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Are you trying to figure out how to avoid United Airlines baggage fees? There are a few ways you can pay $0 for checked baggage and carry-on baggage. But if you have to pay a fee, below is how much you can expect to pay.
The flight you want may have a baggage fee. However, there are ways to avoid that fee.
United Domestic Baggage Fees
Your baggage fees depend on which cabin class you choose. These fees apply to flights within the United States, Canada, and select Carribean and Central American destinations. As expected, the most restrictive fees apply to basic economy fees.
On domestic flights, you can only bring one free personal item onboard. It can measure 9 inches by 10 inches by 17 inches. If you bring a full-size carry-on, you will pay the appropriate checked bag fee ($30 for your first bag and $40 for a second bag) plus a $25 gate handling charge.
United Premier and Global Services members can bring one carry-on for free.
Your first checked bag fee is $30 and the second bag is $40. Each bag can weigh up to 50 pounds.
Economy main cabin seats are allowed one free personal item and full-size carry-on.
The first checked bag is $30 and the second bag is $40. Each bag can weigh up to 50 pounds.
First Class or Business Class
Your checked bag fees are $0 on the first two bags for first class and business class flights. Your bags can also weigh $70 each before they are subject to an overweight fee.
United International Baggage Fees
United’s international baggage fees vary on where you fly to. For example, you may pay a first checked baggage fee when flying to Mexico but not Europe.
Below is a basic guideline for each cabin class and destination zone.
One full-size carry-on is free on trans-Atlantic basic economy flights plus your personal item. Otherwise, you may still have to pay a fee if your carry-on gets checked at the gate for other destinations. Like domestic flights, Premier members can bring one carry-on for free.
Basic economy isn’t available on every international route yet. For many people, this is probably a good thing. On trans-Atlantic flights to Europe, you will pay $60 for the first bag. The second checked bag costs $100.
If basic economy if available to other parts of the world, the checked baggage fees are the same as a standard economy fare.
- Europe: $0 for the first bag and $100 for the second bag
- Mexico: $30 for the first bag and $55 for the second bag
- Cuba: $30 for the first bag and $0 for the second bag
- South America: $0 for the first bag and $0 for the second bag
- Asia, Australia, and New Zealand: $0 for the first bag and $0 for the second bag
- India: $0 for the first bag and $100 for the second bag
- Middle East: $0 for the first bag and $0 for the second bag
Your first two bags are free for all destinations. Like standard economy fares, the weight limit is 50 pounds per checked bag to avoid the excess weight fee.
First Class and Business Class
Your first two bags are free for all destinations. The weight limit is 70 pounds per checked bag to avoid the excess weight fee.
Ways to Avoid United Airlines Baggage Fees
There are several ways you can avoid the United Airlines checked baggage fees. The easiest way is to fly in business or first class. However, you have a few other options if you fly in economy or basic economy.
Own a United Airlines Credit Card
Some of the United Airlines credit cards (including business and personal cards) give you and one companion free checked bags.
United Explorer Card
The United℠ Explorer Card is probably the best United credit card for most. Here are a few benefits you get:
- One free checked bag for you and one companion when you use your card to purchase the ticket
- Two one-time United Club passes each year
- Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee credit up to $100
- Complimentary Premier upgrades for Premier members
- Priority boarding
- $0 introductory annual fee ($95 each card renewal).
You will also earn 2x United miles on United purchases, restaurants (including eligible delivery services), and hotel nights. Compare the Chase Sapphire Preferred vs United Explorer Card if you can’t decide between the United Explorer or a more flexible rewards card like the Chase Sapphire Preferred.
The United℠ Explorer Card has a sign-up offer of up to 65,000 bonus miles. New cardholders can earn 40,000 United miles after spending $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months after your account is open. Plus, earn an additional 25,000 bonus miles after spending $10,000 in the first 6 months.
Learn more: Airline Credit Cards
United Club Infinite Card
The United Club℠ Infinite Card is the premium co-brand United Airlines credit card. It has a $525 annual fee, but also has these deluxe perks:
- Two free checked bags for you and one companion
- United Club access for primary and qualifying travel companions
- Premier Access travel services (priority check-in, boarding, and baggage handling)
- Premier upgrades on award tickets (when available)
- Hertz Gold Plus Presidents Circle loyalty status
- Earn 4x miles per $1 spent on United purchases
- Earn 1x miles per $1 spent on non-United purchases
This card is the better option if you normally check two bags per trip. Having unlimited United Club lounge access can also be a valuable addition. New United Club℠ Infinite Card cardholders can earn 75,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of account opening.
Learn more: Airline Credit Cards
Have a Premium Travel Card Card
If you only check a bag sporadically, you may be better off using a flexible travel credit card like the Chase Sapphire Reserve. It has an annual $300 travel credit that reimburses your first travel purchases each year. For instance, the credit will cover your ticket cost and checked bag fee.
This card also has complimentary Priority Pass lounge access, free Global Entry or TSA Precheck, and you earn 3x points on travel (once earn $300 travel credit) and dining. Your points are worth 1.5 cents each when booking award flights through Chase. You can also transfer them on a 1:1 basis to airline and hotel partners including United.
The Sapphire Reserve is also one of the best metal credit cards.
Earn United Premier Status
If you fly enough to earn Premier status you can avoid checked baggage fees. You can also pack a carryon for basic economy flights.
There are four different tiers of MileagePlus Premier status. Premier Silver members get one free checked bag. Premier Gold members get two free checked bags. Both Premier Platinum and Premier 1k members get three free checked bags.
Being a Premier member lets you enjoy other benefits like complimentary upgrades and earning bonus miles on flights. But if you don’t fly enough to become a Premier Member, the United credit cards are a good alternative for free checked bags.
Active U.S. military members and their dependents may get free checked bags if they travel on the same ticket. For personal travel, you can get up to 3 free bags weighing up to 70 pounds each. When on official business, you can get 5 free trips.
These complimentary benefits don’t apply to dependants traveling alone for personal reasons besides relocating. For example, you may not be able to check a free bag when traveling over spring break.
The United Airlines checked bag fees are almost unavoidable if you fly in basic economy or standard economy for domestic flights and select foreign destinations. Expect to pay $30 for your first checked bag when flying domestic. Owning a co-brand United Airlines credit card, flying first or business class, or becoming a Premier member are other ways to avoid the checked baggage fees.
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Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided by any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.