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Electronic device policies

Portable electronic devices

Travelers may use small, lightweight portable electronic devices (as specified below) in non-cellular or "airplane" mode on United-operated flights. Cellular service must always be turned off prior to departure. Flight attendants will announce when devices may be used in flight, with general guidelines as follows:

  • Within the U.S. (including U.S. territories), travelers may use permitted small, lightweight portable electronic devices in non-cellular transmitting mode at all times.
  • Between the U.S. and an international location, travelers may use permitted devices except when departing from or arriving into the international location, unless flight attendants have announced that permitted devices can be used throughout the flight.
  • Outside of the U.S., permitted devices may only be used above 10,000 feet, unless flight attendants have announced that permitted devices can be used throughout the flight.

Certain electronic devices could cause minor interference with aircraft navigational instruments. Therefore, the crew may ask travelers to completely turn off all devices in certain situations. All devices must be turned off and stowed during emergency preparations.

Travelers may turn on and use cellular service only when the main cabin door is open or when instructed by a flight attendant. Pagers may be used to receive messages at any time.

Devices that are permitted for use:

  • electronic games
  • personal computers (May only be used above 10,000 feet)
  • entertainment players
  • recorders (audio and/or video, such as tape/CD/MiniDisc/MP3 players and camcorders)
  • calculators
  • shavers (in lavatories only)
  • cameras
  • aircraft power ports for laptops (May only be used above 10,000 feet)

Please note that the maximum voltage allowed in inflight power outlets is 50-75 volt-amperes.

As a courtesy to other travelers, please use headphones when listening to any device.

Devices that are NOT permitted for use:

  • personal air-purifying devices (battery-operated and plug-in)
  • electronic cigarettes and personal vaporizers
  • personal humidifiers (battery-operated and plug-in)
  • heating devices, such as blow dryers, bottle warmers and curling irons
  • TVs
  • radio receivers and transmitters
  • remote-control toys

Travelers are allowed to use headsets during taxi, takeoff and landing on aircraft that are equipped with seatback DIRECTV® and seatback on-demand entertainment.

Travelers may always use any medically prescribed, physiological instrument, such as a hearing aid or a pacemaker. Please see the Special Travel Needs section for information on other medical assistive devices.

Portable electronic device policy FAQ

What are the requirements for stowing or securing electronic devices during takeoff and landing?
Small, lightweight devices must be held in the passenger’s hands, placed in the seatback pocket or stowed. Larger electronic devices, like laptops, must still be stored securely in an overhead bin or another approved stowage area during takeoff and landing.

Are there any exceptions to this new policy?
The captain may request that all devices be fully turned off in certain circumstances, such as when there is poor visibility during landing. Please always listen to and follow crewmember instructions.

Does the new policy apply to flights operated by United Express®?
No. The new policy only applies to United-operated flights.

Does the new policy allow me to use a small notebook laptop?
No. The new policy does not apply to laptops or DVD players, which may only be used when announced by your flight crew.

Will I be able to use Wi-Fi below 10,000 feet?
Our aircraft equipped with satellite Wi-Fi are currently configured to only allow Wi-Fi above 10,000 feet. However, we are exploring options to provide gate-to-gate Wi-Fi in the future.

Portable electronic devices can also be transported in checked baggage. If the device contains a lithium ion battery, it cannot exceed 100 watt hours. Lithium metal batteries cannot exceed 2g. All spare batteries must be transported in carry-on baggage.

Photo and video

The use of small cameras or mobile devices for photography and video is permitted on board, provided you keep the purpose of your photography and video to capturing personal events. Photographing or recording other customers or airline personnel without their express consent is prohibited.

Battery-powered hand tools

United will accept battery-powered hand tools. Batteries do not have to be removed from the tool as long as there is a means to prevent accidental activation.

Battery-operated tools with a lithium ion battery are only accepted if the battery does not exceed 100 watt hours. For information on transporting spare lithium batteries, see the Batteries section of the Dangerous Goods page. You can also find more information on and the FAA’s website.

Electronic cigarettes and personal vaporizers

Electronic cigarettes and personal vaporizers will not be accepted in checked or gate-checked baggage. These items may be stowed in carry-on baggage or on your person during travel, however, the use and charging of e-cigarettes and personal vaporizers is prohibited onboard all United flights and in United ClubSM locations.