Business Treaveler logo

Travel news, reviews and intel for high-flyers

United Airlines

United Airlines is a major international airline headquartered in Chicago. It was founded in 1926 and has grown rapidly in the decades since. In 2010, United merged with the now defunct Continental Airlines to become the third largest airline in the world in terms of both fleet size and the number of routes it operates. The airline has eight major hubs across the US, with its busiest at Chicago-O’Hare Airport, operating flights to more than 200 domestic destinations and over 100 international airports spread across five continents. It is also a founding member of the world’s largest airline alliance, the Star Alliance, making it a great option to build air miles for frequent international fliers.

by Business Traveler

October 01, 2022


What is United MileagePlus?

MileagePlus is the name of the frequent flyer programme for United Airlines and is free to join. Once you have signed up, you can earn points or miles by spending money with United Airlines or any of their partners. Purchasing flights is the primary way to do this – however, there are other ways, including booking hotels and restaurants and shopping with a United credit card. Points can then be spent on airfare, cabin upgrades or holiday experiences.

Regular flyers who build up enough points will start to move through the MileagePlus Levels. For example, the first level beyond basic membership is Premier Silver which gives eligible passengers complimentary checked-in cabin bags and priority boarding, among other perks. Unlike some frequent flyer plans, MileagePlus points never expire, offering flexibility about when you use them.

What are United Airlines' ticketing options?

When you fly with United, there are seven different types of tickets.

Basic Economy

 Seats allocated
 Checked in bags start at $35
 Carry on only allowed on transpacific and transatlantic flights
 No flight changes
 Last to board
 Standard economy seating


 Choose your own seats
 Checked in bags start at $35
 Complimentary carry on
 Flight changes allowed
 Standard main cabin seating

United Plus

 Choose your own seats
 Checked in bags start at $35
 Complimentary carry on
 Flight changes allowed
 Priority boarding
 Additional leg room

* On certain United flights upgrades to Premium Plus are available, which include premium seating and complimentary beverages and food.

United Business Class (transcontinental, Latin America and the Caribbean) / First Class (domestic flights)

 Choose your own seats
 Two checked in bags
 Complimentary carry-on
 Priority boarding
 Extra legroom in reclinable, leather seats
 Charging point
 Wide range of entertainment services
 Premium food and beverages

United Polaris

Polaris is United’s premium offering for long-haul journeys, which, although described as a business class proposition, is the highest level of service they have on offer.

 Choose your own seats
 Two checked-in bags
 Complimentary carry-on
 Lie flat seats
 Charging point
 Private entertainment screening and noise-reducing headphones
 Restaurant quality cuisine and beverages
 First people to board

What are United Airlines' baggage fees?

All United passengers can bring one personal item as standard, such as a rucksack.

Basic Economy

Basic economy passengers are only allowed to bring an additional carry-on bag if they are flying to South America, or on a Trans-Atlantic / Trans-Pacific flight. Any other passengers bringing a carry-on will need to pay the checked bag fee. If they need to pay at the gate, it costs an additional $25.

Economy and United Plus

Economy and United Plus passengers can check in up to two check in bags, standard fees apply.

First and Business Class / Polaris

First, business class and Polaris passengers can bring two complimentary checked-in bags

Standard Fees

 First bag - $35
 Second bag - $45
 Third bag - $150
 Fourth bag - $200

Overweight bags

 Bags above 23kg are chargeable as overweight
 Bags between 23kg and 32kg - up to $200 (Fees vary depending on destination)
 Bags between 32kg and 45kg - up to $400 (Fees vary depending on destination)
 Bags over 45kg will not be accepted

Oversized bags

 Bags between 63 and 115 linear inches - $200 - $400 (Fees vary depending on destination)
 Bags above 115 linear inches will not be accepted

Generative AI will help United staff write and send text messages to inconvenienced travelers, explaining why their flight has been delayed

By Fergus Cole

July 11, 2024

Beginning in Christmas 2024, United will operate a seasonal weekend route between SFO and the Central American country

By Fergus Cole

July 10, 2024

Kinective Media gives brands the opportunity to market products on the United mobile app and on seatback screens

By Fergus Cole

June 10, 2024

The limited-edition amenity kits and pajamas are available to premium passengers on long-haul international flights

By Fergus Cole

May 28, 2024

Ten months in the making, there are 171 customized versions of the video to accommodate United’s eight different aircraft types

By Fergus Cole

May 24, 2024

Delta, United, and Alaska report growth in corporate ticket sales as businesses return to the office

By Fergus Cole

May 22, 2024

The DOT says it will defend its requirement that airlines are upfront about baggage and cancellation fees

By Fergus Cole

May 16, 2024

It depends on the airline, but there are some clear trends

By Fergus Cole

May 8, 2024

The industry is at the same airline capacity as 2019, but with fewer scheduled flights. How is this possible?

By Fergus Cole

April 16, 2024

Customers can choose their preferred seat type, such as window, aisle, exit row, or bulkhead seats, even if unavailable at booking

By Enrique Perrella

April 15, 2024