United Airlines Changes its Carry-On Policies

Published on: March 3, 2014 | Last Updated on September 1, 2019
Fly United Airlines: Carry-on policies

Flying United Airlines? Under the guise of easier boarding, new carry-on policies may cost you more.

Screen Shot from United Hub website

Screen shot from United Hub website

If you are flying United, don’t get caught off-guard. United has changed it carry-on policies effective March 1, 2014, strictly limiting the size of carry-on items.

An excellent article published by The Points Guy (written by Denver-based flyer Jason Steele) explains the changes in detail but here they are in a nutshell:

  • Baggage sizers have been placed at all gates and some check-in areas to measure carry-on baggage.
  • A carry-on bag cannot exceed 22 x 14 x 9 inches, including handle and wheels.
  • A personal item (such as a shoulder bag, backpack, laptop or other item) cannot exceed 9 x 10 x 17.
  • Regardless of the ticket fare class, you may be required to have your carry-on items measured in the sizer. If they don’t fit, you will have to check them and they will be subject to checked baggage fees. 

The article’s take-home message: Measure your bags before leaving home, especially the 9” deep dimension. Seems like another change to make the skies less friendly. Be sure to read the Points Guy article in its entirety. Additional information is available on the United website.

  • Reply
    Doreen Pendgracs
    March 3, 2014 at 4:43 pm

    Thanks for the heads-up, Irene! It’s amazing how often the rules keep changing, and how different they are from airline to airline.

    • Reply
      Irene S. Levine
      March 3, 2014 at 5:06 pm

      I’m just about to head upstairs to measure our carry-ons:-(
      Hope they haven’t become obsolete.

  • Reply
    Donna Hull
    March 3, 2014 at 5:42 pm

    Thanks for this, Irene. I’m flying to China on the Dreamliner in two weeks and thought that a Business Class ticket would mean that the new rules didn’t apply to my fare class. Ugh. And we can probably expect to see this across all U.S. Airlines before long. It seems when one carrier tests the waters with changes, the others aren’t far behind.

    • Reply
      John Korobanik
      March 15, 2014 at 2:03 pm

      Why would you think business class should be treated differently when it comes to carry-on baggage? Besides this is not new… was in effect in many airlines for years before business travellers (perhaps thinking because they paid a little extra felt they’re politicans and had a sense of entitlement) starting abusing the system, bullying and harrassing airline staff so they could take all their baggage on board.

  • Reply
    Jackie Smith
    March 3, 2014 at 6:40 pm

    Thanks – good info, Irene!

  • Reply
    March 3, 2014 at 8:54 pm

    Seems like carry-on is just becoming more and more difficult. Of course, this gives me license to pack my too- big suitcase and not worry about cramming everything into a too-small bag.

  • Reply
    March 5, 2014 at 1:46 pm

    I used to fly every other weekend when I was married. She worked for the airlines – nice benefits back then for spouses! It always boggles my mind at all of the changes in the industry today, Irene. I will continue to say that you’re a wealth of great info when I get my travel groove back on! 🙂

  • Reply
    Marc D'Entremont
    March 8, 2014 at 2:29 pm

    The rules did NOT change. United, fortunately, is now going to enforce the rules that were always inlace. Personally, the rule I’d like to see changed is that carry on luggage – not a purse or computer bag – should be charged. Checked luggage should be free.

  • Reply
    Robert White-Harvey
    March 8, 2014 at 11:37 pm

    Marc is right about the rules being in place but not enforced in North America. However, this is just the beginning. In Europe and the Middle East they have long been enforcing similar rules PLUS one more. They also weigh carry-on bags at the gates. Seven kilos (just over 15 pounds) is common. Many Americans cram 35 pounds or more into a standard roll-aboard. My camera bag with two lenses can exceed the 7 kilo limit. Can’t even bring a flash gun or tripod. One time in Prague my carry-on bag was one kilo overweight. They charged me 65 euros ($90)for being 2 pounds over. Most of my travel is in Asia, where they check the size and only randomly check the weight.

    As strict as the rule enforcement change seems, it’s even stricter elsewhere.

    • Reply
      Irene S. Levine
      March 9, 2014 at 8:53 am

      That’s an important reminder to travelers, Robert—Be sure to follow international carry-on rules when you travel internationally!

  • Reply
    Heather - the kiwi travel writer
    March 15, 2014 at 5:04 am

    Yes most of the world have size and weight restrictions … Glad USA is following too. I get sick of not being able to store my bag above my seat as others have so much luggage.

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