As the cost of flying continues to rise, consumers are looking for ways to control the total cost of their airfare. A fee you box to avoid if you play well is to pay the honor of bringing your luggage on their plane. Each airline has its own set of baggage rules and definitions. What is hand luggage? What is a personal item? Which is free and which is paid?
Knowing what to expect ahead of time can save you from paying (most likely unreasonable) fees when you show up at your door. Here’s a breakdown of the country’s largest airlines and their policies regarding carry-on baggage and personal items.
Airlines that allow one carry-on bag and one personal item
American Airlines. American Airlines will not charge you for your carry-on or personal item as long as it meets the specified dimensions. Carry-on baggage must not exceed 22 x 14 x 9 inches and your personal item must fit under the seat in front of you (18 x 14 x 8 inches). Diaper bags, soft breast milk coolers, strollers, and medical or mobility devices are not considered personal items.
Delta Airlines. Delta Airlines allows passengers to bring one carry-on bag and one personal item free with the purchase of any ticket. For hand luggage, it must not exceed the dimensions of 22 x 14 x 9 inches, but is not subject to any weight restriction (as long as your flight is domestic). Approved personal items include handbags, briefcases, camera bags, laptop bags, or diaper bags. Also, umbrellas and zero-rated items purchased at the terminal do not count as personal items; you can also bring them on the plane, hassle-free.
Hawaiian Airlines. Not only will you get a free lei if you fly Hawaiian Airlines, but you won’t have to pay for your carry-on luggage either. Hawaiian Airlines’ rules are a little stricter than some of their free carry-on counterparts, citing a 25-pound weight limit, but enforce the standard 22 x 14 x 9-inch dimension rule. Hawaiian Airlines allows an exception to this rule if your carry-on bag is a musical instrument, as long as it fits in the overhead compartment. For personal items, Hawaiian Airlines allows handbags, briefcases, laptop bags, or small backpacks, but they must fit under the seat in front of you.
South West Airlines. If you ever travel with a ton of luggage, your best bet will be Southwest Airlines. Not only do they not charge you for your carry-on or personal item, but you can also check two bags for free (as long as they don’t exceed 50 pounds or 62 inches combined in length, width, and height). Southwest allows carry-ons to be larger than their counterparts, displaying a 24 x 16 x 10-inch dimension ruler. For personal items, they should fit the dimensions of 16.25 x 13.5 x 8 inches.
Airlines that only allow one personal item
United Airlines. If you have purchased a Basic Economy Class ticket with United Airlines, you will only be permitted to take one personal item with you on the aircraft. Your personal item should fit the dimensions of 9 x 10 x 17 inches. If you decide to bring carry-on baggage, you will need to pay a $25 fee. The dimensions of your bag should not exceed 22 x 14 x 9 inches.
Jet Blue Airways. If you are flying with JetBlue, be prepared to put as much as you can in your personal item or it will cost you dearly. With its base fare, JetBlue charges $65 to bring a carry-on to the gate, and it’s still going to be checked, as the airline doesn’t allocate overhead storage space for its base fare customers.
Spirit Airlines. If you are flying with Spirit Airlines, make sure all your ducks are lined up before boarding that plane. Although you can bring one personal item with you for free, a carry-on bag will cost you between $26 and $65, depending on how and when the charges are paid. Personal items must not exceed the dimensions of 18 x 14 x 8 inches.
Allegiant Airlines. If you’re flying the skies of Allegiant with carry-on, be prepared to pay for that luxury. Allegiant Airlines charges $35 per bag, with additional charges for heavier bags (up to $75). Your carry-on bag must not exceed the dimensions of 22 x 14 x 9 inches, otherwise it will be subject to an “airport bag fee” of $50.