People ask lots of questions about baggage when they need to travel on airplanes. For example, if a backpack or laptop case can be taken as carry on, can you bring your umbrella on a flight or a golf bag, how big your carry on can be etc. Today we will clear up all of these doubts in our guide to United carry on size, weight, fees and limit (2020).
- Summary of United Airlines carry on size policy
- United basic economy carry on exception
- United Airlines carry on dimensions
- United Airlines personal item dimensions
- United additional or special items rules
- Items allowed in United carry on bags
- United Airlines Basic Economy Carry-On Fees and How to Avoid Them
- United Airlines liquids, gels and aerosols rules
- How to Handle United Basic Economy Bag Issues
- FAQ’s about United carry on size
- What is United Airlines maximum carry on bag size?
- Is United Airlines strict about carry on size?
- Can a 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 in 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 Policy.
Summary of United Airlines carry on size policy
Items allowed on board a United flight
You are allowed the following on a United Airlines flight:
- One carry on bag
- A small luggage that can fit in the overhead bin
- Example: small bag, briefcase etc.
- Max size: 22” × 14” × 9” (56 cm × 35 cm × 22 cm)
- One personal item
- A bag or container that you can carry on your body
- Must fit under the seat
- Example: small backpack, purse, handbag etc.
- Max size: 17” × 10” × 9” (43 cm × 25 cm × 22 cm)
- One additional item
- Something that you must have on you as a part of your or your child’s life
- Example: jacket, umbrella, small/thin book, small packed food or beverage, walking stick, crutch, small medical device (with prescription), diaper bag, breast milk/pump, small camera etc.
United basic economy carry on exception
If you are travelling on a United Airlines flight in the basic economy class, you can only bring the one personal item on board, no carry on bags allowed in United basic economy. Your carry on bag will have to be checked. This applies to all passengers flying basic economy, except on transatlantic flights, MileagePlus Premium or Star Alliance Gold members, or those who paid with MileagePlus credit cards.
United Airlines carry on dimensions
You can bring only 1 carry on bag in a united airlines flight, except in the basic economy class. The United Airlines carry on baggage size policy is as follows:
- Cary on type: small bag, briefcase or trolly bag that can fit in the overhead bin
- Carry on size: less than 22” × 14” × 9” (56 cm × 35 cm × 22 cm)
- The above size is including any handle, wheels or other stuff sticking outside of the bag
- The item must fit in the carry on sizer box at the gate – handle, roller and all
United Airlines personal item dimensions
You can bring 1 personal item on board a United flight. It is allowed in all United airlines flights, regardless of the class you are travelling in. The United airlines personal items rules are as follows:
- Personal item type: handbag, purse, laptop bag, small backpack etc. that can fit underneath the seat in front of you
- Personal item size: less than 17” × 10” × 9” (43 cm × 25 cm × 22 cm)
- The above size includes any handles or rollers, and must fit overall in the small sizer box
United additional or special items rules
If you want to carry uncommon or special kinds of items in a United Airlines flight, there may be some restrictions, special considerations, or extra charges for those. 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)||Additional item, only for ages ≥ 2||1 per child, carry-on size||10% of adult fare|
|Stroller (stroller, folding wagon)||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)||Tank inside visible and not sealed, 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 protective packet)||Place in carry on if ≤ 100wh, place in 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 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 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 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 carry on||≤ 120” total dimensions (≤ 98” in United Express flights)||$150/$200*|
|Cremated remains||Cremated human remains in urn or other container||Packed in protective casing, with documents, as carry on||n/a||n/a|
|Cremated pet remains (only if they can see what’s inside the container||Packed in protective casing, with documents, as carry 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 ponds (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 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 hard case, must fit in bin or underseat space, as carry on or personal item respectively||n/a||n/a|
|Medium-sized musical equipment||Packed inside 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 liter)||1st can free, standard checked bags charges|
|Pets||Pets in pet carrier||Safely enclosed in carrier/container/kennel, as additional item, placed in underseat 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 domestic route or more than 24 hours on international route
Items allowed in United carry on bags
The United Airlines carry on items policy follows the TSA regulations strictly. 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 carry 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 out of bag before 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 to take in checked bags.|
|Powdered food or consumable, like coffee or spices||Container size less than 3.4 oz (100 ml), sealed, take out before x-ray|
|Drink containers like 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/vinegars||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 airport. Details…|
|Vision support like contact lenses, lens kit, lens solution||Container size less than 3.4 oz (100 ml). More can be allowed by TSA officer if deemed necessary. Details…|
|Other external medical devices like spinal stimulator, neurostimulator, 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 officer 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 officer 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 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 neck brace, knee brace||Must inform officer|
|Thermometer||Remove battery from digital thermometer.|
|Injectable medicines and injections||In reasonable quantity. Injection needles must be unsealed from factory packaging. Inform 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 power source.|
|Powders like baby powder, talc||Container size ≤ 12 oz (350 ml). Must place in 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)|
|Laptop||Needs separate screening|
|Paintings||If it fits within your United carry on baggage|
|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 unsatisfactory, they may open it|
|Wedding dress||Must be packed safely and securely in hard transport-ready casing.|
|Unpowered home tools like knitting needles, shaving razors, nail clippers,||In 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 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 umbrella, raincoat, snow boots||As long as it fits within the carry on size|
|Common things||To find out which common, day-to-day usables will the United Airlines will allow on their flights, please check this page.|
United Airlines Basic Economy Carry-On Fees and How to Avoid Them
When you are travelling on a basic economy class ticket on a United flight, you cannot take a carry on luggage on board. (You can still take one personal item, though.) However, this rule is lifted if you are going on a transatlantic flight.
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.
Therefore, it is better if you opt for some ways to avoid the United basic economy carry on charge, or don’t take a carry on at all. There are two great ways you can avoid paying extra but still take a carry on onboard a United Airlines basic economy class, as follows:
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 along with. 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|
2. Be an Elite traveler with United
If you travel frequently on United flights, you can accumulate enough miles to achieve the Elite status on United Airlines. This is most suitable to business travelers who need to cover lots of miles on work. 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) on board the United flight with just a basic economy ticket. List of such memberships are:
- MileagePlus Premier Silver
- Premier Gold
- Premier Platinum
- Premier 1K
- Star Alliance™ Gold
This is the hard and expensive way to get free carry on in united basic economy, but hey, the payoffs are better too!
United Airlines liquids, gels and aerosols rules
About fluid or gaseous items you can carry in your United carry on luggage has some restrictions. United Airlines follows the TSA restrictions on liquids, gels and aerosols strictly, so you will have to pack accordingly. These restrictions are:
- 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, 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 this rules – they have separate rules.
- Duty-free items – only on international flights, packed in original clear bags provided by vendor, and you have to show the receipt too.
How to Handle United Basic Economy Bag Issues
There are some restrictions on baggage in 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 (size under 17” × 10” × 9”) 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, $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 travelling 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 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.
FAQ’s about United carry on size
What is United Airlines maximum carry on bag size?
Answer: 22” × 14” × 9” (56 cm × 35 cm × 22 cm) or less. This includes any handles or wheels, etc. sticking out of the bag.
Is United Airlines strict about carry on size?
Answer: United airlines follows the standard rules for carry on and personal item sizes (22” x 14” x 9” and 17” x 10” x 9” respectively). However, as long as the item fits completely into their sizer boxes provided at the check-in, they may allow it even your bag is bit larger than regulations.
Can a 24 inch luggage be a carry on?
Answer: as long as the bag fits into the overhead bin, United will allow it as a carry on. So, if the bag is 24 inched 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?
Answer: If your united carry on bag is above their size limits (22” × 14” × 9”), 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?
Answer: United Airlines restricted items policy follows the TSA restricted items regulations strictly. As such, basically 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?
Answer: Sure, you can take a duffel bag as a carry on in a United flight, as long as it is under United Airlines carry on size restriction (22” × 14” × 9”). The problem is, duffel bags are generally odd-shaped, so they may cause a bit of problem with this size restriction. However, if it can be somehow stuffed into the United sizer box at the check-in, then the airline crew should have no problems allowing it.
Can I take a backpack and a carry on United?
Answer: The United Airlines allows each passenger one free personal item (max 17” x 10” x 9”) and one free carry on bag (max 22” × 14” × 9”). 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 fit the under-seat space and the backpack fits in the bin. Check the best backpacks you can bring on your next travel.
Can I bring makeup in my carry on?
Answer: When your makeup is a solid matter (like lipstick) then there wouldn’t be any restrictions on it in a United flight. 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”), clear plastic.
How do I get a free checked bag on United?
- Pay using a United co-branded credit card, like 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?
Answer: According to the TSA, you can carry a few 3 oz or less 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.