The One Rule For Carry-On Bags That Travelers Overlook

by SharonKurheg

When people are getting ready to fly and plan to bring carry-on luggage with them, they usually keep a few things in their heads:

  • How many inches their carry-on bag can be (that varies from airline to airline. Here are the most recent measurements)
  • How much will it cost to bring a carry-on bag with them (again, this will vary from airline to airline, and sometimes depends on what kind of ticket you bought)?

But there’s one airline rule that many people overlook—the weight of their carry-on bag.

True, nearly all U.S.-based airlines charge a fee for checked bags up to 50 pounds and an overage fee for bags between 50 and 100 pounds (well, except for these four airlines). However, most (but not all) U.S. airlines don’t have a weight limit for a carry-on bag. As long as your bag is under their regular 14x22x8 (or whatever. Some are more, some less), it can weigh a literal ton, and there’s nothing in the rules that says there’s something wrong with that (Note: Don’t bring a carry-on that weighs a ton. The overhead storage area isn’t THAT strong).

Heads up though – two U.S.-based airlines do have limits on how heavy each passenger’s carry-on bag can be:

That being said, we flew on Hawaiian from Honolulu to Orlando in February 2022 (several months before they said they were ending that service). The plane was an Airbus A330-200, we flew Economy, and no one said a thing about, or weighed our carry-on bags. So it could be a Your Mileage May Vary situation.

  • Special shout out to United Airlines – they typically don’t have a weight limit for carry-on. But if you buy a Basic Economy fare ticket, you’re not allowed to bring a carry-on bag. So, I guess the weight limit in that case is zero??? 😉

Of course, OUTSIDE the U.S., it’s a whole different ballgame, where you encounter weight limits for carry-on bags on a much more frequent basis. In other parts of the world, your carry-on bag may be limited to as much as 51 pounds (British Airways) all the way down to 11 pounds (Air China, Air Tahiti and Helvetic, among others).

I remember when we went to Australia, we used JetStar to get between several different parts of the country (it was a tour package). Our carry-on and personal bags were limited to 7 kg (15.43 pounds) TOTAL (nowadays you can get a package [only on select routes] to double that to 30 kg. We didn’t have that option in 2014). I don’t even remember how I managed that, to be honest. But if it were to happen today, I would have my lightest carry-on bag in the world to help me get through. ;-).

Carry-on allowances will vary with what kind of ticket you have, where you’re flying to/from, etc. And if you have a credit card that may get you a free checked bag, that could affect how you pack, so your carry-on bag could be lighter. As always, check with your carrier for your flight(s) specifics.

But again, most of the time there are no carry-on weight limits for domestic U.S. flights. But if you happen to be flying on Frontier or Hawaiian, heads up that a weight limit for your carry-on bag could be in effect.

Want to comment on this post? Great! Read this first to help ensure it gets approved.
Want to sponsor a post, write something for Your Mileage May Vary, or put ads on our site? Click here for more info.

Like this post? Please share it! We have plenty more just like it and would love it if you decided to hang around and sign up to get emailed notifications of when we post.

Whether you’ve read our articles before or this is the first time you’re stopping by, we’re really glad you’re here and hope you come back to visit again!

This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary


Jon Einar Mattias Visser September 18, 2022 - 2:07 pm

I have flown a lot up to the point the pandemic happend inside Europe, but my carry on never got weighed or checked (only for illegal items through customs though, once for scissors, that was all…).

If you have only carry on luggage, you don’t have to go to a counter, but you can often just directly go through customs with your ticked on your phone. At that point they cannot check the weight of your bag because this part is not airline specific. Some airlines do have no weight limit, so they might only refuse you at the gate which is unlikely, because you are already through customs and stuff, so where do I leave my suitcase if I have an allowance of no bags? I gues I would at least respect how many bags I can bring and not try to cheeat that stuff, ither than that for weight you should be good.

That said I have seen people (not relating carry on but still) try to check a bag that was like 2 ski kind of bags attached to each other and they refused it. The weird part was that they got it through for their first flight and had to re-check the bag again for some reason. Very weird.

I’ve also almost missed my flight because I had to go back to the counter to get my ticket. We had purchased a combined ticked for us, but the lady forhot to hand out my ticket😬

Jon Einar Mattias Visser September 18, 2022 - 2:12 pm

That’s a very legit and helpfull comment as I then can take my huge backbacks I have of 55L and 50l as hand luggage. I have always flown with a standard carry on whellie and a laptop case on top as hand luggage and that was fine. I have seen once a guy with a huge 55 L fischer bag (i have the same one) and he goth through loo I though that one was way too big but aparently not?

SharonKurheg September 19, 2022 - 8:41 am

Some people don’t read the rules, or don’t remember them from when they made their reservation 10 months ago. Some think rules aren’t made for them. You’d think people wouldn’t try to bring a gun through security too, but it happens ever single day.


Leave a Comment