United Airlines

(United also operates the low-fare carrier Ted.)

Check-in pointers

United Airlines advises that customers with baggage on domestic flights arrive at the airport 90 minutes before departure. Passengers on international flights should come to the airport two hours in advance.

The airline gives an airport-by-airport list of:

  • peak check-in times
  • security checkpoint wait times and
  • availability of Priority Security Check-In Lanes for first-class customers and elite-status frequent fliers.

EasyCheck-in Kiosks: Passengers with e-tickets traveling domestically or to an international destination can print boarding passes, change seat assignments and check baggage. United has made these kiosks available at every United hub and more than 1,000 kiosks are available at more than 100 airports.

EasyCheck-in Online: Passengers with e-tickets can check in online for domestic flights from 1 to 24 hours before departure and for outbound international flights from 2 to 24 hours before departure.

Hub(s)

Frequent-flier program

Mileage Plus members can earn miles toward free flights on United, Ted and all Star Alliance carriers, including Air Canada, Air New Zealand, ANA, Asiana, Austrian Airlines, bmi, LOT Polish Airlines, Lufthansa, SAS, Singapore Airlines, South African Airways, Spanair, Swiss International Air Lines, TAP Portugal, THAI and US Airways.

Members can also earn miles on Aeromar, Aloha Airlines, Air China, Emirates, Qatar Airways, Shanghai Airlines, TACA Airlines and VARIG.

Airport club or lounge

Membership in United's

html" target="_new">Red Carpet Club includes admission to more than 40 United lounges worldwide as well as US Airways Clubs and clubs run by other Star Alliance carriers.

Lounge benefits include afternoon snacks, beverages and business services, such as fax machines, dataports and power outlets. Many clubs also have high-speed wireless Internet access available for a fee.

Different memberships packages are available, but annual general memberships start at $500, or 70,000 Mileage Plus miles. You can get a one-time pass for $50.

Carry-on policy

Passengers can carry one carry-on item plus one personal item such as a purse, briefcase or laptop. The carry-on item can't exceed 45 linear inches (9" x 14" x 22")and must fit under the seat or in an overhead bin.

Child-safety seats for ticketed children and assistive devices (i.e., canes and crutches) are not considered carry-on items.

Checked baggage

Each passenger, traveleing domestically or internationally, is permitted two pieces of checked baggage free of charge. Each bag may be no larger than 62 inches (length + width + height) and weigh no more than 50 pounds.

In-flight meal options

Meals are no longer served on United flights that are less than five hours. On longer flights, special meals for medical, vegetarian and religious diets are available but must be ordered 24 hours in advance.

Some passengers on select flights have the option to buy food on board.  Snack boxes are available for $5 on flights between 3 and 5 hours long. Flights over five hours offer sandwiches and salads. Only cash is accepted for meal purchases and for alcoholic beverages.

Unaccompanied children

United permits unaccompanied children 5-7 to travel alone on non-stop or direct flights, and children 8-11 to travel alone on non-stop and connecting flights. The cost is $99 fee each way.

Pets

For an $85 fee each way, small dogs and cats can travel with passengers in the cabin, as long as the pet is small enough to fit under the seat in a kennel and has a certificate verifying it is fit to travel. Pets also can travel in the pressurized cargo area for a fee based on weight, size and destination. (Service animals may accompany their owners at no additional cost.)

Cool or useful amenities

United College Plus is the airline's frequent flier program for full-time college students.

United's Economy Plus seating, available for a nominal fee, offers 3 to 5 more inches of legroom. For $299, Mileage Plus members can purchase Economy Plus seating for an entire year.