Carry On Luggage Size: TSA and Airline Dimensions

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When traveling domestically or abroad, it’s extremely important to know what size luggage you can bring with you on the plane. What size bag are you allowed to bring as a carry on? How many bags can you carry on? Typically, you are allowed one carry-on and one personal item – whether they are free or charged is completely up to the airline. There isn’t a set size and weight regulation by the TSA, allowable carry-on baggage size differs from airline to airline and even between economy, business and first class. For most domestic carriers in the U.S., the carry on bag max ranges from 45 linear inches to 51 linear inches and only Hawaiian airlines has a set weight limit (25 lbs). 

Visit this page on Amazon for TSA Approved Travel Luggage.

MAXIMUM DIMENSIONS FOR YOUR CARRY-ON BAG BY AIRLINE:

  • United Airlines :  9 inches x 14 inches x 22 inches (22 cm x 35 cm x 56 cm), including handles and wheels. (may not exceed 45 linear inches)
  • American Airlines: 22 inches x 14 inches x 9 inches / 23 x 36 x 56 centimeters (including handles and wheels) (may not exceed 45 linear inches)
  • Southwest Airlines: 10 inches x 16 inches x 24 inches (may not exceed 50 linear inches)
  • Alaska Airlines:  24 inches x  10 inches x 17 inches (61cm x 25cm x 43cm), including wheels and handles (may not exceed 51 linear inches)
  • Delta Airlines: 22 inches x 14 inches x 9 inches (56 x 35 x  23 cm) (Carry-on bags may not exceed 45 linear inches in combined length x width x height)
  • JetBlue: 22 inches x 14 inches x 9 inches, including wheels/handles (may not exceed 50 linear inches)
  • Hawaiian Airlines:  9 inches x 14 inches x 22 inches  (may not exceed 45 linear inches) Weight limit of 25 lbs per passenger (the only airline on the list with a weight limit for carry-ons)
  • Spirit Airlines: 22 inches x 18 inches x10 inches (may not exceed 50 linear inches)
  • Virgin America:  24 inches x 16 inches x 10 inches (may not exceed 50 linear inches)
  • Allegiant Airlines: 22 inches x 14 inches x 9 inches (may not exceed 45 linear inches)
  • Horizon Air: 24 inches x  10 inches x 17 inches (61cm x 25cm x 43cm), including wheels and handles (may not exceed 51 linear inches)
  • Frontier Airlines:  24 inches x 16 inches x 10 inches (may not exceed 50 linear inches)
  • Sun Country: 24 inches x 16 inches x 11 inches (may not exceed 51 linear inches)

Here are the maximum dimensions for a select number of international airlines:

  • Lufthansa Airlines 21.7 inches x 15.7 inches x 9 inches (may not exceed 17.6 lbs)
  • Air France:  21.7 inches x 13.8 inches x 9.9 inches (carry on and personal item may not exceed 12 pounds combined)
  • KLM Royal Dutch Airline: 21.5 inches x 13.5 inches x 10 inches
  • Emirates:  For economy class: 1 bag 22 inches  15 inches x 8 inches  (may not exceed 15 pounds) For first class: one briefcase at 8 inches  14 inches  8 inches and either a hand bag at 22 inches  15 inches  8 inches or a garment bag that may not exceed 8 inches thick when folded.

How To Measure Your Carry On Luggage

Knowing the dimensions you can bring on is one thing, but it won’t help if you don’t know how airlines measure luggage. It is important to note that both handles and wheels are included in the measurement. The airline will measure your luggage from the contact point with the ground, whether that’s the wheels or the bottom of the bag, to the highest point (which may be a handle, zipper, ect).

  1. Height: measure your luggage from the contact point with the ground, whether that’s the wheels or the bottom of the bag, to the highest point (which may be a handle, zipper, ect).
  2. Width:  Lay it on it’s side and and measure from the ground to the top point to find the width (remember to include straps, handles and side pockets)
  3. Depth:  Lay the suitcase on the front or back and repeat to find the depth.
  4. Add them together to find the total linear inches – Most airlines have a maximum of 45 to 51 linear inches.  If your luggage exceeds this, you may have to check it.

Best Carry On Luggage

What bags are best to use as carry on luggage? That will completely depend on style, needs and budget.  Some people will be perfectly happy with a carry on bag that is much smaller than the maximum allowable dimensions while others will want to squeeze on every last inch of space possible. At TSA Travel Tips, we have several suggested bags depending upon your needs.

Best Budget (and Reviewed) Carry On Luggage

Amazon Basics 20 Inch Spinner

Amazon covers all the, ahem, basis with this hard shell, wheeled bag.  While you may be able to get away with the 24 inch version on certain domestic airlines, the 20 inch size should be eligible for carry on all domestic and international flights (provided you don’t fill it with bricks).  It looks great, is well reviewed and and is the best selling carry on bag on Amazon.

Best Compact Carry On

If you don’t absolutely need every bit of space you can bring, a compact bag can be a great option.  You’ll never have to worry about squeezing it into to a cramped overhead compartment and it will likely be much easier to maneuver in and out of the plane and around the airport.  Here are a few of our favorite options:

Gate Checked Bags

Remember, even if your bag fits within your airlines specified dimensions and weight limit, you may still be asked to check or gate check your bag if the flight is full or it is an older, smaller plane.  Not all planes have large enough overhead storage compartments to accommodate full sized carry on luggage.  However, if you checked ahead and are sure your bag is eligible, you should not be assessed an extra fee in these circumstances.

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