Dec 30, 2022
On United Airlines domestic flights, travelers who purchase the no-frills "Basic Economy" prices are only allowed to bring a carry-on bag with them, and it must not be larger than a personal item. However, possession of a United credit card may serve as your pass-through limitation.
Basic Economy tickets, which the airline started selling in 2017, restrict customers flying inside the United States to only being able to bring on board one "personal item" that is small enough to fit beneath the seat in front of them. A backpack, shoulder bag, laptop bag, or any other compact object that is no more than 9 inches by 10 inches by 17 inches is considered to be a personal item by United. Any additional bags will be subject to a cost and must be checked. This comprises duffel bags and roll-aboard bags of the normal size.
However, some customers traveling in Basic Economy are exempt from the luggage limits and are still permitted to bring carry-ons of any size and utilize the overhead bins. These passengers are as follows:
Additionally, some United cards can check their first luggage at no additional cost. For example, the annual price for the UnitedSM Explorer Card is $0 for the first year and then $95 after the introductory period. A couple who each checks a bag may recoup the cost of the card's yearly membership fee on a single round trip by saving between $120 and $140 in checked baggage costs. The benefit of a free checked bag for the cardholder and a traveling buddy on the same reservation may offset the yearly price of the card.
Cardholders of the more expensive United QuestSM Card and United ClubSM Infinite Card are entitled to complimentary first and second-checked luggage for themselves and a traveling companion. However, the United GatewaySM Card has no annual charge and does not have a perk for checked bags. Although several general-purpose travel credit cards give better reward rates and more flexible redemption choices, airline-branded cards provide only free checked baggage.
Flyers in United's Basic Economy class are subject to additional limitations in addition to the bag limit already in place. If a no-frills traveler has an elite-flier status or an airline credit card, they will board the aircraft after all other passengers. They are also allocated any available seats after customers paying higher fares have been seated on the aircraft. Families and groups traveling on the same Basic Economy schedule will only sometimes be seated together.
If you only travel with United sometimes, it's unlikely that the benefits offered by the United ClubSM Infinite Card will provide you with enough value to justify the hefty annual premium. If you are a frequent flier with United but don't place a high value on all of the bells and whistles that come with the United ClubSM Infinite Card, the United QuestSM Card is an excellent alternative to consider. If you combine the United statement credit for $125 and the two 5,000-mile anniversary award trip credits, you can effectively lower the yearly charge from $250 to $25, bringing the total cost down to only $25.
The United GatewaySM Card and the UnitedSM Explorer Card are the two options available to most individuals when deciding which credit card to get. If you fly United many times a year and check your luggage at least a few times, the money you save on baggage fees will probably more than makeup for the yearly charge. In addition, the UnitedSM Explorer Card offers a more generous sign-up bonus that might assist you in propelling your MileagePlus balance higher.
The United GatewaySM Card could be a better option for you if you don't check luggage, aren't interested in the two United Club passes, and want a means to earn miles without incurring additional costs.
You should also consider if a travel card that offers more freedom, like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, is more suited to your style of travel. You may transfer your Chase Ultimate Rewards points to United or spend them for travel expenses like hotel stays, vehicle rentals, and vacation packages when you use your Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card.