United Airlines is a well-established airline that has been in operation since the early 1930s. Today, the airline offers an extensive range of both domestic and international flights, and is a popular choice among frequent travelers for its reasonable fairs and excellent customer service.
Whether you’re thinking about taking your next flight with United Airlines or have already booked your travel, you’ll want to be prepared to pay any relevant baggage fees and make sure your baggage conforms to the airline’s requirements. By doing so, you’ll have a better idea of what to expect in terms of budgeting for baggage fees and avoid any unwanted surprised (such as having a carry-on that’s too large) before you board.
Compared to many major airlines, United Airlines has pretty simple and straight-forward baggage policies and fees similar. They are not as complicated as American Airlines baggage fees.
United Airlines Checked and Carry-On Allowances
If you’ll be traveling with any luggage whatsoever, you’ll want to familiarize yourself with United Airlines’ policies for both checked and carry-on bags.
Checked Bag Allowances and Fees
Specific fees for checked bags can vary a bit depending on whether you’re flying domestically or internationally—as well as which type of fare you purchase. For example, if you’re flying domestically with an economy fare, you can expect to pay $30 for your first checked bag, $40 for your second checked bag, and $150 for each additional checked bag after that. Business and first class flyers enjoy first and second checked bags at no charge, though all checked bags beyond that are $150 regardless of which class you’re flying.
Regardless of which class you’ll be flying or what your destination may be, it is recommended that you use United Airlines’ convenient baggage fee calculator tool; the calculator takes just moments to use and will provide you with an accurate estimate of what you can expect to pay for your bags based on your specific flight number, bag weight, and more.
In terms of size and weight restrictions, all economy class fares have a maximum checked bag weight of 50 pounds (which is pretty standard), though business and first-class fares are bumped up to a maximum weight of 70 pounds. Maximum linear dimensions of your luggage (including wheels and handles) cannot exceed 62 inches.
Carry-On Allowances and Fees
If you plan on carrying any luggage onto your flight (perhaps to avoid long waits at baggage claim once you land), you’ll be pleased to know that United Airlines allows one free personal item and one free standard carry-on for all passengers, except for those flying Basic Economy (these travelers will need to stick to one personal item).
Size restrictions for personal items on United Airlines are 17″ x 10″ x 9″, and maximum dimensions for a standard carry-on bag are 22″ x 14″ x 9″. When flying with United Airlines, all personal items must be able to be stowed underneath the seat in front of you during your flight. Standard carry-on bags may be stowed either below the seat in front of you or in the overhead bins available on the airplane.
What About Infants, Strollers, and Baby Gear?
If you’ll be traveling with a child under the age of two, he or she will be considered a lap infant and will not require his or her own separate fair. When traveling with young children, you’re also permitted to bring along a diaper bag, breast pump, child car seat, and stroller at no additional charge. Just be aware that all strollers and car seats must be checked at your departure gate and may not be carried onto the plane.
Charges For Additional Bags and Overweight Luggage
All checked bags on United Airlines must weigh in at 50 pounds or less (for economy class fares) or 70 pounds or less (for business and first-class fares). To potential overweight suitcase fees, you should use a luggage scale after you’re done packing to ensure that your bag is under the required weight for your fare. If you’re over by even a pound, you can expect to be either charged an overweight bag fee or asked to move some of your luggage into your carry-on bag if possible. Overweight bag fees on United Airlines can vary anywhere from $100 to $400 depending on how much your bag weighs and where you’re traveling.
You could also be assessed an oversized bag fee if your luggage exceeds the maximum linear dimensions allowed by United Airlines, which is 62 linear inches. Bags measuring greater than 112 linear inches may be rejected altogether, so measure and plan accordingly. Remember that these measurements include any wheels, handles, or other attachments found on your bag. If you have an oversized bag, you will be charged an additional fee of up to $200.
If you’ll be traveling with any special equipment, such as musical instruments or large sporting equipment, it’s in your best interest to contact United Airlines directly before your flight so they can make the necessary accommodations.
Saving On United Airlines Baggage Fees (Or Avoiding Them Altogether)
While United Airlines baggage fees are pretty consistent with that of other airlines, you may still be looking for some ways to save. There are a few options worth considering that could cut down on your baggage costs or even eliminate them altogether.
Reach MileagePlus Status
United Airlines offers a “MileagePlus” membership to those who fly a certain number of airline miles through their airline in a calendar year. There are four different tiers of membership, ranging from Premier Silver to Premier 1K. When you reach this status, you’ll enjoy free checked bags on domestic and international flights. Specifically, Silver members will enjoy one free checked bag when flying domestically and two free checked bags when flying internationally. Gold status members will enjoy two checked bags domestically and three bags internationally. Premier 1K members get up to three free bags domestically and three bags internationally.
Another benefit of being a MileagePlus member is that your checked bag weight allowance is also increased to 70 pounds at no additional charge.
Research Exclusions and Waivers
United Airlines offers baggage fee waivers for active members of the United States military. This includes up to three free checked bags (of up to 70 pounds each) for personal travel and up to five free checked bags for business travel. When traveling for official business, military members will also enjoy a maximum 70-pound bag weight and larger size allowances of up to 115 linear inches. If you plan on taking advantage of these waivers, be sure to provide proof of military status at the time of your booking or when you check your luggage at the airport.
Receive Reimbursement From Your Credit Card Company
Some travel credit card companies offer baggage fee reimbursement as a card-holder benefit. United Airlines specifically offers several credit cards with free checked bags as a perk. For example, the United Explorer card offers one free checked bag for the cardholder and one other traveling companion for each trip.
Capital One, American Express, and Chase also offer cards with baggage fee reimbursement benefits that may be worth looking into for frequent travelers. With these cards, you typically pay for your baggage fees with your credit card and then request reimbursement or an account credit from your credit card company after your trip.
United Airlines Baggage Policies: Frequently Asked Questions
Below are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions travelers have about United Airlines baggage fees.
How many bags can I carry on a flight with United Airlines?
All United Airlines passengers except for those with Basic Economy fares can bring aboard one personal item and one standard carry-on at no charge, so long as they fall into size requirements and don’t break any TSA rules. Basic Economy passengers are allowed one personal item, but will need to check standard-sized bags.
What will I pay for oversized or overweight bags with United Airlines?
For bags that are overweight, fees can vary depending on your destination and how overweight the bag is. In general, however, you can expect to pay between $100 and $400 for an overweight bag, so be sure to check the weight on a luggage scale before you arrive at the airport. Oversized bags can be charged up to $200 as well, so measure and plan accordingly.
How much will I pay to check bags for a United Airlines flight?
Checked bag fees will vary depending on your fare type and whether you’re flying domestically or internationally. Economy fares generally pay $30 for the first checked bag, followed by between $40 and $60 for the second bag. Additional bags can range from $150 to $200, depending on your destination. All business and first-class fares receive a free first and second bag, but additional bags will cost between $150 and $200 each.