United Airlines is getting rid of those gate-side bag sizers

Jan 17, 2020

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

Editor’s note: This post has been updated to reflect that the story was first reported by Brian Sumers.

United Airlines is removing bag sizers from its gates, a move that the company said will make it a more customer-friendly airline.

United revealed the change in a memo to employees, saying “it’s the right thing to do because it will eliminate stress for both customers and employees, as well as allow you to have more caring and personal interactions.”

The memo, reviewed by TPG on Friday, explicitly said that bags that technically exceed the listed maximum dimensions for carry-ons should still be allowed to fly in the cabin if they fit into the overhead bins.

Sign up for the free daily TPG newsletter for more airline news.

Image from the internal United Airlines memo about bag sizers. (Image courtesy of United Airlines.)

The airline has already begun removing the bag sizers from gate areas, and expects them to be totally gone by Jan. 23. The devices will remain in pre-security areas of the airport and United said in the memo it will continue to identify and check oversized bags before passengers get to the gate.

“That’s a smart move,” said Henry Harteveldt, a travel industry analyst and president of Atmosphere Research. “I don’t see agents using the sizers on a regular basis when traveling on American, Delta or United, so why take up space in the gate area with something that doesn’t really seem to be used for enforcement?”

He added, though, that it could lead to some challenging situations if a passenger thinks their bag will fit in the overhead bin, and a gate agent believes differently.

Related: The 10 longest (and 10 shortest) United Airlines flights

Checked-bag strategy: How to avoid checked baggage fees on major domestic airlines

“I just hope that the agents are going to be equipped with some kind of tool where if the bag is too large, they have something they can use to show the customer why their bag is too large and why it may have to be checked as a result,” Harteveldt said.

The change was first reported by Brian Sumers of Skift.

Carry-on baggage has become increasingly important to travelers as airlines continue to raise fees for checked luggage, meaning overhead bin space is now at a premium on most flights. United’s new policy means gate agents may have a little more leeway in allowing some carry-on bags onto the plane.

But Basic Economy passengers are still out of luck, even with the change.

“Do keep in mind that Basic Economy customers are still only allowed one personal item that fits underneath their seat,” the memo said in a standalone paragraph.

Related: United plans to roll out 3D photos of aircraft interiors on seat map page

Featured photo by Zach Honig/The Points Guy.

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card

Earn 90,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer ends 8/3/2022.

With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 90,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer ends 8/3/2022.
  • Earn up to 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) with Status Boost® per year. After you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, you can earn 10,000 MQMs up to two times per year, getting you closer to Medallion® Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion® Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.
  • Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
  • Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide including takeout and delivery in the U.S., and at U.S. supermarkets.
  • Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $80 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
  • Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
  • Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck® after you apply through any Authorized Enrollment Provider. If approved for Global Entry, at no additional charge, you will receive access to TSA PreCheck.
  • Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • $250 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Regular APR
17.24%-26.24% Variable
Annual Fee
Balance Transfer Fee
Recommended Credit
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.