If you’re planning on flying with United Airlines in the near future, you’ll want to know what to expect in terms of potential fees and luggage restrictions for both your carry-on items and checked bags. So for your convenience, whether you’re traveling with carry-ons, checked bags, or both, here’s a comprehensive list of every important United baggage policy all passengers should be aware of in 2020.
In this post you'll learn:
United Airlines Carry-On Allowance
Don’t risk arriving at the airport for your flight and having your carry-on luggage turned away or unexpectedly checked. United Airlines lets most passengers travel with one carry-on bag and one personal item each, free of charge, as long as the items do not go over the airline’s size and weight restrictions.
Basic Economy tickets allow for one personal item only and do not include free carry-on luggage. If you do bring a full-sized carry-on bag when flying economy, you will be required to check the bag and pay the checked bag fee (whatever it is for your flight) and a $25 gate handling charge on top of that. All other flight classes include one free carry-on and one personal item.
Your carry-on bag technically has no weight restrictions, but it is expected to fit in the overhead bin. This means it must not exceed 9 inches x 14 inches x 22 inches or 22 centimeters x 35 centimeters x 56 centimeters. This includes all exterior hardware such as handles and straps. Your personal item, which is expected to fit under the seat in front of you, must not exceed 9 inches x 10 inches x 17 inches or 22 centimeters x 25 centimeters x 43 centimeters.
Other items that all passengers may bring in addition to their carry-ons include standard “special” items such as umbrellas, FAA-approved child restraint systems and safety seats, assistive devices such as wheelchairs and walkers, and pet carriers.
Carry-On Allowances for Toddlers and Children
If you are going to be traveling with an infant or young child, there are a number of necessary items you can bring that United Airlines will not charge you for. These include:
- A diaper bag
- A breast pump and milk
- An FAA-approved child or infant restraint seat
- A compact folding stroller that meets carry-on size restrictions (9 inches x 14 inches x 22 inches or 9 inches x 10 inches x 17 inches)
All children under the age of two may travel with one car seat and one stroller. This allowance is included in all flight classes and on all flights. Strollers usually need to be checked at the gate but if they do not collapse, you’ll need to check them at the ticket counter.
Bringing Pets Onboard
Small dogs and cats are allowed on most domestic and international flights, but you will, of course, need to pay for your pet to travel with you in the cabin. A service charge of $125 is charged each way for a pet, and an additional charge of the same amount is assessed for every stopover of greater than four hours.
Service animals are not under the same restrictions as pets. See this page for information on traveling with service animals.
Pit Bull breeds are not permitted on the airplane at all.
The requirements for traveling with pets are as follows:
- Puppies and kittens must not be younger than 16 weeks old
- Unaccompanied minors are not permitted to fly with pets
- Additional pets require an extra ticket and an additional $125 each way
- Pets that don’t fit in kennels may not accompany you in the cabin and will need to travel in a separate compartment of the plane through United Airlines’ PetSafe transport program
- You and your pet must be on the same flight
- Oxygen services are not available for pets in the event of an emergency
Your pet will need to be up-to-date on its rabies vaccinations and you must bring a health certificate showing that they are to the airport. Some states, like Hawaii, have their own restrictions in place that you need to research.
Small instruments such as violins and guitars are permitted as long as they are in a hard case. If they are placed in the overhead bin, they’ll count as your carry-on. If they are placed beneath the seat in front of you, they’ll count as your personal item.
Certain items are strictly prohibited on United Airlines flights. These restrictions are put in place by the federal government and there are no exceptions.
Items never allowed on a flight include:
- Self-balancing or self-riding bags
- Camping equipment that contains fuel of any kind
- Defense sprays such as pepper spray, tear gas, or mace
- Explosives including but not limited to fireworks, flares, and gunpowder
- MREs containing flameless heaters
- Shock absorbers
- Smart bags with batteries that cannot be removed
- Select electronic devices
- Perishable items
Items allowed on flights with restrictions include:
- Power tools
- Mobility devices
United Airlines Checked Baggage Allowance
How many bags you can check for a United flight and how much each of those bags will cost to check depends on your loyalty status with the airline and the flight class you’ve chosen. Size and weight restrictions are also dependent on flight class and loyalty status.
Here’s a Visual Breakdown:
For United Economy flyers, checked baggage may weigh up to 50 pounds or 23 kilograms. United Business, United First, and United Polaris checked baggage may weigh up to 70 pounds. The latter is also the restriction for passengers with Premier Silver, Premier Gold, Premier Platinum, Premier 1K, and Star Alliance Gold (First, Business, or Polaris) MileagePlus status.
No bag may exceed a combined total of 62 inches (length + width + height) unless checked by an active-duty U.S. military member traveling for official business.
You can pay for your checked baggage, provided that it meets size and weight requirements, online before your flight or at check-in.