High-value, fragile and perishable items

If you’re traveling with high-value, fragile or perishable items, we recommend keeping them in carry-on bags or personal items instead of checked bags. These items count toward the amount of carry-on and checked bags you’re allowed to bring on board.

If you choose to pack high-value, fragile or perishable items in your checked bags or as checked bags for travel within the U.S., we’re not liable for the loss of, damage to or delay in delivery of such items. For most international travel, our liability for destruction, loss, delay or damage to checked and carry-on bags is limited.

Have other questions about checked bags or carry-on bags?

Examples of high-value, fragile or perishable items

This list includes example of some items considered high-value, fragile or perishable. However, these types of items aren’t limited to only what’s on this list.

    • Antiques, artifacts and heirlooms
    • Antlers
    • Art
    • Backpacks not designed for travel
    • Business equipment and samples
    • Cameras and other photographic equipment
    • Chinaware, glass, ceramics and pottery
    • Collectibles
    • Computer hardware and software
    • Electronics
    • Eyewear and other vision devices
    • Flowers and plants
    • Garment bags not designed for travel
    • Irreplaceable items
    • Jewelry
    • Keys
    • Liquids, including alcohol, perfumes, and Zamzam water
    • Medicines and medical equipment
    • Money, gift cards and gift certificates
    • Musical instruments
    • Natural fur products
    • Perishable items
    • Precious metals and stones
    • Religious items
    • Tools
    • Silverware, knives and swords
    • Sleeping bags and knapsacks
    • Watches

    High-value, fragile or perishable items can also include:

    • Items checked in sacks or paper and plastic bags that aren’t durable, don’t close securely or don’t provide enough protection
    • Items checked in cardboard boxes, including boxes we provide, except for items that otherwise would be suitable for transportation without the cardboard box
    • Items made of paper, including blueprints, maps, manuscripts, business documents, historical documents, photos, books, negotiable papers, securities and more
    • Any other valuable or irreplaceable items packed in your checked or carry-on bags with or without our knowledge

Other common items

Check the information below if you’re traveling with any of these items:

  • Each customer can travel with one set of antlers or animal horns. If you’re traveling between the U.S., Canada, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, we’ll charge $150 for each item. For all other travel, we’ll charge $200. This charge is on top of any charges for extra bags that may apply.

    We'll accept antler or animal horns if they meet the following conditions:

    • The size of the aircraft and load conditions allow them
    • The antlers are as free of residue as possible
    • You must wrap any skulls and properly protect the antler tips
    • The linear dimensions (total length + width + height) for the antlers can’t be more than 120 inches on United®-operated flights. On United Express®-operated flights, the linear dimensions can’t be more than 98 inches.
  • We accept automotive towbars inside your checked bags. You must package them to prevent damage to your bag and other bags.

    We won’t accept checked bags more than 70 pounds (32 kilograms) or 115 linear inches (292 centimeters) that contain towbars. Charges may apply for overweight and oversized bags containing towbars.

  • We want to make your travel as easy as possible if you’ve recently lost a loved one and understand it may be a sensitive time. If you're traveling with cremated human remains, we suggest that you transport them as a carry-on bag.

    For travel within the U.S., we highly recommend you travel with the right documents (such as a death certificate) to show TSA officers during your security screening. Please visit the TSA website for details on acceptable containers. For travel outside of the U.S., you should check with a local consulate or burial advisor beforehand.

    If you prefer to have the remains shipped, we offer TrustUA, a specialized service designed to assist with transporting human remains.

  • We want to make your travel as easy as possible if you’ve recently lost a pet and understand it may be a sensitive time. If you’re traveling with cremated pet remains, we recommend you transport them as a carry-on bag.

    Please visit the TSA website for more details on acceptable containers. The TSA recommends you buy a crematory container made of lightweight material, such as wood or plastic. If the TSA isn’t able to clearly tell what’s inside the container, they won’t allow it. Out of respect for your deceased pet, officers won’t open a container, even if you request it.

  • Blue ice

    We’ll accept packages containing blue ice according to our general guidelines for bags.

    Dry ice

    We’ll accept packages containing 5.5 pounds (2.5 kilograms) or less of dry ice as a carry-on bag or checked bag. Please make sure the container or package has proper ventilation to allow the release of carbon dioxide gas. You must also mark the container or package as containing dry ice, show its net weight and identify the perishable item inside. We won’t accept Styrofoam coolers containing dry ice.

    For travel within the U.S. and between the U.S. and Canada, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, we’ll charge $150 each way for each item. For all other travel, we’ll charge $200.

    We won’t accept dry ice weighing more than 5.5 pounds (2.5 kilograms).

    Multiple customers can’t pool their portions together, even if they’re traveling together.

    Wet Ice

    Unfortunately, we can’t accept wet ice in checked or carry-on bags.

  • You can carry on alcoholic beverages in retail packaging.

    For alcoholic beverages less than 24% alcohol by volume

    There are no restrictions on the amount we can accept in checked bags or purchased after completing security screening at the airport, also known as “duty free.” This includes most wines and beers.

    For alcoholic beverages between 24 and 70% alcohol by volume

    We’ll accept up to 5 liters (1.3 gallons) in checked bags for each customer. We’ll also accept the same amount in carry-on bags for duty-free items. Packaging must be in containers smaller than 5 liters.

    For alcoholic beverages over 70% alcohol by volume

    We can’t accept alcoholic beverages consisting of more than 70% alcohol by volume.

    International travel

    If you’re traveling internationally, there may be limits on the alcoholic beverages you can bring into the country you’re visiting. Transporting alcoholic beverages may be subject to country regulations as well.

    If you’re flying to the U.S. and have a connecting flight, the TSA won’t allow duty-free liquids that meet U.S. requirements through security checkpoints. If you have a connecting flight, you must place liquid duty-free items into your checked bags. Since the TSA requires you to reclaim your checked bags before going through customs, you can place duty-free liquids into your bags and re-check them for your connection.

    Other information

    Make sure to pack all alcoholic beverages so they don’t break. We’re not liable for alcoholic beverages that break or spill.

    Normal limits and fees for checked bags and carry-on bags apply.

    You can take up to 3.4 ounces (100 milliliters) of an alcoholic beverage through the security checkpoint, provided it is less than 70 percent alcohol by volume, in a container that is 3.4 ounces or smaller and you carry it in a plastic zip-top bag.

    Note: You can’t drink the alcohol you bring on our aircraft.

  • Depending on the size, you can travel with musical instruments as carry-on bags, checked bags or cabin-seat bags.

    Please keep musical instruments in hard-shell cases when traveling with us.

    As carry-on bag

    Travelers can carry a violin, guitar or other small musical instrument on board the aircraft if:

    • You can put the instrument in the overhead bin or under the seat in front of you
    • There’s space to put it when you board the aircraft

    As a checked baggage

    We may charge you more if any of the following apply:

    • You’re checking more than two items
    • Your instrument measures between 63-115 linear inches (total length + width + height)
    • Your instrument weighs more than 50 pounds

    If your instrument is more than 115 linear inches, please contact the United Customer Contact Center.

    If you’re traveling with a string instrument, please loosen the strings to protect the instrument against damage caused by expansion and contraction. This can happen because of temperature changes during the flight.

    As cabin-seat baggage

    We allow travelers to buy a seat for a musical instrument that’s too fragile or bulky to handle as a checked bag.

    Visit our cabin-seat bag page for more information about buying a seat for a fragile or bulky item.

    Basic Economy tickets

    If you’ve purchased a Basic Economy ticket, you can carry on a small musical if it meets the conditions above. We’ll check larger musical instruments you bring to the gate that don’t fit in the overhead bin. These will be subject to any applicable fees and a $25 gate-handling charge.

    MileagePlus Premier® members, primary cardmembers of a qualifying MileagePlus credit card or Star AllianceTM Gold members who purchased a Basic Economy ticket are subject to the existing musical instrument policies that allow one small musical instrument as part of their allowance for carry-on bags.

  • We’ll accept seafood as checked bags if it’s wrapped in a sealed protective material and packed in a leak-proof container.

    We can’t accept seafood if it’s packed in wet ice or in a Styrofoam container.

    If you bring seafood in addition to our normal allowance for checked bags, we’ll assess it and apply any charges for extra, overweight and oversized bags.

  • We’ll accept one jerry can containing up to 10 liters (2.64 gallons) of Zamzam water as a checked bag at no extra charge.

    You must properly pack the jerry can in a plastic cover so it doesn’t leak or damage other bags.

    We can’t accept jerry cans containing Zamzam water as carry-on or in-cabin bags.

    If you check more than one jerry can, extra bag charges will apply to the additional jerry cans.