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United Airlines Baggage Policy: How to Save on Fees?

United Airlines has a fairly basic baggage policy, including baggage and overweight fee. Here are the best strategies to save on United fees
Author: Baruch Mann (Silvermann)
Baruch Mann (Silvermann)

Writer, Contributor

Experience

Baruch Silvermann is a financial expert, experienced analyst, and founder of The Smart Investor.  Silvermann has contributed to Yahoo Finance and cited as an authoritative source in financial outlets like Forbes, Business Insider, CNBC Select, CNET, Bankrate, Fox Business, The Street, and more.
Interest Rates Last Update: April 15, 2024
The banking product interest rates, including savings, CDs, and money market, are accurate as of this date.
Author: Baruch Mann (Silvermann)
Baruch Mann (Silvermann)

Writer, Contributor

Experience

Baruch Silvermann is a financial expert, experienced analyst, and founder of The Smart Investor.  Silvermann has contributed to Yahoo Finance and cited as an authoritative source in financial outlets like Forbes, Business Insider, CNBC Select, CNET, Bankrate, Fox Business, The Street, and more.
Interest Rates Last Update: April 15, 2024

The banking product interest rates, including savings, CDs, and money market, are accurate as of this date.

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Table Of Content

United Airlines is one of the largest carriers with a domestic and international route network across six continents. So, it is not unusual to find that if you are booking a flight, United has options for traveling to your preferred destination.

But, is the United Airlines baggage policy worth it? In this article, we’ll examine the airline’s baggage policy in more detail, understand the fee structure and explain how to avoid the most common fees. so you can determine if you want to fly United.

What is the United Baggage Policy?

United Airlines has a fairly basic baggage policy that is easy to understand. The allowances are pretty standard, but the oversized and overweight fees are a little on the higher side. However, they are  consistent with most of the other major carriers in the U.S.

The only potential ambiguity you may experience is when it comes to the carry on allowances for economy fares. United splits its economy fares into Basic and Full Economy, which will impact your carry on allowance.

Additionally, United Airlines does have special policies if you’re traveling with wheelchairs, sports equipment, protective bags, fragile items, items for children or infants, animals or remains. If you will be traveling with any items in these categories, it is important to check the latest United policies before you book or travel.

United Airline Flight
United Airline Flight

How Much is United Airlines Baggage Fee?

There are baggage fees when you fly United, but the specific cost depends on your route, fare and number of bags.

  • If you’re flying the domestic U.S and Canada or to Central America and the Caribbean except Cuba, Economy ticket holders will need to pay $30 for the first bag, $40 for the second and $150 for three or more. The first and second bags are free if you’re a Premium Plus, Business or First Class passenger, but the $150 for three or more bags fee remains the same.
  • If you’re traveling to and from Mexico, Economy ticket holders will need to pay $30 for the first bag and $55 for the second bag. First and second bags are free for all other ticket holders. The fee for three or more bags is $180 across the board.
  • If your route is to and from Europe, the Middle East or India, first bags are free for all passengers except Basic Economy who will need to pay $70. Second bags are free for all except Economy passengers, which will cost $100.
  • If your route is to or from Australia, New Zealand or East Asia, first and second bags are free except for New Zealand Economy customers who will need to pay a $100 fee for second bags. Three or more bags attract a $200 fee.
Region
Bag One
Bag Two
Bag Three
Domestic/Central America/Canada/Caribbean except Cuba
$30 (Economy)
$30 (Economy )
$150
Mexico
$30 (Economy)
$55 (Economy)
$200
Europe, the Middle East or India
Free
$100 (Economy)
$200
Australia, New Zealand or East Asia
Free
$100 (Economy)
$200
South America
Free
$65 (Economy)
$200

Does United Airlines Charge For Carry on Baggage?

On most United flights, you can bring one carry on bag and one personal item. Your carry on bag needs to be able to fit in the overhead bins with maximum dimensions of 9x14x22 including the wheels and handles.

You can also bring a personal item, providing it is a maximum of 9x10x17 as it should be able to fit under the seat in front of you. You may also carry a jacket, umbrella, assistive devices such as a cane, crutches or collapsible wheelchair, a diaper bag, a camera, reading materials or merchandise that you have purchased in the airport.

You can also take a musical instrument as your carry on or personal item. It can be brought on board if it's in a hard case and will fit in the overhead bin or can be placed under the seat in front of you.

However, there are some exceptions to these general rules. If you have a Basic Economy ticket, you can only bring one personal item on board. If you have a full size carry on bag, you’ll need to check it and pay the appropriate baggage fee. If you bring the bag to the gate, there is a gate handling charge.

What Are The Baggage Restrictions For United Airlines?

As with all airlines, United needs to adhere with the TSA restrictions on packing gels, liquids and aerosols in your carry on bags. There are some exceptions for liquids such as medicines or baby formula.

Additionally, you need to remove any lithium batteries from items in your checked or carry on bags. Once the batteries are removed, you can bring them on board separately. If you have smart bags that do not have removable batteries, you cannot travel with them on any United flights.

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How Much is the United Overweight Baggage Fee?

The standard measurements for a checked bag is a combined length, width and height of 62 inches including any wheels and handles. However, the maximum weight of a checked bag depends on your cabin and Premier status.

Economy or Premium Economy passengers have a maximum weight per bag of 50 pounds, but this increases to 70 pounds for First, Business or Business Polaris passengers.United reserves the right to charge a fee for any bags exceeding these weights and sizes.

However, the airline cannot accept bags that measure more than 115 inches in length plus width plus height or bags weighing over 100 pounds unless it is a musical instrument or assistive device, which have a maximum weight of 165 pounds.

United has a baggage calculator tool on its website that can let you know how much you can expect to pay. Bear in mind that if your bag is oversized and overweight, you’ll incur two fees.

The fee for overweight bags can be up to $400 per bag, depending on the specific weight and destination,

How Many Checked Baggage and What Size Allowed?

United requires that passengers who want to travel with checked bags check in with sufficient time before their departure. This can be at least 45 minutes to 90 minutes or more depending on your destination.

It is also a good idea to measure your checked bags before you travel to ensure that they are not classified as oversized. The combined length plus width plus height of your bag should be less than 62 inches including the handles and wheels. You should also check your ticket to see what the maximum weight allowance for your cabin is.

United will accept one box rather than a bag if there are limits in place for checked bags. The box needs to measure a maximum of 62 linear inches with a maximum weight of 50 pounds.

baggage fees to pay on United Airlines Flight
(Photo by FOTOGRIN/Shutterstock)

How to Save on United Baggage Fees

United baggage fees can quickly start to add up, but fortunately, there are some ways to save money when you fly. These include:

  • Get a Credit Card: We’ve already discussed some of the best credit cards to get free checked bags. These cards can offer some fantastic perks for those who regularly fly United including statement credits and bonus rewards that could make your travel experience more enjoyable. United offers of the best cards for airline travel.
  • Pack Light: United allows passengers one carry on and one personal item, so if you can pack light and not need to check any bags you can save on your fees.

Of course, you’ll need to adhere to the carry on allowances, but with packing cubes and other strategies, it is possible to pack everything you need in a smaller bag that can fit in the overhead bin. Just be aware that Basic Economy passengers may be restricted to one personal item.

  • Buy an Upgraded Ticket: Depending on your destination, unless you’re traveling on an economy ticket, you can get one or two checked bags for free. So, it is well worth checking the cost of buying an upgraded ticket before you book to see if you could have a nicer travel experience and save money on baggage fees.
  • Join the Loyalty Program: United operates its Mileage Plus program that has several status perks including free checked bags. You will need to accumulate Premier Qualifying Miles to reach status milestones, which can take some time, but if you’re a regular flyer, it could be very beneficial for you.
  • Bring Your Military ID: Active Military personnel are exempt from many of the baggage fees. If you’re personal traveling, you could check three bags for free, while if you’re on orders, this is increased to five bags. 

However, you will need to verify your eligibility by showing your U.S military ID. In some situations, dependents can also access these benefits, so if you’re traveling with family, check before you travel.

Credit Cards That Give You a Free Checked Bag With United

United baggage fees can quickly start to add up, but fortunately, there are some ways to save money when you fly. These include:

United℠ Explorer Card

The United Explorer card has the mass appeal for United travelers with great value at a reasonable expense, even if you only travel one or two times a year. The annual fee is waived for the first year and the tiered reward structure is weighted towards United purchases, hotel accommodation and restaurant purchases.

However, the United Explorer card is packed with perks including reimbursement for your TSA Precheck or Global Entry application fees, trip cancellation insurance, credit back on your inflight purchases, two United Club one time passes each year, and free first checked bag for you and a travel companion. There is even a one year complimentary DashPass.

united explorer
united explorer
United Explorer Card overview
(Photo by NaMong Productions/Shutterstock)

United Quest℠ Card

The United Quest card is ideal for those who regularly fly United but don’t want to cover a significant annual fee. In addition to a generous welcome bonus, the tiered reward structure is weighted towards United Purchases, travel and dining.

Despite the modest annual fee compared to the Explorer Card, the United Quest card offers some great rewards including United purchase credit each year, two award credits per anniversary year, statement credit as reimbursement for your Global Entry or TSA PreCheck applications and 25% back on your in flight purchases.

Cardholders can also enjoy priority boarding with the Quest card, travel protections, potential elite status boost with seat upgrades and two free checked bags for both you and your travel companion.

United Quest℠ Card

United Quest℠ Card

United Business Card

The United Business Card has a generous welcome bonus and you can also earn an anniversary bonus if you have both a business and personal Chase United credit card.

The card has a tiered reward structure weighted towards office supplies, commuting, gas station purchases and eligible delivery services. You can also arrange employee cards with no additional cost, so you can accumulate rewards faster.

In addition to offering first free checked bags, you can also enjoy priority boarding privileges, a complimentary DashPass and two United ClubSM one time passes each year. There is also United travel credit after you make seven flight purchases with a minimum spend each anniversary year.

United Business Card

United Business Card

United Club℠ Infinite Card

In addition to offering a generous welcome bonus, the United Club Infinite card has a tiered reward structure weighted towards United purchases, but you can also earn above the base rewards rate on travel and dining including eligible delivery services.

The Infinite card also offers statement credit as reimbursement for your TSA PreCheck, Global Entry or Nexus application fees and free first and second checked bags.

The card has no foreign transaction fees and you can enjoy a Visa Infinite concierge services and a complimentary one year DashPass when you open your account.

united infinite card

united infinite card

FAQs

Yes, you can prepay on the United website by providing your confirmation number. When you arrive at the airport, you’ll simply need to stop at the kiosk to check in, print your bag tag and drop it off at the counter after you attach the tag.

Unfortunately, at most airport counters and kiosks, it is no longer possible to use cash to pay for your United baggage fees.

This depends on your ticket class, destination and weight of your bags. However, United does have a baggage fee calculator on its website.

This depends on your ticket class and destination. You can see it here.

Yes, if your backpack is smaller than the maximum dimensions and it will fit under the seat in front of you.

United does not specify a weight restriction for carry on luggage, but it must meet the maximum size requirements.

Yes, this is one of the perks of the United Club.

Yes for active U.S personnel and in some cases, their immediate family. However, you will need to show your Military I.D to have your baggage fees waived on up to five bags. 

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The product offers that appear on this site are from companies from which this website receives compensation.
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Rewards Plan:
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Welcome Bonus:
80,000 points 80,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $8,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership

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The product offers that appear on this site are from companies from which this website receives compensation.
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50,000 miles 50,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 in your first six months
Advertiser Disclosure
The product offers that appear on this site are from companies from which this website receives compensation.
Picture of Baruch Mann (Silvermann)

Baruch Mann (Silvermann)

Baruch Silvermann is a financial expert, experienced analyst, and founder of The Smart Investor.  Silvermann has contributed to Yahoo Finance and cited as an authoritative source in financial outlets like Forbes, Business Insider, CNBC Select, CNET, Bankrate, Fox Business, The Street, and more.
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Top Offers

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Rewards Plan:
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Welcome Bonus:
80,000 points 80,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $8,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership

amex brilliant

Rewards Plan:
2X – 6X 6 Marriott Bonvoy points for each dollar of eligible purchases at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy™ program, 3 points at Worldwide restaurants and on flights booked directly with airlines and 2 points on all other eligible purchases
Welcome Bonus:
95,000 points 95,000 Marriott Bonvoy bonus points after you use your new Card to make $6,000 in purchases within the first 6 months of Card Membership

Amex Delta SkyMiles Platinum card

Rewards Plan:
1X – 3X 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide including takeout and delivery in the U.S., and at U.S. supermarkets and 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases
Welcome Bonus:
50,000 miles 50,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 in your first six months
Advertiser Disclosure
The product offers that appear on this site are from companies from which this website receives compensation.
Top Offers From Our Partners

amex platinum

Rewards Plan:
1X – 5X 5X points on up to $500,000 spent on directly-booked airfare and flights and prepaid hotels booked through American Express Travel (per calendar year), 2X points on prepaid car rentals through American Express Travel and 1X points on all other purchases
Welcome Bonus:
80,000 points 80,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $8,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership

amex brilliant

Rewards Plan:
2X – 6X 6 Marriott Bonvoy points for each dollar of eligible purchases at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy™ program, 3 points at Worldwide restaurants and on flights booked directly with airlines and 2 points on all other eligible purchases
Welcome Bonus:
95,000 points 95,000 Marriott Bonvoy bonus points after you use your new Card to make $6,000 in purchases within the first 6 months of Card Membership

Amex Delta SkyMiles Platinum card

Rewards Plan:
Up to 3x miles 3 miles per $1 spent on United purchases immediately after earning your $125 annual United purchase credit, 2 miles on all other travel and select streaming services, 1 mile on all other purchases
Welcome Bonus:
60,000 miles 60,000 bonus miles + 500 Premier qualifying points (PQP) after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.
Advertiser Disclosure
The product offers that appear on this site are from companies from which this website receives compensation.

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