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Before you fly United, it’s very important to make sure you understand United Airlines Carry on Policy. They have specific guidelines for carry-on sizes, liquids, and other items that you may want to bring on board. Especially, if you bought a basic economy ticket!
In this article, we’ll explain everything you need to know about United’s carry-on policy. This includes carry-on size & weight limits, liquid policy, personal items, and other restrictions you should know before boarding your next flight.
United Carry-On Policy
United Airlines allows you to bring one carry-on bag and one personal item onboard with you at no additional charge. Your personal item must be small enough to be stored under the seat in front of you. The Carry-on bag must fit in the overhead compartment.
However, there is an exception if you purchased a basic economy ticket. With United Basic Economy, you are only allowed to bring a personal item with you. Carry-on bags are not included unless you’re flying to South America, across the Atlantic or on an international flight across the Pacific. You can prepay to check a bag or check a carry-on at your gate for the regular bag fee plus an additional $25.
United Carry-On Size
United requires your carry-on bag to be no larger than 22 x 14 x 9 inches (56 x 35 x 23 cm), including the handle and wheels of the bag. Your personal item can be no larger than 9 x 10 x 17 in (22 x 25 x 43 cm).
If you aren’t sure what size your carry-on is or if it will fit in the overhead bin, United provides “carry-on bag sizers” located at their ticketing counters for you to double check.
If any bags are larger than the carry-on size listed above, or if you bring additional items, you’ll have to check them to your final destination. Additional charges may apply.
Carry-On Weight Limit
As a rule, United Airlines does not impose weight restrictions on carry-on bags. However, when checking a bag, the weight limit is 50 pounds per bag.
Recommended Carry-On Bag
If you are looking for a great carry-on bag when flying United, I recommend the Travelpro Maxlite 5 Expandable Spinner. I have used this carry-on for years. It’s durable, reasonably priced, and holds everything I need for shorter trips. Plus the spinner wheels make it very easy to get through the airport quickly.
This carry-on bag has been sizer bin tested to accommodate overhead bin space on most major US airlines.
- H: 21 in. W: 14 in. D: 9 in.
Note: If fully expanded it may not meet overhead bin size limits, so be careful to not overpack.
United Airlines Personal Item
United Airlines allows you to bring a personal item onboard with you as long as it will fit under the seat in front of you. The maximum dimensions for a personal item are 9 x 10 x 17 inches (22 x 25 x 43 cm).
Personal items include items such as a purse, briefcase, laptop bag, or small backpack.
Other items allowed (in addition to your personal item)
In addition to your one carry-on bag and personal item, 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 (such as a collapsible wheelchair, cane, or crutches)
- FAA-approved child restraint system or safety seat
- Diaper bag
- Breast pump
United Express Carry-On Rules (Regional Planes)
United’s regional partner airlines (United Express or CommuteAir) use smaller planes with limited overhead space. If your carry-on is larger than the personal item dimensions, you will have to gate-check your bag before boarding.
All carry-on bags within United Airlines’ size restrictions will be gate checked, free of charge, during the boarding process and returned upon deplaning. You will not have to go to baggage claim to retrieve your bag, it will be delivered to the jet bridge outside the plane door.
Despite this “official rule” there are some bags that can easily fit on a regional jet. Check out this article on the best carry-on luggage for regional jets.
United Airlines Liquids
The rules for carry-on liquids are set by the TSA (Transportation Security Administration), not by the airline. United enforces the rules and policies of the TSA.
It’s also important to note that the rules for bringing a “liquid” in your carry-on bag are different from the rules that govern what you can bring in your checked luggage. Liquids in a carry-on bag must be 3.4 ounces or smaller and fit in a 1 quart-sized container. Anything larger must be placed in your checked luggage.
There are certain items that are considered dangerous and classified as a hazardous materials. Dangerous goods are prohibited from both your carry-on and checked bag on all flights. These rules are not specific to any airline and are mandated by the Federal Aviation Administration.
Here is a list of items that are considered dangerous goods and are strictly prohibited on United Airlines flights:
- Firearms and ammunition
- Self-defense sprays, such as mace and pepper spray
- Explosives, including fireworks and flares
- Flammable liquids, including gasoline, lighter fluid, and kerosene
- Poisonous, infectious, or radioactive substances
- Knives and sharp objects (pocket knives, cutting instruments, razors, ice picks, carpet knives, metal scissors, box cutters, or similar items)
- Any alcoholic beverage with more than 70 percent alcohol
- Camping equipment containing flammable liquids or gasses
- Hoverboards, including electric skateboards, balance boards, gravity boards, and self-balancing devices
- Medical or liquid oxygen
- Torch lighters, lighter fluid, strike-anywhere matches, and fire starters
- Wet-cell batteries
It’s important to note that this is not an exhaustive list and that the TSA’s rules and regulations are subject to change. Additional prohibited or restricted goods and materials can be found in the following resources:
Summary: United Airlines Carry-On Policy
If you understand the fine print and comply with United Airlines’ carry-on policy you will avoid additional fees and delays at the airport. It’s very important to review United’s policy before packing for your flight and to ensure that all bags meet the requirements when you arrive at the airport.
By doing so, you can avoid potential problems and enjoy a smooth and stress-free travel experience with United Airlines. Here is a link to United’s Carry-On Rules page to make sure you have the most up-to-date information.
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Tim is a business road warrior and avid leisure traveler who has flown over two million miles in the air and spent well over a thousand nights in hotels. He enjoys sharing tips, tricks, and hacks to help readers get the most out of their travel experience and learn how to “travel like a pro”!