United Airlines Baggage Fees & Tips To Cover The Expenses

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United has a pretty basic baggage policy all around so you won’t find many surprises here.  Overweight/oversized fees are a bit on the higher side but that being said, they’re consistent with most other major US carriers.

Something to note: Economy fares are now split into Basic or Full Economy, which is of importance when you consider the carry-on allowance.  Otherwise, in terms of baggage, fees are pretty much the same across the two.

United Airlines Carry-On Allowance

1 personal item: FREE
1 standard carry-on bag: FREE (including Basic Economy Transatlantic flights & excluding all other Basic Economy fares*)

*Any Basic Economy Fare passenger that brings a full-sized carry-on bag to the gate will be required to check their bag and pay the applicable checked bag fee plus a $25 gate handling charge; unless said passenger is a MileagePlus Premier member or companion traveling on the same reservation, the primary cardmember of a qualifying MileagePlus credit card or a Star Alliance™ Gold member.

Size Restrictions

  • Personal: 17″ x 10″ x 9″
  • Carry-On: 22″ x 14″ x 9″

Lap Infant Carry-On Policy

  • Customers may carry the following infant and child articles on board, in addition to the maximum carry-on baggage allowance: Diaper Bag, Breast Pump, Government-approved child seat (infant carrying seat or car seat).

Stroller Check Policy

  • United accepts one stroller and one car seat per child to be checked at the departure gate for free.

United Airlines Checked Baggage Allowance

All checked bags must adhere to a max weight of 50lb for all Economy and Premium Plus fares and 70lbs for Business and First Class fares; must adhere to max linear dimensions of 62 inches.

Instead of providing a hard and fast table to assess your baggage fees at a glance, United is now recommending all passengers use their official baggage fee calculator tool here.

However, after doing some basic route searches, the general rules appear to be the following (this is not set in stone):

RouteEconomy
(Basic, Plus & Full)
Premium Plus (from 30 March 2019)BusinessFirst
Domestic US & Canada1st Bag: $30
2nd Bag: $40
3rd+ Bag: $150
n/a1st Bag: FREE
2nd Bag: FREE
3rd+ Bags: $150
1st Bag: FREE
2nd Bag: FREE
3rd+ Bags: $150
US to/from Mexico1st Bag: $30
2nd Bag: $55
3rd+ Bag: $180
n/a1st Bag: FREE
2nd Bag: FREE
3rd+ Bags: $180
1st Bag: FREE
2nd Bag: FREE
3rd+ Bags: $180
US to/from Europe1st Bag: $0 ($60 Basic Economy)
2nd Bag: $100
3rd+ Bag: $200
1st Bag: FREE
2nd Bag: FREE
3rd+ Bags: $200
1st Bag: FREE
2nd Bag: FREE
3rd+ Bags: $200
1st Bag: FREE
2nd Bag: FREE
3rd+ Bags: $200

Additional / Excess Baggage Fees:

Oversized Fee: $200 per bag (up to 115″)

Overweight Fee (route dependent):

  • Bags 51-70lb: $100 – $200 per bag
  • Bags 71-100lb: $200 – $400 per bag

Mileage Plus Status weight allowance:

  • Silver, Gold, Platinum, 1K:  70lb
  • Star Alliance Gold (traveling in First, Business or United Polaris Business): 70lb

For baggage fees related to special luggage (sporting equipment, musical instruments, etc.) please refer to United’s policy here. 

Can I Pre-pay for Baggage?

United Airlines does allow passengers the ability to pre-pay for luggage online or via the mobile app when you check-in from 24 hours before the flight departure.

Here are the ways you can pre-pay:

Credit Cards That Give You A Free Checked Bag With United Airlines

You have four credit card options if you would like to have checked baggage fees waived on United flights. Two cards will even waive the fee for two checked bags.

Check out the details below:

Credit CardChecked Bag Benefit Details
United Explorer℠ CardOne free checked bag for you and one companion on your itinerary.
Chase United MileagePlus® Club CardYour first and second checked bags are free. This benefit extends to one companion traveling on your itinerary.
United Explorer℠  Business CardOne free checked bag for you and one companion on your itinerary.
Chase United MileagePlus® Club Business CardYour first and second checked bags are free. This benefit extends to one companion traveling on your itinerary.

If you don’t have one of the cards above or have extra checked bags, you can use one of the cards below to offset the fees.

Some of these cards, such as the Chase Sapphire Reserve come with an annual credit that can be used to offset almost any travel expense.

Exclusions & Waivers

Active U.S. Military Personnel

  • Personal Travel: 3 checked bags FREE (70lb, 62 linear inches)
  • Official Business: 5 checked bags FREE (100lb, 115 linear inches)

*Dependents of active U.S. military personnel will have the same exemptions as the military service member whose status provides the benefit, as long as they are traveling on the same reservation. If the dependent’s travel is due to official orders, the exemption applies. If dependents are traveling on their own for personal reasons, they’re subject to the normal baggage allowance &  fees based on the purchased ticket type.

MileagePlus Status

  • United Economy® U.S. domestic: Silver 1 bag, Gold 2 bags, Platinum and 1K 3 bags FREE (70lb)
  • United Economy® international: Silver 2 bags, Gold, Platinum and 1K 3 bags FREE (70lb)
  • United Business®, United First®, or United Polaris® all flights: 3 checked bags FREE (70lb)

*Travel companions of MileagePlus Premier members will have the same exemptions as the Premier member whose status provides the benefit, as long as they are traveling on the same reservation.


To see more airline baggage fees and policies, click here.

FAQ

How much does it cost to check a bag on United?

Although United recommends you check their baggage calculator for checked baggage fees, the following costs seem pretty consistent: Economy $25 for domestic flights and to/from Canada & Mexico. To Europe its $0 – $60 depending on your fare type. 2+ bags are charged at a higher cost. For Business, 2 free bags are included across all routes and for First Class, 2 – 3 bags.

Are checked bags free on United?

Checked bags are free for Business Class and First Class passengers across all destinations. Economy passengers to Europe and other long-haul destinations receive 1 checked bag for free. Check United’s baggage calculator to check the allowance for your route. If you’ve booked an Economy Basic fare then you will not have any free checked baggage allowance included.

How many bags can you carry on United?

All passengers traveling United can bring 1 personal item onboard measuring up to 17″ x 10″ x 9″. All fare types excluding Basic Economy are permitted to also bring 1 standard carry-on bag up to  22″ x 14″ x 9″.

How much is excess baggage on United Airlines?

If your checked baggage is oversized then United will charge you $200 per bag (up to maximum linear dimensions 115″). Charges for overweight baggage depends on your route and are $100 – $200 for bags weighing 51-70lb and $200 – $400 for bags weighing 71-100lb.

Erin Miller

About Erin Miller

Erin currently maintains her status as Alex's adventure-seeking partner-in-crime and contributes to Upgraded Points through content creation & relationship management.
She caught the travel bug just after high school when her grandmother took her on a two-week, whirlwind trip around Europe. That was that - she's been gallivanting around the globe ever since (22 countries & counting)!

Disclaimer: Any comments listed below are not from the bank advertiser, nor have they been reviewed or approved by them. No responsibility will be taken by the bank advertiser for these comments.

25 comments

  1. How much does it cost to check in a bag? Does it cost anything for a carry-on bag?

    • Stephen Au · January 16, 2019 · Reply

      Hey Christine,

      It depends on what fare you paid for. Basic economy doesn’t get a checked bag or carry-on bag. You get a personal item which can be a small backpack or a purse.

      Regular economy gets a carry-on bag.

      It also depends on your flight route and destination because different itineraries are charged different amounts of money, as we stated in this guide.

      Please read through this guide in more detail and you’ll probably have all your questions answered. Thanks!

  2. Can I have a carry on & a garmet bag??

    • Hi Bill – this depends on if you are also bringing a “personal item”. United’s policy allows for a carry-on bag as well as a personal item (usually a small backpack/weekender bag or purse). In many cases, an airlines will approve a garment bag in place of the personal item and sometimes, you can even ask the airline to hang your garment bag at the front if the cabin layout has a small closet just to the right of the entry/door.

      If you have a carry-on, a personal item, AND a garment bag, airlines will consider that three items and many can get snippy. Unfortunately, in that case, we cannot say with 100% certainty that United would allow it.

      We suggest calling United’s Customer Service line at 1-800-864-8331. Hope this helps!

  3. I am booking a regular economy ticket to Puerto Rico and I am confused about how many bags I am allowed to check in for free?!

    If I am allowed for one luggage for free how it will cost me to check in second one.

    • Hi Merna, in order to address your question we would need to know where you’re flying from? We would also need to know which fare type you purchased. If you’re flying from the U.S. t is unlikely you will be given any free bags since it’s not a transpacific or transatlantic flight.

      It will very likely be $30 for your first bag and $40 for your second, each way, costing $140 total in fees. This is if you’re flying from U.S. to Puerto Rico with an Economy Fare.

      United actually has a baggage calculator tool that you can use – click here to access. Hope this helps!

  4. Hi,
    We are 2 persons flying from Copenhagen via Toronto to New York. Leaving CPH on the 8th April 2019, and leaving NYC on the 13th April 2019. We need to book 2 pcs baggage, but I’m confused on how to do this. Our flight nos are UA8375 + UA 8232 and UA 8233 + UA8524. Would you please be kind enough to give me a hint on how to book?
    Kind regards, Lillian

    • Hi Lillian, as per our “Can I Pre-pay for Baggage?” section above, we state:

      United Airlines does allow passengers the ability to pre-pay for luggage online or via the mobile app when you check-in from 24 hours before the flight departure.

      Here are the ways you can pre-pay:
      – Log in to your booking from the ‘Check-in’ tab on the United Airlines website
      – Download and check-in via the United Airlines app

      You can also pay for your luggage at the check-in counter when you get to the airport.

      Hope this helps…

  5. Hi Erin, thanks. I understand, that I can pay for the baggage only 24 hours before take-off?? Will there be a difference between pre-paid baggage and baggage paid at check-in?
    Kind regards Lillian

    • Hi Lillian, per United’s Baggage FAQ page “When checking in at united.com, you can input your credit card information to cover your checked bag service charges. Your card will be charged immediately for the number of bags you designate at the time you check in online. If required, you may change the number of checked bags at the airport; however, bag charges paid online will not be refunded.”

      This leads us to believe you can only pre-pay for your luggage from the time of check-in, which opens 24 hours prior to the flight. The price of your luggage should be the same whether you pre-pay or pay at the airport.

  6. If you purchase your ticket with a separate credit card (capitol One Venture card), can you still use the perks of the United Airlines Credit cards to get you free checked bags? Or do you have to purchase your flight with the United partnered cards to get you that perk?

    • James Larounis · February 22, 2019 · Reply

      Hi Tyler! You don’t need to purchase the ticket with the United card. Your United credit card is tied to your MileagePlus account, and so basically any booking under your MileagePlus account will have the free booking, so long as the itinerary is eligible.

      • James Larounis · February 26, 2019 · Reply

        Hi Tyler! My apologies – I stand corrected. For United, you DO need to purchase the ticket with your United card, unlike AA where the card is tied to your profile. My apologies for the confusion!

  7. Christelle M. · February 27, 2019 · Reply

    I want to purchase an economy basic ticket from EWR to Brussels and I need to take two checked in bags for myself and my son. I have the Chase United MileagePlus® Club Card but my husband is the main account holder (I have a secondary card) – Can my son and I still benefit from the free checked bag benefit? (ONE OR TWO CHECKED BAGS EACH?)

    Thanks for your clarification.

    • Christine Krzyszton · March 5, 2019 · Reply

      Hello Christelle and thanks for the question. According to the United MileagePlus Club Card terms and conditions, only the primary cardmember and one traveling companion on the same reservation are eligible to receive 2 free checked bags. Authorized users also must be on the same reservation as the primary cardholder to receive the free checked bag benefit. You can access additional information here: https://www.united.com/ual/en/us/fly/travel/baggage/chasebag.html

  8. I am active military and I have a bag that is 36x17x17. Am I going to be able to check that, or is it too big?

    • Hi David, this will depend on if you’re traveling for official business or personal reasons.

      For official business, military personnel are allowed 5 bags free of charge, up to 100lbs & 115 linear inches. For personal travel, military personnel are allowed 3 bags free of charge, up to 70lbs & 62 linear inches.

      You’ll definitely be able to check the bag as it’s under their max size limit of 115 linear inches, however, you’ll likely incur a fee if you’re traveling for personal reasons vs. on official business.

      Unfortunately, we weren’t able to find anywhere on United’s website that states there is any discount on the “oversized bag” fee for military personnel. The standard fee for this is $200 per oversized piece.

  9. I paid for online bag check-in, but what do I do with bags at airport? Usually you get a tag with numbers, etc.

    • Christine Krzyszton · March 8, 2019 · Reply

      Hi David and thanks for the question. When you arrive at the airport you will see the check in kiosks where you can print your boarding passes if you have not already done so. In the area next to the kiosks you’ll see the baggage drop off. Your bags will be appropriately tagged and you’ll be given your tracking receipt.

  10. Traveling to Europe on United, Economy. Looks like I have one free checked bag. In addition to that one free checked bag, can I also bring a Carry On and Personal item without extra charges?

    • Hi Scott, yep – as mentioned above:

      1 personal item: FREE1
      Standard carry-on bag: FREE (including Basic Economy Transatlantic flights & excluding all other Basic Economy fares*)

      🙂

  11. Richard Clark · March 12, 2019 · Reply

    Hi,

    My wife and I are flying from Edinburgh to Cincinnati via Newark on 19th March on a Basic Economy ticket with one booked suitcase. We will be paying 60$ for one case. Will we have to pay another 30$ when we collect our case at Newark on route to Cincinnati?

    We are not sure of the hand luggage we are allowed? Are we allowed one 22″x14″x9″ and a 17″x10″x9″ each being Basic Economy ticket holders?

    • Hi Richard,

      For all ticketed fares, the baggage allowance applies to each person (i.e. per ticket).

      For the basic economy fare, each ticket holder is allowed to carry on one personal item free of charge. This is usually a purse, briefcase, or small backpack; must adhere to measurements of 17″ x 10″ x 9″.

      The trans-Atlantic basic economy fare includes one carry-on item per ticket holder. Per United’s website: “If you have purchased Basic Economy for a trans-Atlantic flight, you’ll still be allowed both carry-on items.” (meaning one personal item, plus one standard carry-on). This standard carry-on must adhere to 22″ x 14″ x 9″.

      For checked bags with basic economy, United States: “For Basic Economy fares on trans-Atlantic flights, you’ll be required to pay for your first checked bag.” Which, according to their baggage calculator tool, should be a fee of $60. If the entire through trip from Edinburgh to Cincinnati was booked as one ticket with a simple stopover, you should not have to pay for your bags on the Neward-Cinci route as the allowance should apply per entire ticketed route, not per leg. (again, this is also confirmed by using united’s baggage calculator tool)

      In fact, if you’re flying all the way through on United and you’re not staying overnight in Newark (i.e. you don’t need your bag), the gate agent at Edinburgh should check your bag all the way through to Cincinnati so you don’t have to collect it and re-check it at Newark. This is a big hassle and you wouldn’t want to deal with it if you don’t have to.

      Hope this helps! 🙂

  12. Bridie Fitzsimmons · March 12, 2019 · Reply

    Hi Erin, I am traveling to New York on 18 March on a basic economy fare, from the UK. Could you please confirm if I can have a standard carry-on bag as well as a personal item. Also, can I pay the $60 for my case at check-in, and are all major credit cards accepted? Some of the information seems to vary.

    • Hi Bridie – first, let me say that we are not United Airlines so we can only advise you as far as the information from United’s website allows. We recommend you use United’s Baggage Calculator Tool for the most official word on your fees. (We can’t input the information in for you here as we don’t know which airport you’re flying from.)

      That being said, with basic economy tickets, you get one personal item and one carry-on item. United’s website states: “If you have purchased Basic Economy for a trans-Atlantic flight, you’ll still be allowed both carry-on items.” (meaning one personal item, plus one standard carry-on).

      The personal item and standard carry-on items must adhere to the dimensions listed above.

      In terms of checked-bag fees, the general amount we’re seeing for transatlantic flights is $60 – yes, you can pay this fee at check-in and yes, all major credit cards are accepted (they no longer accept cash). You can see United’s approved forms of payment here.

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