united airlines golf clubs
Source: Hackman (depositphotos)

*this article has been fact-checked for updated 2024 information by Michelle Magerat

Finalizing the last few details of your next golfing holiday? If you’re traveling by airplane to your destination you’ll need to familiarize yourself with the golf clubs policy. Here we will discuss the major points and policies concerning United Airlines and their rules about traveling with golf clubs.

Key Takeaway
You can check one golf bag up to 50 lbs for $35 with waived oversize rule when flying with United. If you’re on standard fare, you can go up to 100 lbs for $400.

Read further for more details about the overall policy including the overweight policy and United’s definition of ‘golf equipment’.

Essential Points in United Airlines Golf Clubs Policy:

1. One Bag Only Per Passenger

One of the key points to consider when traveling with United Airlines is that the company accepts only one bag of golf equipment per passenger. This can be your primary checked bag or an additional bag but it’s important to note that even if you pay for more baggage you still cannot take more than one bag containing golf equipment.

2. Size and Weight Allowances

Oversized golf items (bags measuring over 62 linear inches [158 cm]) don’t incur any kind of oversize charge. Note that United charges $200 for general luggage between 63-115 linear inches so they’re being quite generous to golfers.

However, they are still subject to the weight rules. Your allowance can vary greatly depending on your destination, passenger class status, and if you’re a member of any United Airlines schemes. You can check on their calculator here.

If you’re a general passenger (not a member of any United schemes or an active US military personnel) you can check a bag (can be a golf bag) up to 50 lbs (22 kg) for $35. If your bag weighs more than that:

  • 51 – 70 lbs (23 – 32 kg): up to $200 fee
  • 71 – 100 lbs (32 – 45 kg)): up to $400 fee
  • More than 100 lbs: not accepted

Here’s more details on United baggage fees. If you’re an active US military personnel on vacation, you can get a military discount in United for your checked baggage.

3. What is Defined within Golf Equipment?

For your bag to qualify as a piece of golf luggage, you must ensure that it only carries items defined as golf equipment within their parameters. This includes:

  • Golf clubs (1 set).
  • Golf balls.
  • One pair of golf shoes.

Furthermore, any bag must encase all items together as a single bag, as it will be transported as such. Other items are not permitted within the golf bag and will see your luggage to lose its golf equipment status, meaning you’ll most likely have an oversized, overweight, and expensive bag to pay for before lift-off. If you really want to take that additional t-shirt, just wear it or get someone to put it in their bag for you.

United Suggests Hard-Sided Cases

Most traveling golf players will of course recommend hard-sided cases. It goes without saying really, soft-sided cases serve some purpose that’s for sure – but not for extensive travel when you’re having to use an airplane to get to your course of choice. United Airlines absolve itself of any liability or damage caused to golf equipment not stored within a hard-sided case. It is therefore highly recommended that you get yourself a hard-sided case if you don’t already have one, so you have the best golf travel bag for your next trip.

One of the most recommended hard golf bag from Samsonite
One of the most recommended hard golf bag from Samsonite – Samsonite

Potential Delays Upon Arrival

Don’t assume that you’ll be out of the airport quickly, for any flight international or domestic. There are processes to follow and they’re typically drawn out. United Airlines have several procedures they must abide by when it comes to oversized items which in most situations will apply to golf luggage. While it shouldn’t hold you up too much longer than usual, just don’t pre-book your taxi or transfer too promptly!

Other Best Practise for Packing your Golf Travel Bag

After ensuring you’ve got golf equipment and golf equipment only in your hard-sided travel bag, you might want to check you’re packing your equipment safely so that you aren’t left upset that your clubs are damaged in transit. Some of the best tips include:

  • Using direct flights only. While they can be more expensive, direct flights mean that your bags are less likely to be trundled around by baggage handlers and have less chance of getting lost in the airport luggage system.
  • Take pictures of your equipment as you pack it. In the event of something coming out the other end not as it entered, having proof that your club wasn’t in two pieces is very useful.
  • Identification of the golf baggage. Worst case scenario, you fly out to Texas but your clubs end up in Detroit. If you’ve got a popular golf bag, it might be sometime before your clubs’ bag through no fault of your own as the airport staff might not be able to distinctly identify your bag and that it belongs to you. Putting some ID on it should speed up the process if anything should go awry.
  • Additional insurance policies. These can be costly but are worth it if you want total peace of mind that you’re covered no matter what happens to your clubs.
  • If you put personal stuffs into your golf travel bag (such as razor, shirts, plug adapter, and so on), consider that they might be rattled and move around during the flight. With this in mind, make sure not to put anything that might damage your clubs.

Are United Airlines the Best for Golf Travel?

There’s no succinct answer on what is and isn’t the best for golf travel. United Airlines typically have a decent weight allowance, although it’s not too dissimilar to American Airlines’ policy. One notable difference is that United Airlines does not list golf tees as part of their permitted equipment, whereas American Airlines state they are allowed.

A lot of the rules and regulations will be very similar as all aviation companies in the US are moderated by the same rules set out by the US government. For example, no company will allow you to take clubs as hand luggage in the cabin.

If you bring other kinds of sports equipment, be sure to check their general & specific rules here: United Airlines sports equipment fees.

Is it easier to ship my golf clubs?

In theory, it is easier to do so as you don’t have to worry about taking your clubs to the airport or the regulations when trying to pack them. However, as a rule, it is usually more expensive to ship your clubs rather than take them yourself. Although, it can save you time and make your life stress free. It depends on what you value more!

ShipSticks is a reputable company that typically serves US golfers getting their clubs to wherever they want to go. This even includes international destinations. Domestic shipping services can start for as little as $45 per transaction. It’s also very easy to use you’ll be sent a box to pack your gear in and then they’ll pick it up with their wide logistics partners and transport your clubs to your onward destination.

If you can spare some cash, ShipSticks is a good option to ship your clubs
If you can spare some cash, ShipSticks is a good option to ship your clubs

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