United Carry-On Size: How Strict is United?

Steve Cummings

United Carry-on size

Traveling can bring about many different emotions. One thing that people may typically stress out about is their luggage and carry-on situation. It is a thing that can get people more stressed than they stress about. If you are flying United Airlines, you may want to know how strict United carry-on size is?

One of the largest airlines in the U.S. is United. They have one of the largest fleets in the U.S. They are not always the best, but many people will end up flying on United. 

As many other airlines have started offering Basic economy flights to compete with the budget airlines, United has done the same thing. 

You should know how the size of a carry-on is important based on your ticketing. Knowing if your ticket will allow for a carry-on is very important. Many airlines allow everyone to have checked baggage or carry on, but it is vital to check out the flight you may be taking. 

How strict are the United carry-on size restrictions? 

Can I Bring a Carry-On For a United Basic Economy Flight?

United only allows a personal item for passengers with the Basic Economy ticket. If you were to bring a carry-on bag to the gate, that carry-on would become a checked bag. The bag will have the checked bag fee plus an additional $25 handling fee. 

Since this will happen at the gate, only credit cards are accepted to pay these fees. 

Exceptions apply to these rules. 

  • Customers flying trans-Atlantic flights to Mexico, Central America, and South America will be allowed a carry-on.
  • Customers that are flying trans-Pacific flights to and from the other destination
  • If you are a United Premier member. Your companion booked on the same ticket will get the benefits as well. 
  • If you hold a United Credit card or you are a Star Alliance Gold Member

If any of these conditions apply, then you will be able to have a free carry-on with your Basic Economy flight. It will be prudent to take a personal item or buy a more expensive ticket if not. 

How Strict is The United Carry-On Size?

United airlines

The United carry-on size that must be able to fit in the overhead compartment bin and must not exceed 22″ L (55.88 cm) x 14″ W (35.56 cm) x 9″ H (22.86 cm). The size includes handles and wheels that are a part of the carry-on baggage.

carry-on baggage size

With the carry-on, United is very strict with the size of the carry-on bag. The more full a plane will be, the more stringent the United representatives will be on the capacity of the carry-on size. It is best to stick to the dimensions mentioned above to be safe. 

Any oversized bag will be over the baggage allowance, and you will need to check that bag in. 

Of course, TSA checks every bag. Ensure that items such as gels, aerosols, and anything prohibited is not in your carry-on baggage.

How Strict is United About the Carry-On Weight?

United is like many other major airlines such as Delta, American Airlines, and JetBlue in their carry-on size weight limit. There is no weight limit for passengers' carry-on baggage to adhere to. 

Make sure to have the carry-on in the right size, and you should be fine. 

What is a Personal Item With United?

With Basic Economy having a personal item can help you out. Learning some tricks to save weight and size can also help you. Wearing on bringing items in your pockets on in your hands as you board can help you save some space. It will allow you to have more luggage space under United carry-on size restrictions. 

Personal items should be those items that can fit underneath the seat in front of you with dimensions of 9″ x 10″ x 17″ (22 cm) x (25 cm) x (43 cm). These items can be like a book bag, purse, or tote bag, and they must be able to be stowed underneath your seat. 

Other Items You Can Bring On United:

  • A Jacket
  • Umbrella
  • Reading Material
  • Breast Pump
  • Diaper bag
  • Food (purchased in the airport)
  • Camera
  • Assisted devices (wheelchair, cane, crutches)

These are extra items that United allows their passenger to bring on the flight. 

What About the United Express Flights?

United has United Express flights that tend to be smaller planes. Most of the much more oversized carry-ons will not fit in the overhead bins. If the carry-on is too big, the gate representative will green-tag it and bring it on as cargo. 

Here is a list of various regulations for those flights.

How To Avoid Baggage Fees on United

Avoiding unnecessary baggage fees will make life much better and smoother your trip. There are a couple of options to prevent baggage fees while riding on United flights.  

MileagePlus Premier Status

If you have a MileagePlus membership, you can start collecting miles to reach status. Once you hit Premier Silver status, your carry-on bag will be included as part of your ticket. The miles collection can also help you book free and cheap flights

Having status will also allow you to board earlier on the plane, allowing you to have ample time to find a sport in the overhead bins to put your carry-on bag. 

Apply For a United Credit Card

The United credit card comes with many perks. First of all, you will get free checked bags, a free carry-on, and priority boarding. It will also allow you to gain miles as you spend money on the credit card. 

There will be other benefits such as travel insurance and more availability for flights and awards flights. So if you do not have a United credit card yet and fly them often, it may be time to find a great card. Here is a link to the United Explorer Card and other travel credit cards

Final Thoughts:

Traveling can be pretty straightforward. The hard part is learning the ends and outs of every airline. Some airlines like Southwest allow you to have free checked bags and carry-on baggage. 

The much bigger airlines like United, American, and Delta have certain restrictions that must be followed. Knowing the correct United carry-on size can help you avoid unnecessary fees.

Remember, if you have a Basic Economy ticket, you will not be allowed to have a carry-on unless you meet the correct criteria. Pack less, travel smarter and find that right size carry-on to help you save money.

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