How to Fly with a Service Dog on United Airlines

United Airlines offers customers the most comprehensive network of worldwide routes. They also include one-stop or no-stop flights to and from anywhere in the United States. With hubs inside the four largest U.S. cities, it’s no wonder that United Airlines leads the airline industry. If you’re planning on booking a flight, United Airlines is probably one of your options. And if you’re traveling with your service dog, understanding United Airlines’ service, dog policies can simplify your trip.

Traveling with Service Animals on United Airlines

United Airlines welcomes service dogs within their cabin, as long as they perform tasks for a person with a qualified disability. United Airlines defines service animals as animals trained to do work to benefit a qualified person with a disability. The disabilities may include — but are not limited to — psychiatric, intellectual, or physical issues.

People with service dogs may travel with up to two animals. Service animals must be dogs and over four months of age to travel within the airline cabin. 

United airlines service dog policy

How to Fly with a Service Dog on United Airlines

  1. Make sure that your dog qualifies and is trained to provide a service for your disability.
  2. Complete the required document(s) (linked below) for your service animal(s).
  3. Submit your completed documents to United Airlines at least 48 hours in advance.
  4. If you booked your flight within 48 hours of your departure, provide your completed documents at the airport.
  5. Contact United Airlines via the United Accessibility Desk (1-800-228-2744) with any questions.

Required Documents 

United asks to complete a few forms before flying with a service animal. The Department of Transportation (DOT) forms are as follows:

  • U.S. Department of Transportation Air Transportation Service Animal Training and Behavior Attestation Form: The Service Animal Training and Behavior Attestation Form is mandatory for all service animals. The form serves as a customer’s statement that the service dog meets the training and behavioral standards for safety. 
  • U.S. Department of Transportation Service Animal Relief Attestation Form (Relief Form): The Relief Attestation Form must be completed for flights that are 8 hours or longer. The form ensures that the handler understands the service dog can relieve themselves in such a way that will not be a health or sanitation hazard to others on the plane.

United Airlines asks that both forms be completed and carried with you. For tickets purchased 48 hours before the flight departure, the completed forms may be presented to the airline agent at the airport. United Airlines welcomes you to contact the United Accessibility Desk at 1-800-228-2744 for questions regarding traveling with your service dog. Please be aware that, depending on your destination, additional documents may be necessary.

United airlines service dog policy
Before flying with your service dog on United Airlines, familiarize yourself with their rules and policies.

Traveling Information 

When inside the cabin, the service dog should sit on the floor in front of their handler’s feet. To ensure safe aisle access for others, the dog should not protrude into the aisle or block others. Smaller dogs with a kennel must fit United Airlines’ stowage parameters. Service dogs and their handlers are prohibited from sitting in the exit row seats.

United Airlines asks customers flying with service dogs to adhere to the following:

  • Travel is not allowed within 30 days of a service dog’s rabies vaccination.
  • Service dogs must be under the control of their handler at all times.
  • Service dogs must behave appropriately and follow their handler’s directions. 
  • Service dogs are harnessed or leashed at all times.
  • Travel within an airline cabin to an international destination, Guam, or Hawaii, may require a current copy of the service dog’s vaccination records. United recommends that vaccine copies should be on hand whenever traveling. 

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Service Dogs in Training 

United Airlines allows dog trainers to bring one service dog in training on board — no charge —, as long as it assists a person with a disability. The service dog in training should not occupy a seat and should meet service dog documentation requirements. If not, handlers and trainers are welcome to check the dogs as pets.

Therapy Animals and Emotional Support Animals on United Airlines 

Only service animals helping a person with a disability may travel in the airline cabin free of charge. Therapy animals, comfort animals, and emotional support animals are not considered service animals. When traveling with these animals, pet-related regulations and costs will apply.

United airlines service dog policy
United airlines service dog policy

Flying with Pets

If you’re flying with a puppy or kitten as a pet, it must be at least four months old and accompanied by an adult person. The pet must remain in the floor space under the seat in a kennel. If they’re too large for a kennel, they must utilize United Airlines’ PetSafe program.

Documentation for Pets

Anyone traveling with a pet on United within the continental U.S. will need a health certificate along with proof of the last rabies vaccine. Travel is prohibited within 30 days of the rabies vaccine. Some states like Hawaii and other countries require additional documents, and travelers must comply with all pet travel requirements relevant to their destination. 

Flying with United Airlines

As one of America’s premier airlines, United Airlines’ regulations for service animals are generally in line with other major U.S. airlines. Although service dogs are welcome in the cabin of United Airline’s airplanes, people traveling with service dogs should ensure that the correct documents and regulations are met. This makes the journey more enjoyable for both the individual and the service animal.

United airlines service dog policy

— Update: 11-03-2023 — found an additional article Are Service Dogs Allowed On United Airlines? from the website for the keyword united airlines service dog policy.

You’re planning on using United Airlines. And you want to bring your dog. So you’re wondering, are service dogs allowed on United Airlines?

Absolutely! Service dogs are allowed on United Airlines. What’s more, you get to enjoy some financial perks you ordinarily wouldn’t if your dog wasn’t a service dog.

United airlines service dog policy

Plus, your service dog gets to unreservedly join you in the cabin during your trip. But, you must be ready to comply with the airline’s rules and regulations as well.

Yes, they are! But, like most airlines that allow dogs on their planes, they have an extensive set of rules you must comply with before your dog is allowed onboard.

But, United Airlines allows access to their planes to not just dogs. Most small pets are welcome too!

So, cats, birds, guinea pigs, and rabbits are all allowed on United Airlines. However, restrictions may apply as and when necessary, depending on for instance the flight destination, season, and other factors.

Usually, you have a minimum of 5 days and a maximum of 30 days to make the necessary reservations before you travel.

Generally speaking, United Airlines’ pet policy consists mainly of their in-cabin pet policy and cargo pet policy.

The in-cabin pet policy is usually restricted to domestic animals that come in smaller sizes. Larger animals, on the other hand, will be well-catered for by the cargo pet policy.

The In-Cabin Pet Policy

The in-cabin pet policy covers pets that are small enough to join you on the plane. Because they’re small, you may be able to place their kennels under the seat directly in front of you.

Age Requirements

If you’re catching a domestic flight, you want to make sure that your dog is at least 2 months old. If international, then he must be at least 4 months old.

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Also, in-cabin pets cannot travel alone. What’s more, they can’t travel with a minor who isn’t accompanied by a parent or guardian.

Size Restrictions

To be fair, United Airlines don’t specify what size/weight requirements your dog must meet before being permitted in-cabin.

As a rule of thumb, though, your dog in addition to his kennel shouldn’t weigh any more than 68 kg (150 pounds).

Generally, you want to make sure that your dog’s kennel satisfies TSA kennel standards. Kennels could either be soft-sided or hard-sided.

If your dog’s crate is hard-sided, ideally meeting a size requirement of not more than 17.5 inches long, 12 inches wide, and 7.5 inches high should be able to get it under the seat in front of you easily.

If the carrier is soft-sided, then it makes it a lot easier to fit under a seat. A maximum dimension of 18 inches long, 11 inches wide, and 11 inches high should be your target.

Route Restrictions

Note that if you’re traveling with a dog in the cabin, your flights are only limited to the 48 contiguous states within the U.S. Other areas include but aren’t limited to Canada, Alaska, Mexico, and Puerto Rico.

However, you’re not allowed to fly with your pup to or from Australia, South Africa, Tahiti, Trinidad and Tobago, the United Kingdom, Cuban Hawaii, New Zealand, and India.

Necessary Documentations

You must accompany your dog with a health certificate detailing the dog’s health and medical history.

Plus, your dog must have been vaccinated against rabies. And you must come with documentation of his last rabies vaccine which must have been administered more than 30 days before the date of the flight.

Some countries, though, may require additional documentation. So, depending on where you’re traveling to, you might want to find out and comply accordingly with their entry requirements.

United airlines service dog policy

The Cargo Pet Policy

Also called the PetSafe Program, United Airlines’ cargo pet policy is one that covers animals that are too large to fit under seats in the cabin. Also, if your dog is traveling alone, then this policy becomes the most satisfactory.


Just like for the in-cabin pet policy, your dog must be at least 2 months old to be covered by the cargo pet policy for domestic flights within the U.S. He must also be at least 4 months old to qualify for flights outside the U.S.

Size Restrictions

Dogs covered under this policy shouldn’t weigh more than 770 lbs (350 kg)

Kennels could be made of wood, metal, or hard plastic. More importantly, they should be spacious enough for the dog to stand, sit up and turn around without touching the top of the kennel.

Accordingly, the kennels must reach a height of 34 inches. Nothing more! Any kennel which has a height of more than 34 inches will not be accepted.

Route Restrictions

United Airlines will not transport your dog as cargo baggage from Beijing, Seoul, and Chengdu. They’ll also not transport your dog to Nigeria, Dubai, Australia, and India.

Necessary Documentations

If your flight is outside the U.S., you would have to produce a health certificate and all necessary documentation to satisfy state and federal laws of the destination country.

A certificate showing proof of rabies vaccination should also be produced. And the certificate should be issued not less than 30 days before the date of travel if your dog is traveling with you. If your dog isn’t traveling with you, the certificate must be issued within 10 days before departure.

Other documentation includes a close-up photograph showing your pet’s face, another showing the pet crate indicating that it is IATA-compliant, and a customer acknowledgment form signed by you.

Are Service Dogs Allowed On United Airlines? What You Should Know

Yes! Service dogs are allowed on United Airlines. Service dogs are dogs trained to assist a person with a disability to perform tasks he ordinarily couldn’t perform.

These dogs could range from hearing dogs to seizure response dogs or diabetic alert dogs.

Read more  Are Service Dogs Allowed On United Airlines?

Per ADA regulations, all establishments must permit the entry of service dogs. So, it’s not very surprising that United Airlines, like most airlines, do allow service dogs on their planes.

However, even though you’re free to join flights with your service dog, there are a few guidelines you might be required to follow to safeguard the welfare of your dog as well as other passengers.

Note that you will be allowed to travel in the airline cabin with your service dog free of charge! Also, United Airlines will permit you to travel with a maximum of two service dogs – and yes you guessed it right – at no cost.

Some Ground Rules To Follow 

Here are a few things to keep in mind when traveling with your service dog on United Airlines;

  • Your service dog must not be less than 4 months old
  • Your service dog must be on a leash at all times
  • You must keep your dog under control at all times
  • Your dog should be on the floor in front of your feet
  • You and your dog should not sit in the exit row seats
  • You must prevent your dog from poking out into the aisle
  • Your dog must have been vaccinated against rabies a minimum of 30 days before traveling
  • You must produce your dog’s rabies vaccination and other health records when traveling
  • Where you’re traveling outside the U.S., your documentation must conform to your destination country’s local regulations

Other Necessary Documents You May Have To Produce

When traveling with your service dog, United Airlines requires you to fill and submit two important forms from the Department of Transportation.

This includes the U.S. Department of Transportation Service Animal Air Transportation Form. This form helps to ascertain whether or not your dog meets the accepted behavioral and training criteria for safety when traveling.

The other form you must fill out and submit to the airline is the United States Department of Transportation Service Animal Relief Attestation Form.  This form is necessary to fill out if your flight is gonna last for not less than 8 hours.

It’ll help the authorities evaluate whether or not your service dog can relieve himself in such a way that the act doesn’t pose any health or sanitation issues for the passengers. Or better still, whether or not your service dog can refrain from relieving himself throughout the flight.

Usually, the above-listed forms must be filled out and submitted not less than 48 hours before your flight.

If you have any questions at all regarding the process, you might want to contact United’s Accessibility Desk at 1-800-228-2744.

United airlines service dog policy

Are Service Dogs In-Training Allowed On United Airlines?

A service dog-in-training isn’t a fully-fledged service dog. Thus, most institutions treat service dogs-in-training like they would any other ordinary pet dog.

United Airlines to a large extent, though, treats service dogs-in-training as if they were already service dogs.

So, if your dog is a service dog-in-training, you can bring him with you into the airline cabin. And just like for service dogs, you won’t pay a dime for bringing him on board.

Still, you must make sure that he can assist you to perform some tasks you cannot ordinarily perform because of some disability. 

What’s more, you must make sure to comply with all rules as they apply to fully-fledged service dogs.

Final Thoughts

So, are dogs allowed on United Airlines? Always! And for the most part, you can expect a thoroughly straightforward and enjoyable process when bringing your dog along on United Airlines.

Still, it is of utmost importance that you comply with their rules as we’ve spelled out in this article. Make sure to satisfy all regulation and documentation requirements.

We have no doubt you’re going to enjoy your trip immensely once you’ve followed the proper protocols. Have a safe trip!

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About the Author: Tung Chi