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High-value, fragile and perishable items

United recommends that you do not pack high-value, fragile or perishable items in your checked baggage. United will accept such items as carry-on baggage (subject to carry-on baggage allowances) or as checked baggage (subject to checked baggage allowances). If you choose to pack high-value, fragile or perishable items in or as checked baggage in connection with travel within the United States, United is not liable for the loss of, damage to or delay in delivery of such items. For most international travel, United’s liability for destruction, loss, delay or damage to checked and unchecked baggage is limited.

Examples of high-value, fragile or perishable items for which United is not liable (in the case of travel within the United States) or for which United’s liability may be limited (in the case of most international travel) include, but are not limited to:

  • Antiques, artifacts, heirlooms, collectibles, religious items and artifacts
  • Antlers
  • Backpacks not designed for travel, sleeping bags and knapsacks made of plastic, vinyl or other easily torn material with aluminum frames, outside pockets or with protruding straps and buckles
  • Business equipment and business samples
  • CDs, DVDs and MP3s
  • Chinaware, glass, ceramics and pottery
  • Computer hardware/software and electronic components/equipment
  • Items checked in sacks or paper/plastic bags that do not have sufficient durability, do not have secure closures or do not provide sufficient protection to the contents
  • Items checked in corrugated/cardboard boxes, including cardboard boxes provided by United, except for items that otherwise would be suitable for transportation without the cardboard box (e.g., bicycle, garment bag)
  • Electronic and mechanical items, including cell phones, electronic games; and other related items
  • Eyeglasses, binoculars, prescription sunglasses and non-prescription sunglasses and all other eyewear and eye/vision devices
  • Flowers and plants
  • Garment bags not designed for travel
  • Irreplaceable items
  • Items made of paper (e.g., advertising displays, blueprints, maps, manuscripts, business/personal documents, historical documents, photos, books, negotiable papers, securities, etc.)
  • Jewelry
  • Keys
  • Liquids, perfumes, alcohol/liquor and Zamzam water
  • Medicines and medical equipment (when not used as assistive devices pursuant to 14 CFR 382.3)
  • Money, gift cards and gift certificates
  • Musical instruments
  • Natural fur products
  • Perishable items such as food (e.g., fruits and vegetables, cheese, fresh or frozen meat or poultry, seafood, baked goods, dry ice, tobacco)
  • Photographic/cinematographic/audio/video equipment, cameras and related items
  • Precious metals/stone
  • Tools, battery powered hand tools, tool boxes/containers, automotive towbars
  • Totally unprotected items such as tennis racquets and umbrellas, either individually checked or tied/strapped to the outside of luggage
  • Silverware, knives and swords
  • Watches (timepieces)
  • Works of art such as paintings or sculptures
  • Any other similar valuable property or irreplaceable property included in the passenger's checked or carry-on baggage with or without the knowledge of United

Perishable items must not violate agricultural rules for the destination country. Perishable items may be packed in hard-sided ventilated containers with a maximum of 5.5 pounds (2.5 kg) of dry ice. United will not accept perishable items packed in Styrofoam coolers or in containers that include wet ice.

Antlers

United will accept one set of antlers or animal horns per ticketed customer. Antlers are subject to a $150 service charge (each way) per item for travel between the U.S., Canada, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands and a $200 service charge for all other travel. This charge is in addition to any excess baggage charges that may apply.

  • Aircraft size and load conditions permit
  • Antlers must be as free of residue as possible
  • Skull must be wrapped and antler tips must be properly protected
  • Antler linear dimensions (L+W+H) must not exceed 120 inches, however on United Express® flights, the linear dimensions cannot exceed 33 inches x 43 inches (83 cm x 109 cm) and overall linear dimensions must not exceed 98 inches (248 cm)

Excess Valuation may not be purchased for antlers.

Automotive towbars

United Airlines accepts automotive towbars inside checked baggage.

The towbar must be packaged to prevent damage to it and other bags.

Baggage containing towbars in excess of 70 pounds (32 kilograms) or 115 linear inches (292 cm)(total length + width + height) will not be accepted as checked baggage.

Baggage containing towbars are subject to overweight and oversize charges.

Dry ice

United Airlines will accept packages containing 5.5 pounds (2.5 kg) or less of dry ice as carry-on baggage or checked baggage. The container or package must be ventilated to permit the release of carbon dioxide gas. The container or package must be marked as containing dry ice and must show the net weight and the identity of the perishable item. Styrofoam coolers containing dry ice will not be accepted.

For tickets purchased on or after September 4, 2014, dry ice is subject to a $150 USD* service charge (each way) per item for travel between the U.S., Canada, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands and a $200 USD* service charge for all other travel.

For tickets purchased between March 9, 2011, and September 3, 2014, a $100 USD* service charge applies to the transportation of dry ice as checked baggage on flights within or between the U.S., Canada, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands and a $200 USD* service charge applies to the transportation of dry ice as checked baggage on flights to all other destinations.

All fees referenced here are for one direction of travel only, and apply only when checking in with United.

Dry ice in quantities greater than 5.5 pounds (2.5 kg) will not be accepted.

Dry ice packaging used must allow the release of carbon dioxide gas, must be clearly marked as containing dry ice, and must show the net weight and identify the perishable item being preserved by the dry ice. Each container cannot have more than the maximum allotment per customer. Multiple customers cannot pool their portions together, even within the same traveling party.

Liquor

Alcoholic beverages in retail packaging may be carried as checked baggage.

For alcoholic beverages less than 24 percent alcohol by volume (including most wines and beers) there are no restrictions on the amount that may be accepted in checked baggage or purchased after completing security screening at the checkpoint (duty free). If traveling internationally, alcoholic beverages may be subject to customs limitations in the arrival country and transporting alcoholic beverages may be subject to country regulations.

For alcoholic beverages between 24 and 70 percent alcohol by volume there is a limit of five liters (1.3 gallons) per customer that may be accepted in checked baggage, or that may be purchased after completing security screening at the checkpoint (duty free). Packaging must be in receptacles smaller than 5 liters. Alcoholic beverages consisting of more than 70 percent alcohol by volume will not be accepted.

All alcoholic beverages must be packed to prevent breakage. United shall not be liable for breakage or spillage of alcoholic beverages. Normal checked baggage allowance limits, excess fees and carry-on limits apply.

Up to 3.4 oz. (100 ml) of an alcoholic beverage may be taken through the security checkpoint, provided it is less than 70 percent alcohol by volume, in a container that is 3.4 oz. or smaller, and is carried in a plastic zip-top bag.

If you are flying to the U.S. and have a connecting flight, even duty free liquids that meet U.S. requirements will not be permitted through U.S. security checkpoints. If you have a connecting flight, liquid duty free purchases must be placed in your checked baggage. Since you will be required to reclaim your checked bags prior to passing through customs inspection, you can place duty free liquids into your bags and recheck it for your connection.

Note: Alcohol transported on an airplane cannot be consumed on board.

Musical instruments

Musical instruments can be carried on board or checked as baggage. If necessary, a seat can also be purchased for an instrument.

Carried on board

A small musical instrument can be carried on as a personal item. If the musical instrument appears too large or irregularly shaped to fit under the seat or in the overhead compartment, it will not be accepted for in cabin stowage.

Checked as baggage

  • Instrument should be in a hard shell case to protect it during normal handling.
  • Excess charges apply if checking more than the baggage allowance.
  • Oversize charges apply to musical instruments that measure 90 - 115 linear inches.
  • Overweight charges apply to musical instruments that are over 50 pounds.
  • Musical instruments over 70 pounds will not be accepted.
  • If the instrument is over 115 linear inches, contact the United Customer Contact Center.

In addition to the above polices, stringed instruments should have the strings loosened to protect the neck from damage due to expansion and contraction which result from temperature variations.

Cabin-seat baggage

United will allow a customer to purchase a ticket for a musical instrument which is too fragile or bulky to be handled as checked baggage. Upright basses and guitars will not be accepted as cabin-seat baggage.

Excess Valuation may not be purchased for musical instruments.

Seafood

United Airlines will accept seafood as checked baggage if the following condition is met:

  • Seafood will be accepted only if it is wrapped in a sealed protective material and packed in a leak-proof container.

Seafood will not be accepted if packed in wet ice or if packed in a Styrofoam container.

Seafood carried in addition to baggage allowance will be assessed at the current excess baggage charge. In addition, seafood is subject to overweight and oversize charges.

Excess Valuation may not be purchased for seafood.

Zamzam Water

United Airlines will accept one jerry can containing up to 10 liters (2.64 gallons) of Zamzam water as checked baggage at no extra charge.

The jerry can must be properly packed in a plastic covering to avoid leakage and damage to other bags.

Jerry cans containing Zamzam water are not permitted as carry-on or in cabin baggage.

If more than one jerry can is checked, the extra jerry cans will be subject to excess baggage charges.