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United Airlines offers hundreds of flights around the world. When dealing with such high volume and diverse routes, United has a need for a comprehensive baggage fees policy. This guide is here to help you make sense of the various regulations and ensure you’re equipped to deal with any fees that may come up.
- United carry-on baggage guidelines
- United checked baggage guidelines
- United baggage insurance
- United baggage exceptions and active military
- United MileagePlus Premier baggage allowance
- United credit cards
- United excess, overweight and oversized baggage fees
- United baggage embargoes
- Pets and animal fees on United
United carry-on guidelines
Personal items and carry-ons: On most United flights, you’re allowed to bring a full-sized carry-on bag and a personal item. The carry-on bag can have maximum dimensions of 9 inches by 14 inches by 22 inches — including wheels and handles. Your personal item is smaller and should fit under the seat in front of you. This item can have a maximum size of 9 inches by 10 inches by 17 inches.
Domestic basic economy ticket holders are the exception: They’re only allowed to bring one personal item as their sole carry-on. If someone mistakenly brings a full-sized carry-on bag while in Basic Economy, they will need to check their full-sized bag at the gate. They will also incur the applicable checked-bag fee, plus a $25 gate handling charge. However, this is not the case for basic economy tickets on trans-Atlantic flights — in that situation, travelers are allowed to bring both a personal item and one full-sized carry-on, free-of-charge.
Lap infants and young children: All of the following can be brought without contributing to your carry-on allowance
- Diaper bag
- Breast pump and milk
- Government-approved child seat (infant carrying seat or car seat)
- Compact-folding stroller that meets carry-on size guidelines
You may also travel with an infant (under two years old) on your lap without having to purchase an additional seat for them. Each adult can have one child seated on their lap. For certain international destinations — including Canada and Mexico — as well as the U.S. territory of Guam, travel with children under two years of age will be subject to payment of additional infant fares and taxes. If there are more children below the age of two than adult chaperones, you must purchase an extra seat.
Exceptions: In addition to your full-sized carry-on bag and personal item, you’re allowed to bring the following items onboard:
- Jacket or umbrella
- Reading material
- Food or merchandise purchased in the airport
- Medically assistive devices (e.g. wheelchair, canes, crutches, devices for prescription medications or portable oxygen concentrator)
- FAA-approved child-restraint system or safety seat
- Pet carrier (service charges will apply)
United checked baggage guidelines
United Airlines has a straightforward checked baggage policy. Individuals traveling in Economy or Premium Plus fares have a maximum weight limit of 50 pounds per checked bag. Meanwhile, for those traveling in business and first class, their checked bags may have a maximum weight of 70 pounds. However, regardless of the difference between the two weight limits, both bags must adhere to the max linear dimensions of 62 inches.
The maximum weight for checked baggage also varies depending on your MileagePlus Premier status level when checking your luggage. If you’re a Premier Silver, Gold, Platinum or 1K member, you qualify to bring a maximum weight per bag of 70 pounds.
United baggage fees
Whereas other airlines often communicate baggage fee rates through complex tables, United has created an official baggage fee calculator tool for user convenience. You can input your MileagePlus sign-in information to get the checked baggage service charges of the flight you booked. You can also use the tool to browse checked baggage fees for other flights by inputting starting locations and final destinations. The calculator will also list the cost of oversized, excess and overweight luggage as per your route and fare class.
This calculator makes figuring out the exact baggage fees of your flight simple. Using the tool, we compiled the checked-baggage service charges for a flight between the United States* and multiple popular travel destinations:
Flight between the U.S. and...
|Los Angeles (LAX)||$35 at airport, $30 prepaid||$45 at airport, $40 prepaid|
|Toronto, Canada (YYZ)||$30||$50|
|Cancun, Mexico (CUN)||$35 at airport, $30 prepaid||$60 at airport, $55 prepaid|
|Guatemala City, Guatemala (GUA)||$35 at airport, $30 prepaid||$45 at airport, $40 prepaid|
|Lima, Peru (LIM)||$0||$65|
|São Paulo, Brazil (GRU)||$0||$65|
|Cape Town, South Africa (CPT)||$0||$0|
|Athens, Greece (ATH)||$0||$100|
|London, United Kingdom (LHR)||$0||$100|
|Tokyo, Japan (NRT)||$0||$0|
|Phuket, Thailand (HKT)||$0||$0|
|Sydney, Australia (SYD)||$0||$0|
*Flights based out of Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR)
Outside of a few exceptions, the baggage fees seem to be fixed per continent. For example, when using the calculator to check baggage service charges for flights between Newark Airport (EWR) and European destinations like London or Prague, the price was almost always the same: free for the first two bags. You can use this table as a baseline to get the gist, but you should still use the calculator to confirm prices.
United baggage compensation
For domestic travel (including Guam, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands), United offers a baggage liability waiver of up to $3,500 per customer; however, this limit does not include wheelchairs or other assistive devices. The liability limit applies to $9.07 per pound for select international travel, up to $640 per checked bag. You’ll need to submit a claim in the event of any damage, loss or delay of your baggage.
United baggage exceptions for active military
United provides active U.S. military personnel with certain exemptions that extend to their dependents, so long as the dependents are traveling on the same reservation.
Type of trip
Number of bags without fees
Maximum size per bag
Maximum weight per bag
|Personal travel||All fare classes||3 bags||62 inches||70 lbs.|
|Official orders||All fare classes||5 bags||115 inches||70 lbs.|
|Military dependents with travel orders||All fare classes||2 bags||62 inches||100 lbs.|
If the dependent is traveling for personal reasons and not on the same reservation as the active service member, they must abide by standard baggage guidelines. The dependents will incur the appropriate fees and be subjected to the regulations determined by their ticket and service class.
United Airlines MileagePlus Premier baggage allowance
MileagePlus Premier members are entitled to specific baggage allowances dependent upon the level of their Premier status. Up to nine companions on the same reservation as the MileagePlus Premier members have access to the same exemptions.
|Economy travel between the U.S. and the Continental U.S., Alaska, Hawaii, Canada, Mexico, Caribbean and Central America||1 bag, up to 70 lbs.||2 bags, up to 70 lbs. each||3 bags, up to 70 lbs. each||3 bags, up to 70 lbs. each|
|Economy travel between the U.S. and South America, Asia, Australia, New Zealand, Europe, Middle East and Africa||2 bag, up to 70 lbs. each||3 bags, up to 70 lbs. each||3 bags, up to 70 lbs. each||3 bags, up to 70 lbs. each|
|All premium cabin travel||3 bags, up to 70 lbs. each||3 bags, up to 70 lbs. each||3 bags, up to 70 lbs. each||3 bags, up to 70 lbs. each|
The exceptions to the baggage allowances above apply for the following destinations and travel periods:
Bags without service charges
Maximum weight per bag
|San Salvador (SAL)||2 bags||50 lbs.||Jan. 1 - Dec. 31|
|Havana (HAV)||2 bags||70 lbs.||Jan 1 - Dec. 31|
|Santo Domingo (SDQ)
San Pedro Sula (SAP)
|2 bags||70 lbs.||Jan. 1 - Dec. 31|
|Guatemala City (GUA)||2 bags||70 lbs.||Dec. 1 - Jan. 15
June 1 - Aug. 31
Free checked bags with United credit cards
United Airlines offers three personal credit cards, ranging from $0 to $525 annual fees. Two of the cards provide complimentary checked bags as a perk, so it’s worth checking out if you fly United frequently.
The United℠ Explorer Card is one of the best offerings for people who often travel on United Airlines. Despite the various discounts on in-flight purchases and fee credits provided — for an annual fee of just $0 Intro for the First Year, then $95 per year — the greatest benefit for cardholders is the ability to check their first bag for free. The potential return on this card in one round-trip alone makes it worthwhile to apply. This benefit also extends to one other travel companion, as long as they are booked on the same reservation.
In contrast with the United℠ Explorer Card, the United Club℠ Infinite Card is a luxury travel credit card that prioritizes United Club lounge access. It comes with a $525 annual fee. United Club membership typically costs $650 annually, so you’ll be saving some money by paying the annual fee of this card instead. Your first and second checked bag fees are also waived when booking flights with this card, saving you up to $320 round-trip.
United excess, overweight and oversized baggage fees
If your baggage does not abide by the size, weight or quantity limitations imposed by United, additional charges will apply. Any service charges will be added together, and you’ll need to pay the cumulative amount. For example, if your baggage is found to be overweight, you would need to pay the corresponding fee for when a bag is above the designated weight limit. However, if your bag is found to be both overweight and oversized, then you would need to pay the sum of those fees.
|Excess bags: three or more||$150-200 each|
|Overweight bags: 51-70 lbs.||$100-200|
|Overweight bags: 71-100 lbs.||$200-400|
|Overweight bags: 100 lbs. +||Not allowed|
|Oversized bags: 63-115 linear inches||$200|
|Oversized bags: 115 linear inches +||Not allowed|
These rates were all taken from United’s baggage fee calculator for economy travel. We recommend you using the calculator tool when needing to figure out the exact amount to pay for any excess baggage. The fees can change depending on your class of service, flight route and MileagePlus Premier status.
United baggage embargoes
Your extra baggage will also only be accepted if there is available space on the aircraft. Every passenger on the flight has a certain allowance, and excess baggage will only be considered after all checked baggage within these allowances are on board the plane. There are many situations where oversized, overweight or extra baggage may not be accepted at all.
The denial of excess baggage is mostly dependent on the destination of the flight and the time frame, as United has instituted excess baggage embargoes. These embargoes — some permanent and some only within a specific period — prevent any excess baggage from being boarded onto the plane whatsoever or with certain conditions.
Permanent baggage embargo
The following destinations do not permit overweight checked baggage above 70 pounds:
- Auckland, New Zealand (AKL)
- Lima, Peru (LIM)
- Melbourne, Australia (MEL)
- Sydney, Australia (SYD)
You can bring up to two checked bags up to 50 pounds on flights to Honduras, although oversized, overweight and excess bags are not allowed. This embargo is lifted between Dec. 1 and Jan. 15.
United reserves the ability to change this information without notice, so make sure you go to their official website and double-check the listed locations if you plan to check overweight baggage.
Seasonal excess baggage embargoes
The above list of permanent excess baggage embargoes is constant throughout the year, but there are four excess baggage embargoes that are during peak travel periods. These seasonal embargoes limit the excess baggage permitted for each of their included destinations during their corresponding time periods.
To see a full list of the limitations on excess baggage being imposed during these periods and which destinations are included, click here to be redirected to United Airlines’ official list.
Pets and animal fees on United
United has a comprehensive animal travel policy to ensure that you and your pet reach your destination safely. United allows domesticated cats and dogs to travel in the aircraft cabin on most domestic flights. The in-cabin pet is considered an additional carry-on bag, and you will need to pay a service charge of $125 both ways. An additional service charge of $125 may be applied for each stopover of more than four hours domestically or more than 24 hours on international flights.
Here are a few guidelines for pet owners to keep in mind before booking:
- Reservations for in-cabin pet travel are required and can be done through united.com.
- Puppies and kittens must be at least four months (16 weeks) of age.
- Unaccompanied minors are not allowed to travel with pets.
- You must purchase an extra ticket if you would like to carry on another pet and pay $125 each way.
- Your pet must remain in the floor space under the seat.
- If your pet does not fit in a kennel, they must travel through the PetSafe® program.
- Service animals are subject to different guidelines, which can be found here.
Can I bring a carry-on when I’m flying on a United basic economy ticket?
When flying basic economy on transatlantic flights and to Mexico and Central America, you are allowed to bring a full-sized carry-on and a smaller bag the size of a personal item. When flying basic economy on all other routes, you're limited to a personal item that does not exceed 9 inches by 10 inches by 17 inches and must fit under the seat in front of you.
What is the maximum size my baggage can be?
Your full-sized carry-on bag must fit in the cabin’s overhead baggage storage, with maximum dimensions of 9 inches by 14 inches by 22 inches. Your personal item must be smaller to fit under the seat in front of you; its maximum dimensions are 9 inches by 10 inches by 17 inches. Your checked baggage must be no larger than 62 inches.
Do I need to buy a separate seat for my child?
If your child is below the age of two, they can sit on your lap for the flight. You will need to inform United that you plan to bring an infant with you on the flight and pay all applicable fares and taxes, which apply when traveling internationally and to Guam.
Am I allowed to bring an animal in-cabin with me?
United allows you to bring domesticated cats and dogs in the aircraft cabin for most domestic flights. In most cases, you will need to pay a service charge of $125 both ways.