What Is The Size For A Carry On Bag?

What Is The Size For A Carry On Bag?

There are certain rules you have to abide by when you want to take a carry-on bag on the airplane with you. You’re wondering what is the size for a carry-on bag?

What are the other rules for carry-on bags? What is a personal item?

I’ll answer all those questions and more in this short post.

What’s A Carry-On Bag?

A Carry-on bag is a smallish bag you can take with you on the airplane and store in the overhead bin. It can basically be any kind of bag, as long as it abides by the size rules of the airline you’re flying with (this might be different to the airline you booked with).

Please note also that apart from the sizing rules that might differ from airline to airline, there are also rules on what you can and cannot bring in your carry-on bag.

What Is The Size For A Carry-On Bag?

Carry-on bags can be as small as you want, but there are restrictions as to how big they can be. The most common size is 22″, but every airline can have different rules on what size they allow, with some of them allowing bigger sizes and others allowing even less than the 22″ size.

When I say 22 inches, it’s usually 22 x 14 x 9 inches – which is 45 linear inches (56 x 35 x 22 cm – 115 linear cm). This usually includes wheels and handles.

The measurements usually are Height x Width x Depth and usually include handles and wheels. To get linear measurements, you add them all up.

Unfortunately, many luggage manufacturers don’t count wheels and handles when they give you the dimensions for their luggage. So be aware of that when you’re thinking about buying a piece of carry-on luggage.

Check with your airline to find out exactly what they allow. Usually the rule is that it has to fit into the overhead bin on the airplane.

Many the airlines have a weight limit for carry-on bags as well. Some can be as small as 11 pounds, common is around 15 pounds (7kgs) and some don’t have a weight limit at all.

Be sure to check before you go. Many times you will get this information with your booking.

If you need another bag to take more things, commonly you can take a personal item bag as well.

What Is A Personal Item?

A personal item can be a purse or laptop-bag or any kind of bag or item that fits under the seat in front of you and abides by the rules of what you can take with you on an airplane.

The personal item is usually one piece in addition to your carry-on item.

Sometimes you get rules for personal item size and weight as well. This should also be part of your booking confirmation, but be sure that you know what you’re allowed to take.

Does A Backpack Count As Personal Item?

You can either take a backpack as carry-on (as long as it fits in the overhead compartment) or as a personal item (as long as it fits under the seat in front of you and as long as it abides by the airlines’ size and weight restriction if there are any (there usually are rules, at least for carry-on.)

Basically, the items you take with you on a plane need to be able to be stowed away safely.

Personal Item Dimensions

Many times you won’t get personal item dimensions from airlines and the rule is then that it has to fit under the seat in front of you as mentioned before.

Other airlines give sizes for personal items and there isn’t one that can be seen as the norm as they highly differ.

The size restrictions for example can be as small as 31 linear inches (13 x 10 x 8 inches) and the weight limit (if there is one) can be as little as 11 pounds.

As mentioned before, you should get all this information from your booking confirmation. If not, contact the airline you’re flying with (not necessarily the one you booked with) or look on their website for this information.

Additional Information

Some smaller airlines, especially domestic ones or cheaper fares don’t have the capacity to take carry-on luggage or massive amounts of luggage overall and you might be required to check any luggage you have.

If you are unsure about what size or weight your carry-on luggage can be or any other question, the best practice is to contact the airline you’re flying with directly.

Additional Approved Items

Many time airlines allow you to carry additional items onto the plane without them counting towards carry-on or personal item. These items can include:

A jacket and/or umbrella
Food or drink purchased after clearing the security checkpoint
Duty-free merchandise
Special items such as strollers, child restraint seats or assistive devices such as wheelchairs or crutches
Reading material
A camera

Make sure to check with your airline beforehand.

What is the carry-on size for American Airlines?

American Airlines (AA) allow one carry-on item and one personal item (purse, briefcase or laptop bag) per passenger and the size for carry-on shouldn’t exceed 22 x 14 x 9 inches or 56 x 36 x 23cm including wheels and handles.

What is the carry-on size for Delta Airlines?

Delta Airlines are the same as AA as in you’re allowed one carry-on and one personal item with the same measurements of 22 x 14 x 9 inches or 56 x 36 x 23 cm including handles and wheels.

They also say that they need to fit in the overhead or under the seat in front of you.

What is the carry-on size for Frontier Airlines?

The carry-on bag size restrictions for Frontier Airlines are 24 x 16 x 10 inches and the item has to be less than 35lbs in weight. The personal item size should not exceed 14 x 18 x 8 (Height x Width x Depth).

What is the carry-on size for JetBlue Airlines?

JetBlue Airlines allows customers to take one carry-on item not exceeding 22 x 14 x 9 inches (55.88 x 35.56 x 22.86 cm) and this must be stored either in the overhead bin or underneath the seat in front of you.

Personal items shouldn’t be bigger than 17 x 13 x 8 inches (43.2 x 33 x 20.32 cm) and must be stored under the seat in front of you.

What is the carry-on size for Southwest Airlines?

Southwest Airlines allow for a slightly bigger carry-on bag with the size of 24 x 16 x 10 inches and the personal item shouldn’t be bigger than 18.5 (length) x 8.5 (width) x 13.5 (height) inches.

The personal item must be placed under the seat in front of you. If it doesn’t fit there it will need to be placed in the overhead bin.

What is the carry-on size for Spirit Airlines?

Spirit Airlines allow carry-on items to be up to 22 x 18 x 10 inches (56 x 46 x 25cm) including handles and wheels, whereas the personal item must not exceed 18 x 14 x 8 inches (45 x 35 x 20 cm).

What is the carry-on size for United Airlines?

United Airlines have the following carry-on size allowances: 22 x 14 x 9 inches (56 x 35 x 22 cm) including handles and wheels.

The personal item should be limited to 17 x 10 x 9 inches (43 x 25 x 22 cm) and should fit under the seat in front of you.

As you can see, many airlines are very similar in their carry-on and personal item allowances and pretty much all of them include wheels and handles in those measurements.

I hope this post answered some of your questions. Should you have any more questions or comments, please leave them below and I’ll get back to you soon.

Happy and safe travels!

10 Replies to “What Is The Size For A Carry On Bag?”

  1. Last time i flown was with Ryanair and Wizzair. My experience is that they weren’t super strict about luggage sizes. (As they are low-fair airlines, only hand luggage is allowed – no check-in luggage.)

    They didn’t even measure the luggage precisely, so as long as you are roughly in the limits and don’t have any excessive pieces, common sense will normally prevail and you will be fine. 

    1. Yeah there are quite some differences between airlines. It also always depends on whether a flight is fully booked and they need to check the weight or whether it’s got room for more. 

  2. Traveling is cool and all, but having the right things you’ll need while traveling is important, and sometimes a carry-on can be enough for everything. 

    There are so many people who do not know the allowed size of carry on bag they’re taking with them on the plane and I’ve seen people getting into arguments with flight attendants because their bags won’t fit in the overhead bin. 

    Reading through this post gives me a better understanding of what a carry on bag is and the ones allowed by various airlines.

  3. Thank you for this informative post.

    I travel by air quite a bit and, although I know the official limits, I’ve noticed that most times passengers blatantly disregard these limitations and not only carry luggage that should be checked but many times three or more.  

    The only times I’ve seen airline employees say or even more rare do anything about it is when the flight is fully booked.

    1. Yeah that’s exactly when you’ll get into trouble. And in the future flights might just get busier and you’ll be better off knowing what you’re allowed to take. 

  4. I have always been a bit confused as to what the proper size for  “Carry-on” bags was.  This clears it up a bunch.

    You give some typical measurements. I was a bit confused by the linear measurement.  Do some airlines actually use that measurement?  Seems odd to me that they wouldn’t be more concerned about total volume.

    That said, you also mentioned weight.  If one likes to travel light they would be amazed at what they can pack into a “Carry-on” especially if they leave out things that can be purchased at the destination. Things like shampoo/conditioner, shower gel, shaving stuff and other toiletries can be bought once you arrive.

    My wife and I have been thinking about planning a trip the last while.  There is a lot of useful information here, stuff I never would have thought about.  I’m going to print this off so I can use it for a reference when the real planning starts.

    Thank you, so much for putting this together.  A great reminder to do our homework.


    1. Hi Wayne,

      the linear measurement is used kind of like a template at the airport and you have to be able to fit your carry-on bag through it. Not every airline uses this, but I’ve seen it and had to use it. 

      Thanks for stopping by and enjoy your trip when you get to it. 

  5. Thanks for this timely reminder. I wasn’t sure what size carry-on exactly means as some people just take a lot of bags with them on the plane and expect the flight attendants to find room for them. And then they get upset if there’s not room for the extra bags. 

    I’ll be sure not to make that mistake. 

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