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United Airlines*

United Airlines is the brainchild of one of the fathers of aviation, William Boeing, who started the business in 1916. The organization is headquartered at the Willis Tower in Chicago and is known for its extensive presence in the Asia-Pacific region.

United is a founding member of the Star Alliance. It was also the first airline with flight simulators containing visual, sound, and motion clues to train pilots.

Even though they are not a budget airline, United does have a lower ticket fare that only allows you to bring a personal item on board. Keep reading for more about United’s carry on baggage policies.

Updated April 2023

Headquarters Country: USA

Website: https://www.united.com/en/us/fly/travel/baggage/carry-on.html

Chicago skyline

United Airlines carry on luggage size allowances

Number of items allowed:

  • Most ticket types: 1 carry on bag + 1 personal item
  • Basic Economy: only a personal item is allowed in most cases, see below for more details

According to United’s website:
“For most trips you can only bring one personal item when you’re flying in Basic Economy. You can’t bring a carry-on bag unless you’re flying to South America, across the Atlantic or across the Pacific. All other bags have to be checked. Note, if you check a carry-on at your gate, you’ll be charged the standard bag fee plus an additional $25.

If you’re a MileagePlus members with Premier status, traveling with a Premier member, are the primary card member of a qualifying MileagePlus credit card or a Star Alliance Gold member you can bring one free carry-on bag.”

Maximum allowed in imperial: (official)

  • H x W x D = 22 x 14 x 9 in
  • H x W x D for personal item = 17 x 10 x 9 in
  • Weight = not indicated

Maximum allowed in metric: (converted)

  • H x W x D = 56 x 35 x 22cm
  • H x W x D for personal item = 43 x 25 x 22 in
  • Weight = not indicated

Note: Carry-on restrictions might be stricter on some United Express flights, which means you may need to gate check your carry on bag.

United Airlines baggage info

When flying with United, most travelers can bring one full-sized carry-on bag and one personal item for free. United’s carry on bag size is 22 x 14 x 9 in/56 x 35 x 22 cm, while United’s personal item size is 17 x 10 x 9 in/43 x 25 x 22 cm.

Those with United’s Basic Economy tickets (excluding transatlantic flights) will only be allowed one personal item unless you are a Premier member. Anyone with a Basic Economy ticket who brings a carry-on will be charged not only the checked bag fee but a $25 gate handling charge, which are only payable by credit card. Refunds are not allowed.

baggage claim for checked luggage

On regional flights with reduced overhead space, United will allow gate-checking for carry-on items.

United requires that any musical instruments brought on board as a carry-on must be in a hard case.

For Basic Economy tickets, United allows checked bags up to 50 pounds/23 kgs. For any tickets above that, bags cannot exceed 70 pounds/32 kgs. For connecting flights, checked bags will go straight to the destination unless a layover is overnight, if the connecting flight is not on a Star Alliance partner airline, or if the connecting flight is a domestic flight in the destination country.

United has several locations that do not allow any excess or oversize baggage, including El Salvador, Honduras, and Cuba. There are also many cities world-wide which do not permit checked bags over 70 pounds/32 kgs. These also change seasonally, so be sure to check their site ahead of time.

Traveling in the USA? Check out our USA itineraries and tour reviews.

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Ali Garland author box detailsAli is an expert at packing and loves to travel. On Travel Made Simple, she shares her best tips for packing less, dealing with layovers, planning travel itineraries, and more tips that will help you have the best vacation. Originally from the US, she now lives in Berlin, Germany with her husband and their adorable Yorkie.

Ali Garland author box details
Ali is an expert at packing and loves to travel. On Travel Made Simple, she shares her best tips for packing less, dealing with layovers, planning travel itineraries, and more tips that will help you have the best vacation. Originally from the US, she now lives in Berlin, Germany with her husband and their adorable Yorkie.