Get The Vacationer Newsletter

Get highlights of the most important news delivered to your email inbox

    Get The Vacationer Newsletter

    Get highlights of the most important news delivered to your email inbox

      Advertiser Disclosure

      If you make a purchase or sign up for a credit card after clicking a link on this site, The Vacationer may receive compensation as it is part of an affiliate sales network that receives compensation for sending traffic to partner sites. This compensation may impact how and where offers appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). The Vacationer does not review or include all possible offers, credit cards or credit card companies. This site does not include all financial companies or all available financial offers. Terms apply to American Express benefits and offers. Enrollment may be required for select American Express benefits and offers. Visit americanexpress.com to learn more.

      United Airlines Baggage Fees, Allowance, & Policy (2022)

      Natasha Gabrielle
      United Airlines Baggage Fees

      Baggage policies and fees vary by airline. Some airlines are more strict, while others are more flexible. It’s essential to check the rules and restrictions for each airline before you fly to avoid unexpected issues or extra fees. If you’re flying with United Airlines soon, you may be wondering about the specifics of their baggage policy. This United Airlines baggage fees guide will outline the essential details that you need to know before you begin packing for your trip: 

      Personal Items

      You can bring one personal item when flying with United Airlines, no matter what fare type you purchase. This personal item must meet the size requirements and should fit under the seat in front of you. Examples of personal items include a small handbag or purse. Dimensions shouldn’t exceed 17 x 10 x 9 inches.   

      Carry-on Baggage

      United Airlines allows most travelers to bring one carry-on bag. However, basic economy passengers are only allowed to bring one personal item, and they do not get a free carry-on bag. 

      Basic economy passengers who meet the following conditions can bring one carry-on bag on board at no extra cost: 

      • Customers traveling on trans-Atlantic flights to or from the U.S., Mexico, and Central America, as well as to and from El Salvador, Panama, and South America
      • Customers traveling on trans-Pacific flights to or from the U.S.
      • MileagePlus® Premier® members or companions traveling on the same reservation
      • Primary cardmembers of qualifying MileagePlus credit cards or Star Alliance™ Gold members

      Carry-on bags must meet the size requirements and should fit in the overhead bins. Bag dimensions shouldn’t exceed 22 x 14 x 9 inches, including handles and wheels. If you bring a full-size carry-on bag to the gate, you’ll need to check it. A checked bag fee + a $25 gate handling charge will apply, and you must use a credit card to pay. 

      Note: In addition to the above, you can bring the following items on board: 

      • A jacket
      • An umbrella
      • Reading material
      • Food or merchandise that you buy at the airport 
      • Assistive devices (wheelchair, cane, crutches, medical device, portable oxygen concentrator) 
      • FAA-approved child restraint system or safety seat
      • A diaper bag
      • A breast pump
      • A camera
      • A pet carrier (service charges apply) 

      If items are larger than the carry-on size listed above, or if you bring additional items, you’ll have to check them to your final destinations. Additional charges may apply. 

      Checked Baggage 

      Most travelers will need to pay to check bags unless flying on a United Business or United First ticket. United doesn’t outline checked baggage rules in a chart on their website. Instead, they have an easy-to-use tool called the United Airlines Baggage Calculator. You can use this resource to plan before your trip. Enter your departure and arrival details, travel dates, cabin/ticket type, and your MileagePlus status type. 

      Here’s what the calculator looks like:

      Cost to Check United Airlines Bag

      Screenshot: united.com

      Pre-pay for checked bags 

      United Airlines allows passengers to pre-pay checked bags before their flight. For some destinations, you may be able to save on bag fees by pre-paying. You can’t pre-pay for overweight and oversized bags and special items. 

      Checked Baggage Weight and Size Restrictions

      Checked bags must not exceed 62 inches (L+W+H), including handles and wheels. 

      Bag weight restrictions vary depending on your ticket class and MileagePlus status level.

      Here’s what you need to know:  

      United Airlines Bag Weight Limits

      Screenshot: united.com

      Oversized Bag Fees

      Checked bags that measure more than 62 inches (L+W+H), including handles and wheels, are considered oversized, and oversized bag fees will apply. United won’t accept bags that measure more than 115 inches (L+W+H), including handles and wheels. Exact oversized bag fees vary. Use the United Airlines Baggage Calculator to calculate fees for your flight. 

      Overweight Bag Fees

      United Airlines won’t accept bags weighing more than 100 pounds. As an exception, musical instruments and assistive devices up to 165 pounds are accepted. 

      Exact overweight bag fees vary depending on your ticket type, how overweight your bags are, and how many overweight bags you have. 

      Your best bet is to use the United Airlines Baggage Calculator to figure out these fees. You’ll be shown pricing for regular bags as well as overweight and oversized bag fees. 

      To give you a general idea of potential overweight bag fees: 

      United Economy travelers with checked bags weight up to 70 pounds can expect to be charged at a rate of up to $200 per bag, depending on the destination.

      Bags weighing more than 70 pounds but less than 100 pounds will be charged at a rate of up to $400 per bag, depending on the destination. 

      Important Baggage Rules  

      Lithium batteries installed in any checked or carry-on bag must be removed and brought on board. When flying with United Airlines, you can’t bring smart luggage without removal batteries. 

      If there is room on the aircraft, you can pay to bring extra bags.

      Dangerous Items: Some dangerous items are banned altogether. Other items are allowed, with some restrictions. Be sure to review specific rules before packing.  

      Electric devices: Some electric devices are not allowed to be used while onboard. Other electric devices are permitted. Be sure to review the specific rules. 

      Sports Equipment: Special rules apply to sports equipment. Sports equipment may be considered checked baggage if packed in appropriate containers and meet the size and weight restrictions. Overweight and oversized bag fees will apply. 

      Damaged, Delayed, and Lost Baggage 

      Damaged Bags

      If your bags have been damaged, you need to make a report. You should report damage before leaving the airport. You can do this at the Baggage Service Office. Damaged items need to be presented for inspection at the airport, where United staff members are responsible for the final resolution of your damage claim. 

      For flights within or between the United States, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, you must make a report no later than 24 hours after your flight arrival.  

      For international flights, you must report damage within seven days of arrival. 

      Delayed Bags

      If your bags are missing or delayed, you need to make a report at the Baggage Service Office at the airport. 

      For flights within or between the United States, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, you must make a report no later than 24 hours after your flight arrival.  

      You must report delayed bags for international flights within 21 days of arrival. 

      As soon as you report a delayed bag, United will begin searching for it. You can use the baggage file reference number on your report to track the status at united.com/bagtrack.

      Customers with delayed baggage can submit a claim for reimbursement of interim expenses for the period during which the baggage was delayed – with documentation and receipts. If a missing bag is not found after five days, customers can submit a claim for lost baggage. To make claims, contact the Baggage Resolution Center at 1-800-335-2247. 

      Lost Bags 

      If United can’t find your bag after five days, you may be eligible for $1,500 for the value of your baggage and its contents without further documentation by contacting the Baggage Resolution Center at 1-800-335-2247. 

      If your bag and its contents have a value of more than $1,500, you can submit further documentation with receipts. You can claim a value of up to $3,500 for flights within the United States. International flight values vary. 

      How to Get Free Bags

      United Airlines Bag Allowance

      Photo: pixabay

      If you’re strategic, you may be able to take advantage of free bag perks when flying with United Airlines. Here are some ways to get free checked bags: 

      Business and First Class Travelers

      You’re eligible for free bag perks when flying on a premium ticket. United First and United Business fliers can check up to two standard-size bags for free. 

      Status

      You may qualify for free bag perks if you have elite status through the MileagePlus program. Your status level and ticket type will determine how many bags you can check for free. Here’s a breakdown of baggage perks by elite status level and ticket type: 

      Traveling on an Economy Ticket

      Premier Silver: one free checked bag

      Premier Gold: two free checked bags 

      Premier Platinum: three free checked bags

      Premier 1K®: three free checked bags

      Traveling in Premium Cabin

      Premier Silver: three free checked bags

      Premier Gold: three free checked bags

      Premier Platinum: three free checked bags

      Premier 1K®: three free checked bags

      Star Alliance™

      If you’re a Star Alliance™elite member, you may qualify for free bag perks when flying with United Airlines. Star Gold members qualify for an extra baggage allowance. 

      Purchase a Baggage Subscription 

      If you travel with United Airlines often, you can purchase an annual baggage subscription. With this subscription, you can check one or two bags for free per flight depending on your subscription. You can also pay more to extend your privileges to one companion or up to eight companions traveling on the same reservation. 

      This is a paid service. Prices vary depending on whether the perks are just for you or also for companions and the region of travel. Consider your travel plans for the year before purchasing a subscription. 

      Here’s a breakdown of United’s baggage subscription costs: 

      Subscriber-only – (1 free checked bag)

      Continental United States (excludes Alaska and Hawaii): $349

      North America and Central America: $449 

      Subscriber-only – (2 free checked bags)

      Continental United States (excludes Alaska and Hawaii): $399

      North America and Central America: $499 

      Intra-Asia and Oceania (excludes flights from Honolulu to Guam): $399

      Global: $799

      Subscriber + 1 companion (1 free checked bag)

      Continental United States (excludes Alaska and Hawaii): $449

      North America and Central America: $549 

      Subscriber + 1 companion (2 free checked bags)

      Continental United States (excludes Alaska and Hawaii): $499

      North America and Central America: $599 

      Intra-Asia and Oceania (excludes flights from Honolulu to Guam): $499

      Global: $899

      Subscriber + 8 companions (1 free checked bag)

      Continental United States (excludes Alaska and Hawaii): $649

      North America and Central America: $849 

      Subscriber + 8 companions (2 free checked bags)

      Continental United States (excludes Alaska and Hawaii): $699

      North America and Central America: $899 

      Intra-Asia and Oceania (excludes flights from Honolulu to Guam): $699

      Global: $999

      Free Bags with Eligible Credit Cards 

      If you use the right credit card to pay for your United Airlines tickets, you may be able to check a bag for free. It depends on which card you have. Here’s a look at what you can expect: 

      United℠ Explorer Card: With this credit card, you and one companion on the same reservation will each get your first checked bag free on United and United Express® flights. 

      United℠ Quest Card: With this credit card, you and one companion on the same reservation will each get two free checked bags on United and United Express® flights. 

      United Club℠ Infinite Card: With this credit card, you and one companion on the same reservation will each get two free checked bags on United and United Express® flights. 

      Presidential Plus℠ Card: With this credit card, you and one companion on the same reservation will each get two free checked bags on United and United Express® flights. 

      Presidential Plus℠ Business Card: With this credit card, you and one companion on the same reservation will each get two free checked bags on United and United Express® flights. 

      United℠ Business Card: With this credit card, you and one companion on the same reservation will each get your first checked bag free on United and United Express® flights. 

      United Club℠ Business Card: With this credit card, you and one companion on the same reservation will each get two free checked bags on United and United Express® flights.

      The Vacationer Tip

      Note: You won’t get free baggage perks if you have an entry-level United Gateway card. However, this card has no annual fee and offers other benefits. Check out our United Gateway credit card review to learn more. 

      Military Members 

      All active U.S. military members qualify for free baggage benefits when flying with United. Here’s a breakdown of the rules depending on the type of travel:

      Personal travel: Active U.S. military members and their accompanying dependents receive up to three checked bags at 70 pounds each. 
      Official orders: Active U.S. military members and their accompanying dependents receive up to give checked bags at 100 pounds each.

      FAQ

      Can I bring a free carry-on bag when flying with United Airlines?

      Most passengers can bring a free carry-on bag when flying with United. However, basic economy passengers may only be able to bring a free personal item unless they meet special conditions – in which case, they may be able to bring one free carry-on bag.

      Does United Airlines offer free checked bags?

      Unless you’re flying on a United First or United Business ticket or qualifying for other free bag perks, you’ll need to pay to check a bag when flying with United. Checked baggage fees vary depending on your destination and ticket type.

      How much does United Airlines charge for baggage?

      Checked bag fees vary when flying with United Airlines. Use the United Airlines Baggage Calculator to check fees before your flight.

      Can you pay for checked bags before you get to the airport?

      Yes. You can prepay for your checked bags at United.com.

      Is there a way to get free bags when flying with United Airlines?

      Yes, you may be able to get free bags when flying with United. If you purchase a higher-class ticket, use an eligible United Airlines credit card to book your ticket, are an elite status loyalty member, or are an active-duty military member, you may qualify for free checked bags. United Airlines also offers a checked bag subscription service (for a fee) to make traveling with checked baggage more affordable.

      The Vacationer’s Final Thoughts

      Be sure to read all of United Airlines’ baggage policies before planning your next flight. Your destination and cabin matter, so it is essential to use the baggage calculator and be aware of your current United Airlines status level. Some credit cards even offer free checked bags, so you should decide if any of the options are right for you.

      For further reading, see our American Airlines Baggage Fees, Delta Airlines Baggage Fees, and Spirit Airlines Baggage Fees guides.

      Natasha Gabrielle Headshot

      By Natasha Gabrielle

      Natasha has been a freelance writer since 2015. She specializes in writing travel and credit card rewards content. When not busy writing, she’s either dreaming up her next credit card rewards redemption or traveling the globe. Her goal is to encourage more people to experience the world around them while making smart money choices.