For some time, United Airlines has been my preferred pet-friendly airline for transcontinental journeys with my furry companion. However, it appears that the rules are changing, and if you’re planning to travel with your pet in the cabin, you must be aware of these new restrictions.
Recently, while attempting to book a flight from Europe to California, I encountered a rather peculiar situation. My journey comprised two legs, with the first operated by Lufthansa and the second by United. These two airlines codeshare as Star Alliance members.
One crucial factor to consider when traveling with a pet in the cabin is your booking class. Unfortunately, economy seats are now so cramped that finding sufficient space for your pet carrier under the seat becomes a challenge. As per regulations, you must keep the carrier under the seat in front of you at all times. But given the limited space, accommodating both your feet and the pet carrier seems almost impossible.
To address this issue, booking a premium seat becomes essential. In my case, I opted for Lufthansa Economy Premium, which automatically translated into a Premium Plus Seat for the United leg of my journey. However, United does not allow pets in Premium Plus seats, which left me in a predicament.
To travel with your pet in the cabin, your best options are United First, United Polaris Business, or United Business (available on select aircraft only). But beware, as these premium seats may come with hefty price tags. For instance, an economy seat from San Francisco, CA to Frankfurt, Germany averages around $1200, while a fully refundable business class ticket could cost you close to $6300 for the same distance.
In general, United permits two pets per flight in United First, United Polaris Business, and United Business (on select aircraft only). However, there are exceptions. For instance, pets are not allowed in United First, United Polaris Business, and United Business on Boeing B757 200, B767, B777, or B787 aircraft due to inadequate storage space under the seat. Moreover, United has listed 23 specific destinations where pets are not permitted in the cabin, according to their pet policy. If your journey involves multiple airlines, including United’s airline partners, be sure to check each one’s pet policy.
In light of these restrictions, it’s important to carefully consider your options before traveling with your pet on a United Airlines flight. In my case, I decided to switch to a more pet-friendly airline for my entire journey from Europe to California.