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graphic art of different sizes suitcases and personal items

Carry-on and Personal Item Size Limits for 32 Major Airlines

SmarterTravel

Every frequent traveler has seen passengers rolling their massive carry-ons and lugging equally large bags and backpacks onto the plane as their “personal item.” So exactly how big can your carry-on and personal item be? The general rule about personal item size is that your bag must fit under the seat in front of you, though some airlines do specify maximum dimensions. Meanwhile, airlines have a wide variety of carry-on size restrictions. Many airlines, especially outside the U.S., also have weight limits for carry-on bags and personal items.

Carry-on vs. Personal Item: What You Need to Know About Baggage Policies

For years, personal items have flown mostly under the radar, but in the new world of basic economy—in which airlines are offering cheaper base fares but charging for carry-ons—more and more people will be traveling with nothing but a personal item.

When you’re traveling on the cheap and trying to pack as much as possible into a very limited amount of space, knowing the rules is vital. Here’s a look at the personal item and carry-on size limits for 10 major U.S. airlines and 20 top international carriers.

A few important notes:

  • The dimensions below reflect length, height, and width, and include wheels and handles.
  • Personal item and carry-on dimensions listed below reflect the size limits for flyers in economy class. (Airlines often have more generous baggage allowances for flyers in first or business class.)
  • If you’re traveling on a codeshare flight, you’ll need to check the baggage restrictions for the airline operating the flight—not necessarily the airline through which you booked.
  • On shorter trips flown on smaller planes, even regulation-size carry-ons may need to be gate-checked. (In such cases, you shouldn’t be charged the normal checked bag fee.)
  • Because carriers can change their rules at any time, it’s a good idea to double-check before each trip.

Alaska Airlines

graphic showing carry-on and personal item luggage

Alaska Airlines Carry-on Size Limit

On Alaska flights, your carry-on must not exceed 22 x 14 x 9 inches. The following items may be substituted for your carry-on bag even if they’re over the limit: paintings, small musical instruments, art/advertising portfolios, human organs, fishing poles, and “delicate scientific equipment.”

Recommended carry-on: Samsonite Silhouette 16 Expandable Carry-on Spinner

Alaska Airlines Personal Item Size Limit

Personal items are only defined as a “purse, briefcase, or laptop computer,” and the airline notes that either your carry-on or personal item must fit under the seat in front of you. Jackets, hats, umbrellas, personal pillows, food, child safety seats, strollers, service animals, medications, assistive/medical devices, and a “reasonable amount of reading material” do not count toward your carry-on or personal item allowance.

Recommended personal item: Mancro Laptop Backpack

Allegiant

graphic showing carry-on and personal item luggage

Allegiant Carry-on Size Limit

On Allegiant, your carry-on may be up to 22 x 14 x 9 inches (and you’ll have to pay for it—see Airline Fees: The Ultimate Guide to learn more).

Recommended carry-on: eBags TLS Hybrid Spinner Carry-on

Allegiant Personal Item Size Limit

Your personal item on Allegiant is free and may measure up to 16 x 15 x 7 inches. Examples of personal items include purses, briefcases, and small backpacks. In addition, you may bring assistive devices, strollers, a coat, a small umbrella, a diaper bag, and food to eat during the flight.

Recommended personal item: AOTIAN Mini Nylon Backpack

American Airlines

graphic showing carry-on and personal item luggage

American Airlines Carry-on Size Limit

American limits carry-on bags to 22 x 14 x 9 inches, although soft-sided garment bags up to a total of 51 inches (length + width + height) are also acceptable. Note that musical instruments and pets will count as a carry-on item.

Recommended carry-on: Samsonite Silhouette 16 20″ Hardside Spinner

American Airlines Personal Item Size Limit

Your American Airlines personal item should not exceed 18 x 14 x 8 inches and must be able to fit under the seat in front of you. Potentially larger items that don’t count as personal items include diaper bags, child safety seats, and medical and mobility devices; these may be brought aboard in addition to your carry-on and personal item.

Recommended personal item: Lily & Drew Weekender Overnight Travel Shoulder Bag

Delta

graphic showing carry-on and personal item luggage

Delta Carry-on Size Limit

The maximum carry-on size on Delta is 22 x 14 x 9 inches or a total of 45 inches combined. There’s no carry-on weight limit except at select Asian airports, where the maximum weight ranges from 15 to 22 pounds.

Recommended carry-on: eBags Professional 22″ Expandable Carry-On

Delta Personal Item Size Limit

Delta does not give size dimensions for personal items, but says they should be approximately the size of a purse, briefcase, laptop bag, or diaper bag. Things that can be brought aboard in addition to your personal item include jackets, umbrellas, food and drinks purchased in the terminal, strollers, child seats, and medical and mobility devices.

Recommended personal item: CAMTOP Weekend Overnight Bag

Frontier

graphic showing carry-on and personal item luggage

Frontier Carry-on Size Limit

Frontier permits carry-on bags up to 24 x 16 x 10 inches and 35 pounds. You’ll need to pay for your carry-on bag unless you’re an Elite flyer (see Airline Fees: The Ultimate Guide to learn more).

Recommended carry-on: AmazonBasics 20″ Hardside Spinner Luggage

Frontier Personal Item Size Limit

Your personal item can be up to 18 x 14 x 8 inches and must fit under the seat in front of you. All flyers can bring a personal item for free. Coats, diaper bags, canes, assistive devices, and foot rugs “for use during prayer” can all be brought aboard as additional free items.

Recommended personal item: Samsonite Silhouette 16 Wheeled Hardside Underseater

Hawaiian Airlines

graphic showing carry-on and personal item luggage

Hawaiian Airlines Carry-on Size Limit

On Hawaiian Airlines, your carry-on may be up to 22 x 14 x 9 inches and 25 pounds.

Recommended carry-on: Travelpro Crew 11 21″ Expandable Spinner with USB Port

Hawaiian Airlines Personal Item Size Limit

The airline doesn’t offer specific dimensions, but notes that your personal item should be a “laptop bag, briefcase, purse, or backpack that can fit under the seat in front of you.”

Recommended personal item: Kenneth Cole Reaction Dot Matrix Computer Shoppers Tote

JetBlue

graphic showing carry-on and personal item luggage

JetBlue Carry-on Size Limit

On JetBlue, your carry-on must not exceed 22 x 14 x 9 inches. The airline does not have a weight limit for carry-on bags.

Recommended carry-on: Samsonite Silhouette 16 Expandable Carry-on Spinner

JetBlue Personal Item Size Limit

Personal items should not exceed 17 x 13 x 8 inches and must fit under the seat. You can also bring duty-free items (in “a reasonable and limited amount”), a diaper bag, assistive devices, a coat, an umbrella, and/or an infant car seat without eating into your carry-on or personal item allowance.

Recommended personal item: Briggs & Riley Baseline 17″ Double Expandable Tote

Southwest Airlines

graphic showing carry-on and personal item luggage

Southwest Carry-on Size Limit

Southwest has a more generous carry-on limit than most U.S. airlines, allowing bags up to 24 x 16 x 10 inches. If you’re bringing a pet, its carrier will count as either your carry-on or personal item.

Recommended carry-on: AmazonBasics 20″ Hardside Spinner Luggage

Southwest Personal Item Size Limit

On Southwest, your personal item must be 18.5 x 13.5 x 8.5 inches or less, and fit under the seat in front of you. Assistive/mobility devices, jackets, canes, umbrellas, and food to eat during the flight all count as extras that you can bring in addition to your carry-on and personal item.

Recommended personal item: Ronyes Unisex College Bag

Spirit Airlines

graphic showing carry-on and personal item luggage

Spirit Airlines Carry-on Size Limit

Spirit has a slightly more generous size limit for its carry-ons than most other U.S. airlines, with a maximum of 22 x 18 x 10 inches. The catch, though, is that you’ll have to pay extra to bring anything beyond a personal item (see Airline Fees: The Ultimate Guide to learn more).

Recommended carry-on: eBags TLS Mother Lode Mini 21″ Wheeled Carry-on Duffel

Spirit Airlines Personal Item Size Limit

Personal items can be up to 18 x 14 x 8 inches, large enough to include a sizable purse or smaller backpack.

Recommended personal item: Samsonite Eco-Nu Wheeled Underseater Carry-on

United Airlines

graphic showing carry-on and personal item luggage

United Airlines Carry-on Size Limit

On United, the maximum carry-on size is 22 x 14 x 9 inches. Note, however, that if you’re traveling in basic economy, you may only bring a personal item. (There are a few exceptions: those traveling on transatlantic flights, and Premier members or primary card members using qualifying MileagePlus credit cards.)

Recommended carry-on: Samsonite Silhouette 16 20″ Hardside Spinner

United Airlines Personal Item Size Limit

United personal items must fit under the seat in front of you and may not be larger than 17 x 10 x 9 inches. Items such as jackets, umbrellas, diaper bags, food purchased in the airport, assistive devices, child safety seats, pet carriers, cameras, and reading material may be brought aboard in addition to your carry-on and personal item.

Recommended personal item: Katloo Mini Nylon Backpack

Carry-on and Personal Item Size Limits on International Airlines

The chart below features the maximum sizes for carry-on bags and personal items on 22 major international airlines. Note that baggage restrictions may vary depending on your specific route. Some measurements are approximate, having been converted from centimeters into inches or from kilograms into pounds.

Airline Carry-on Size Limit Personal Item Size Limit
Aer Lingus 21.5 x 15.5 x 9.5 inches; 22 pounds 13 x 10 x 8 inches
Aeroflot 21.5 x 15.75 x 10 inches; 22 pounds 31.5 inches total (length + height + width)
Air Canada 21.5 x 15.5 x 9 inches; no weight limit 17 x 13 x 6 inches; no weight limit
Air China 22 x 16 x 8 inches; 11 pounds Not specified
Air France 21.7 x 13.8 x 9.9 inches; 26 pounds total for carry-on plus personal item 16 x 12 x 6 inches
Air New Zealand 46.5 inches total (length + height + width); 15 pounds Not specified
British Airways 22 x 18 x 10 inches; 51 pounds 16 x 12 x 6 inches; 51 pounds
Cathay Pacific 22 x 14 x 9 inches; 15 pounds 16 x 12 x 6 inches
China Eastern 22 x 17.7 x 9.8 inches, but total must be no more than 45 inches; 22 pounds Not specified
China Southern 45 inches total (length + height + width); 11 pounds Not specified
easyJet 22 x 17.7 x 9.8 inches; no weight limit Not specified
Emirates 22 x 15 x 8 inches; 15 pounds Not specified
Ethiopian Airlines 21.7 x 15.75 x 9 inches; 15 pounds Dimensions not specified; 11 pounds
Etihad Airways 19.7 x 15.75 x 10 inches; 15 pounds Dimensions not specified; 11 pounds
Lufthansa 21.7 x 15.75 x 9 inches; 17 pounds 15.75 x 11.8 x 4 inches
KLM 21.5 x 13.5 x 10 inches; 26 pounds total for carry-on plus personal item 16 x 12 x 6 inches
Norwegian 21.7 x 15.75 x 9 inches; 22 pounds total for carry-on plus personal item 13 x 10 x 7.9 inches
Qantas 22 x 14 x 9 inches; 15 pounds Not specified
Ryanair 21.7 x 15.75 x 7.9 inches; 22 pounds 15.75 x 10 x 7.9 inches
Singapore Airlines 45 inches total (length + height + width); 15 pounds 15.75 x 11.8 x 4 inches
Turkish Airlines 21.7 x 15.75 x 9 inches; 17 pounds Not specified
WestJet 21 x 15 x 9 inches; no weight limit 16 x 13 x 6 inches; no weight limit

Best Carry-on and Personal Item Options

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Jamie Ditaranto is a writer and photographer who is always looking for her next adventure. Follow her on Twitter @jamieditaranto.

Editor’s note: Sarah Schlichter contributed to this story. This story was originally published in 2017. It has been updated to reflect the most current information.

 

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