U.S. Airlines’ Updated Measurement Limits For Personal & Carry On Bags

by SharonKurheg

With so many airlines charging for checked luggage, more and more people are trying to stuff as much as they can into their carry-on and personal bags. And even for that, they don’t make it easy – there are no set standards for the size those bags can be, so what may “count” as a carry-on bag on one airline might be a bag you have to gate check on another airline because it’s too big.

To help avoid that problem, here are the most recently updated regulations for the size of carry-on and personal bags.

To clarify (I know you know…but just in case), carry-on bags are the ones that go into the overhead compartment. They’re usually in the form of hard or soft-sided small suitcases, duffel bags, satchels, soft-sided garment bags, musical instruments, pet carriers (they go under the seat in front of you, not into the overhead bin), etc. Personal bags are smaller and are supposed to go under the seat in front of you. With rare exceptions, you can only bring one of each and there’s no guarantee that a carry-on bag will be allowed onto a plane – if you’re told there’s no room in the overhead, you may have to gate check it.

Some other items, such as diaper bags, child-safety seats, duty-free merchandise, jackets/coats, umbrellas, food & drink purchased in the terminal, and medical and mobility devices usually may be allowed in addition to your carry-on and personal bags, but it varies from airline to airline.

The measurement dimensions below are for height x length x width (just like you learned in math class, forever ago) and all include the space taken up by handles and wheels.

Alaska Airlines

Carry-on: 22″ x 14″ x 9″
Personal item: exact measurement is not given

Notes: On Alaska Airlines, personal items are only defined as a “purse, briefcase, laptop bag or medically necessary items.”

Fun Fact: Alaska Airlines’s carry-on bag limitation used to be 24″ x 17″ x 10″ but they changed that to the specifications above in 2018.


Carry-on: 22″ x 16″ x 10″
Personal item: 18″ x 14″ x 8″

Notes: Allegiant charges for carry-on items. Jackets, “small” umbrellas, food, and diaper bags do not count as personal items.

Fun Fact: Allegiant’s carry-on bag limitation used to be 22″ x 14″ x 9″, and their personal bags could only be up to 16″ x 15″ x 7″. but they increased both, to the specifications above, in March, 2023.

American Airlines

Carry-on: 22″ x 14″ x 9″
Personal item: 18″ x 14″ x 8″

Notes: Diaper bags (1 per child), soft-sided cooler bags with breast milk, child safety seats, strollers and medical or mobility devices don’t count as your personal item or carry-on.


Carry-on: 22″ x 14″ x 9″
Personal item: exact measurement is not given.

Notes: A diaper bag counts as a carry-on item (C’mon, Delta…really? Although to their credit, I’ve heard that some [NOT ALL!] gate agents will let diaper bags go as an extra. At least some of them have common sense. #rolleyes).


Carry-on: 24″ x 16″ x 10″
Personal item: 18″ x 14″ x 8″

Notes: Frontier charges for carry-on items.  Diaper bags, canes, coats, canes, assistive devices, and foot rugs used during prayer don’t count as personal items.

Hawaiian Airlines

Carry-on: 22″ x 14″ x 9″, 25 pound limit
Personal item: exact measurement is not given.

Notes: Hawaiian Airlines specifies that personal items must fit under the seat in front of you. Gate-check is reserved for strollers, car seats, and wheelchairs. (Wagons are not eligible for gate check.)


Carry-on: 22″ x 14″ x 9″
Personal item: 17″ x 13″ x 8″

Notes: Musical instruments count as a carry-on item. Camera, film, video production, lighting and sound equipment that is traveling with a customer representing a local or national television network, broadcasting or commercial filmmaking company may be accepted on a space-available basis.


Carry-on: 24″ x 16″ x 10″
Personal item: 16.25″ x 13.5″ x 8″
Notes: Southwest used to be pretty vague about their personal item dimensions but have since updated their website to include the measurements listed above. They also DECREASED the maximum size of their personal bags sometime between November, 2021 and August 2023.


Carry-on: 22″ x 18″ x 10″
Personal item: 18″ x 14″ x 8″

Notes: Spirit charges for carry-on items. They may require that a carry-on bag travel as a checked bag if it can’t be safely stowed on a particular flight. Personal items are defined as a purse, small backpack, etc.


Carry-on: 22″ x14″ x 9″
Personal item: 17″ x 10″ x 9″
Notes: jacket, umbrella, reading material, food or merchandise purchased in the airport, assistive devices, child restraint system or safety seat, diaper bag, breast pump and pet carrier can be brought in addition to your carry-on and personal bags.

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George May 15, 2019 - 4:08 pm

By “do not count,” you mean “can be brought on in addition to,” right?

SharonKurheg May 15, 2019 - 4:14 pm

Yeppers 🙂

Boraxo May 15, 2019 - 4:57 pm

US airlines are pretty uniform and haven’t changed for years. A more useful chart would include major first world carriers with heinous policies such as LH, Qantas, etc.

SharonKurheg May 15, 2019 - 5:37 pm

Some of our readers are not as well traveled as others, so sometimes we post articles that are geared more to them. And of course, as you saw, there actually were a couple of changes over the past year or two. 😉

As for the other airlines’ policies, thanks for the idea! 🙂

Janie Lawson November 14, 2021 - 2:39 pm

You didn’t mention CPAP Machines. I usually pack mine in it’s own case inside my checked luggage if I have plenty of weight room, but take the whole thing out if it causes overweight in my checked luggage. In that case I take it onboard since it is considered medical. I just hate to do that as a flight attendant had to chase me down with it as I had left it in the overhead. Thank goodness for her! A lot of travelers may look for that info if they are new to CPAPs

Me September 21, 2023 - 1:19 am

Actually it IS mentioned above as “medical” devices.

this guy September 17, 2023 - 5:16 pm

this article would be a lot easier to digest if it was a chart.

SharonKurheg September 17, 2023 - 5:44 pm

We can consider that in the future. Thanks for the suggestion.

Ronald Zoran September 18, 2023 - 5:38 pm

Very helpful. I also agree that a chart showing what is acceptable would also be more helpful.

MusicNerd September 19, 2023 - 12:07 am

Overall this was good information. Good job. A bit of information regarding musical instruments — any American based airlines that are bound by US law are required to allow musical instruments (guitar sized or smaller) as carry-ons according to the 2012 FAA modernization and reform act, section 403. There are stipulations of course, but as a general rule they have to let your instrument on the plane if there is room.

David September 19, 2023 - 7:40 am

So, no single dimension of a carryon should exceed the spec? Or, does combined values of a bag determine compliance? 22+14+9=45 is the same as: 25+12+8=45?

SharonKurheg September 19, 2023 - 9:16 am

Generally speaking, the personal bag size is determined based on what’s under the seat in front of you (i.e. to have plugs and USB ports inter there, some seats will only have 8″ or 9″ of height). Also, 1″ in a carry on usually won’t make a difference, unless you’re a low cost airline or a GA is having a particularly bad day, in which case if your bag doesn’t fit in the sizer (regardless of other values), you’ll be asked to check it.

Aileen Perkins September 19, 2023 - 10:47 am

Do these measurements include the wheels or legs of your bag?

SharonKurheg September 19, 2023 - 11:03 am

Each airline has its own rules, which you can find on their respective pages. That being said, yes, measurements are usually inclusive of wheels and handles.

Daniel September 19, 2023 - 3:57 pm

Also there many times there is a weight limit. If traveling on foreign labeled as l such there defiantly a weight limit of 7kg or 15ibs
.and 21inches length. Delta has become a low life carrier and disruption on many if their flights. I travel to Asian countries and use foreign carriers. In the US only Alaska. Europe Turkish Air. No Delta or Air France.

Sirwynston September 19, 2023 - 11:35 am

How about a weight limit some people are cramming God knows what in thier bags they weigh a ton !

SharonKurheg September 19, 2023 - 11:38 am

Some airlines have a weight limit on their carry-on and personal bags. Most are non-US carriers.

SRH September 20, 2023 - 1:16 am

I had to check the sizes for a personal bag on United last week. Their website said the dimensions could be no larger than 17x10x6. Perhaps a typo on the 6″. I couldn’t find a bag or a backpack that narrow. Even the majority of purses were bigger than that. Speaking of purses, United now considers a cross body purse as a personal bag.

Barbara Van Norman September 20, 2023 - 11:36 pm

Please consider those oversize backpacks on the backs that hit you as they continue down the aisle. They are not considerate of them at all!

Joyce September 24, 2023 - 11:03 am

The folks with their Backpack
Have to be the rudest people on the planet, walking down the aisle hitting people in the face and head with their heavy packs. I have been the recipient of way too many of these assaults.

Aloke Bose September 24, 2023 - 2:08 pm

Thanks for the size details of Carryon items and Personal items for US carriers.
It would be very useful if you could kindly give similar Size details (and Weight) for other major International Airlines.

Traveling Nanny October 3, 2023 - 11:27 am

Helpful and I agree chart would be nice and maybe a few of the major international airlines. I start out with American and bag is fine but transfer to British Airways and it can be different!


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