So, how strict is United Airlines with passengers’ luggage size and weight for carry-ons? And what about personal items? There are lots of questions you may have, I will cover these and a lot of them right here.

How Strict Is United With Carry-On & Personal Item Size?

I’ll lay out United’s current rules and regulations and then answer questions I frequently get about them.

I personally recommend these United-compliant carry-on luggage bags because they can be fairly strict on their carry-on luggage policy. 

This great carry-on bag is for travelers that want to get the most bang for their buck.

This Travel Pro bag might be the last carry-on bag you ever purchase! 

Have a look at them and then let’s jump in.

How strict is United Airlines with its carry-on luggage policy?

Including handles and wheels, your carry on luggage

 on United Airlines shouldn’t exceed 

22” x 14” x 9” (56 x 35 x 22 cm)

For regular Basic Economy ticket holders, United Airlines carry-on baggage policy allows you to take 1 personal item (free of charge) and 0 additional carry-on items on your flight.

For all other ticket holders, United Airlines carry-on baggage policy includes 1 personal item (free of charge) and 1 carry-on item (free of charge).

United’s Basic Economy carry-on allowance

You are allowed one personal item to be taken with you.

Don’t bring luggage that is any larger than the dimensions above to your gate or they will have you check your bag. You will have a $25 fee for that checked bag as well.

Unless for some reason one of the following exceptions applies to you:

  • You are a cardholder of a MileagePlus qualifying credit card
  • You are a MileagePlus Premier member or a travel companion accompanying a MileagePlus Premier Member 
  • Gold member status of Star Alliance
  • You are flying across the Atlantic Ocean

You can find more information on these exceptions here.

United’s carry-on allowances for all other ticket types

For all other ticket types, you’re able to bring a main carry-on bag onboard as long as it doesn’t exceed the 22 x 14 x 9-inch dimensions mentioned above.

Bringing Carry on liquids with United

You can bring liquids onboard United’s flights so long as they make it through security screening with TSA. 

This includes your toiletries and other needed liquids and creams, so long as they comply with TSA’s liquid rules. Basically, each bottle can contain no more than 100ml / 3.4 fl. oz.

Then they need to easily fit into a re-sealable clear plastic bag. Ziplocs like these work perfectly. They can’t be any larger than 7.8 x 7.8 inches or 20 x 20 centimeters.

There is a lot more information here on TravelontheFly about what items you are and aren’t allowed to bring on a plane with you.

You can also check with the TSA on their site

How strict is United Airlines with your carry-on size?

When it comes to enforcing its carry-on size policy, United is fairly strict.

They check more than other airlines do because of their policy about only bringing a personal item for Basic Economy ticket holders. 

As they are currently focused on maximizing revenue with every flight, they will enforce the rules more strictly than at other times… especially if the flight is fully booked.

To make your flight as worry-free as possible I suggest you comply with their regulations and not push it. For example, if you need a new carry-on bag that will fit United’s guidelines and most other airlines as well. Get this bag and don’t worry about it again.

How strict is United Airlines with your carry-on weight?

Carry-ons and personal items are not subject to weight restrictions at United. The dimensions of your bags are all you need to worry about.

Should I risk flying on United with an oversized carry-on?

Most people will tell you no, don’t even risk it. I agree. But know that if it is close, you will probably be fine. The worst thing to happen is they will check you bag and you will have to pay for a checked bag.

You will have to decide. 

Know that as your scan your boarding pass to enter the ramp and board your plane the United employee working the gate may ask you to fit your bag into their pre-sized steel cage to prove that it is the right size.

TIP – You have a better chance of getting away with it if your carry-on is soft-sided. That‘s why I have highlighted and pointed you toward soft-sided bags here. They are a little easier to squeeze into tight spots. Including the overhead bins on the plane!

United Airlines carry-on baggage fees

Like I said before, if you are within the size stated, you won’t have any additional fees. If your luggage is a little too big, you might have a $25 fee to check your bag. 

I travel with a bag that is larger than regulation and haven’t been asked to check it ever, but I can’t guarantee you won’t.

However, it’s cheap to get a bag that is within regulations. And then you don’t have to worry about it at all!

You can check out this page on United’s website for more information relevant to your specific flight itinerary.

Where can I find a quality bag that’s within United Airlines’ carry-on luggage limits?

Here is a great carry-on bag is economical and great value for the money.

And this Travel Pro bag is more than sufficient for even the pickiest traveler. 

How strict is United Airlines with its personal item policy?

As long as the item can easily be carried and stored underneath the seat in front of you, airlines seldom check the size of your personal item.

United Airlines’ personal item policy

Each passenger may bring a smaller item in addition to their main carry-on that must fit within these dimensions: 9 x 10 x 17 inches or 22 x 25 x 43 centimeters. United Policy here

Carrying other items onboard United Airlines

You don’t need to worry about bringing additional items like books or jackets or blankets, cameras, etc count as your personal item. They don’t You can bring them in addition to your carry-on and personal item. 

Personal items are things like a purse, briefcase, extra backpack, or a large camera case.

Is the first bag free on United?

On United, the first personal item is free and so is one standard carry-on bag with a standard economy ticket. If your ticket is basic economy, there is no bag included at no cost, unless it is a transpacific or transatlantic flight. Then a single regular-sized carry-on is included in your ticket price.

So, how strict is United Airlines about carry-on and personal items?

You can expect your carry-on bag to be checked for size, as they are stricter than most.

In light of this, it’s best to you invest in a bag that complies with their carry-on regulations like this one.

In case you choose to take this risk with United and get a larger bag, I recommend using a soft-sided bag to give yourself some flexibility with their sizer.

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