Home > Travel information > Inflight services > 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)
- aircraft power ports for laptops (May only be used above 10,000 feet)
Devices that are NOT permitted for use:
- battery-operated personal air-purifying devices
- electronic cigarettes and personal vaporizers
- radio receivers and/or transmitters (including AM/FM/SW, CB and scanners)
- 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.
- 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.
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 as checked baggage as long as the batteries are removed to prevent the tool from becoming engaged.
United shall not be liable for battery-powered hand tools. Excess valuation may not be purchased for battery-powered hand tools.
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 of e-cigarettes and personal vaporizers is prohibited onboard all United flights.