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Carry-on baggage

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Safety notice

Effective July 9, 2018, lithium batteries that are installed in any checked or carry-on baggage must be removed by the customer. Once removed, these batteries can be transported on board. Smart bags that do not have a removable battery cannot travel on any United or United Express® flights.

Most travelers can bring on board one full-sized carry-on bag plus one personal item free of charge. If you have purchased Basic Economy for a trans-Atlantic flight, you’ll still be allowed both carry-on items. For all other Basic Economy tickets, you will only be allowed one personal item, unless you are a Premier® member or a primary card member using a qualifying MileagePlus credit card.1 Everyone else who is traveling on a Basic Economy ticket and 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. Payment is by credit card only.

To help make the boarding process as smooth as possible for everyone, please make sure that these items are within the size limits described below, so they'll fit into the overhead bin or under the seat in front of you.

Please note that there are additional carry-on guidelines for United Express® flights.

Carry-on bag

The maximum dimensions for a carry-on bag are 9 inches x 14 inches x 22 inches (22 cm x 35 cm x 56 cm), including handles and wheels.

Personal item

The maximum dimensions for your personal item that fits under the seat in front of you, such as a shoulder bag, purse, laptop bag or other small item, are 9 inches x 10 inches x 17 inches (22 cm x 25 cm x 43 cm). If you are traveling on a Basic Economy ticket, your personal item will be the only item you can bring on board.

Any item larger than the carry-on baggage size and any item above the carry-on and personal item allowance will be checked to your final destination, and checked baggage service charges may apply.

Bag sizers are available in the check-in area, so you can double check the size of your items once you get to the airport.

You're also allowed to bring the following items on board, in addition to your one bag and one personal item limit2:

  • Jacket or umbrella
  • Reading material
  • Food or merchandise purchased in the airport
  • Assistive devices (collapsible wheelchair, cane, one set of crutches, medical devices needed to administer prescription medications, portable oxygen concentrator, etc.)
  • FAA-approved child restraint system or safety seat
  • Diaper bag
  • Breast pump
  • Camera
  • Pet carrier (service charges apply for in-cabin pets)

You can purchase a ticket for an item that is too fragile or bulky to be handled as checked baggage. These items can be carried on board and transported in a seat. See our Cabin-seat Baggage page for more information.

Liquids, gels and aerosols

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) allows each traveler to carry on liquids, gels and aerosols in containers of 3.4 ounces (100 mL) or less, inside a single quart-size (or liter-size) clear, sealable bag.

Passengers traveling internationally into the U.S. and connecting to another flight are allowed to have in their carry-on baggage liquids in excess of 3.4 ounces (100 mL) that were purchased as duty-free merchandise. This only applies to products purchased in duty-free stores, placed in an intact designated secure, tamper-evident bag, and successfully screened and cleared by TSA officers. Scanning may not be effective for liquids in opaque, ceramic, or metallic bottles, or other containers. Liquids that cannot be screened and cleared will not be allowed to remain in carry-on baggage. Customers may choose to place these items into checked baggage or throw them away.

Restrictions on liquids, gels and aerosols may vary by country. Please go to the website of your departure airport for specific information.

For more details about liquids in carry-on and for other carry-on baggage rules relating to TSA screenings, visit our TSA Security Checkpoint Guidelines page.

Musical instruments as carry-on

You may carry a violin, guitar or other small musical instrument on board as part of your carry-on baggage allowance as long as the instrument is pl​aced in a hard case and there is space in the overhead bins or under the seat in front of you when you board the aircraft.

Carry-on baggage on United Express® flights

United Express flights are served by regional partner carriers using smaller aircraft than United's mainline fleet. Aircraft in the United Express fleet generally have less room in the overhead bins for carry-on baggage, and in most cases roller bags and other larger carry-on items will not fit in United Express overhead bins. As a result, you may need to gate-check these items before boarding.

Gate agents will provide green tags for gate-checked items, and baggage handlers will place them into the baggage hold during boarding. You can pick up your green-tagged baggage planeside when you arrive, rather than going to baggage claim. Customers traveling on EMB170, EMB175 or CRJ-700 aircraft may be able to bring roller bags and larger carry-on items on board, as these aircraft offer more overhead bin space.

When traveling on a United Express flight, please make sure to place any medications or other items that you might need on board in a smaller carry-on bag, so you can keep them with you during your flight. Personal vaporizers and e-cigarettes should also be packed in your smaller carry-on bag, as they are not permitted in checked or gate-checked bags.

As on mainline flights, any item larger than the allowed carry-on size or exceeding the one carry-on and one personal item limit will be checked to your final destination. Baggage service charges may apply, and you'll have to pick up these items at baggage claim.

Note: Due to limited overhead bin space, customers traveling on aircraft with 50 passenger seats, such as the EMB 145 and CRJ-200, are allowed one standard carry-on size bag that will be checked at the gate free of charge and one personal item to be taken on board. A second item is only permitted if both items can fit together in the personal item bag sizer located at the departure gate.

Carry-on baggage available at discounted prices

Tumi and Samsonite offer exclusive discounts on approved carry-on bags, just for MileagePlus members.

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  1. The passenger must be the primary cardmember of an eligible United MileagePlus Card from Chase at time of check-in, and ticket(s) must have been purchased using their card in order to qualify.
  2. For Basic Economy tickets for flights that are not trans-Atlantic, the limit is one personal item, no carry-on bag. Passengers on a Basic Economy ticket who bring 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.