Carry On Luggage Sizes (International & Domestic)

Carry On Luggage Sizes (International & Domestic)

When it comes to flying, knowing the permitted carry on luggage size is crucial for smooth travel. Whether you’re packing for a quick business trip or a leisurely vacation, the last thing you want is to be caught off guard at the airport with oversized or non-compliant luggage. This guide provides you with current standards for carry-on luggage dimensions for both domestic and international airlines. By the end, you’ll clearly understand what you can carry on board, ensuring your journey starts without a hitch.

Understanding Carry-On Luggage Sizes

Avoiding additional fees and the inconvenience of checking bags at the gate requires that you know the correct size of your carry-on luggage. Not to mention, it reduces the risk of damage or loss to your belongings, especially when compared to checked bags.

The standard for carry-on luggage size varies by airline, with domestic flights typically allowing approximately 22 x 14 x 9 inches small cabin bag, while international flights often adhere to slightly smaller dimensions of around 21.7 x 15.7 x 9 inches.

Domestic Carry-On Sizes

For domestic flights, the common carry-on luggage dimensions typically measure 22 x 8 inches or 14 x 9 inches. However, some airlines, like Southwest Airlines and United Airlines, have specific size restrictions.

For instance, Southwest allows 24 by 16 by 10 inches for overhead and 16 1/4 by 13 1/2 by 8 inches for personal items, while United requires carry-on items to be within 22 by 14 by 9 inches.

Domestic Carry-On Sizes

Airline Carry-on Luggage Size Carry-on Luggage Max Weight Personal Item Size Personal Item Max Weight
Alaska Airlines22 x 14 x 9 inchesNot specifiedMust fit under the seatNot specified
American Airlines22 x 14 x 9 inchesNot specified18 x 4 x 8 inchesNot specified
Delta22 x 14 x 9 inches or 45 linear inchesNone (with exceptions)Must fit under the seatNot specified
Frontier24 x 10 x 16 inches35 lbs14 x 18 x 8 inchesNot specified
Hawaiian Airlines22 x 14 x 9 inches25 lbsMust fit under the seatNot specified
JetBlue22 x 14 x 9 inchesNone17 x 13 x 8 inchesNot specified
Southwest Airlines24 x 16 x 10 inchesNot specified16.25 x 13.5 x 8 inchesNot specified
Spirit Airlines22 x 18 x 9 inchesNone18 x 14 x 8 inchesNone
United Airlines22 x 14 x 9 inchesNot specified17 x 10 x 9 inchesNot specified
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International Carry-On Sizes

Be aware that international carry-on sizes differ slightly from domestic ones if you’re planning an overseas trip. The most widely accepted standard international carry-on size across various carriers is 21 inches or less. Some airlines, like Qatar Airways, even have stricter limits, allowing a maximum carry-on length of just 20 inches. So, before you pack, always check the carry-on luggage size restrictions of your specific airline.

International Carry-On Sizes

Airline Max. Dimensions (Inches) Max. Dimensions (Centimeters) Max Weight
Aer Lingus21.5 x 15.5 x 955 x 40 x 2422 lbs.
Aeromexico22 x 14 x 956 x 36 x 2322 lbs.
Air Canada21.5 x 15.5 x 955 x 40 x 2322 lbs.
Air France21 x 13 x 955 x 35 x 2522 lbs.
Air New Zealand17.7 x 22 x 1045 x 56 x 2515 lbs.
AirTran Airways24 x 16 x 1060 x 40 x 25--
Alaska Airlines24 x 17 x 1061 x 43 x 25--
Alitalia21.5 x 13.5 x 955 x 35 x 2517 lbs.
All Nippon Airways (ANA)22 x 16 x 1055 x 40 x 2522 lbs.
American Airlines22 x 14 x 956 x 36 x 23--
British Airways22 x 18 x 1056 x 45 x 2551 lbs.
Cathay Pacific22 x 14 x 956 x 36 x 2315 lbs.
Delta Air Lines22 x 14 x 956 x 36 x 23--
El Al22 x 18 x 1056 x 45 x 2517 lbs.
Frontier Airlines24 x 16 x 1060 x 39 x 2435 lbs.
Hawaiian Airlines22 x 14 x 956 x 36 x 2325 lbs.
Japan Airlines22 x 16 x 1055 x 40 x 2522 lbs.
JetBlue Airways22 x 14 x 955.5 x 35.5 x 22.5--
KLM21.5 x 10 x 13.555 x 25 x 3526 lbs.
Korean Air21.4 x 15.5 x 7.555 x 40 x 2026 lbs.
Lufthansa22 x 16 x 955 x 40 x 2317 lbs.
Philippine Airlines45 total linear115 total linear15 lbs.
Qantas Airways41 total linear105 total linear15 lbs.
Saudi Arabian Airlines45 total linear115 total linear15 lbs.
Scandinavian Airlines (SAS)22 x 16 x 955 x 40 x 2318 lbs.
Singapore Airlines45 total linear115 total linear15 lbs.
Southwest Airlines24 x 16 x 1060 x 40 x 25--
Sun Country Airlines24 x 16 x 1160 x 40 x 27.535 lbs.
Thai Airways22 x 18 x 1056 x 45 x 2515 lbs.
United Airlines (UA)22 x 14 x 956 x 35 x 23--
US Airways (US)22 x 14 x 956 x 36 x 2340 lbs.
Virgin America24 x 16 x 1060 x 40 x 2530 lbs.
Virgin Atlantic22 x 14 x 956 x 36 x 2322 lbs.
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Carry-On Weight Limits and Restrictions

In addition to understanding your carry-on’s size, you should also be aware of the weight limit. Most airlines expect the weight of carry-on luggage to be manageable by passengers to lift into the overhead storage without strict uniform enforcement. However, this rule varies depending on whether you’re flying domestically or internationally.

Domestic Airlines

Most domestic airlines don’t enforce specific weight limits for carry-on baggage, thus providing passengers with more flexibility. Airlines such as:

  • Alaska Airlines
  • American Airlines
  • Delta Air Lines
  • United Airlines

have no specific weight restrictions for carry-on or personal items. However, airlines like Frontier Airlines and Sun Country Airlines have specified restrictions for laptop bags, allowing up to 35 pounds for carry-on bags.

International Airlines

Weight limits on international flights can significantly differ. For example:

  • Emirates has a carry-on weight limit of just 15 pounds
  • British Airways allows up to 51 pounds
  • Air Canada and WestJet do not enforce a specific weight limit for carry-on luggage, relying instead on the requirement that bags must be lifted into the overhead bin easily.

Personal Items: What You Need to Know

A woman with a backpack is walking through an airport

In addition to your carry-on, airlines permit the boarding of a personal item. This extra allowance can be helpful for storing smaller essentials during your flight. These are typically smaller and lighter than your carry-on and should fit under the seat in front of you. These items are meant for important or frequently accessed items during the journey, like travel documents, wallets, and mobile phones.

Size and Weight Restrictions

Personal items, like carry-on luggage, are subject to certain size and weight restrictions. Most airlines expect personal items to be smaller and lighter than carry-ons, with size limits ranging from 16 to 18 inches in length, 14 to 15 inches in width, and 7 to 9 inches in depth, and weight limits for personal item dimensions often around 17.5 to 22 pounds. These restrictions ensure that your personal item fits under the seat in front of you and doesn’t inconvenience other passengers.

Examples of Personal Items

Personal items can range from:

  • small backpacks
  • purses
  • briefcases
  • diaper bags
  • camera bags
  • umbrellas

However, these allowances can vary among airlines. For instance, All Nippon Airways allows a handbag and an umbrella as personal items.

When choosing a personal item for basic economy travel, practicality is key, as these items should efficiently accommodate important possessions and items you need to access during your flight.

Choosing the Right Carry-On Luggage

A group of suitcases sitting next to each other

How should one select the appropriate carry-on luggage? The answer to this question depends on your individual requirements, such as the need for special features like a compartment for laptops, or built-in security measures. A significant benefit of carry-on luggage is the ability to personally manage your belongings, reducing the risk of loss or damage.

Hard vs. Soft Shell

Deciding between a hard shell or soft shell is a key choice when selecting a carry-on. Hard shell luggage offers superior protection against impacts and is often more water-resistant than soft shell luggage.

On the other hand, soft shell carry on suitcase usually comes with external pockets providing easy access one carry on to essentials and may include options to expand for additional space.

Wheels and Handles

Consideration should also be given to the type of wheels and handles. In-line skate wheels are designed for stable rolling and provide better stability on uneven surfaces. However, spinner wheels allow for easy multi-directional movement and help distribute the luggage weight evenly, which can be beneficial in crowded spaces.

Prohibited Items in Carry-On Bags

Being aware of prohibited items is crucial while packing your carry-on. For safety reasons, the following items are strictly not allowed in carry-on bags:

  • Knives
  • Firearms
  • Sharp objects
  • Flammable items

Furthermore, the TSA restricts the amount of liquids that can be in the carry-on baggage with the 3-1-1 rule.

Hazardous Items

Hazardous items, including flammable liquids, aerosol paints, explosives like fireworks and dynamite, are prohibited in both carry-on and checked luggage. Sharp objects such as box cutters and utility knives are also not allowed in carry-on luggage. However, some items like lighters and consumer devices containing batteries are allowed with safety measures.

Liquids and Gels

As per the TSA’s 3-1-1 rule, travelers are permitted to bring a quart-sized bag of liquids, aerosols, gels, creams, and pastes in their carry-on bags. Each container within this bag must not exceed 3.4 ounces or 100 milliliters. There are exceptions to this rule for liquid medications and baby foods, which can exceed the standard 3.4-ounce limit and do not need to be in a quart-sized or one carry on bag only.

Airline-Specific Carry-On Policies

Travelers must be aware that different airlines have specific carry-on policies. For instance, a 24-inch bag can be used as a carry-on with a few airlines, like Frontier, Southwest, and Sun Country, though most major airlines prefer a maximum size of 22 x 14 x 9 inches. Some airlines, like Frontier Airlines, also implement additional carry-on bag fees.

Domestic Airlines

In terms of domestic airlines, the carry-on bag policies are as follows:

  • American Airlines: carry-on bags should not exceed 22 x 14 x 9 inches
  • Southwest Airlines: carry-on dimensions can be up to 24 x 16 x 10 inches
  • Delta Air Lines: carry-on bags are measured using linear inches, with a total limit of 45 linear inches

Always check your airline’s specific carry on luggage allowance and their carry on item take-on policies to ensure compliance when you bring carry on luggage.

International Airlines

Carry-on policies can vary substantially among international airlines, especially when considering basic and premium economy and fare options. Here are some examples:

  • Qatar Airways permits a carry-on size of 20 x 15 x 10 inches, with a weight limit of 15 lbs for Economy Class passengers.
  • Emirates has more restrictive carry-on size limits.
  • Cathay Pacific has transitioned from a weight-based to a piece-based carry-on allowance.

Tips for Efficient Packing

Two suitcases filled with clothes and shoes on a bed

Efficient packing can significantly reduce travel hassles. Here are some tips to help you pack more efficiently:

  • Select lightweight fabrics such as cotton and Merino wool for your clothing. This will save space and allow you to pack more while adhering to airline restrictions.
  • Use army-rolling for small items. This technique helps to save space and keep your items organized.
  • Consider using vacuum-sealed storage bags for bulkier clothing. This will compress the items and maximize space in your carry-on luggage.

By following these tips, you can make the most of your packing space and have a more organized travel experience.

Maximizing Space

There are numerous methods to utilize the space in your carry-on luggage effectively. Here are some tips:

  • Use packing cubes to fill gaps in your luggage and ensure a more organized suitcase. They can also compress items down once packed.
  • Roll clothes, especially small items made of synthetic fibers, to save space.
  • Fold bulkier items to maximize space.

Staying Organized

Maintaining organization during packing can greatly enhance your travel experience. Using separate compartments and pouches can help you keep your belongings organized and easily accessible.

Choosing a personal item, such as a purse or laptop bag with multiple pockets, can also be beneficial for organizing and quickly accessing your travel essentials.


In summary, understanding carry-on luggage sizes, weight limits, and packing strategies is crucial for a seamless travel experience. Whether you’re flying domestically or internationally, ensuring that your carry-on bag fits your airline’s specific guidelines can save you from additional fees and inconvenience. Remember, it’s not just about fitting everything into your bag; it’s about packing smart and staying organized.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can a 24 inch luggage be a carry-on?

Yes, a 24-inch luggage can be used as a carry-on as long as it meets the size restrictions specified by the airline you are traveling with. It's important to check the specific requirements of the airline you'll be flying with.

What size bag is TSA approved for carry-on?

A TSA approved carry-on bag has a standard size limit of 22" x 14" x 9", including the handle and wheels, to ensure it fits in the overhead bin safely for your flight.

Can I bring a backpack and a carry-on?

Yes, you can typically bring a backpack as a personal item along with a carry-on bag. The backpack should be smaller than the carry-on and meet the airline's size requirements to fit under the seat in front of you.

Are there weight limits for carry-on luggage?

Yes, weight limits for carry-on luggage vary by airline, with most major domestic airlines not enforcing specific weight limits and international airlines having varying restrictions.

What items are prohibited in carry-on bags?

Prohibited items in carry-on bags include knives, firearms, sharp objects, and flammable items. The TSA also restricts the amount of liquids allowed in one carry on, under the 3-1-1 rule.


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