United Airlines things to know




If you are planning a weekend getaway, family vacation or just a business trip, chances are United Airlines will fly there. They are the third largest airline in the world and have 7 hub bases with the largest being Chicago, O-Hare airport being the largest.


United Airlines was founded in 1926 and currently employs over 86,000 people. If you are looking to fly with United Airlines, I have put together some important information you will need to know prior to flying.




Things You Need To Know About Before Flying United Airlines:




Where Do They Fly? – United Airlines Destinations




United Airlines operates to 231 destinations and 125 international destinations in 48 countries across 5 continents. They currently have 7 hub bases including:


  • Chicago O-Hare
  • Denver
  • Houston
  • Los Angeles
  • Newark
  • San Francisco
  • Washington – Dulles


You can see a full list of destinations served by United and partners here.




What types of aircraft does United Airlines use?


United Airlines currently has a fleet of 758 aircraft, a mix of Boeing and Airbus. 




What are the United Airlines Fare classes?


You can break down the United Airlines seating into the following classes:


Basic Economy

This class will come with many restrictions and probably shouldn’t be your first choice. Sure the fares are cheaper, but you will be restricted to the following:


Seat selection is not allowed, including sitting with your family or as a group. This may not be possible. Bringing a full-size carry on bag is not allowed. Only 1 personal size item is allowed. If you bring a full sized carry on to the gate, you will be charged extra. You will be last to board the aircraft, and if there any changes or you need a refund, well there are no guarantees. You will have to pay for an upgrade to regular economy and certain Mileage plus or member benefits are not available.


United Economy

This is available on all flights. These seats will have more legroom and seat pitch. Food and snacks are available for purchase on domestic, Caribbean, and some Latin America flights. Basic entertainment screen in the headrest is available.


Economy Plus 

This is available on all flights. These seats are upgraded from economy and will provide more room and seat pitch. Economy Plus will cost you more money but come with more comfort and extras. Most of these seats are located towards the front of the plane. This is also available free of charge for Mileage plus members.


United First and United Business

United first is available on aircraft that fly domestically. If flying internationally, the same area is branded as United business. These seats will come with more space and legroom, increase seat pitch and some with fully flat beds. You will be given priority boarding and baggage handling plus complimentary meals and beverages. 




What is United Airlines refund policy?


According to United.com, “Tickets purchased through united.com or the United Customer Contact Center within the last 24 hours may qualify for waiver of change or cancellation fees under our 24-hour flexible booking policy.”


You can see the full United Airlines ticket refund policy here. 




Does United Airlines have a price guarantee?


Yes, United Vacations offer a best price guarantee

United airlines price guarantee

Image credit Vacations.United.com

What is United Airlines Luggage policy?


In most cases, you will be allowed 1 carry on bag and 1 checked bag free of charge. If traveling in Basic Economy, you will only be allowed 1 personal sized carry on item


Carry on bags maximum dimensions are 9″ x 14″ x 22″ which includes the handle and wheels. Your personal item maximum dimensions are 9″ x 10″ x 17″ 

United Airline baggage rules

Image credit United.com



Checked luggage maximum exterior dimensions is 62″ which includes the handle and wheels. (length + width + height). The maximum weight is based on the class of service. See image below. 


I recommend you always weigh your luggage yourself prior to departing in order to avoid excess baggage fees. I mention how to avoid overweight luggage fees here.


Weighing your own luggage accurately can be done using a luggage scale

United airline baggage rules

Image credit United.com





What is United Airlines seating configuration and how much legroom is there?


United Economy seats normally have a seat pitch of 31″ with a recline of 3″. United Economy Plus seats have a seat pitch of 36″ with a recline of 5″. United business seats have a seat pitch of 38″ with a recline of 6″. 


These numbers are for the Boeing 737-700 aircraft. Other aircraft may vary slightly. 


The amount of legroom will vary between different aircraft and the location of the seat on the plane. For basic economy seats, the legroom space will be minimal. You can gain an extra 6″ of space by upgrading to Economy Plus. Another great way to get more legroom is to try and get the seats in the emergency exit rows. These seats normally will have plenty of legroom.




What type of Frequent Flyer Program does United Airlines have?


United has a MileagePlus frequent flyer program. There is one important thing to mention about the program. If you don’t use your points within 18 months you will lose them unless you have a MileagePlus credit card, then they will not expire.




Does United Airlines have onboard meals?


United Airlines will provide a variety of food and drink selections based on the route and duration of your flight. This can range from light packaged snacks to multi-course meals. 


In economy class, expect to be offered complimentary soft drinks, juices, tea, and coffee. Light snacks like pretzels are free. Other snacks and snack boxes are available for purchase from a choice menu which includes a variety of breakfast sandwiches and other meals. 


Beer, wine and other spirits are available for purchase. 


On international flights in Economy class, you will be offered complimentary meal service including drinks, a 3-course meal, and snacks.




What does United Airlines have for onboard entertainment and Wifi?


United Private Screening is available for Economy passengers on a variety of aircraft and most flights. Availability will vary and it’s best to check the flight status information to see if this is offered on your flight. This will have a large selection of TV shows, movies, and music that you can choose from. 


DirectTV is available for purchase on Boeing 737 and 757 aircraft. This gives you over 100 channels of live TV.


United Wifi is also available on most flights for a fee. You can see the full coverage map for onboard Wifi here.


I recommend you bring along your own pair of headphones for onboard entertainment. You can refer to our headphones section for full reviews and recommendations for travel headphones




What carry on board items are allowed on Alaska Airlines?


There are many prohibited and restricted items that are not allowed on board the plane. There are also guidelines for bringing liquids and other goods which you should review prior to traveling. 


Refer to the TSA website to see a full review of what is allowed on board a plane. 


Also, United Airlines has a full list of prohibited and restricted items on their website. 




Customer reviews for United Airlines


According to Business Insider, United Airlines ranked #9 out of 10, almost finishing in last place based on 7 factors of the study having an index score of 708. This was based on the North America Airline Satisfaction Study, which measures passenger satisfaction in 7 areas.


Cost & fees, in-flight services, aircraft, boarding/deplaning/baggage, flight crew, check-in, and reservation.


Satisfaction is calculated on a 1,000-point scale.


Personally, I have flown with United Airlines several times and was disappointed in many areas. I found the customer service to be poor, including the gate agents and flight attendants. This is just my experience with them, and am not saying you will experience the same. 




How to contact and book a United Airlines flight?


Flights can be booked online at United.com


Customer service 1-800-UNITED-1 (1-800-864-8331) 


International contact options here. 




Hopefully, you found this United Airlines guide helpful. 


If you would like to read more information on travel gear for carrying on board a plane, see our buying guides. 


More air travel tips and advice can be found here. 




Thanks for reading!




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