United Airlines Baggage Policy
A United plane. Know the baggage policy so you can be prepared – Tim Gouw (unsplash)

There are many interesting tidbits to note about United Airlines, including the fact that it was the first airline to fly to all fifty states of the USA. The airline, which sprouted from Boeing Air Transport, is also responsible for the presence of female flight attendants and hot meals in mid-air. These facts are all fun to learn about but what certainly isn’t fun is looking up baggage policies, which is why we did it for you. 

Key Takeaway
Economy class domestic passengers can expect to pay $30 for their first checked bag while those flying internationally will pay $70. Business and first-class passengers check their bags for free. All passengers (excl. basic economy) can bring one carry-on and a personal item for free. 

Stick around because in this article I’ll share all the nitty-gritty details about United Airlines’ baggage policy. I’ll tell you where you can find the airline’s easy-to-use baggage fee calculator and also how much you’ll end up paying if your baggage is too heavy or too big. Plus, you’ll find a list of restricted items and the ideal baggage sizes right here. 

Checked bag policy and fees

Checked baggage is free for business class passengers, first-class passengers, and US military personnel. All other passengers have to pay for each checked bag and the amount depends on the destination and other factors. United Airlines has a baggage fee calculator to calculate the fees that you’ll pay for each checked bag. 

The standard fee for passengers flying economy is $30, while international passengers pay a fee of $70 for the first bag. The second bag for domestic passengers is $40 and international passengers pay $100. They charge a fee of $5 per bag if you pay at the airport.

You should note that if you are flying between the US and Brazil, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands, you will not be allowed to take more than three extra checked bags.

If you’re flying for personal reasons on a United or United Express-operated flight, you are exempt from paying service charges of up to 3 bags. This includes flights in all classes, from economy to first class, granted that your bags are no bigger than 62 linear inches (158 cm) and no heavier than 70 lbs (32 kg) each. 

*you get linear inches by adding length+height+widht of your luggage.

Carry-on bag policy and fees

All passengers that fly with United Airlines get an allowance of one carry-on bag and a personal item for free. Unfortunately, this doesn’t include basic economy to destinations other than South America and transatlantic or transpacific flights. These flights only permit a single personal item with no carry-on bag. 

All carry-on bags need to fit in the overhead bin, which measures 9 x 14 x 22 inches (23 x 35 x 56 cm). These measurements include the wheels and the handle. Personal items need to fit under the seat in front of you, which measures 9 x 10 x 17 inches (22 x 25 x 43 cm). These items can include things like purses, backpacks, or laptop cases. 

You are also allowed to bring any of the following items for free and it won’t count toward your carry-on or personal item allowance:

  • Jacket or coat
  • Umbrella
  • Something to read
  • Food or souvenirs bought at the airport 
  • Mobility devices
  • Travel restraint systems
  • Diaper bag
  • Breast pump
  • Camera

Restricted items

There are some items that are strictly prohibited on flights operated by United Airlines. You won’t be able to get any of the following items through security, which means you can’t bring them in your checked baggage or your carry-on bag: 

  • Aerosol items, like spray paint, household cleaners, and pesticides
  • Bleach and drain cleaners
  • Epoxy
  • Fuel, gel fuel
  • Glue
  • Insecticides
  • Matches 
  • Flammable paints
  • Torch lighters
  • Spray starch
  • Smart balance wheels and boards, such as hoverboards, air boards, and skateboards
  • Self-balancing wheeled devices such as Ninebot
  • Battery-assisted bicycles such as e-bikes
  • Wheeled vehicles or motorcycles
  • Electrically powered scooters
  • Riding or motorized suitcases
  • Scuba tanks under 40 PSI
  • Smart bags with non-removable lithium batteries
  • Avalanche packs that contain 1.4s and CO2
  • Any batteries or devices known to be recalled, damaged, or defective

Overweight policy and fees

United Airlines is very strict with their overweight policy and you’ll have to use the baggage fee calculator for the exact amount that you need to pay. United Economy and Premium Economy have a maximum weight allowance of 50 lbs (23 kg), while United Business, United First, and United Polaris will allow bags up to 70 lbs (32 kg).

The going rate for overweight bags (between 50 lbs and 70 lbs) in United Economy is somewhere around $200 per bag. Any bags between 71 and 100 lbs will cost you a whopping $400 per bag. However, these are just estimates and the baggage fee calculator will tell you all you need to know about the fees you’ll pay according to your class and destination. 

Oversize policy and fees

Your baggage is considered oversize if any of your bags are bigger than 30 x 20 x 12 inches (76 x 52 x 30 cm). To account for the extra space that each bag takes, you will need to pay around $200 per bag. This amount ranges from destination and departure because oversize fees on US to/from India and US to/from El Salvador are $300. The maximum size that United Airlines will allow is 115 inches (292 cm). 

Sports equipment policy and fees

United Airlines is rather generous toward golfers because they don’t charge any oversize fees if your bag is larger than their luggage’s standard. However, your golf bag is subject to overweight fees and you are only allowed to take one.

Your golf bag should be hard-sided and it can only contain one set of clubs, golf balls, and a set of gold shoes. Check out our article on United Airlines’ golf club policy for the finer details. 

For information on gear, kits, and supplies used in other sports like archery, surfing, and even bowling, have a look at our article about United Airlines’ sports equipment policy

Travel equipment policy and fees

Infant and child travel equipment travel for free with United Airlines. You can bring a stroller that weighs up to 20 lbs (9 kg) to the gate and have it checked at no cost or if it’s collapsible, you can bring it on board and store it in the overhead bin. For more info on United Airlines’ stroller policy, have a look at our in-depth guide. 

In terms of car seats, you can bring a seat for your infant under two for free and use it on the plane if it is FAA-approved. You can also opt to have it checked with the rest of your baggage, in which case it won’t count toward your baggage allowance and you’ll be exempt from any additional fees. Be sure to check out our guide on United Airlines’ car seat policy for more details. 

You can’t check both a stroller and a car seat when flying with this airline. So if you need to bring both, it would be best to buy an extra ticket for your child and use the car seat onboard while you check your stroller.

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