United Airlines Follows The Rest And Bans Emotional Support Animals

the tail of an airplane

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It started with Alaska Airlines towards the end of December, and then American Airlines and Delta banned emotional support animals in statements issued last week. Now the last of the ‘Big 3’ US airlines has come into line with United Airlines changing its terms and conditions to reflect that it too will no longer accept emotional support animals onboard.

For reasons best known to United, the airline doesn’t appear to have issued a press release to confirm that it will no longer allow emotional support animals on board, but its service animals webpage was changed at some point on Friday to reflect a change in its policy.

This is the relevant paragraph that relates to emotional support animals:

United will continue to accept emotional support animals for reservations booked before January 11, 2021, for travel on or before February 28, 2021, in accordance with rules from the U.S. Department of Transportation. No emotional support animals will be transported after February 28, 2021. United is committed to ensuring safe and accessible travel experiences for all of our customers.

The airline is also tightening up its rules surrounding service animals with the following requirements coming in from 1 February 2021:

For travel booked less than 48 hours before the scheduled departure time, the relevant forms will have to be presented to the gate agent.

As a reminder, this United’s definition of a Service Animal:

A service animal is a dog, regardless of breed or type, that is over the age of 4 months and individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of a qualified individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual or other mental disability.

A traveler may travel with a maximum of two service animals but the service animals are expected to sit in the floor space in front of the customer’s assigned seat and cannot protrude into the aisles or the foot space of adjacent travelers. Customers may use an approved in-cabin kennel for smaller animals provided its use meets stowage requirements.


United still accepts in-cabin pets but, unlike service animals, transportation of such animals comes at a cost. Also, only dogs and cats are considered eligible as in-cabin pets and there can be a variety of rules associated with transporting a pet (depending on a passenger’s final destination) so all travelers are advised to read this United webpage carefully before booking travel for a pet.

Bottom Line

There may not have been a big official announcement but United Airlines will no longer transport emotional support animals after 28 February 2021. No new emotional support animal bookings will be accepted from today, 11 January 2021, and while existing bookings made before today will continue to be accepted, that only applies to existing bookings for travel that is completed by 28 February 2021.