The Carry-On Luggage Rules for 10 Major Airlines

Any notorious over-packer will agree that filling your luggage requires carefully calculating exactly how much you can get away with. You grab the biggest suitcase you can, and then fill it to the max.

It’s one thing to figure out how to pack the perfect carry-on bag, and another thing entirely to see if it fits the size regulations of different airlines. The trouble is, every airline has different baggage requirements. Easy enough when you only need to worry about one flight, but things get tricky when you start traveling on multiple airlines. It’s important to know the rules and regulations of each airline. Otherwise, you’ll have to spend even more precious time at the airport unpacking, throwing away items, or spending more money because your bag is overweight or doesn’t fit the requirements. Liquids more than 3.4 ounces, wrapped gifts, and coffee beans are just a few of the items that could get your luggage flagged by the TSA.

Plan your luggage around whichever flight will have the strictest requirements. Just be sure to double-check with the airline before you leave to confirm you have the right size.

Alaska Airlines

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that one of the best airlines in America also has a generous carry-on bag policy. Your carry-on bag must be 22” x 14” x 9” which should include handles and wheels. Alaska Airlines allows one personal item and one carry-on item, both of which must fit either in the overhead compartment or under the seat in front of you. A large scarf, headphones, and a good eye mask are a few of the things that should always be in your carry-on bag.

American Airlines

Your carry-on bag at American Airlines must be 22″ x 14″ x 9″ and cannot exceed a total of 45 inches. Garment bags can’t exceed 51 inches and musical instruments count as carry-on items. A few items which don’t count as carry-on bags include diaper bags, strollers or mobility devices. Just don’t make the mistake of picking the worst spot on the plane for your carry-on luggage.

Delta Airlines

Carry-on bags for Delta airlines must not exceed 22″ x 14″ x 9″ and can’t be more than 45 inches in length. There are a few carry-on weight restrictions if you’re flying to Singapore, Beijing, and Shanghai. This is the reason why your next Delta flight might be a bit more uncomfortable than you’re used to.

Frontier Airlines

Personal items for Frontier Airlines cannot be larger than 8” x 18” x 14” and carry-on bags can’t be larger than 10” x 16” x 24” including handles, straps, and wheels.   Carry-on bags have to be less than 35 pounds. Here are a few surprising things you’re not allowed to take on a plane.

JetBlue

Each person on a JetBlue flight is allowed one personal item and one carry-on bag if space permits. The carry-on bag cannot exceed 22″ x 14″ x 9″ and personal items can’t be larger than 17″ x 13″ x 8″. JetBlue has checked bag fees so make sure you know before you go. Here are a few facts that will help you stay calm before your next flight.

Southwest Airlines

On Southwest Airlines, your carry-on bag can’t be larger than 10″ x 16″ x 24″ and your personal item can’t exceed 18.5″ x 8.5″ x 13.5″. Make sure your luggage fits comfortably in the overhead compartments or beneath the seat. These are the brilliant buys travel pros never travel without.

Spirit Airlines

At Spirit Airlines, your personal item cannot exceed 18″ x 14″ x 8″ and your carry-on luggage can’t exceed 22″ x 18″ x 10″. Make sure you know the appropriate baggage fees and travel restrictions to various international destinations. Don’t make this mistake: The worst spot on the plane for your carry-on luggage is a few rows behind you.

United Airways

You’re allowed one personal item and one carry-on bag. The carry-on luggage can’t exceed 9″ x 14″ x 22″ and the personal item can’t be larger than 9″ x 10″ x 17″. A few more items that don’t count as personal items include reading material, a diaper bag, and a breast pump. Make sure you know the exceptions while flying with United Airways. This is your to-do list before flying alone with kids.

Virgin America

While there are a few different classes on Virgin America, all bags must be 9″ x 14″ x 22″ and fit comfortably in the overhead compartment. Virgin America does have a weight limit on carry-on bags. For Economy (Light, Classic & Delight) or Premium, the bag must weigh less than  22 pounds. Upper Class passengers can bring two items that weigh up to 26 pounds for a single item or up to 35 pounds in combined weight. These are the genius packing tips from flight attendants that you should know.

WestJet

You can bring one carry-on bag and one personal item. The carry-on bag must be 21″ x 9″ x 15″ and the personal item must be 16″ x 6″ x 13″. If your carry-on luggage doesn’t meet these requirements then it will have to be checked. Next, here are the times when it’s smarter to check your luggage instead of having carry-on bags.

Marissa Laliberte
Marissa Laliberte-Simonian is a London-based associate editor with the global promotions team at WebMD’s Medscape.com and was previously a staff writer for Reader's Digest. Her work has also appeared in Business Insider, Parents magazine, CreakyJoints, and the Baltimore Sun. You can find her on Instagram @marissasimonian.