Holiday Travel Tips for Four-Legged Family Members - United Hub
Tips

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.

Working to bring people home – repatriation flights underway

By The Hub team, April 07, 2020

When and where possible, we are working to repatriate travelers who are stranded abroad in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis. Our teams are working closely with government officials here in the U.S. as well as in other countries where flying has been restricted to gain the necessary approvals to operate service. In regions where government actions have barred international flying, we have coordinated with the the U.S. State Department and local government officials to re-instate some flights. Additionally, we have been operating several extra flights to countries in Central America and South America as we continue to play a role in connecting people and uniting the world.

We have operated more than 85 repatriation flights from Panama City, Guatemala City, Quito, Lima, San Pedro Sula, Tegucigalpa and Roatan, bringing nearly 12,000 people home. We will continue working with government officials to operate extra flights to Houston from Quito, San Pedro Sula, Tegucigalpa and from Lima to Washington Dulles and beginning April 5, we will begin operating multiple charter flights between Delhi and San Francisco. We continue to review more opportunities for flights between the United States and other countries to bring citizens home.

Video provided by the U.S. Embassy Ecuador of Americans returning home on United.

Additionally, our Customer Solutions and Recovery team is working with customers in the following markets to rebook them on flights back to the United States as capacity allows, either on our aircraft or on one of our airline partners' planes:

  • Quito, Ecuador
  • Managua, Nicaragua
  • Roatan, Honduras
  • San Pedro Sula, Honduras
  • Amsterdam
  • Brussels
  • Munich
  • Singapore
  • Tokyo-Haneda
  • Seoul, South Korea
  • Melbourne, Australia

We also recently reinstated several international flights back into our schedule to support customers and essential businesses which depend on these routes. As a result, we will be the only airline to offer service between Newark/New York and London, San Francisco and Sydney, as well as Houston and São Paulo, Brazil.

We’re making some key changes to the MileagePlus program for you

By The Hub team, April 05, 2020

Throughout these unprecedented times, we remain committed to doing what is right and fair for all of our MileagePlus® members and are pleased to share the steps we are taking to reciprocate the trust and loyalty that you have placed in United. These steps include not only Premier status updates, but also an extension of current memberships and subscriptions. The updates will happen automatically over the next few weeks — there's nothing you need to do.

The big news: If you have current 2020 Premier status, it will be extended to January 31, 2022. At a minimum, you will enjoy the same published status next year that you have today, up to and including Premier 1K®.

For the 2021 status year, United is reducing thresholds for Premier qualification by 50% for each status level, to make reaching an even higher tier easier. You'll still need a minimum of four flight segments on United or United Express®.

2021 status

Earn Premier qualifying flights

and PQP

… or meet a higher PQP goal

Silver

6

2,000

2,500

Gold

12

4,000

5,000

Platinum

18

6,000

7,500

1K

26

9,000

12,000

We're also doubling PQP for United Explorer cards and quadrupling PQP for the United Club cards.

At the same time that we're decreasing the published program's PQP requirements, via a promotion from May 1 – December 31, 2020, we're doubling (for United Explorer cards) or quadrupling (for United Club cards) the maximum number of PQP that Cardmembers can earn from card spending during 2020 to help achieve a higher level of status than you already have. More details to come later.

1K® and Platinum members, we're increasing your ability to upgrade by extending PlusPoints expiration dates by six months and expanding Skip Waitlist.

  • This means a six-month extension of any PlusPoints set to expire on or before January 31, 2021.
  • Last year we introduced Skip Waitlist on select flights as a benefit to 1K members, giving you more opportunities to confirm an upgrade request at the time of booking. This benefit will now be available for the rest of 2020 in a significantly expanded selection of long-haul international regions and will have expanded availability in 2021 as well.

We're extending all annual membership and subscription benefits by six months.

  • We want to make sure your benefits are still there when you're ready to start flying again. That's why we're extending purchased United Club℠ memberships purchased directly from United and purchased subscriptions for Economy Plus®, United Wi-Fi℠ and checked bags by six months. You should see this reflected in your MileagePlus account soon.

All electronic travel certificates now have 24 months to be used.

  • If your travel plans have been disrupted, and you have an electronic travel certificate from us for the value of your ticket, you now have two years from the date it was issued to book a new flight, as well as up to an additional 11 months to travel. This includes all currently valid and all new electronic travel certificates issued on or after April 1, 2020.

We have removed some redeposit fees for the rest of the year.

  • We are currently waiving all award redeposit fees for travel through end of May 2020.
  • We are now also waiving all redeposit fees for award ticket cancellations made more than 30 days before departure for the remainder of 2020.

Finally, we'll be making it easier to earn status in 2021 for the 2022 program year. We recognize that getting back to travel will occur at a different pace for different members. Keep an eye out for changes we will make to help you earn status in 2021 for 2022, as we'll share details later this year.

Over the years, you have placed your trust and loyalty in United, and we are honored to do the same for you. We are all in this together.

Status extension to January 31, 2022, applies to all members that met the published criteria of the MileagePlus program in 2019, status match associated with the United/Marriott Bonvoy partnership and status offered as part of a Sales nomination. Status granted from other programs and policies may not apply.

How to change your flight, or cancel and rebook later

By The Hub team, April 04, 2020

To help with the uncertainty around future travel — be it summer vacations, conferences, events and more — customers now have until April 30 to make changes to, or cancel, any travel they have booked through the end of the year without fees. This is in addition to existing waivers already in place which allow customers to change or cancel plans for travel through May 31.If you decide to cancel your flight, you can retain the value of your ticket to be applied to a new ticket without a fee. These electronic travel certificates are now valid for 24 months from the date they were issued. This includes all currently valid electronic certificates and all new ones issued on or after April 1, 2020. You might not see this policy change reflected everywhere right away – we appreciate your patience as we work to make that happen.

Eligible travelers on domestic flights and international tickets can request a refund on united.com or may call our contact centers if their flights have been severely adjusted or service to their destination suspended either due to government mandates or United schedule reductions related to COVID-19.

Certain tickets cannot be changed on united.com or the mobile app, including tickets booked through another airline (if the ticket receipt does not begin with 016). Please contact the original ticketing airline for changes.

Follow the steps below to stay up to date, change or cancel your flight.

Change your current flight:

  1. On the united.com homepage, select "My Trips" and enter your flight information to retrieve your flight.
  2. Select "Change flight" and then "Edit" to make the following changes:
    • Date of travel or destination
    • Add a flight
    • Remove a flight
  3. Select "Continue" and choose a new flight option
  4. Continue through booking to confirm your new flight

Note: The change fee will display as waived, but any difference in fare may apply.

Cancel your flight and rebook later:

  1. On the united.com homepage, select "My Trips" and enter your reservation information to retrieve your flight
  2. Select "Cancel flight"
  3. Confirm flight cancellation
  4. If you have future flight credit, when you return to the reservation, select "Use Future Flight Credit" to shop for new flights and apply the credit towards a new flight.

Canceling or changing an award flight:

When you select "Cancel flight," you will have the option to cancel your award reservation and redeposit the miles or to cancel your award reservation and use those miles for another trip in the future.

*We're currently experiencing heavy traffic to united.com. If you experience an error while trying to change or cancel your flight, please try again later.

Click through the slideshow below for more detailed instructions:

​Start on the United homepage: ​

User can select 'My Trips' on the homepage widget to find and retrieve their reservation.

  • If you're not signed in or you're a guest user, enter your confirmation number and last name.
  • If you are signed in, you can select a trip from your current trips or select the 'Find another trip' link.
Scroll to top