- If you're using a PC, copy the image you want to use into this folder:
- Once you start a Teams meeting, click the "…" in the menu bar and select "Show background effects" and your image should be there
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