Carry On Luggage Size - Know The Rules!

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Carry On Luggage Size - Know The Rules!

By: Tara Pearce

You're going on a trip, and need luggage. Did you consider your carry on luggage size? It's important to know what's allowed and what isn't. Obviously verify with your airline, but I'll give you some generally accepted carry on luggage allowances to help you shop.

As I stated in my carry on luggage article, weight is a factor. Some airlines have no restrictions when it comes to carry on luggage weight. Others are as low as 11 pounds, some as high as 40 pounds.

Most airlines will allow one piece of carry on luggage and one personal item. They consider a personal item as carry on. The weight is the total of the two. Personal items include a purse, laptop bag, reading material or another small (no bigger than 36 " ) carry on bag. Keep those carryon luggage limits in mind when packing!

The standard carry on luggage rules are 22 " X 14 " X 9 " for a total of 45 " . Again, these carry on luggage dimensions vary both by airline and shape of the bag. Even if your carry on luggage doesn't exceed the allowed dimensions, the airline can make you prove that the bag will fit by putting it in a box, and if it won't fit, your luggage will be checked.

About The Author

Tara Pearce is the publisher and webmaster of

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Shania 19.04.2009. 03:33

Are you allowed to bring instruments on board an aeroplane? I've got a trumpet and my sister's got a saxophone, and we know it goes over the size limit of the hand carry luggage size. But we can't check it in either. It might fit fit in the over-head compartment, but it might not - it depends on the plane.


Admin 19.04.2009. 03:33

Yes, you are. Some school bands take trips by air, and take their instruments with them. I have never been in this situation, but I guess you would check the instruments at the baggage counter, and they would put them underneath the airplane. Is there a certain rule that you can't check them? You stated in your question that you can't check them


durangojane 30.11.2007. 19:51

What is the best carry on luggage for a 3 day trip? What is the largest size carry on luggage that would accomodate a 3 day trip? What is the best brand/type?


Admin 30.11.2007. 19:51

Usually the rule of thumb for carry on luggage is not to exceed 45 linear inches (i.e. 12" x 13" x 20" = 45") as that is the most common cut-off size for airlines. Some allow up to 50" carry-ons, but it is better to play it safe.

There really isn't a specific brand that is best over others, similar to how there really isn't a "best" car per say. It depends on what you're looking for in a bag and what you are willing (or not willing) to spend.

My personal favorite carry-on is made by Ogio called the Layover. It meets carry-on regulations and would easily accommodate a 3 day trip with room to spare. The unique colors it comes in are also appealing for me, although it may be a tad more than your looking to spend.

Here is a link to the manufacturer's website:


sorceressofalchemy 26.03.2007. 20:15

What kind of luggage can you bring as a carry on? I am going on a flight this weekend. I have not been on a plane, so I have no idea as to regualtions and luggage size that you can take as a carry on.


Admin 26.03.2007. 20:15

If you are only taking a carry on, be aware that there is an extensive list as to what you can and cannon bring on the plane. For example, you can only bring containers of 3.4 oz. or less of any gel or liquid. This includes makeup, contact solution, toothpaste, etc. I've included the website source for the carry-on liquid restrictions.

As far as carry-on bag size, the general rule of thumb is 45 linear inches (the total of height, width, and depth of bag) but you'll have to check with your air carrier for their exact limitations (as it will depend on the overhead bin dimensions).


FullMoon 23.02.2013. 18:54

How big can your "personal item" be that you carry on an airplane? I don't mean your carry-on luggage.I know the carry-on must fit in overhead bin, but what are the size limitations for your one personal item? I'm guessing it varies by airline company, but are there general rules? For instance, just as long as it fits underneath the front seat, will I be fine?

I always try not to stuff my personal item bag, but I notice when I put it underneath the seat, there's more room. I'd really like to be able to carry as much as possible on the actual plane!
NOT trying to BEAT the rules, trying to find out what the rules actually are!


Admin 23.02.2013. 18:54

Trying to beat the rules could end up costing you $50 and have it put in the hold if they consider it oversize!

Be sensible - you don't really lots of things - or if you do...... pay to have it put in the hold at a reasonable price - not the excess charge!


keenith123 01.06.2011. 01:17

A few general questions and a few technical questions about air travel regulations and rules? Hello!
I'm going to be traveling soon and I have a few questions about air travel rules and regulations:
1) Can the machines used for scanning items in security harm a laptop's hardware?
2) Can the machines mess up an external hard drive?
3) What is the size limit for carry-on luggage?
4) What is the size limit for "personal bags" (such as purses) that can be carried on the plane?
Thanks for answers!


Admin 01.06.2011. 01:17

These are simple questions to answer.

1.) No. Absolutely not. The majority of airline passengers travel with laptops these days... I've never heard of anyone having a problem.
2.) Same goes for external hard drives. The X-rays have no effect.
3.) The regulations depend on the airline. Check the link below for specific details:
4.) Again, this depends on the airline - and also the size of your plane. (I've often gotten away with a backpack, a purse and a largish shopping bag... but there're no guarantees.)

The only things that shouldn't go through the X-ray machine (other than live animals and babies, lol), are rolls of high-speed camera film. (Undeveloped, anything over 800 speed will get ruined... ask the TSA agent for a MANUAL CHECK of your camera & film.)

If you're unsure that your carry-on luggage is acceptable, the check-in agent will let you know. (Whether you want her to or not!)
A last-minute alternative is having the boarding crew place your bag in the hold during flight and simply picking it up as soon as you exit the plane - still way easier than waiting at the luggage belt.)


j 11.06.2010. 03:38

What are luggage rules now days for airplane flights? I haven't traveled since I was a kid. I will be going on a plane. I do not know the rules for luggage. I know you get one large bag that goes into the back of the plane. But what about carry on? How Many can you have? And What is the size of a carry on? Thanks so much for the help.


Admin 11.06.2010. 03:38

you might want to call the company and ask because there are different planes that have different rules towards the luggage


Just find me.... PLEASE 28.05.2009. 21:17

What are the rules for a knife in your check-in luggage? I know there are no weapons in your carry-on luggage, but what if I need to bring a knife with me on my trip. I'm talking like a medium sized pocket knife.

Just find me.... PLEASE

Admin 28.05.2009. 21:17

You would want to inform the airline of it, but usually if it's in checked luggage there isn't a problem. Just call your airline ahead of time though so that you don't have any unpleasant surprises. Chances are it won't be an issue.


blank54915 28.05.2012. 01:09

Are bigger sized items allowed on carry-on luggage for United Airlines? I know that for carry-on luggage you can only have trial-size toiletries (3.4 ounces or less). However I have Axe hair gel that says is "2.64oz" and cologne that is 1.7floz. I was wondering if these would be allowed or if there is a different rule for bigger items like these?


Admin 28.05.2012. 01:09

2.64 OZ is LESS THAN 3.4 OZ. 1.7 OZ IS LESS THAN 3.4 OZ. So what is the problem/ it does not matter the size of the container. what matters is the number of ounces it contains. You do not have to have only "trial size". You do need to have items that contain 3.4 oz or less.


Oooo 23.01.2013. 02:11

Can I take my full sized guitar on a flight as carry on hand luggage? I don't want to sell my guitar. I am due to fly from Thailand-Philippines-Thailand-China-England over the course of 2 months.

Will I have to add it to my main (check in) luggage? Ideally, I would like to take my guitar and a small bag onto the plane but I wasn't sure if I would be allowed 2 items, or if the guitar would be too large (it is a standard sized accoustic guitar, but it is very light). Will it be the same rules for all airlines/countries? Paying extra is not an option. If I can't take it on as carry on luggage, will there be any extra cost for checking it in with my main luggage? Would there be any extra charge to mark it as fragile (to be handled with care)?

I think I should be OK taking it on as a carry on item as I have seen bags/cases equally as big on previous flights. However, I wanted confirmation from anyone with personal experience/knowledge for advise. All answers much appreciated.


Admin 23.01.2013. 02:11

Check your airline's website.
A full sized guitar is clearly bigger than the maximum size stated for carry on luggage for every airline, but some airlines are willing to make exceptions for musical instruments.
Personally, I would not be pleased if there were no room for my normally sized carry on in the overhead bins because somebody was allowed to take up all the space with a full sized guitar.
You get ONE carry on bag (with the size limitations, to put in the overhead bin) and one "personal item" like a purse, briefcase, or laptop bag, which must fit under the seat in front of you (taking up some of your legroom).
You can mark a checked bag fragile if you want, that doesn't mean it will get special handling, in fact the baggage handlers might take it as a challenge to see what they can get away with. And the fine print in the contract of carriage probably says the airline isn't liable for damage to fragile items in your checked baggage.


goingstrong 07.03.2009. 03:06

What is the rules for carry on luggage? So i have checked the website for AirTran and can't seem to figure out the rules for checking luggage onto a plane. I plan on taking a small suitcase and a backpack with me. The suit case meets the size and weight requirements for carrying it onto a plane. Will they charge me extra to bring my backpack on as well? Any info will be greatly appreciated. Thanks!


Admin 07.03.2009. 03:06

Hi Shisha-Man,
Your backpack would have to count as your personal item, and to quote from AirTran's website:
'Personal items include handbags, umbrellas, walking sticks, coats, cameras, reading matter, infant food, briefcases, and laptop computers.'
No mention in the list of a backpack, so there's a good chance you'd not be allowed both a suitcase and a backpack. My advice would be to choose between checking the case (for $15), or ditching the backpack.
Happy Traveling!


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