The rules for carry-on luggage are somewhat clear and direct for most airlines. The same thing can’t be said about personal items – you usually have to dig through the fine print to find out what personal items are allowed, how large they can be, and how much can they weigh. In this article, we’ll explain the rules for bringing personal items on airplanes for 56 major airlines, to clear up all the confusion and avoid any issues when arriving at the airport.
What Is a Personal Item?
Airlines consider a personal item to be a small bag, purse, backpack, or similar item that fits under each passenger’s front seat. Sometimes, it’s also referred to as “personal article”, “personal bag”, “underseat luggage“, or “underseat bag”, which all essentially mean the same thing.
A personal item is the smallest type of luggage. It’s also the most accessible one because it’s always in front of you, under the front seat, and you’re able to access it during the flight (not including takeoff and landing). Usually, people pack in there their most valuable items and ones that they’ll need during the flight, like laptops, headphones, reading materials, and snacks.
Personal Items vs Carry-Ons
Usually, you’re allowed to bring two bags on a plane as your hand luggage – personal items and carry-ons. When boarding the plane, you’ll need to put your carry-on in the overhead compartments and your personal item under the front seat.
Although both carry-ons and personal items are referred to as “hand luggage”, they have completely different size and weight restrictions, and different fees as well. For instance, on Southwest Airlines, a personal item shouldn’t exceed 16.25 x 13.5 x 8 inches (41 x 34 x 20 cm), while carry-ons can be up to 24 x 16 x 10 inches (61 x 41 x 25 cm). That’s because overhead compartments can accommodate a slightly larger bag compared to the space under the seats.
Carry-ons usually need to be under 15 – 40 lbs (7 – 18 kg) in weight and some airlines charge a small fee for bringing them onboard the aircraft. Personal items, on the other hand, usually have 0$ additional fees, and most airlines don’t have any weight limitations for them.
Important Things to Know About Bringing Personal Items on Planes
- You should pack your most necessary items (headphones, medicine, e-reader, etc.) in your personal item because you’ll be able to access them more easily from under your airplane seat. Accessing your carry-on will be a bit harder, especially if you have the window seat, as you’ll need to get past everyone in your row, stand up, open the overhead compartment, and only then access your carry-on.
- All of your hand luggage, including carry-on and personal item, will need to go through x-ray scanners at the airport security checkpoint. They’ll be scanned for any prohibited items in hand luggage, like liquids over 3.4 oz (100 ml), flammables, firearms, sharp items, and other dangerous items.
- Usually, any bag is allowed as a personal item, as long as it fits within the size requirements. This could include small-wheeled suitcases, backpacks, totes, messenger bags, duffels, coolers, and other bag types.
- Being just 1-2 inches above the personal item size limit is usually okay, as long as the bag is made from flexible fabrics, and it isn’t overpacked. Personal items are much less frequently measured for size compared to carry-ons and checked luggage.
- Usually, airlines allow bringing several other items with you on the aircraft in addition to your carry-on and personal item. These usually include assistive devices for people with special needs, jackets and other clothes you might wear during the flight, umbrellas, diapers, walking canes, food in disposable containers meant to consume on the airplane, child restraint seats, strollers, duty-free items, and reading materials. They usually don’t count toward your hand luggage allowance, but the rules are different for each airline.
Size and Weight Restrictions for Personal Items for 56 Popular Airlines
Down below, you’ll find the size and weight rules for personal items on 56 major airlines. We try to keep this list up to date, but if you want to be 100% sure, click on the airline name within the table. A link will take you to the Airline’s official website, where we found this information.
|Airline name||Personal Item Size Restrictions||Personal Item Weight Restrictions|
|Aer Lingus||13 x 10 x 8 in (33 x 25 x 20 cm)||No restriction|
|Aeromexico||No restriction||No restriction|
|Air Canada||17 x 13 x 6 in (43 x 33 x 16 cm)||No restriction|
|Air France||15.7 x 11.8 x 5.8 in (40 x 30 x 15 cm)||26.4 lbs / 12 kg (carry-on + personal item)|
|Air India||No restriction||17.5 lbs / 8 kg (carry-on + personal item)|
|Air New Zealand||No restriction||No restriction|
|Air Transat||17 x 12 x 5 in (43.2 x 30.5 x 12.7 cm)||No restriction|
|Alaska Airlines||No restriction||No restriction|
|All Nippon Airways||No restriction||22 lbs / 10 kg (carry-on + personal item)|
|Allegiant Air||16 x 15 x 7 in (41 x 38 x 18 cm)||No restriction|
|American Airlines||18 x 14 x 8 in (46 x 36 x 20 cm)||No restriction|
|Avelo Airlines||14 x 9.5 x 9 in (35 x 24 x 22 cm)||No restriction|
|Avianca||18 x 14 x 10 in (46 x 36 x 25 cm)||No restriction|
|Breeze Airways||17 x 13 x 8 in (43 x 33 x 20 cm)||No restriction|
|British Airways||16 x 12 x 6 in (40 x 30 x 15 cm)||51 lbs / 23 kg|
|China Airlines||No restriction||No restriction|
|China Eastern Airlines||No official information||No official information|
|China Southern Airlines||No restriction||No restriction|
|Delta Air Lines||No restriction||No restriction|
|easyJet||18 x 14 x 8 in (45 x 36 x 20 cm)||33 lbs / 15 kg|
|Emirates||18 x 14 x 8 in (45 x 35 x 20 cm)||15 lbs / 7 kg|
|Ethiad Airways||No restriction||11 lbs / 5 kg|
|Ethiopian Airlines||15 x 9 x 7 in (39 x 23 x 19 cm)||11 lbs / 5 kg|
|EVA air||16 x 12 x 4 in (40 x 30 x 10 cm)||No restriction|
|Finnair||16 x 12 x 6 in (40 x 30 x 15 cm)||17.5 lbs / 8 kg (carry-on + personal item)|
|Flair Airlines||17 x 13 x 6 in (43 x 33 x 15 cm)||15.5 lbs / 7 kg|
|Frontier Airlines||18 x 14 x 8 in (46 x 36 x 20 cm)||No restriction|
|Hawaiian Airlines||No restriction||No restriction|
|Iberia||16 x 12 x 6 in (40 x 30 x 15 cm)||22 lbs / 10 kg (carry-on + personal item)|
|IndiGo||No restriction||7 lbs / 3 kg|
|Japan Airlines||16 x 12 x 6 in (40 x 30 x 15 cm)||17.5 lbs / 8 kg (carry-on + personal item)|
|Jet2||No restriction||No restriction|
|JetBlue||17 x 13 x 8 in (43 x 33 x 20 cm)||No restriction|
|Jetstar||No restriction||15 lbs / 7 kg (carry-on + personal item)|
|KLM||16 x 12 x 6 in (40 x 30 x 15 cm)||26 lbs / 12 kg (carry-on + personal item)|
|Korean Air||No restriction||22 lbs / 10 kg (carry-on + personal item)|
|Lufthansa||16 x 12 x 4 in (40 x 30 x 10 cm)||No restriction|
|Norwegian||15 x 12 x 8 in (38 x 30 x 20 cm)||22 lbs / 10 kg (carry-on + personal item)|
|Pegasus Airlines||16 x 12 x 6 in (40 x 30 x 15 cm)||No restriction|
|Qantas||No restriction||No restriction|
|Qatar Airways||No restriction||No restriction|
|Ryanair||16 x 10 x 8 in (40 x 25 x 20 cm)||No restriction|
|Singapore Airlines||16 x 12 x 4 in (40 x 30 x 10 cm)||No restriction|
|Southwest Airlines||16.25 x 13.5 x 8 in (41 x 34 x 20 cm)||No restriction|
|SpiceJet||No restriction||15 lbs / 7 kg (carry-on + personal item)|
|Spirit Airlines||18 x 14 x 8 in (46 x 36 x 20 cm)||No restriction|
|Sun Country Airlines||17 x 13 x 9 in (43 x 33 x 23 cm)||No restriction|
|Swoop||16 x 13 x 6 in (41 x 33 x 15 cm)||No restriction|
|Turkish Airlines||16 x 12 x 6 in (40 x 30 x 15 cm)||No restriction|
|United Airlines||17 x 10 x 9 in (43 x 25 x 23 cm)||No restriction|
|Virgin Atlantic||No restriction||No restriction|
|VivaAerobus||18 x 14 x 8 in (45 x 35 x 20 cm)||No restriction|
|Volaris||18 x 14 x 8 in (46 x 36 x 20 cm)||No restriction|
|Vueling||16 x 12 x 8 in (40 x 30 x 20 cm)||No restriction|
|WestJet||16 x 13 x 6 in (41 x 33 x 15 cm)||No restriction|
|Wizz Air||16 x 12 x 8 in (40 x 30 x 20 cm)||22 lbs / 10 kg|
Spirit Airlines Personal Item Size and Weight Rules
Spirit Airlines allows all of its passengers to bring one personal item on board free of charge. The only requirement is that it needs to be under 18 x 14 x 8 inches (46 x 36 x 20 cm) in size. There are no weight requirements. They define a personal item as a purse, small backpack, or any other small bag within this limit.
Frontier Airlines Personal Item Size and Weight Rules
Frontier airlines state that their passenger’s personal items must fit in their personal item sizers, which are sized exactly at 18 x 14 x 8 inches (46 x 36 x 20 cm). Personal items are included with all fares without any additional fees, and there aren’t any weight restrictions. Frontier describes personal items as purses, totes, computer bags, briefcases, diaper bags, and kids’ backpacks, but doesn’t limit them exactly to those bag types. For example, you can also bring duffel bags and medium-sized backpacks, as long as they’re within the size requirements.
United Airlines Personal Item Size and Weight Rules
All United Airlines passengers, even Basic Economy, are allowed to bring one personal item onboard free of charge. The only requirement is that it has to be under 17 x 10 x 9 inches (43 x 25 x 23 cm) and there aren’t any weight restrictions. United Airlines lists shoulder bags, backpacks, and laptop bags as examples of personal items, but doesn’t limit them only to these bag types.
In addition to personal items and carry-ons, United Airlines allows passengers to bring the following items onboard the flight, not counting towards the hand luggage size and weight allowance:
- Without additional fees: a jacket, umbrella, reading material, food for consumption during the flight, duty-free items, assistive devices, FAA-approved child seats, diaper bags, breast pumps, a camera
- With additional fees: pet carriers
Delta Air Lines Personal Item Size and Weight Rules
Delta Air Lines allows every passenger to bring a personal item free of charge, as long as it fits under the airplane seats. They list purses, briefcases, small backpacks, camera bags, diaper bags, and laptop bags as examples, but they’ll accept any bag as long as it fits under the airplane seats.
Unfortunately, Delta doesn’t specify exactly how large or heavy the personal item should be. To find out exactly, you’ll need to know your flight details, because each of Delta’s aircraft models has a different amount of space under the airplane seats. Down below, we’ll list their most common ones:
- Delta Boeing 737-900er: 20 x 14 x 7 inches (Main Cabin and Comfort+) and 20 x 11 x 10 inches (First Class)
- Delta Boeing 757-200: 13 x 13 x 8 inches (Main Cabin and Comfort+) and 19 x 17 x 10.7 inches (First Class)
- Delta Airbus A321-200: 19.7 x 19 x 9.06 inches (Main Cabin and Comfort+) and 19 x 15.5 x 10.5 inches (First Class)
- Delta has loads of different aircraft, so we won’t list them all. To find out the personal item size restrictions for your Delta Airlines flight: 1) Search for your flight on Delta’s flight status, and find out the aircraft model for that flight. 2) Find the underseat dimensions for that specific aircraft on Delta’s website
In addition to personal items and carry-ons Delta also allows passengers to bring additional items, free of charge and not counting towards the hand luggage allowance, like a jacket, umbrella, food purchased past the security checkpoint, duty-free items, child safety seats, and assistive devices.
JetBlue Personal Item Size and Weight Rules
JetBlue allows every passenger to have one personal item free of charge. There aren’t any weight restrictions for it, but it has to be under 17 x 13 x 8 inches (43 x 33 x 20 cm). JetBlue lists purses, daypacks, laptop bags, and approved pet carriers as examples of allowed personal items. Assistive devices, like strollers, wheelchairs, or crutches are allowed in addition and aren’t subject to hand luggage size rules.
Allegiant Air Personal Item Size and Weight Rules
Allegiant Air doesn’t have any weight limits for personal items, but they must be under 16 x 15 x 7 inches (41 x 38 x 18 cm) to fit under the airplane seats. All passengers are entitled to 1 personal item free of charge, and valid personal items are listed as purses, small backpacks, briefcases, and any other bag within the right size requirements. In addition to that, passengers can bring other items that aren’t subject to hand luggage size and weight restrictions, like food meant for immediate consumption, assistive devices, duty-free items, a coat or jacket, an umbrella, one reading material, and a diaper bag.
American Airlines Personal Item Size and Weight Rules
American Airlines allows every passenger to bring a personal item free of charge, which must be 18 x 14 x 8 inches (46 x 36 x 20 cm) or smaller. They describe a personal item as a purse or a small handbag and it doesn’t have any weight limits. In addition to that, you’re also allowed to bring diaper bags, breast pumps, coolers with breast milk, child safety seats, strollers, and medical assistive devices not counting the hand luggage size and weight allowances.
Southwest Airlines Personal Item Size and Weight Rules
Southwest Airlines lets each of its passengers bring one personal item without any additional charges. It isn’t restricted in weight, but it must be under 16.25 x 13.5 x 8 inches (41 x 34 x 20 cm) to fit under the airplane seats. That said, this is the smallest space listed, and some aircraft models might allow slightly larger personal items, so if you want to bring something larger as your personal item, you should get in touch with Southwest with your specific flight details. They list purses, briefcases, cameras, food containers, and laptops as possible allowed items, although many people have reported using small backpacks and duffels as well without any problems.
They also allow bringing other items in addition to personal items and carry-ons, free of charge, not counting towards the size restrictions, like child seats, assistive devices, clothing to wear during the flight, food in disposable packaging, and umbrellas.
Alaska Airlines Personal Item Size and Weight Rules
Alaska Airlines allows each passenger to have one personal item for free and they don’t list any weight or size restrictions for them, as long as they fit under the airplane seats. They only say that it should be a small bag, like a purse, briefcase, or laptop bag. Their most popular aircraft model is the Boeing 737-900er, and on Delta, its under seat dimensions are 20 x 14 x 7 inches (50 x 36 x 18 cm), so we can assume that Alaska Airlines offers a similar amount of space. To make sure that your personal item will fit, bring a small, flexible bag (for example, a small backpack), and don’t overpack it.
Some items are allowed to bring in addition to carry-on luggage and personal items, free of charge, like coats, hats, umbrellas, travel pillows, food for immediate consumption, reading materials, child seats, service animals, and assistive/medical devices.
Ryanair Personal Item Size and Weight Rules
Ryanair allows all passengers to bring one personal item for free, which must be 16 x 10 x 8 inches (40 x 25 x 20 cm) or smaller. It doesn’t have any weight restrictions, and they don’t list examples of bags that can be used as personal items – all they say is that it just needs to be under the size limit and placed under the airplane seats.
In addition to that, Ryanair allows some other items free of charge that aren’t subject to personal item and carry-on restrictions, such as:
- medical items
- FAA-approved child car seats
- Baby bag up to 5 kg (11 lbs) for babies traveling in the adult’s lap
Air Canada Personal Item Size and Weight Rules
Air Canada allows each passenger to have one personal item and one carry-on included with their fare price. The personal item needs to be under 17 x 13 x 6 inches (43 x 33 x 16 cm), and it doesn’t have any weight limitations. Valid personal items include small rolling bags, backpacks, briefcases, laptop bags, pet carriers, camera bags, garment bags, and anything else within the size limits (including wheels and handles).
In addition to that, you’re also allowed to bring free-of-charge: small purses measuring up to 12 x 10 x 5.5 inches (30 x 25 x 14 cm), clothes meant for wearing during the flight, infant care items, strollers, child seats, snacks meant for consumption on the flight, one book of matches per passenger, Bic lighters, and electronic cigarettes.
Sun Country Airlines Personal Item Size and Weight Rules
Sun Country lets each passenger bring one personal item onboard free of charge. It doesn’t have any weight restrictions, but it must be under 17 x 13 x 9 inches (43 x 33 x 23 cm) to fit under the airplane seats. They list backpacks, duffels, purses, and any other item within the size requirements as acceptable personal items. You can also bring child strollers, car seats, and booster seats in addition and they don’t count towards the hand luggage allowance.
Flair Airlines Personal Item Size and Weight Rules
Flair airlines permit one free personal item per passenger. It’s limited to 15.5 lbs (7 kg) in weight and 17 x 13 x 6 inches (43 x 33 x 15 cm) in size. Flair lists small backpacks, laptop bags, totes, briefcases, and purses as items that could be used as personal items. In addition to the hand luggage allowance, they allow each passenger to bring child diaper bags, strollers, and car seats onboard the aircraft free of charge.
Swoop Personal Item Size and Weight Rules
Swoop allows one free personal item per passenger, which isn’t limited in weight, but must be 16 x 13 x 6 inches (41 x 33 x 15 cm) or smaller in size. They don’t list any examples of what items could be used as personal items. As far as we could find, no additional items can be taken onboard in addition to personal items or hand luggage.
Lufthansa Personal Item Size and Weight Rules
Lufthansa allows each passenger, regardless of class, to bring one personal item free of charge. There aren’t any weight restrictions for it, but it must be under 16 x 12 x 4 inches (40 x 30 x 10 cm). They list handbags and laptop bags as valid examples of personal items. In addition to that, they also allow bringing one item per child (foldable stroller, baby carry seat, or a child car seat) and mobility assistive devices, which aren’t counted towards the baggage allowance and don’t have any additional costs.
It’s also worth noting that some passengers are allowed to bring 3 hand luggage bags in total. While Economy and Premium Economy classes get only 1 carry-on + 1 personal item, Business and First classes are allowed to bring 2 carry-ons + 1 personal item per passenger.
WestJet Personal Item Size and Weight Rules
WestJet allows every passenger to bring one free carry-on and personal item. The personal item must be under 16 x 13 x 6 inches (41 x 33 x 15 cm) and it doesn’t have any weight restrictions. Valid personal items include briefcases, purses, camera bags, garment bags, laptop bags, small musical instruments, and other items within this size limit.
Westjet also allows bringing a wide variety of other items for free, which aren’t included in the personal item and carry-on allowances, such as diaper bags, child car seats, strollers, clothes to wear during the flight, hats, umbrellas, mobility and assistance devices, medication and medical devices, duty-free items, and food meant for consumption during the flight.
Volaris Personal Item Size and Weight Rules
Volaris allows every passenger to bring one personal item for free. They list examples of personal items such as backpacks, handbags, briefcases, laptop bags, and other bags that fit under airplane seats. However, the size and weight restrictions are different for domestic and international flights.
Restrictions for domestic flights (within Mexico): Personal items aren’t limited in size, but they still must fit under the airplane seats. The combined weight of personal item and carry-on must be under 10 kg (22 lbs)
Restrictions for international flights: Personal items must be under 18 x 14 x 8 inches (46 x 36 x 20 cm), but there aren’t any weight restrictions for them.
Hawaiian Airlines Personal Item Size and Weight Rules
Hawaiian Airlines allows every passenger to bring one carry-on and one personal item. The personal item isn’t limited in size or weight, but it must fit under the airplane seats. As examples of valid personal items, Hawaiian Airlines lists laptop bags, briefcases, purses, and backpacks that fit under the airline seats.
Breeze Airways Personal Item Size and Weight Rules
Breeze Airways allows each passenger to bring one free personal item, which isn’t limited in weight but must be 17 x 13 x 8 inches (43 x 33 x 20 cm) or smaller. They also mention that you can use purses, briefcases, small backpacks, or laptop bags as personal items. As far as we can tell, no additional items are allowed in addition to personal items and carry-ons, so everything must fit within your hand luggage allowance.
Other Tips for Using Personal Items
- If you’ll be hiking, consider taking a backpack as your personal item. You wouldn’t want to go hiking with a tote, right? If you use a backpack as your personal item, you can later use it for hiking or as your day pack when walking around the city
- If you’re going on a business trip, use an under-seat rolling bag as a personal item. For those that are frequently going on quick overnight business trips, it’s worth it to invest in a rolling under-seat suitcase and skip the carry-on altogether. The Travelpro Maxlite 5 15-inch underseat suitcase is a very solid choice (full review)
- Does your personal item stack on top of your carry-on? If you’re getting a bag to use as a personal item, make sure that it has a rear strap that goes around the retractable handle of your suitcase. This way, it’ll be easier to pull both of them together
- Small duffels are pretty good for weekend getaways. A smaller duffel is often the best choice for a personal item if you’re casually visiting your family for a few days. They’re very easy to pack into, they can be secured on top of a suitcase, and they’re flexible enough to fit most personal item size requirements
Frequently Asked Questions About Bringing Personal Items on Planes
What size can my personal item be?
The size restrictions for personal items vary quite a lot between different airlines – from 20 x 11 x 10 inches (51 x 28 x 25 cm) for Delta First Class to 13 x 10 x 8 inches (33 x 25 x 20 cm) for Aer Lingus. 16 x 12 x 6 inches (40 x 30 x 15 cm) is the most common personal item size requirement, so we would advise purchasing something within this limit.
When purchasing a personal item, smaller is definitely better, because you’ll be able to use it with more airlines. That said if your personal item is just 1-2 inches above the limit, but it’s flexible and isn’t overpacked, you’ll still be able to use it because you’ll be able to squeeze it in under most airplane seats.
To find out the personal item size requirements for different airlines, check the table at the beginning of this article.
What bags are considered personal items?
A personal item is a small bag that needs to be stored under the airplane seats. Many airlines list various bags as examples that can be used as personal items, like small backpacks, purses, handbags, totes, duffel bags, messenger shoulder bags, laptop bags, briefcases, diaper bags, kids backpacks, camera bags, and small wheeled suitcases. However, you can use any bag as long as it’s within the personal item size requirements. You could even use a cardboard box or a shopping bag as your personal item, as long as it fits under the airplane seats.
What should I pack inside my personal item?
In your personal item, you should always pack your valuables, fragiles, medicine, and any other items that you intend to use during the flight. Here are some examples:
1. Documents. Pack your passport, visa, boarding passes, tickets, reservations, wallet, and similar items.
2. Items for in-flight entertainment. Pack whatever makes your flight more bearable: books, an e-reader, Bluetooth headphones, a tablet, a laptop, a power bank, and so on. Don’t forget your chargers!
3. Things that will help you stay relaxed. Bring comfy socks, loose and breathable clothing, a head mask, and a neck pillow.
4. Snacks. Some people don’t know this but you can freely pack snacks in your hand luggage and consume them during the flight. This way you can also save some money by avoiding expensive airline meals. Just make sure to eat all the perishables and organics before you arrive because most likely you won’t be allowed to clear the customs with them.
5. Valuable or fragile items. Packing your most valuable items in your carry-on is also a pretty good idea, but packing them inside your personal item is slightly safer. Also, make sure to pack your fragile items correctly, so they don’t get broken.
6. Toiletries and medicine. It would be a good idea to pack some painkillers, napkins, eye drops, prescription medicine, and other medication that you might need urgently in your personal item. Just remember to bring the prescriptions for prescription medicine because you’ll need them to clear customs. Also, all of your medicine will need to stay in its original packaging.
Important tip: If you have enough room in your personal item, you should pack all of the items that will need to be taken out during screening in your personal item. This includes laptops, electronics, your bag of toiletries, powders, and food. That way you’ll only have to unpack your personal item and slide your carry-on suitcase through the screening machine as-is. You won’t need to pack and unpack everything from your carry-on suitcase, which will save a bit of time.
What isn’t allowed inside personal items?
Some items are prohibited from hand luggage, so you won’t be able to pack them in your carry-on and personal item. These include:
1. Dangerous and prohibited goods. Sharp objects, explosives, firearms, and some other items are classified as dangerous goods and are banned from hand luggage.
2. Liquids over 3.4 oz (100 ml). All liquids and gels stored in containers over 3.4 oz need to be packed in checked luggage.
3. Spare lithium batteries. Spare batteries for your laptop and other devices usually aren’t allowed in hand luggage.
4. Power banks over 160 watt-hours. You can calculate watt-hours by multiplying the Voltage of the power bank with its mAh rating. Most power banks operate on 5 Volts, which means that you can bring power banks up to 32 000 mAh on airplanes. It’s also important to remember that power banks can only be packed inside hand luggage and are prohibited in checked luggage.
5. Perishable organic foods that aren’t meant for consumption during the flight. If you’re flying internationally, you won’t be able to clear customs and immigration with most perishables, such as fruit, vegetables, eggs, milk, and raw meat.
6. Plants. You won’t be able to clear the customs and immigration with most plants due to fears of invasive species. This is only relevant for international flights though.
Can I bring two personal items on planes?
Airlines don’t allow passengers to bring two or more personal items. The general rule of thumb when it comes to hand luggage is that you are only allowed to bring one small carry-on suitcase and one personal item, such as a tote, backpack, purse, or something similar.
The reasoning for this is simple – personal items have to be stowed under each passenger’s front seat. If the airplane is full, it can carry the same amount of personal items as the total count of passengers due to a limited count of passenger seats.
Can I put a purse in my personal item?
If your purse is small enough, then you’re allowed to put it inside your personal item (a larger backpack, tote, duffel, or any other bag). The only requirement is that your personal item fits under the airline seats. It doesn’t matter whether you’ve packed a purse or another foldable backpack inside your personal item, as long as it’s within the correct size requirements.
Can I use a backpack as a personal item?
Yes, you can use a small backpack as your personal item virtually on any airline. Although some airlines don’t list backpacks specifically as acceptable items, the general, unwritten rule, is that you’re allowed to use any bag, as long as it’s within the correct personal item size requirements. In fact, most people use backpacks as their personal items, because they’re easy to carry in combination with a wheeled carry-on. Plus, they’re also flexible, which means that if you don’t overpack them, you’ll be able to squeeze them under most airline seats.
Can I bring a purse and a backpack on a plane?
This depends on the hand luggage allowance of the airline that you’ll be flying with. Sometimes, you’re allowed to bring a carry-on and a personal item, and other times only a personal item.
If you’re allowed to bring a carry-on and a personal item, then you can use the backpack as your carry-on, and the purse as a personal item. Carry-ons should generally be under 22 x 14 x 9 inches (56 x 36 x 23 cm), and personal items under 16 x 12 x 6 inches (40 x 30 x 15 cm), so use appropriately-sized bags. That said, the rules are different for each airline, so do your research beforehand.
If you’re allowed to bring only a personal item, then you can still bring a backpack and a purse, but the purse must be small enough to fit inside your backpack. Furthermore, the backpack with the purse stored inside should fit under the airline seats.
Do personal items have a weight limit?
Most airlines don’t have a weight limit for personal items, because they’re really small and you physically aren’t able to pack too much stuff in there. From the 56 airlines that we collected data on, 8 had weight limits for personal items specifically, 11 had a combined weight limit for carry-on luggage and personal items, and 37 had no weight restrictions for personal items.
The most common weight restriction for personal items is between 7-10 kg (15-22 lbs). To find out the specific personal item weight restrictions for the airline you’ll be flying with, look at the chart at the beginning of this article.
What’s the best bag to use as a personal item?
Our personal opinion is that backpacks are the best bags to use as personal items. They’re easy to carry in combination with a wheeled suitcase, you can use them during your vacation as daypacks, and they’re flexible enough to fit under most airline seats. To make sure that it fits the personal item size requirements for most airlines, make sure that it’s below 16 x 12 x 6 inches (40 x 30 x 15 cm), although being just one or two inches above usually is okay as long as you don’t overpack it and it’s flexible. The Matein Travel laptop backpack is a great choice, which I’ve used personally as a personal item multiple times.
How are personal items measured?
Most airlines that have size requirements for personal items have measuring bins installed at the airport, which essentially are metal boxes sized at the correct dimensions. If you’re able to squeeze your bag inside, it will be allowed onboard.
However, some airlines don’t offer measuring bins and instead use a regular tape measure to make sure that your personal item is within the height, width, and depth size limits. Doing so is more imprecise, so they’ll usually allow slightly oversized bags.
Do personal items get checked in at the airport?
Personal items are a type of hand luggage, which means that they’re stored in the main cabin of the airplane (under the seats), and aren’t checked-in. So if you’re traveling only with a personal item and/or carry-on, you don’t need to wait at the lines at the airport check-in desks – you can go straight to the security checkpoint.
However, if your personal item or carry-on are over the size/weight limits, the airline employees might ask you to check them in at the gate, right before boarding the plane, at increased fees.
Can personal items have wheels?
On most airlines, personal items can have wheels. Suitcases can be used as personal items if they fit under the front seat, regardless of whether they have wheels or not.
However, I’ve personally experienced a situation where an airline denied using a rolling suitcase as a personal item for the passenger in front of me. They asked him to check in his carry-on and use his rolling understater as a carry-on. That’s why my advice would be to call the airline ahead and ask directly or be prepared to check in your carry-on.
Do personal items have any airline fees or are they free?
Personal item bags are always free. We haven’t found a single airline that would charge their passengers additional fees for personal items. That said, the rules are getting stricter every year, so we wouldn’t be surprised if some budget airline would start charging small fees for personal items eventually.
However, if your personal item is too large, you might incur fees in other ways. Airlines require oversized personal items to be used as carry-ons (if they’re within the carry-on restrictions), and if you already have a carry-on, you’ll need to check it in, because each passenger can have only one carry-on. Checked luggage, and sometimes even carry-ons are paid service, and the fees can range between 20-50$. They’re a bit higher if the bag needs to be checked in at the gate. So always make sure that all of your bags are within the size limits to avoid paying extra fees.