United Airlines Changed Puppy Policy - German Shepherd Dog Forums
 
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post #1 of 10 (permalink) Old 04-02-2019, 10:26 AM Thread Starter
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United Airlines Changed Puppy Policy

So, I book a same day round trip flight to pick up my puppy in Houston on April 18th and fly in cabin. I booked the flight February 21st. Confirmed 8 week old puppy. Confirmed paperwork needed. Confirmed he would not have a rabies shot due to age but ok to fly with me with vet clearance. Check check double check. Always get the agent's name.

Today, thank goodness, a friend of mine is interested in the remaining male from this litter (who is actually taken now anyway but that isn't the point). She asked if I could fly 2 pups in cabin. I was pretty sure it was no..but figured I would check anyway. Seriously, thank goodness this happened. It turns out end of January United changed in cabin flights to 16 weeks old minimum. Uh....ok. So I call United, said the agent definitely said 8 weeks w/vet clearance is ok. The lady I was talking to said they claimed a memo about the puppy policy went to all agents..she did admit not seeing hers..and she was under the impression when I called today it was 8 weeks. Made her check her own website...and that is when she saw 16 weeks. So no...all the agents did NOT see the memo. I had to argue HARD to get my 650 bucks refunded.

In short, had my friend not asked about a 2nd puppy in cabin I would have flown to Houston at 6am, and been denied a flight home with an 8 week old puppy...at the gate. Not very happy about that.

I googled the policy and yes there was a press release end of January. I should not have to google news to see if I ticket I purchased in good faith with accurate info is VALID. Ugh.

Anyway now we are sending him cargo. I think. The agent on the phone *thinks* she maybe heard it was changed to 10 weeks for cargo...but website still says 8 weeks. I did not want to ship a puppy, but I will. At least it is a short flight. There have been lost dogs, dead dogs, in the news recently. Which is why I preferred in cabin (yes yes I know, many have shipped and are fine, it just is not my first choice).

If they did change it to 10 weeks (Delta and other carriers I checked have changed to 10 weeks-united says 8 weeks still) I guess I will make a road trip with my friend and pick him up at 7 weeks 4 days. It would be a few days of work that I didn't expect but oh well. Due to my parenting schedule with my ex..road trips have more date parameters. And I'd rather a dog at 8 weeks, not 10.

So anyway..when it comes to airlines lately...check and check again pre flight! lol

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post #2 of 10 (permalink) Old 04-02-2019, 10:52 AM
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I'm glad you got your money back and I find it crazy that the airline reps on the phones aren't up to date, especially 2-3 months after the policy change. I could give leeway for maybe a month, but anything after is a bit inexcusable. Sounds like better training and communication from management to their employees is in order.

I don't blame you for wanting to keep your eyes on your new puppy. The whole issue with dogs dying in cargo was part of the reason I insisted on bringing my two cats in the cabin when we moved from Hawaii to Maryland in 2015. I wanted my eyes on my cats since apparently I can't trust all the airline crew to do the same.

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post #3 of 10 (permalink) Old 04-02-2019, 11:00 AM Thread Starter
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Yup. To test their agent knowledge just now-I JUST called United and said I wanted to fly with a new 8 week puppy. I asked what is the policy? He said 8 weeks. I told him to double check. He came back and said ..oh, its now 16 weeks. Thanked him. Called again. This agent knew off the bat it was 16 weeks. So it depends on who you get on the phone, if they got the memo lol. At least their website is correct now so people making reservations going forwards will (as anyone would/should do) check the airline published policy for pets will see 16 weeks. Oh, and they no longer ship Malis. Or...Affenpincers? No Chows or Sharpeis. How random lol

I was definitely more comfortable in cabin. Houston is a parvo hot bed and worried about people sticking their fingers in multiple crates and spreading stuff, and of coarse them putting him on wrong flight. But, people do it all the time and its fine most of the time, almost all of the time. Oh well. I guess what makes me mad is had I not been asked to check on a 2nd dog, I would have flown to Houston and been denied at the gate with an 8 week old puppy in a bag, nowhere to go, and kids to get home to by 6:30 PM. I was flying on a day where I would have landed at 5 and my kids were coming back to me for my parenting time at 6:30. Im only 20 minutes from the airport. So a forced overnight, impromtu hertz rental would not have been doable. I would have had to have the breeder come back and take the pup back. I would have gone THROUGH THE ROOF lol

Thank goodness for small favors that I was asked to check on something.

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post #4 of 10 (permalink) Old 04-02-2019, 11:04 AM Thread Starter
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And I checked every other airline out of Newark that flies direct to Houston. No dice. Most have changed to at least 10 weeks in cabin, and most 10 week GSDs will be over the in cabin size limit.

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post #5 of 10 (permalink) Old 04-02-2019, 11:42 AM
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Thank you for posting this. If I can be so bold, I think you should share this in any GSD facebook/other groups you happen to be a member of.

I know a lot of people planning on puppies this year that may need to change their whole game plan for pickup.

Sorry it was such a headache, SUPER glad you found out in advance..... instead of being quite literally trapped at the gate. -_-
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post #6 of 10 (permalink) Old 04-02-2019, 12:35 PM
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That was my thought --- what GSD pup is going to fit under the seat at 10 weeks.
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post #7 of 10 (permalink) Old 04-02-2019, 03:10 PM Thread Starter
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I'd say none. My friend flew with hers in cabin at 8 weeks 7 months ago on United (this is a repeat litter and I was going to do the same). At 8 weeks he made it. At 10 weeks? No way. So United is now 16 weeks in cabin, and supposedly still 8 weeks cargo, Delta is 10 weeks in cabin and 10 weeks in cargo, Southwest and a few others are still 8 weeks in cabin, no cargo at all..but no direct flights. If I am going to fly 8 hrs each way might as well drive lol

I do plan to do a heads up on my FB GSD groups...but I can post to FB during work hours unless it is a secret group

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post #8 of 10 (permalink) Old 04-02-2019, 03:15 PM Thread Starter
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American Airlines is still 8 weeks...for both in cabin and cargo. No direct flights for me though.

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post #9 of 10 (permalink) Old 04-02-2019, 06:05 PM
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My experience was PDX to LIT with a plane change in DFW. Worked very smoothly with one piddle pad change between terminals at DFW.
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post #10 of 10 (permalink) Old 04-02-2019, 06:52 PM Thread Starter
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Well he is going cargo now. Half the price of round trip with pet in cabin on way back. I'll just bite my nails for oh...about 5 hours. I'm sure it will be fine. And now for the longest 2 weeks of my life (outside of my 3rd trimesters lol)

I am still waiting to find out which color collar is mine out of 5 males. Agony, it's agony I tell you lol

So..almost 4 hour flight and figure 2 hours waiting to board and a good 45 minute on the ground before I get him. Do they usually go in the crate? I'm 25 minutes from the airport so I guess when I get him put down a pee pad and let him go before getting in the car? My friend who got this same pairing...he flew in cabin and then when they landed I picked them up. She had him in back seat with her. No pee breaks since leaving Houston and he waited until he got into her yard to go. Which was great. I think that is probably not typical for 8 weeks?

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