As the biggest airline in the US, with more airplanes on its fleet and more flights and destination, United Airlines is usually the airline of choice for most Americans, or travelers going from America to different countries. If you are looking for an airline to book your next flight, then this guide about United Airlines carry-on and checked luggage will be of help.
- Summary of United Airlines Luggage Policy
- United Airlines Carry-on Baggage and Personal Item Dimensions and Weight Policy
- United Airlines Checked Baggage Size and Weight Policy
- United Airlines Additional or Special Items
- Items Allowed in United Carry-on bags
- How to Save on United Airlines carry-on Price when Flying Basic Economy
- How to Handle United Basic Economy Bag Issues
- Frequently Asked Questions – United Airlines Carry-On and Checked Luggage
- Can 24-inch luggage be a carry-on?
- What if my carry-on is one inch too big united?
- What is not allowed in carry-on?
- Can a duffel bag be a carry-on?
- Can I take a backpack and a carry-on United?
- Can I bring makeup to my carry-on?
- How do I get a free checked bag on United?
- How many 3 oz bottles can I take on a plane?
- Check Other Airlines Baggage Fees and Policies.
Summary of United Airlines Luggage Policy
- Except for Economy tickets, passengers are allowed to bring one carry-on luggage, while all ticket holders can bring one personal item bag for free. The personal item bag must not exceed 17x10x9 inches and must fit under the seat. United carry-on size must not exceed 22x14x9 inches including wheels and handrail. For economy ticket holders, carry-on luggage must be checked in.
- The weight limit for checked luggage can either be 50 lbs or 70 lbs, depending on the type of ticket a passenger holds. Size should not exceed 62 linear inches
- Since United Airlines is an American carrier, TSA rules apply
- Passengers traveling with an infant are allowed to bring diaper bags, gov’t approved car seat, or a collapsible stroller inside the cabin in addition to the allowed carry-on bag.
- Pets are allowed on some United Air flights, but advance notice is required.
United Airlines Carry-on Baggage and Personal Item Dimensions and Weight Policy
United Airlines allows passengers to bring 1 standard carry-on and 1 personal item bag. However, for Economy ticket holders, carry-on luggage must be checked in except for transatlantic flights, MileagePlus Premium or Star Alliance Gold members, or those who paid with MileagePlus credit cards.
Carry-on luggage should be 22x14x9 inches and must fit the overhead compartment. This size includes wheels and handles.
Personal item bag should be within 17x10x9 inches and must fit under the seat.
When traveling with infants, passengers are allowed to bring carriers, or gov’t approved car seats on top of the allowed carry-on.
United Airlines Checked Baggage Size and Weight Policy
The weight limit differs depending on the kind of ticket a passenger holds. United Economy Passengers can bring a luggage bag not exceeding 50 lbs (23 kg). United Business/ First/Polaris Business class tickets and passengers classified as MileagePlus status can bring up to 70lbs (32kgs).
United Airlines baggage fees depend on the point of origin and point of destination which you can compute on their website. Just to give context, the table below shows the luggage fees for 1st, 2nd and 3rd bags under Economy and Business/Premium Ticket holders flying from LAX to JFK International Airport.
|1st||$35 ($30 Prepaid)||Free|
|2nd||$45 ($30 Prepaid)||Free|
|3rd and succeeding||$150 (up to 62 linear inches & 23kgs)||$150 (up to 62 linear inches & 23kgs)|
Here are a few reminders when it comes to overweight and oversized bags:
- Oversized bags between 62-115 linear inches cost $200/bag
- Overweight bags between 51-70lbs cost $100/bag, and 71-100lbs cost $200/bag
- Bags exceeding 115 linear inches, and 100lbs will not be accepted
For International Flights regardless of ticket class, 1st and 2nd bags are free, as long as it is under 62 linear inches and 50 lbs.
Be sure to check United Airlines Baggage Calculator as charges depend on destination and ticket class.
United Airlines Additional or Special Items
Restrictions, special considerations, or extra charges may apply for uncommon or special items. The following table can help you find your special item type and how it can be taken on board united.
Table for united airlines additional items fees
|Luggage type with picture||Item (example)||Carried as / Rules||Max Nos, size & weight||Extra fees|
|Childcare items||Hygiene/food (Breast pump, diaper bag, mother’s milk, baby formula)||Additional item||n/a||n/a|
|Child seat (car seat)||An additional item, only for ages ≥ 2||1 per child, carry-on size||10% of adult fare|
|Stroller (stroller, folding wagon)||An additional item, only for ages ≥ 2||1 per child, carry-on size||10% of adult fare|
|Compact folding strollers (gb Pockit Stroller, BabyJoy Pocket, Silver Cross Jet Ultra Compact)||Carry on / personal item (as per size)||1 per child||n/a|
|Recreational equipment||Sports equipment packed in bags||Checked bag||As per checked bag rules||As per checked bag rules|
|Scuba tanks (above 40psi only)||The tank inside is visible and not sealed, the valve removed||As per checked bag rules||As per checked bag rules + $150/$200* if empty|
|Batteries||Standard battery cells (AA-9V, AAA, C, Carbon zinc, D, alkaline, Nickel metal hydride, Silver oxide)||Place in checked/carry on||n/a||n/a|
|Lithium cells (each packed separately in the protective packet)||Place in a carry-on if ≤ 100wh, place in a checked bag if ≤ 160wh, above not allowed||n/a||n/a|
|Firearms||Hunting and personal safety equipment||Checked bag, packed in hard, locked cases, battery removed from a stun gun||As per checked bag rules||As per checked bag rules|
|Gas-powered tools||Cutters, saws (with permit and safety documents)||Fuel removed, safely packed, as a checked bag||As per checked bag rules||As per checked bag rules|
|Life jacket||1 carbon dioxide-powered inflatable life jacket + 2 small gas cylinders + 2 small spare cartridges (packed separately)||CO2 container and/or flare removed, as checked or carry on (as per size)||As per standard baggage rules||As per standard baggage rules|
|Lighters||Lighters, matches (packed safely)||Inside carry on||n/a||n/a|
|Portable medical devices||ventilators, respirators, and CPAP machines||As an additional item must give 48 hours’ notice, with full battery + 3 hours of extra charge||n/a||n/a|
|Hunting trophy||Antlers||In protective casing, as a carry on||≤ 120” total dimensions (≤ 98” in United Express flights)||$150/$200*|
|Cremated remains||Cremated human remains in an urn or other container||Packed in a protective casing, with documents, as carrying on||n/a||n/a|
|Cremated pet remains (only if they can see what’s inside the container||Packed in a protective casing, with documents, as carrying on||n/a||n/a|
|Ice||Blue ice||As per size||As per standard baggage rules||As per standard baggage rules|
|Dry Ice||In ventilated package (not Styrofoam), with proper label||Up to 5.5 pounds (2.5 kg)||$150/$200*|
|Liquor||Alcoholic beverages (≤ 24%)||In any bag, packed safely||As per standard baggage rules||n/a|
|Alcoholic beverages (24% to 70%)||In checked bags (in a carry-on if purchased as a duty-free item), packed safely||Up to 1.3 gallons (5 liters) in total. The package must be 5 liters max in size)||n/a|
|Musical instrument||Small musical instrument||Packed in a hard case, must fit in the bin or under seat space, as a carry-on or personal item respectively||n/a||n/a|
|Medium-sized musical equipment||Packed inside a checked bag||63” to 115” in total||n/a|
|Large/fragile musical instrument||As cabin-seat baggage||As per cabin-seat baggage rules||As per cabin-seat baggage rules|
|Seafood||Seafood in proper packs (not in wet ice/styrofoam)||As or in checked bags||n/a||n/a|
|Holy water||Jerry can of Zamzam water / Ganga water / Holy water||Sealed watertight, as a checked bag||2.64 gallons (10 liters)||1st can free, standard checked bags charges|
|Pets||Pets in a pet carrier||Safely enclosed in carrier/container/kennel, as an additional item, placed in under-seat space||17.5” × 12” × 7.5” (44 cm × 30 cm × 19 cm)||$125 for each animal**|
** Plus $125 service charge for each stopover of more than 4 hours on a domestic route or more than 24 hours on an international route
Items Allowed in United Carry-on bags
The United Airlines carry-on items policy follows the TSA regulations. As such, here’s a general idea of the items you can carry inside your United carry-on baggage or United personal item.
Table of United Airlines allowed items in carrying on
|Type||Item (with picture)||Restrictions / Notes|
|Food & Beverages||Alcoholic beverages up to 70% only||Less than 3.4 oz (100 ml), sealed, packed in small plastic zip lock bags. Details…|
|Baby food, formula, breast milk, juice||Need to be screened separately, in reasonable quantities|
|Dry, solid foods like bread, cookies, dried fruits||Need to take it out of the bag before the x-ray|
|Liquid, gel, or cream-like food like jelly, cream, gravy, honey||Less than 3.4 oz (100 ml), sealed, packed in small plastic zip lock bags.|
|Canned food||Container size less than 3.4 oz (100 ml). Must be sealed. Recommended taking in checked bags.|
|Powdered food or consumables, like coffee or spices||Container size less than 3.4 oz (100 ml), sealed, take out before x-ray|
|Drink containers like a thermos||Container size less than 3.4 oz (100 ml)|
|Uncooked food like eggs or veggies||Take out before x-ray. Not allowed to/from USVI, Hawaii, Puerto Rico|
|Uncooked meat, seafood, frozen food||Packed securely with up to 5 pounds of dry ice (wet ice not allowed)|
|Pre-made packed foods like chewing gum, chocolate bars||In reasonable quantity|
|Oils/vinegar||Container size less than 3.4 oz (100 ml), sealed, take out before x-ray|
|Pet food||Solid and fluid pet foods: follow rules above|
|Medicines and medical equipment||Blood sugar-related equipment like sugar test kits, insulin pumps, and cartridges||Valid prescription needed, must also inform TSA officer at the airport. Details…|
|Vision support like contact lenses, lens kits, lens solution||Container size less than 3.4 oz (100 ml). More can be allowed by TSA officers if deemed necessary. Details…|
|Other external medical devices like spinal stimulators, neurostimulators, feeding tube||Submit Disability Notification Card and medical documentation to TSA officer, show manufacturer documentation about if it can be x-rayed. Tens/massage devices can be taken without documentation|
|Inhalers or similar devices||Container size less than 3.4 oz (100 ml). More can be allowed by TSA officers if deemed necessary. Details…|
|Instant hot/cold packs||As long as it fits within United carry-on size|
|Fluid medicines like tonics, ointments||Container size less than 3.4 oz (100 ml). More can be allowed by TSA officers if deemed necessary. Details…|
|Medical marijuana like cannabis-infused products, CBD oils||Only allowed if THC ≤ 0.3% of dry weight, documents mandatory|
|Medical masks like N95 masks||Must remove and be checked during screening|
|Hard medicines like pills, and pill cutter||Valid prescription needed, must also inform TSA officer at the airport. Details…|
|Nebulizers, CPAP devices, etc.||Valid prescription needed, must inform TSA officer, place in a clear plastic zip lock bag, take out while screening. Details…|
|Portable oxygen concentrators like Inogen One, Airsep Lifestyle||Documentation needed, inform TSA officer, take out for inspection. List of allowed devices…|
|Vitamin/Food Supplements||Same rule as foods|
|Support braces like a neck brace, knee brace||Must inform officer|
|Thermometer||Remove the battery from the digital thermometer.|
|Injectable medicines and injections||In reasonable quantity. Injection needles must be unsealed from factory packaging. Inform the TSA officer. Disinfectants and hand sanitizers Container size ≤ 3.4 oz (100 ml), greater size can be allowed if deemed necessary Household items and tools Small devices like airbrush make-up device, breast pump, curling iron, small electric fan If it fits within your United carry on baggage. Must remove the power source.|
|Powders like baby powder, talc||Container size ≤ 12 oz (350 ml). Must place in a separate bin for screening. Mix/blend machines like travel blenders, juicer Allowed only if the blade is removed and placed in checked bags, and if it is less than United carry on dimensions Small non-powered tools or toys like bottle opener, key fob, fidget spinner, Not harmful tools that can be used as weapons, fully assembled size ≤ 7” Gas operated personal tools like butane shavers, butane curling irons Withing safety case, gas cartridge not allowed Fluid items like ointments, creams, gels Container size ≤ 3.4 oz (100 ml), placed in quart size plastic zip lock bags Electronic devices like cell phones, clocks, music players, electric razors or toothbrushes, flashlights, small radio Remove power source whenever possible Aerosols like perfume, deodorant Container size ≤ 3.4 oz (100 ml) LaptopNeeds separate screening Paintings If it fits within your United carry on baggage PillowsIf fits Pots and pans If under the United carry on size limits Office supplies like staplers, pins, pencil sharpeners In protective package Hygiene supplies like tampons, sanitary pads, disinfecting towels, disposable underwear, condoms etc.||In reasonable quantities|
|Vacuum-sealed bags||Needs to be inspected – if basic scrutiny is unsatisfactory, they may open it|
|Wedding dress||Must be packed safely and securely in the hard transport-ready casing.|
|Unpowered home tools like knitting needles, shaving razors, nail clippers,||In a safe package. Scissors must be ≤ 4” Flammables Smokes like cigarettes and cigar, cigar cutter Check import/export laws for the countries in case of international travel Chargers with a battery inside, like power banks Must be packed properly Candles Must be packed properly Sporting & Camping equipment Collapsible outdoor furniture like an air mattress with inbuilt pump, sleeping bag If fits within United carry on Small sports stuff like balls If fits Camping stoves Without fuel Soft-sided cooler Only if empty Parachutes Packed properly in separate bag Collectibles like rocks or conk shells As long as reasonable weight Weather protection like an umbrella, raincoat, snow boots As long as it fits within the carry on size|
|Common things||To find out which common, day-to-day usable will United Airlines will allow on their flights, please check this page.|
United Airline’s liquids, gels, and aerosols rules
United Airlines restrict the carrying of fluid or gaseous items, especially as part of your carry-on luggage following the TSA restrictions on liquids, gels, and aerosols. These restrictions include:
- United liquid, gel, aerosol max size: 3.4 oz or 100 ml
- The above is the size of the container (bottle/tube/jar), not how much liquid/cream is left in the container.
- All the liquid, gel, and aerosol items you carry in your United personal item or carry-on must be kept inside a single quart-size clear plastic bag (6’ × 9’). You can get many of these online. The size may vary a little bit as long as it sums up to 1 quart (946 ml) or less.
- You have to place the bag in a separate bin while checking in.
- Medicines and infant nursing liquids are not counted in these rules – they have separate rules.
- Duty-free items – only on international flights, packed in original clear bags provided by the vendor, and you have to show the receipt too.
How to Save on United Airlines carry-on Price when Flying Basic Economy
If you are caught at the gate with a united basic economy ticket and a full-sized carry-on, then it will have to be checked in, and the relevant charges (usually $30) paid. Furthermore, you will be charged $25 extra because of the gate check.
If you need to take carry-on luggage with you even when you are flying Economy, here are some tips on how you can avoid paying extra.
1. Pay with a co-branded United credit card
This is the most common way to avoid the United Carry-on fee and also get some extra advantages. If you use one of the following cards, you can bring a carry-on bag onboard with a United basic economy ticket.
Table of United co-branded credit cards
|UnitedSM Explorer Card UnitedSM Business Card UnitedSM Infinite Card MileagePlus Club Card Presidential PlusSM Card MileagePlus Awards Card Ixe United Universe Card Presidential Plus Business Card Ixe United Card Note: any carry-on luggage you take onboard a United flight using these methods is still restricted by United carry on size and number restrictions, and the items within it are restricted by the United carry on item regulations.|
2. Be an Elite Traveler with United
If you travel frequently on United flights, you can accumulate enough miles to achieve Elite status. This is most suitable for business travelers who travel a lot. When you achieve this status, and you hold one of the following memberships, you will be allowed to take a carry-on (subject to restrictions and space availability) onboard the United flight with just a basic economy ticket. The list of such memberships is:
- MileagePlus Premier Silver
- Premier Gold, Premier Platinum, and Premier 1K
- Star Alliance™ Gold
How to Handle United Basic Economy Bag Issues
There are some restrictions on baggage in the United basic economy class. These are the following:
- You cannot bring a full-sized carry-on bag on a United basic economy class ticket.
- You are allowed only a small united personal item or your pet carrier, which must fit under the seat.
- If you bring a full-sized carry-on bag on a basic economy ticket:
- It will be checked in and you have to pay the applicable united checked baggage fees ($60, $100, and $200 for the first, second, and third bag).
- You will also have to pay the gate handling fee ($25).
- Mobility or assistive devices (like foldable wheelchairs) are not counted in this rule.
- This rule does not apply on united transatlantic flights.
This means if you’re traveling basic economy on United, you will have to pay for your carry-on bag, a minimum of $60, and up to $225. So, how do you avoid paying for United carry-on in the basic economy?
- Book the flight using a co-branded United credit card.
- Become a privileged customer with United Airlines.
We have already discussed these methods above, please go to the “United Airlines Basic Economy Carry-On Fees and How to Avoid Them” section in this article for more information.
Frequently Asked Questions – United Airlines Carry-On and Checked Luggage
Can 24-inch luggage be a carry-on?
As long as the bag fits in the overhead bin, it is of American airline’s carry-on size. So, if the bag is 24 inches long but can fit into their sizer box somehow, you can take it. Check these carry-on bags we have reviewed.
What if my carry-on is one inch too big united?
If your united carry-on bag is above their size limits, they will check that bag in, for which you may have to pay additional fees, ranging from $60 to $225).
What is not allowed in carry-on?
United Airlines restricted items policy follows the TSA restricted items regulations strictly. As such, you cannot take any item in your carry-on that may be considered dangerous, for example:
- Highly inflammable items
- Self-defense sprays
- Sharp tools
Also, you cannot carry liquids or creams in containers that are bigger than 3.4 oz (100 ml).
Can a duffel bag be a carry-on?
You can take a duffel bag as a carry-on on a United flight, as long as it is under United Airlines’ carry-on size restriction. The problem is, that duffel bags are generally odd-shaped, so they may cause a bit of a problem with this size restriction. However, if it can somehow fit in the United sizer box at check-in, then the airline crew should have no problems allowing it.
Can I take a backpack and a carry-on United?
United Airlines allows each passenger one free personal item and one free carry-on bag. If your backpack and carry-on are smaller than those sizes, then sure you can bring them on board free of cost. However, make sure that your personal item can and the backpack fits in the bin. Check the best backpacks you can bring on your next travel.
Can I bring makeup to my carry-on?
There are not any restrictions for solid-type make-up (i.e. lipsticks) However, if you are bringing fluid types of makeup (liquid, flowing powder, gel, cream, etc.) then you have to obey the TSA restrictions, which are basically:
- The containers (bottle, tube, jar) must be less than 3.4 oz (100 ml) or less in size
- You must place all of them inside one quart-size bag (6” x 9”), of clear plastic.
How do I get a free checked bag on United?
- Pay using a United co-branded credit card, like a United Explorer card, MileagePlus Club card, Ixe United Universe card, etc.
- Become an elite flyer in some of their privileged memberships, like MileagePlus Premier, Premier Gold, Star Alliance Gold, etc.
How many 3 oz bottles can I take on a plane?
According to the TSA, you can carry a few 3 oz or fewer bottles, tubes, etc. in your united carry-on as long as they all fit inside one 6” x 9” quart-sized clear plastic bag. Generally, it isn’t capable of holding more than 3-4 items of 100ml size, that should be your rough limit.
Do make sure you’ve checked the united restricted items guide first, though, because you have to present the plastic bag at security in a separate bin for checking.