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Checked bags

Checked bags

We changed some of our checked bag policies on August 31, 2018. Please review all relevant pages before you travel and use the baggage calculator below to figure out your baggage service charges.

You must remove lithium batteries installed in any checked or carry-on bags. Once removed, you can bring these batteries on board. Smart bags that don’t have a removable battery cannot travel on any United® or United Express® flights.

Looking for information about carry-on bags or have other questions?

Planning a trip is easy. Packing a checked bag can be a little more difficult.

There are a lot of factors that go in to how many bags you can check. These include things like where you’re flying or your MileagePlus® Premier® status.

To help you with the packing process, we’ve put all the important details about checking bags in one place.

How much will it cost to check my bag?

 

 


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Depending on where and how you travel, you may have to pay to check your bag. Use the tool above to find out how much it will cost.1

To use the tool, sign in to your MileagePlus account to see information for an upcoming trip. You can also choose "Any flights" to see information for any trips you’re planning.

Size and weight limits for checked bags

The most a standard checked bag can measure (length + width + height) on the outside is 62 inches. This includes the handles and wheels. The most a checked bag can weigh depends on your cabin and Premier status at check-in. If the maximum size or weight differ based on your cabin and MileagePlus status, we’ll apply the larger limit.

Based on MileagePlus status.
Class of service Maximum weight per bag
United Economy® 50 lbs.
(23 kg)
  • United Business®;
  • United First®
  • United Polaris® business class
70 lbs.
(32 kg)
Based on MileagePlus status.
MileagePlus status Maximum weight per bag
  • Premier Silver
  • Premier Gold
  • Premier Platinum
  • Premier 1K®
  • Star Alliance™ Gold
    (traveling in First, Business or United Polaris business class)
70 lbs.
(32 kg)

Other service charges apply to additional checked bags or any bags that exceed these sizes and weights. Visit the oversized, overweight and extra bags below for more information.

What to keep in mind when checking your bags

The tips below will help make traveling with checked bags easier.

Make sure to check your bag on time

Know the latest time you can check your bag at your departure airport. We won’t be able to check your bags if you don’t meet these times. Learn more

Keep your claim check

You’ll receive a claim check for each checked bag. Treat them as receipts and keep them until you collect all your checked bags at your final destination.

Review our process for connecting flights

We check bags between the origin and destination listed on your ticket. Visit the connecting flights section below for more information.

What else should I know?

Review the list of items prohibited by the TSA and our guidelines for these items:

Always carry valuable items, such as cash, jewelry and medication, with you and consider using a TSA-recognized lock. Avoid packing fragile items in checked bags.

Place your name, address and phone number on the outside and inside of your bags. Be sure to remove anything that can come off or stick out of your bag.

Exceptions to checked bag service charges

Some customers don’t have to pay select service charges for checked bags. This is only for United- and United Express®-operated flights when you check the bags through United. If you’re eligible for different types of exemptions, the larger one will apply.

Active U.S. military personnel and their dependents

The benefits below apply only on United- and United Express-operated flights when you check bags through United.

Checked baggage service charge exceptions for active U.S. military personnel and their dependents
Type of trip Class of service Number of bags without service charges Maximum size
(length + width + height)
Maximum weight per bag
Personal travel All classes of service 3 bags 62 in. (158 cm) 70 lbs. (32 kg)
Official business All classes of service 5 bags 115 in. (292 cm) 100 lbs. (45 kg)

Dependents of active U.S. military personnel have the same exemptions as the service member whose status provides the benefit. However, this only applies if they’re traveling on the same reservation.

When travel is due to official orders, dependents can travel alone. When dependents travel on their own for reasons other than relocation, the normal allowance and applicable fees apply.

MileagePlus Premier members

If you’re a Premier member, you and your travel companions2 can check bags for free. Use this chart to see what each level of status provides.3,4,5

Checked baggage service charge exceptions for active U.S. military personnel and their dependents
Cabin and route Premier Silver Premier Gold Premier Platinum Premier 1K
Economy travel between the U.S and:
Continental U.S
Alaska
Hawaii
Canada
Mexico
Caribbean
Central America
70lb Bag Two 70lb Bags Three 70lb Bags
Economy travel between the U.S and:
South America
Asia
Australia
New Zealand
Europe
Middle East
Africa
Two 70lb Bags Two 70lb Bags
All other Economy travel including Intra-Asia and Micronesia: Plus one 70lb Bag
In addition to standard complimentary checked baggage allowance
All premium cabin travel Three 70lb Bags

There are currently some exceptions to the following destinations6:

Premier Baggage Exceptions
Destination Number of bags without service charges Maximum weight per bag Travel period
(Departures)
San Salvador (SAL) 2 bags 50 lbs. (23 kg) January 1 – December 31
Havana (HAV) 2 bags 70 lbs. (32 kg) January 1 – December 31
Santo Domingo (SDQ)
Managua (MGA)
San Pedro Sula (SAP)
Tegucigalpa (TGU)
2 bags 70 lbs. (32 kg) December 1 – January 15
Guatemala City (GUA) 2 bags 70 lbs. (32 kg) December 1 – January 15
June 1 - August 31

Oversized, overweight and extra bags

The space and weight on any aircraft is limited. That’s why we have to charge more if you decide to bring any oversized, overweight or extra checked bags. We also add together multiple charges. So, if one bag is oversized, overweight and above the limit, we’ll charge for all three instances.

We can’t accept oversized, overweight and extra bags on flights to certain destinations and on flights during certain times. Check the list of destinations that don’t allow overweight, oversized or extra bags.

If you plan to check oversized, overweight or extra bags, keep the following in mind:

Oversized bags

We can’t accept bags that measure (length + width + height) more than 115 inches (292 centimeters).

Overweight bags

We can’t accept bags weighing more than 100 pounds (45 kilograms). However, musical instruments and assistive devices are exceptions. We’ll accept musical instruments up to 165 pounds (75 kilograms) and all assistive devices.

Extra bags

We only accept extra bags if there’s space available on the aircraft. Assistive devices don’t apply, and we’ll gladly accept them for free.

Connecting flights

For a trip that includes one or more connection, we’ll check bags to the final destination on your ticket.

You'll need to go to baggage claim and re-check your bags if:

  • You chose to have a layover
  • You make a connection that involves an overnight stay
  • Your connecting flight departs more than 12 hours after you arrive at the airport
  • You’re connecting to an itinerary booked on a separate ticket that doesn't include a Star Alliance partner airline
  • You’re traveling internationally and connecting to a domestic flight within your destination country

Usually, we’ll transport checked bags on the same flight as the traveler. If this isn’t practical, we’ll arrange to transport your bags on the next flight with available space.

More information

Visit the main information page about bags to view frequently asked questions, information about special items and more.

MileagePlus rules: The accrual of miles and Premier® qualifying credits, redemption of awards and provision of benefits through the United MileagePlus program, including the Premier Program, are subject to change and are subject to the rules of the MileagePlus program.

See the complete rules and details of the MileagePlus program

1If you make a voluntary change to your trip and fly with a different airline for the first leg, the policies of the new airline will apply. If this airline isn’t United or United Express, you may have to pay a different amount as well.

2Travel companions of Premier members have the same exemptions as the Premier member whose status provides the benefit. This only applies if they’re traveling on the same reservation. Exemptions don’t apply to group reservations of 10 or more customers.

3Baggage allowances are subject to change. Certain markets are subject to limits on checked bags.

4United First, United Business and United Polaris® business class.

5For all United Economy tickets, Premier Gold members can check two complimentary bags at 70 pounds (32 kg) each for travel between the U.S., Canada, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. For travel to and from select international markets, Premier Gold members can check three complimentary bags at 70 pounds each.

6For tickets issued on or after June 17, 2019, for travel mentioned in the Premier Baggage Exceptions table, Premier members will be allowed two bags weighing up to 70 lbs. (32 kg) when flying to or from SDQ, MGA, GUA, SAP, TGU and HAV, and two bags weighing up to 50 lbs. (23 kg) when flying to or from SAL, regardless of Premier level.