What size backpack is considered a personal item?

When it comes to packing for air travel, one of the most common questions is about the size of a backpack that can be considered a personal item. It’s crucial to get this right to avoid any unnecessary fees and to make sure you’re complying with the airline’s regulations.

Personal Item Backpack Size on Airlines

First things first, what size backpack can fly with you in the cabin as a personal item? Generally, for most airlines, the backpack dimensions should not exceed 18 x 14 x 8 inches. That’s because this size is crafted to fit snugly under the seat in front of you, which is the standard requirement for a personal item. However, there’s a bit of variation amongst airlines, with certain carriers allowing slightly larger or smaller dimensions. For example, Delta typically allows a personal item to be 17 x 13 x 9 inches.

Let’s break this down with some real-world cases. On American Airlines, the policy is clear – your personal item should not surpass 18 x 14 x 8 inches. It’s a good benchmark to use since it falls in line with many other airlines’ requirements.

What Happens If Your Backpack Is Too Big?

If you’re slightly over the limit – perhaps by an inch or two – you may get lucky, and no one will bat an eyelid. But if it’s visibly too large, you could be facing extra charges. This might mean paying a checked bag fee or gate-checking your bag, which adds time and hassle at the airport.

Other Considerations

It’s not just about the size; airlines also consider whether your backpack obstructs the aisle or impacts emergency exits. You’ll want to ensure that it can not only fit under the seat but also be stowed securely.

Furthermore, while focusing on the size, don’t forget about content restrictions. Safety razors, large tools, or other potential weapons are a big no-no in carry-on and personal items.

Personal backpack size generally should not exceed carry-on dimensions.Travel Pedia
Most airlines restrict personal backpacks to dimensions around 18 x 14 x 8 inches.eaglecreek.com, travelandleisure.com, travelpro.com
Backpacks can typically be considered a personal item if they fit under the seat.going.com
Airline personnel may check personal item size during boarding.traveloffpath.com
If a personal item is slightly too large, you might incur additional fees.cleverjourney.com
Carry-on luggage should not generally exceed 22 x 14 x 9 inches.nerdwallet.com
A backpack can be considered a personal item by the TSA as long as it fits under the seat.briggs-riley.com
Travelers are allowed one personal item and one carry-on on most airlines.blog.tortugabackpacks.com
Dangerous items are not permitted in personal or carry-on luggage.travelpro.com
The personal item’s size may vary slightly between airlines but generally should be about 18 x 14 x 8 inches or less.eaglecreek.com, thepointsguy.com
To measure backpack size for flights, add the length, height, and depth to get total linear inches.afar.com
Backpacks are allowed as carry-on if they meet the airline’s size and weight guidelines.cabinzero.com
A duffel bag can be used as a carry-on alongside a personal item like a backpack.cabinzero.com
TSA-compliant backpacks should have a designated laptop section that can lay flat on the X-ray belt.tripsavvy.com
Personal items are checked by the TSA during standard security screenings.tsa.gov

Combining a Carry-on and a Personal Item

Many travelers wonder if they can bring a backpack as a personal item alongside another carry-on, like a small suitcase or a duffel bag. The answer is yes, as long as each item complies with the airline’s size restrictions for carry-ons and personal items.

Packing Tips for Personal Item Backpacks

When packing your backpack, think about weight distribution. You’ll be carrying this bag through long airport corridors, so balance the contents to make it easy on your back and shoulders. Packing cubes can be incredibly helpful in keeping everything organized and compact.

Did you know that the size of your backpack can determine if it can tag along in the cabin or must ride in the luggage hold? Picture this: you’re standing at the boarding gate, backpack in tow, when you’re suddenly faced with a moment of truth. Airlines like American and Delta have specific size guidelines—think 18x14x8 inches for American and a slightly more generous 17x13x9 inches for Delta. Too big by just a couple of inches, and you might be dipping into your wallet for unexpected fees or bidding farewell as it’s checked into the cargo. Remember, that trusty backpack must be svelte enough to slide under the seat before you, or it’s no longer your plus-one in the skies. So when you’re packing for your next flight, it pays to measure up—literally!

TSA and Backpacks

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has its own set of rules. For a backpack to be TSA-compliant, it generally needs to lay flat on the X-ray belt without any metal adornments that could obscure the view. When in doubt, check the latest TSA guidelines before flying.

According to seasoned traveler and blogger, Alex Ander, “Choosing the right backpack can make all the difference. I learned the hard way that an oversized backpack can lead to last-minute baggage fees and a slower trip through security.”

“As a travel expert at TourismGuides.net, I often emphasize the practical nuances of journeying. In my article on the Maldives, I’ve aimed to encapsulate not just the breathtaking allure of its turquoise waters and coral wonders, but also the vital travel tips that ensure a seamless experience for adventurous souls seeking paradise. It’s the meticulous planning that can make or break a Maldivian getaway.”

Timothy Lehman, TourismGuides.net

When selecting a backpack to serve as a personal item on your next flight, keep those key dimensions in mind: typically no more than 18 x 14 x 8 inches. Always double-check the specific airline restrictions before heading to the airport to avoid any surprises. With the right backpack, you can breeze through check-in and security, keeping your journey as smooth as possible.

5 / 5. Votes: 33

Share This Article
Leave a comment
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments