Can You Bring Two Personal Items On A Plane?

Last Updated on October 3, 2022

Key Takeaways

  • Most airlines only permit passengers to bring one personal item on a plane
  • Low-cost airlines enforce their hand luggage rules strictly
  • Legacy airlines also have rules about how many personal items passengers can bring on the plane but don’t earn profits by enforcing those rules

There is limited luggage space for hand luggage inside the airplane cabin.

While carry-on luggage is sized to fit in the overhead bin personal items are bags sized to fit under the seat in front of you on the plane. 

But can you bring two personal items on a plane?

The simple answer is probably not. The rest of this post explains why I use the word “probably”.

It depends of what exactly counts as a personal item on the airline you are flying with.

What Is Considered A Personal Item

Airlines consider a purse, handbag, laptop bag, diaper bag, camera bag, small backpack, or pet carrier or be a personal item.

But these just examples. Any small bag or even a small rolling suitcase that fits under the seat will count as a personal item.

The exact personal item size that will be permitted depends which airline you are flying with. Most airlines specify size limits for personal items.

But there are other items that passengers carry on planes like umbrellas, pillows, and blankets that might or might not be considered as a personal items.

How Many Personal Items You Can Take On A Plane

So the rules usually specify that passengers can bring only one personal item with them on the plane.

But when you are at the airport you might see other passengers carrying what looks like more than one personal item with them when they board.

What’s going on?

How strictly rules about personal item bags are enforced depends on whether you are flying on a low-cost airline or a full service airline.

Low-cost airlines like Spirit and Frontier don’t make as much of their revenue from the actual air fares. They depend on revenue from baggage fees to turn a profit.

For that reason they are much more strict in enforcing their hand luggage rules.

They are also more likely to call anything you are carrying a personal item.

For example if you are carrying a pillow in your hands while boarding the plane the airline might call that a personal item and count is as part of your hand luggage allowance.

Since you can’t bring two personal items on a plane that creates a problem. The pillow would need to be stowed inside one of your bags.

There is very little chance that you’ll get away with bringing two personal items on a low-cost airline.

With full service airlines the situation is a little different. Airlines like American Airlines, Delta, and United don’t make their profits from carry-on baggage fees. So gate agents tend to be less switched on to violations of the rules.

That said, the rules do only allow passengers to bring one personal item. You won’t be able to bring two large personal item bags even on a full service airline.

What you might get away with is boarding with a small purse, or a pillow, or a blanket, or a fanny pack plus a personal item.

The fanny pack is great example of how this topic gets complicated.

Is a fanny pack a personal item bag or is it clothes that you are wearing.

Clothing worn doesn’t use up your personal item allowance, so why should a fanny pack?

Well, it turns out, usually airlines do count a fanny pack as a personal item and tell passengers that it needs to be removed and stowed inside one of their other bags.

So perhaps you want to travel with a carry-on suitcase, an underseater bag, and also carry a purse.

In most cases you won’t be able to do this. The purse would need to be stowed inside either your carry-on suitcase or personal item bag.

The one scenario where you can take an extra personal item is when you’ve bought something from the airport stores.

Duty free items don’t count against your luggage allowance. So if your second bag is a duty free shopping bag you can bring it on the plane.

A lot of business travelers fly with one carry-on suitcase and one large personal item.

Making full use of your hand luggage allowance can save you money since you won’t need to pay for bringing checked bags.

To learn how to travel light with only one personal item try reading our traveling light packing tips.

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