Comparing Pet Shipping Options: Delta Airlines vs. United Airlines

Rochdi Rais Rochdi Rais · Updated February 12, 2024

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United Airlines Pet Shipping0;”>Traveling with pets can be a stressful experience for both the owner and the animal. In this article, we will compare pet shipping options provided by two major airlines: Delta Airlines and United Airlines. By understanding the differences and similarities in their services, you can make an informed decision when choosing the best option for your furry friend.

The Pet Shipping Process: An Overview

Before diving into the comparison, let’s briefly discuss the general pet shipping process. This will help you understand what to expect when transporting your pet via air travel.

  1. Pre-travel preparations: Obtaining necessary documentation, ensuring your pet is healthy, and preparing them for the journey.
  2. Booking the flight: Depending on the airline and your pet’s size, you may need to book a separate reservation for your pet.
  3. Check-in and boarding: On the day of the flight, you must check your pet in, provide any required documentation, and ensure they are safely and securely boarded.
  4. In-flight care: During the flight, airline staff will monitor and care for your pet to ensure they remain safe and comfortable.
  5. Arrival and pick-up: Upon arrival at your destination, you must collect your pet and complete any necessary paperwork or procedures.

Now that we have a basic understanding of the pet shipping process let’s compare Delta Airlines and United Airlines.

Consider Ground Transportation as an Alternative to Air Travel

With many restrictions around pet air travel, ground transportation is often a better solution. It’s the safest, most reliable and most humane way to send a pet long distances.

Delta Airlines Pet Shipping: Key Features

Delta Airlines offers pet shipping through its Delta Cargo service. Here are some of the key features of Delta’s pet shipping option:

Safety and Comfort

Delta Cargo ensures that pets are transported in a climate-controlled environment, keeping them comfortable throughout the journey. Additionally, they provide a 24/7 live animal desk to assist with any concerns during the trip.

Size and Breed Restrictions

Delta Airlines has specific size and breed restrictions for pets. Generally, small pets can travel in the cabin, while larger pets must be transported as cargo. Some breeds, such as brachycephalic (snub-nosed) dogs and cats, are not accepted due to increased health risks during air travel.


The cost of shipping a pet with Delta Airlines depends on the size and weight of the pet and its carrier, as well as the destination. Prices typically range from $200 to $600 per pet.

United Airlines Pet Shipping: Key Features

United Airlines provides pet shipping through its PetSafe program. Here’s what you need to know about United’s pet shipping service:

Safety and Comfort

United’s PetSafe program offers climate-controlled environments for pets during travel, with personal handling and monitoring throughout the journey. Their dedicated PetSafe team is available 24/7 for assistance.

Size and Breed Restrictions

Like Delta, United Airlines has size and breed restrictions for pet travel. Small pets can travel in the cabin, while larger pets are shipped as cargo. United also restricts certain breeds from travel due to health concerns.


Pet shipping fees with United Airlines vary based on the pet’s size, weight, and destination. Prices generally range from $200 to $700 per pet.

Comparing Pet Shipping Options: Delta Airlines vs. United Airlines

When comparing pet shipping options between Delta and United, consider the following factors:

  • Both airlines provide climate-controlled environments for pets and offer 24/7 customer support.
  • Size and breed restrictions are similar for

both Delta and United, with small pets allowed in the cabin and larger pets shipped as cargo. Specific breed restrictions apply for both airlines.

  • Pet shipping pricing varies for Delta and United Airlines, depending on factors such as the pet’s size, weight, and destination. However, the costs are generally comparable, ranging from $200 to $700 per pet.

Additional Services

Both Delta and United Airlines offer additional services to make pet shipping as smooth and stress-free as possible. These services include:

  • Assistance with pre-travel preparations, such as obtaining required documentation and ensuring your pet meets health requirements.
  • Access to a network of pet travel professionals who can help you navigate the complexities of international pet shipping regulations.
  • Tracking capabilities to monitor your pet’s progress during the journey.

Tips for a Successful Pet Shipping Experience

Regardless of whether you choose Delta Airlines or United Airlines for your pet’s travel needs, taking the necessary steps to ensure a successful experience is essential. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  1. Research airline policies: Familiarize yourself with the specific pet shipping policies of the airline you choose. This will help you understand their requirements and restrictions.
  2. Schedule a pre-travel veterinary check-up: Ensure your pet is healthy and up-to-date on vaccinations before the trip. Obtain any necessary documentation, such as health certificates or vaccination records.
  3. Select an appropriate pet carrier: Invest in a high-quality, airline-approved pet carrier that provides ample space and ventilation for your pet.
  4. Prepare your pet for the journey: Help them acclimate to the travel carrier by allowing them to spend time in it before the trip. Ensure your pet is comfortable and familiar with the carrier to reduce stress during the journey.
  5. Label the carrier: Clearly label your pet’s carrier with your contact information and any special instructions for airline staff.
  6. Pack essential items: Provide a comfortable blanket, a favorite toy, and any necessary medications for your pet during the trip.
  7. Stay informed: Keep track of your pet’s progress during the journey using the tracking capabilities provided by the airline.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

This section will address some common questions about pet shipping with Delta Airlines and United Airlines.

What is the cheapest way to transport a pet?

Typically, ground transport is the cheapest way to transport a pet.  Longer trips using a transportation service, like CitizenShipper, typically average around $1.00 per mile.  Using a pet transportation service ensures your pet arrives in your new location safely, while minimizing stress and overall cost. 

How much does it cost to ship a pet internationally? 

While shipping your pet domestically is a relatively straightforward process, international shipping can be more complicated.  Hiring a pet transport service to help with international logistics can save a tremendous amount of stress and time.  

Each country of arrival will have specific regulations regarding pet health checks, necessary vaccination, and possible quarantine requirements.  The cost to ship a pet internationally can vary, especially if you need to board your pet for an extended quarantine. 

How much does it cost to transport cats?

The cost to transport cats will vary depending on the transport method.  Cats can be transported via ground or air transit, and are often small enough to be considered a “carry on” item.  Transporting a cat can cost as little as $25 on Amtrak, or as much as $125 to fly in the main cabin of an airplane.

How much does it cost to travel with a small pet?

Traveling with a small pet, compared to a large pet, is much cheaper.  Smaller pets can fit under the seat in front of you and can often qualify as a “carry on” item.  Traveling with small pets on Amtrak can cost $25, while airlines can charge around $125.  Keep in mind certain companies will only allow cats and dogs to travel.  

What does it cost to ship a puppy?

While puppies are small enough to fly in most airline cabins, they can incur additional costs.  Puppies generally require more attention, and therefore can be more expensive than shipping an adult dog or cat.  

Many breeders will utilize an air nanny service to accompany your puppy.  If the air nanny is experienced, or a regular, certain airlines may provide discounted rates or waive certain fees.  Breeders regularly ship puppies to their new homes and are well-versed in arranging transportation.  

Following these tips and choosing a reputable pet shipping service like Delta Airlines or United Airlines can help ensure your furry friend’s smooth and stress-free experience.


In conclusion, both Delta Airlines and United Airlines offer comprehensive pet shipping services to ensure the safety and comfort of your furry friend during air travel. By comparing their offerings and considering factors such as safety, size and breed restrictions, pricing, and additional services, you can make the best decision for your pet’s needs. 

Remember to follow our tips for a successful pet shipping experience and consult What airline allows pets to fly alone for more information on pet-friendly air travel.