united airlines sports equipment policy
A United plane. Make sure to check your sports equipment beforehand. Credit: Pascal Borener (pexels)

When you travel, you often need to take sports equipment with you. If you like being prepared, it can be daunting trying to figure out all of the rules for even getting your equipment on the plane.

Key Takeaway
United Airlines treats sports equipment the same as regular luggage, except for specific ones that will be discussed in further detail below. This means that as long as your luggage is under 115 total inches and 100 pounds you may only have to pay a fee to get your equipment on the plane.

This article will cover more about United Airlines’ sports equipment policy, including any special rules and the size and weight limits allowed.

Special Rules for All Sports Equipment

There aren’t rules for all sports equipment. As long as the item isn’t considered dangerous and fits within the general weight and size limit, United Airlines allows it without a problem. It does count towards your standard bag limit, which means there are no extra fees unless your equipment is oversized or overweight, and for some equipment, even that is waived.

It’s also worth mentioning that most sporting equipment isn’t allowed on a plane if there’s an extra bag limit, such as with small planes.

You can check the general rules for your luggage here: United Airlines baggage policies. If you’re an active member of US military, you’re entitled to a military discount for your regular checked baggage but still have to follow the rules on sports equipment.

Rules for Oversized Items

For most standard bags or items, the oversized limit is 62 total inches (158 cm). Generally, the fee for over this size is 200 USD. No more than 115 total inches (292 cm) for any item is allowed, even with fees.

Rules for Overweight Items

For economy seats of any kind, the maximum weight per bag is 50 pounds (23 kg). For business or first class, 70 pounds is allowed. 100 pounds is the maximum weight per bag, even when paying overweight fees. The extra fees range between 100 and 400 USD.

Rules for Extra Checked Items

Generally, the first bag or checked item is 35 USD, the second is 45 USD, and any bags or checked items above that are 150 USD.

Special Rules for Specific Sports Equipment

Most equipment has its own special rules with United Airlines, such as how many items are allowed per bag. Unless otherwise stated, each item must still follow the size and weight guidelines listed above, as well as pay any fees for overweight or oversized items. The maximum size and weight limit are also still the same unless otherwise listed.

Archery

You are allowed one archery bag. Your bag is allowed to have one bow case with bows, one quiver with arrows, and one maintenance kit.

Baseball

You are allowed one bag full of baseball equipment. The bag can hold any kind of baseball equipment.

Biking

You are allowed to take a bike in a checked bag, as long as it isn’t motorized. To transport your bike, the handlebars must be turned sideways and the pedals removed.

The front wheel of the bike may also need to be taken off. All parts of your bike need to be placed in a box with hard sides or specific bike cases. There is no oversized fee, but the overweight fee still applies. If you have a case that fits two bikes, that’s also accepted as one checked bag.

Bowling

One set of bowling equipment is allowed to be checked per passenger. This bag can hold three balls and a pair of shoes.

Fencing and Kendo

One bag and one sword act as a complete set for the sport and are allowed as a checked bag, so long as they are packed securely. If anything outside of the fencing and kendo equipment is in the bag, you may have to pay extra fees.

Golf

Golf bags containing a set of clubs, golf balls, and a pair of golf shoes are allowed in a hard-sided case. The bag must be 62 total inches [157 centimeters] or less, or you may have to pay oversized bag fees. Overweight bag charges can still apply.

For more details on this, check out the United Airlines golf bag’s policy.

Gymnastics

One piece of gymnastics equipment is allowed, as long as it is packed securely. If there are other items in the bag besides the gymnastics equipment, you may have to pay extra fees.

Hockey and Lacrosse

One bag plus two sticks taped together count as one checked bag.

Skating

Ice skates can be packed in normal carry-on bags. If they are packed separately, they count as a checked bag. The same applies to roller skates, rollerblades, and skateboards, except these are also allowed as a carry-on.

Skiing and Snowboarding

One set of ski or snowboard equipment is allowed. This bag can contain a set of water skis, two snowboards and a snow boot bag, two pairs of snow skis and equipment as well as a ski boot bag. The oversized fee for skis and snowboards is waived.

Boot bags by themselves still count as ski and snowboard equipment, and you may face extra fees if you fill the bag with items not related to snowboarding or skiing. You can bring more equipment than listed above, but it counts as a secondary bag.

Kiteboarding

A boogie board, speedboard, or skimboard counts as one bag. Or, if you have a board bag, you can bring two boards in the bag as a single checked bag.

Kiteboards, wave skis, and kiteboarding equipment are also allowed but must be in a protective case so that it doesn’t get scratched. Your boards must be less than 115 total inches (292 cm) in length, width, and height if on United and less than 80 total inches (203 cm) if on United Express.

Surfing

Surfboards, paddleboards, and wakeboards are all accepted with additional rules. They must be in board bags and weigh less than 100 pounds (45.3 kg), measure less than 115 total inches (292 cm) or 80 total inches (203 cm) on United Express, and the fin or skeg needs to be removed to a padded container.

Any flight that starts or ends in California waives oversized bag charges for two surfboards, wakeboards, or paddleboards. Otherwise, all boards face standard weight and size fees.

Like with other equipment, it must be in a padded bag to protect it from scratches. Windsurfing equipment isn’t allowed on United Express flights.

Tennis

One tennis racket case with balls and rackets is allowed as a checked or carry-on bag. If you don’t properly pack your bag, there may be a form you have to sign.

Track and Field

Javelins must be in a hard-sided case. Vaulting poles are not allowed.

What Are Considered Sporting Goods?

Anything that is related to a sport, such as clothes, equipment, tools, and gear all count as sporting goods. Items for hunting, paintballing, boating, and camping may also count as sporting goods.

How Much Does it Cost to Fly With a Hockey Bag?

As long as you follow the weight and size limits, hockey bags count as standard checked bags with United Airlines.

How Do You Transport Sports Equipment?

For the most part, sports equipment needs to be packed in a secure and padded case so that scratches, breaks, or damages to other baggage don’t occur.

Considering other airlines to travel with your equipment? Check out American Airlines’ policies on sports equipment for comparison.

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