Does A Blanket Count As A Personal Item?

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Airlines used to give passengers free blankets to keep them warm and cozy on flights.

That’s a practice that is in decline. Sometimes if you ask for a blanket when flying you might be given one, other times the airline might try to sell you one.

Then there is the issue of whether free airline blankets are sanitary.

More and more passengers are bringing their own blankets when flying just to make sure they have something clean.

This post looks at how and if you need to pack a blanket when flying.

Can you bring a blanket on a plane?

I always try to answer a question exhaustively. My first check was the TSA (Transportation Security Administration) to see if they had anything to say about blankets.

You can bring a blanket on a plane, no surprises there.

It can be packed inside your carry-on bag, or it can be packed inside your personal item which is a bag sized to go under the seat in front of you.

The real question is does a blanket NEED to be packed inside one of your bags or can you simply carry it on in addition to your carry on luggage allowance as an extra “freebie”.

Is A Blanket Luggage Or Attire?

Every airline allows you to carry a jacket on a plane and it doesn’t use up any of your luggage allowances. This is because the jacket is considered to be part of your clothes that you are wearing.

You can certainly board an aircraft wearing a shawl or a wrap and it won’t count as a personal item.

And I could argue that a shawl is just a blanket draped over your shoulders.

It would suggest that a blanket worn on your body as you board a flight shouldn’t pose any problems. Afterall nobody would make you check a sweater so why would the make you check a blanket.

If on the other hand your blanket is not worn on your body but carried in a plastic bag in most cases this counts as your personal item.

If you already have a carry on bag and a small personal item bag like a laptop bag or a purse then in theory your blanket in a plastic bag would be a third bag and prohibited under most economy tickets.

I would anticipate that full-service airlines wouldn’t bat an eyelid.

Low-cost airlines, on the other hand, have made hitting passengers with fines part of their business model.

To try to get to the bottom of the question I set out to investigate the major airlines on the US to see what their policies regarding carrying on a blanket were.

Can you carry a blanket on an airplane? Airline by Airline

Twitter often has some good answers for customer support queries.

American Airlines

Jennifer asked American Airlines if you can you take blankets on airplanes:

As for as American Airlines were concerned on this occasion a blanket does count as a personal item.

And Emily asked American the same question more recently and received a similar response:

So if you want to bring a blanket on a plane it’s best to pack it inside one of your bags.

Delta

Kaity asked Delta if she could bring a throw blanket on the plane:

Delta replied that her blanket must be packed inside her luggage, so for Delta a blanket counts as a carry-on.

Frontier

Cabrina asked Frontier about bringing a blanket and their reply seems to suggest that she should not be charged extra for it.

Since Frontier only allow a personal item and charge extra for a standard carry on bag I would be surprised if this was true. I would recommend checking with Frontier before you bring your blanket in a bag to the boarding gate. It might be better to throw your blanket over your shoulders and claim it’s a fashion statement.

Southwest

Kristine asked Southwest if her blanket counted as a personal item:

Southwest confirmed that a blanket does count as a carry-on and that she’d need to pack her blanket inside her luggage or personal item.

Spirit

A passenger asked Spirit Airlines if they could bring a blanket for free. This was the response they got:

If you can convince the boarding agents that your blanket is a garment then you’ll be able to bring it on. If you rock up to the gate with a blanket in a plastic bag expect them to try to charge you money for it.

United Airlines

Thomas was perplexed why United made a passenger pack her blanket and pillow in her case before passing the gate.

When Amber was worried about being cold on her United flight she asked if she could bring a small blanket:

United explained that she could bring it as her personal item. This would effectively use up the one personal item allocation.

And, to make matters worse, United Basic Economy only allows personal items and no carry-on

So this would mean bringing a blanket in a small bag would mean you couldn’t bring any other luggage.

The Bottom Line

It’s a tricky question to get a definitive answer on.

If your blanket is seen to be a garment then you’ll pass the boarding gate no problem.

In fact, it that’s something you would wear then it might be better just to wear a shawl or wrap instead of taking a blanket.

If you carry a blanket in a bag, even a plastic bag, most airlines will see that as apart of your luggage allowance.

Since you are only permitted one personal item you might run into trouble if you have a carry-on, briefcase or purse, and a blanket in a bag.

Try to pack your blanket in one of your bags to be sure.

If you can’t fit it in your bags then try to wear your blanket and claim it’s just your style of dress.

Remember if your blanket is packed in your carry on there is always the chance that you might be forced to gate check your suitcase.

In that case, you’d want to remove your blanket before you boarded the plane as well as any valuables.

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