Home Airlines U.S. Airlines’ Updated Measurement Limits For Personal & Carry On Bags

U.S. Airlines’ Updated Measurement Limits For Personal & Carry On Bags

by SharonKurheg

With so many airlines charging for checked luggage, more and more people are trying to stuff as much as they can into their carry-on and personal bags. And even for that, they don’t make it easy – there are no set standards for the size those bags can be, so what may “count” as a carry-on bag on one airline might be a bag you have to gate check on another airline because it’s too big.

To help avoid that problem, here are the most recently updated regulations for the size of carry-on and personal bags.

To clarify (I know you know…but just in case), carry-on bags are the ones that go into the overhead compartment. They’re usually in the form of hard or soft-sided small suitcases, duffel bags, satchels, soft-sided garment bags, musical instruments, pet carriers (they go under the seat in front of you, not into the overhead bin), etc. Personal bags are smaller and are supposed to go under the seat in front of you. With rare exceptions, you can only bring one of each and there’s no guarantee that a carry-on bag will be allowed onto a plane – if you’re told there’s no room in the overhead, you may have to gate check it.

Some other items, such as diaper bags, child-safety seats, duty-free merchandise, jackets/coats, umbrellas, food & drink purchased in the terminal, and medical and mobility devices usually may be allowed in addition to your carry-on and personal bags, but it varies from airline to airline.

The measurement dimensions below are for height x length x width (just like you learned in math class, forever ago) and all include the space taken up by handles and wheels.

Alaska Airlines

Carry-on: 22″ x 14″ x 9″
Personal item: exact measurement is not given

Notes: On Alaska Airlines, personal items are only defined as a “purse, briefcase, or laptop computer.” Jackets, hats, umbrellas, personal pillows, food, child safety seats, service animals, medications, assistive devices, and “a reasonable amount” (#vaguemuch?) of reading material do not count as personal items.

Fun Fact: Alaska Airlines’s carry-on bag limitation used to be 24″ x 17″ x 10″ but they changed that to the specifications above in 2018.

Allegiant

Carry-on: 22″ x 14″ x 9″
Personal item: 16″ x 15″ x 7″

Notes: Allegiant charges for carry-on items. Jackets, “small” umbrellas, food, and diaper bags do not count as personal items.

American Airlines

Carry-on: 22″ x 14″ x 9″
Personal item: 18″ x 14″ x 8″

Notes: Diaper bags (1 per child), soft-sided cooler bags with breast milk, child safety seats, strollers and medical or mobility devices don’t count as your personal item or carry-on.

Heads up that some American Airlines employees will insist that an 18″ x 14″ x 8″ soft-sided suitcase won’t fit in the overhead compartment, even if you know that it does. Here’s what I did when it happened to me. And here’s what went down the second time it happened to me, 3 months later. #rolleyes

Delta

Carry-on: 22″ x 14″ x 9″
Personal item: exact measurement is not given.

Notes: A diaper bag counts as a carry-on item (C’mon, Delta…really? Although to their credit, I’ve heard that some [NOT ALL!] gate agents will let diaper bags go as an extra. At least some of them have common sense. #rolleyes).

Frontier

Carry-on: 24″ x 16″ x 10″
Personal item: 18″ x 14″ x 8″

Notes: Frontier charges for carry-on items.  Diaper bags, canes, coats, canes, assistive devices, and foot rugs used during prayer don’t count as personal items.

Hawaiian Airlines

Carry-on: 22″ x 14″ x 9″, 25 pound limit
Personal item: exact measurement is not given.

Notes: Hawaiian Airlines specifies that personal items must fit under the seat in front of you. Gate-check is reserved for strollers, car seats, and wheelchairs. (Wagons are not eligible for gate check.)

JetBlue

Carry-on: 22″ x 14″ x 9″
Personal item: 17″ x 13″ x 8″

Notes: Musical instruments count as a carry-on item. Camera, film, video production, lighting and sound equipment that is traveling with a customer representing a local or national television network, broadcasting or commercial filmmaking company may be accepted on a space-available basis.

Southwest

Carry-on: 24″ x 16″ x 10″
Personal item: 18.5″ x 13.5″ x 8.5″
Notes: Southwest used to be pretty vague about their personal item dimensions but have since updated their website to include the measurements listed above.

Spirit

Carry-on: 22″ x 18″ x 10″
Personal item: 18″ x 14″ x 8″

Notes: Spirit charges for carry-on items. They may require that a carry-on bag travel as a checked bag if it can’t be safely stowed on a particular flight. Personal items are defined as a purse, small backpack, etc.

United

Carry-on: 22″ x14″ x 9″
Personal item: 17″ x 10″ x 9″
Notes: jacket, umbrella, reading material, food or merchandise purchased in the airport, assistive devices, child restraint system or safety seat, diaper bag, breast pump and pet carrier can be brought in addition to your carry-on and personal bags.

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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary

5 comments

George May 15, 2019 - 4:08 pm

By “do not count,” you mean “can be brought on in addition to,” right?

Reply
SharonKurheg May 15, 2019 - 4:14 pm

Yeppers 🙂

Reply
Boraxo May 15, 2019 - 4:57 pm

US airlines are pretty uniform and haven’t changed for years. A more useful chart would include major first world carriers with heinous policies such as LH, Qantas, etc.

Reply
SharonKurheg May 15, 2019 - 5:37 pm

Some of our readers are not as well traveled as others, so sometimes we post articles that are geared more to them. And of course, as you saw, there actually were a couple of changes over the past year or two. 😉

As for the other airlines’ policies, thanks for the idea! 🙂

Reply
Janie Lawson November 14, 2021 - 2:39 pm

You didn’t mention CPAP Machines. I usually pack mine in it’s own case inside my checked luggage if I have plenty of weight room, but take the whole thing out if it causes overweight in my checked luggage. In that case I take it onboard since it is considered medical. I just hate to do that as a flight attendant had to chase me down with it as I had left it in the overhead. Thank goodness for her! A lot of travelers may look for that info if they are new to CPAPs

Reply

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