What to expect when you fly

The U.S. requires a negative COVID-19 test or documentation of recovery for all incoming international travelers, including U.S. citizens. Learn more about this CDC requirement and additional travel flexibility on our Important Notices page and our FAQs.

What to expect when you fly

What to expect when you fly

We know travel looks a little different these days, but rest assured that we’re here for you every step of the way. Throughout your journey, we’re putting safety and cleanliness at the forefront of your travel experience through our United CleanPlus℠ program and by teaming up with Clorox. We’re also working closely with the experts at Cleveland Clinic to advise us on enhancing safety measures.

 

We know travel looks a little different these days, but rest assured that we’re here for you every step of the way. Throughout your journey, we’re putting safety and cleanliness at the forefront of your travel experience through our United CleanPlus℠ program and by teaming up with Clorox. We’re also working closely with the experts at Cleveland Clinic to advise us on enhancing safety measures.

Taking care of you throughout your travels

  • 1Implemented temperature checks for employees and flight attendants working at hub and line stations
  • 2Installed sneeze guards at check-in and gate podiums
  • 3Promoting social distancing with floor decals to help customers stand 6 feet apart
  • 4Rolled out a touchless check-in process at select airports for customers with bags
  • 5Requiring all customers age 2 and older and employees to wear a face covering in the airport and providing disposable face coverings for customers who need them
  • 6Encouraging customers to travel with ease by enrolling in TSA PreCheck®: faster security lines and you can skip putting your personal items in screening bins.
  • 1Disinfecting high-touch areas such as charging stations, counters and seats
  • 2Providing hand sanitizer stations
  • 3Requiring all customers age 2 and older and employees to wear a face covering in the airport and providing disposable face coverings for customers who need them
  • 4Allowing customers to self-scan boarding passes
  • 5Promoting social distancing in the gate areas and on the jet bridges.
  • 6Rolling out Clorox Total 360 Electrostatic Sprayers to disinfect in select airports and United Club℠ locations
  • 7Promoting social distancing, enhancing our cleaning procedures and more at our United Club locations
  • 8Launching Agent on Demand, video-enabled technology that offers a touchless option for customers, allowing them to connect remotely with customer service agents through the customer’s preference of phone, video or chat to resolve day-of-travel questions.
  • 1Providing individual hand sanitizer wipes for customers
  • 2Requiring all customers age 2 and older and employees to wear a face mask on board in accordance with Federal law
  • 3Providing onboard items like pillows and blankets upon request
  • 4Disinfecting high-touch areas, like tray tables and armrests, before boarding
  • 5Reducing contact between flight attendants and customers during snack and beverage service
  • 6Ensuring aircraft cleaning standards meet or exceed CDC guidelines
  • 7Deplaning in groups of five rows at a time to reduce crowding
  • 8Using electrostatic spraying to disinfect most aircraft before departure
  • 9Using state-of-the-art, hospital-grade, high-efficiency (HEPA) filters during the entire flight to circulate air and remove 99.97% of airborne particles
  • 10Using Ultraviolet C (UVC) lighting wands to disinfect sensitive components like switches and touchscreen displays in our pilot flight decks
  • 11Rolling out antimicrobial technology on all of our aircraft to add an additional layer of disinfectant on board
  • 1Delivering bags from the airport to the customer’s destination with Bags VIP
  • 2Encouraging customers to track their bags on the United app
  • 3Included airport maps in the United app to make connections easier

Taking care of you throughout your travels

    • 1Implemented temperature checks for employees and flight attendants working at hub and line stations
    • 2Installed sneeze guards at check-in and gate podiums
    • 3Promoting social distancing with floor decals to help customers stand 6 feet apart
    • 4Rolled out a touchless check-in process at select airports for customers with bags
    • 5Requiring all customers age 2 and older and employees to wear a face covering in the airport and providing disposable face coverings for customers who need them
    • 6Encouraging customers to travel with ease by enrolling in TSA PreCheck®: faster security lines and you can skip putting your personal items in screening bins.
    • 1Disinfecting high-touch areas such as charging stations, counters and seats
    • 2Providing hand sanitizer stations
    • 3Requiring all customers and employees to wear a face covering in the airport and providing disposable face coverings for customers who need them
    • 4Allowing customers to self-scan boarding passes
    • 5Promoting social distancing in the gate areas and on the jet bridges.
    • 6Rolling out Clorox Total 360 Electrostatic Sprayers to disinfect in select airports and United Club℠ locations
    • 7Promoting social distancing, enhancing our cleaning procedures and more at our United Club locations
    • 8Launching Agent on Demand, video-enabled technology that offers a touchless option for customers, allowing them to connect remotely with customer service agents through the customer’s preference of phone, video or chat to resolve day-of-travel questions.
    • 1Providing individual hand sanitizer wipes for customers
    • 2Requiring all customers age 2 and older and employees to wear a face mask on board in accordance with Federal law
    • 3Providing onboard items like pillows and blankets upon request
    • 4Disinfecting high-touch areas, like tray tables and armrests, before boarding
    • 5Reducing contact between flight attendants and customers during snack and beverage service
    • 6Ensuring aircraft cleaning standards meet or exceed CDC guidelines
    • 7Deplaning in groups of five rows at a time to reduce crowding
    • 8Using electrostatic spraying to disinfect most aircraft before departure
    • 9Using state-of-the-art, hospital-grade, high-efficiency (HEPA) filters during the entire flight to circulate air and remove 99.97% of airborne particles
    • 10Using Ultraviolet C (UVC) lighting wands to disinfect sensitive components like switches and touchscreen displays in our pilot flight decks
    • 11Rolling out antimicrobial technology on all of our aircraft to add an additional layer of disinfectant on board
    • 1 Delivering bags from the airport to the customer’s destination with Bags VIP
    • 2 Encouraging customers to track their bags on the United app
    • 3 Included airport maps in the United app to make connections easier

Some enhancements and services may not be available at all airports or on all flights.

Safe travels start with science

Studies show COVID-19 exposure risk is minimal when air filtration systems and masks are in use

The latest research is showing that aircraft cabins are among the safest of public indoor environments. A recent study conducted by the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) supports the conclusion that the risk of COVID-19 exposure on board our planes is almost zero thanks to advanced air filtration systems, required mask-wearing and diligent cleaning protocols.

Since airlines began putting these measures in place in spring 2020, “there has been little evidence to date of onboard disease transmission,” according to researchers at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Their report notes that when the “highly effective” ventilation systems are running from boarding until deplaning, which is our practice at United, the risk of exposure falls below that of activities like grocery shopping and dining out.

And even when the plane is full, on average only 0.003% of infected air particles could enter the breathing zone of seated, masked passengers, according to the DOD study.

Read Harvard’s study
Read U.S. Department of Defense’s study

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Download the United app to take advantage of touchless support throughout your journey.

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Download the United app to take advantage of touchless support throughout your journey.

Download United app

Agent on Demand connects customers with customer service agents through the customer’s preference of phone, video or chat to resolve day-of-travel questions or issues at all of our U.S. hubs. View video

To learn more about safety, cleanliness, face coverings and more, you can chat with our automated assistant by texting “CLEAN” to FLYUA (35982).

Frequently asked questions

General questions

  • We’ve got you covered. If you’ve already booked your flight, visit our Travel-Ready Center for helpful information specific to your upcoming trip. You can see what your requirements are and even upload any documents or test results.

  • Our health and mask requirements can be found in detail on our “Ready-to-fly checklist,” which must be filled out at check-in. All customers must comply with our health requirements, and all customers age 2 and older must comply with the federal face mask law. Your destination may also have additional requirements such as pre-arrival testing. Learn more on our COVID-19 testing for United travelers page.

  • The “Ready-to-fly checklist” requires that you acknowledge you don’t have symptoms for COVID-19 and agree to follow our policies. Here’s how it’ll look when you check in:

    Ready-to-fly checklist

    To confirm that you’re ready to travel, all travelers checking in acknowledge and accept:

    Federal law requires a face mask at all times during travel

    • You must wear a face mask that conforms to government regulations or U.S. CDC guidelines.*
    • Your mask must fully cover your nose and mouth in the airport, in airport lounges and on board at all times.
    • Your mask must fit snugly against the side of your face, and bandanas are not permitted.
    • Face shields and/or goggles are not an acceptable substitute for the use of a face mask but may be used in addition to one.

    Per federal law, prolonged removal of your mask for eating/drinking is not permitted. Masks must be worn between bites and sips.

    Federal law requires United to refuse transport to any traveler not complying with this requirement, and you may be prohibited from travel on future United flights. Children under the age of 2 are exempt.

    Health requirements for travel:

    • You have not received a positive test result for COVID-19 in the last 14 days.
    • You have not experienced any of the following key symptoms* in the last 14 days:
      • New loss of taste or smell
      • Temperature of 38 C/100.4 F or higher
      • New or worsening: shortness of breath, difficulty breathing or cough
      • Sore throat
      • Headache
      • Nausea, vomiting or diarrhea
    • You have not been denied boarding by any airline due to COVID-19 exposure in the last 14 days.
    • You follow public health guidelines after any exposure to COVID-19 and have not quarantined in the last 14 days.
    • You are not currently awaiting the results of a COVID-19 test taken due to exposure, having symptoms or to satisfy a travel entry requirement.

    Travelers who have received a COVID-19 vaccine are still required to comply with these mask and health requirements.

    If you do not meet these criteria, we ask that you talk to a United representative and reschedule your trip. By traveling today, you agree that you have read and meet the criteria above.

    About the ready-to-fly checklist: As part of our United CleanPlus℠ commitment and in partnership with Cleveland Clinic and Clorox, this checklist follows guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO). Note that WHO and/or CDC guidelines are subject to change.

    *See CDC.gov for additional COVID-19 information.

  • If you’re traveling with a partner airline, we recommend reviewing their travel guidelines, including any policies on face coverings, to ensure you have a smooth trip. Before you fly, be sure to check travel waivers and your flight status, just in case things have changed. Some destinations may also require you to provide new entry forms or self-quarantine upon arrival, so check our Important Notices page to see if there are requirements for your trip.

  • Visit our United CleanPlus℠ page to learn more about this program and our relationships with Clorox and Cleveland Clinic. You can also chat with our automated assistant by texting “Clean” to FLYUA (35982) to learn how we’re making your journey safer.

  • Clorox Total 360 System electrostatic sprayers are being used to disinfect our ticketing lobbies, terminals, seating areas, employee break rooms, flight attendant and pilot bases, and United Club locations every night at the following airports: Atlanta, Austin, Boston, Chicago O’Hare, Cleveland, Dallas/Fort Worth, Denver, Fort Lauderdale, Greensboro, Guam, Honolulu, Houston Intercontinental, Kona, Las Vegas, London Heathrow, Los Angeles, Maui, Miami, Minneapolis/St. Paul, New Orleans, New York/Newark, New York LaGuardia, Orange County, Orlando, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Portland, Sacramento, San Antonio, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, Tampa, Washington Dulles and Washington National.

Face covering questions

  • All travelers age 2 and older are required to wear a face mask with no vents or openings that fully covers their nose and mouth. A face shield alone does not count as a face covering and bandanas are also not permitted.

  • Federal law requires all travelers to wear a face mask in the airport, including customer service counters, airport lounges, gates and baggage claim, and on board during their entire flight.
  • There may be times when you may need to remove your mask in the airport or on the aircraft, such as when briefly eating or drinking. Federal law requires you to immediately put your mask back on between bites and sips. Additionally, in the event of decompression, travelers will need to remove face coverings prior to donning an oxygen mask. Otherwise, travelers are expected to wear their face masks for their entire flight and while in the airport, including in our lounges.

  • Refusing to wear a face mask in the airport or on board is a federal offense which may result in a fine of up to $35,000. Additionally, you’ll be refused transport and could lose your travel privileges on United.

  • You’re required by law to bring and use your own face mask. However, if you need a new one during your travels, our customer service agents will be able to provide a face mask at no cost.

  • United has implemented a multi-step approach for customers who have a disability or medical condition that prevents them from being able to wear a face covering/mask. Please review the below steps to be considered for an exemption. Documents should be submitted to MaskException@united.com

    • Travel must be confirmed prior to requesting an exemption.
    • Every customer seeking an exemption must submit a mask exemption request form, a portion of which must be completed by their treating medical provider regarding their disability or medical condition, a minimum of 7 days prior to scheduled departure. If the ticket was purchased less than 7 days before travel, then the form must be submitted as soon as possible. There is no guarantee that a customer’s exemption will be granted in time.
    • United will review the documentation, and only after we determine that it meets our requirements and that an exemption would be in accordance with CDC/DOT/TSA standards, will the customer be notified that they need to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR test result. The test must be taken within 72 hours of scheduled departure. Separate tests will be required for both the outbound and return flights if the scheduled return travel is beyond 72 hours from when the test was taken.
    • United may require customers seeking an exemption or their travelling party to move to alternate seats in the cabin and/or change their itinerary to less-full flights to allow for greater social distancing from other customers on board, if possible. United will advise regarding the alternatives, and changes to flights under these circumstances will be made at no additional cost.
    • United will issue a letter of approval that will contain customer name, flights, date(s) of travel and reservation number. This will need to be printed and carried on your person at all times while traveling and will need to be shown to TSA at the security checkpoint prior to being screened.
    • This exemption process is applicable only to flights in a single reservation, and any exemption for future travel or travel in separate reservations will need to be applied for anew under this process.

COVID-19 testing & country requirement questions

  • While you’re responsible for your own testing, United offers COVID-19 testing options to customers flying on certain routes and to select destinations. United offers at-home, drive-up and in-person options, and continues to explore more ways to make COVID-19 testing more accessible.

    For more information on United-offered COVID-19 testing, visit united.com/covid-testing. And as always, be sure to check our Important Notices page to learn more about all the document and entry requirements for your trip.

  • Supporting the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention with contact tracing is another way we’re keeping your health and safety at the forefront of your travel experience. At check-in, you’ll be asked to provide your contact information to help facilitate contact tracing. We encourage you to provide your information although you aren’t required to do so. We may share this information with the CDC via the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). The CDC makes contact information available to applicable health departments to use to contact you in connection with COVID-19 contact tracing. These U.S. agencies’ use of your personal data is governed by their privacy statements and commitments. You can learn more at CDC and CBP.

  • Under some circumstances, such as for international flights, it’s quicker and more effective to use existing CBP pathways to send the data to the CDC for processing passenger information.

  • If you’re coming to the U.S. and two years of age or older, you need to provide written proof of a negative COVID-19 test result taken within 3 calendar days before departure, or proof of a positive test result issued at most 90 days before departure and a letter from a licensed healthcare provider or public health official clearing you for travel (i.e. documentation of recovery).

    This requirement does not apply to customers who are traveling only within the United States or territories of the United States, which includes:

    • The 50 U.S. states
    • American Samoa
    • Guam
    • The Northern Mariana Islands
    • Puerto Rico
    • U.S. Virgin Islands

    However, some states or territories may have individual entry restrictions in addition to the federal regulation for international travel to the U.S.

  • Destinations have different requirements for what needs to appear on your COVID-19 test results. Visit our Important Notices page and your destination’s official government website for more information.

    To enter the U.S., your COVID-19 test result must include the following:

    • Lab or office where the test was administered
    • Name of the traveler
    • Date (sample collected, results issued, etc.)
    • Type of test
    • Result of COVID-19 test
  • If you test positive for COVID-19, you will not be able to travel on United for a minimum of 14 days after the date of your positive test result and you must follow all the “Health requirements for travel” found on our “Ready-to-fly checklist.” Please see our FAQ “What does the ‘Ready-to-fly checklist’ entail?”

  • Starting January 26, all air passengers traveling to the U.S., regardless of vaccination status, are required to provide a negative COVID-19 test result or documentation of recovery.

  • You should self-isolate and delay your travel if you develop symptoms of COVID-19 or you take a pre-departure test and the result is positive. If you test positive, you won’t be able to fly on United for a minimum of 14 days after the date you tested positive and you must not travel until you’ve recovered from COVID-19. The CDC order that takes effect starting January 26 does not allow United to board anyone age 2 or older who does not present either a negative test result for COVID-19 or documentation of recovery.

Airport experience questions

  • When you’re within one of our U.S. hubs, you can contact a customer service agent through Agent on Demand with your personal mobile device by scanning the code on the signs near your gate or using an Elo kiosk (at Chicago O’Hare or Denver). A form will launch in a browser window, allowing you to enter your contact information manually. We’ll then place you in a virtual queue, and an agent will connect with you by phone, video or chat to help resolve your issue. View video.

  • Yes. After you enter your contact information manually, you’ll be asked whether you’d like to be contacted by phone, video or chat.

  • Please visit our United Club and Lounge Locations page to check if a particular location is open. As you plan your next visit, learn how we're putting your health and safety at the forefront of your United Club experience.

  • It depends on the airport — some airports may have reduced dining options and shopping right now, so you may want to check the website of the airport you’re traveling through or ensure you pack what you need in your carry-on bag.

United CleanPlus videos