Does A Fanny Pack Count As A Personal Item Or Carry On?

Last Updated on September 7, 2022

Key Takeaways

  • Most airlines in the United States consider a fanny pack to be a personal item
  • If the gate agents notice you are wearing a fanny pack they may ask you to pack it in your carry-on bag
  • Always make sure you have space inside your carry-on bag or personal item to put your fanny pack in case you are asked to consolidate your personal items
  • Different airlines enforce their hand luggage rules more or less strictly

Legacy carriers like American Airlines, Delta, Southwest, and United usually allow passengers to bring one carry-on bag and one personal item. These are different sized bags, the personal item is smaller than the carry-on.

Low cost airlines like Spirit and Frontier don’t allow a carry-on bag for free and the limit is one personal item.

So the question is…

Is a fanny pack considered a personal item? And can you wear a fanny pack on a plane without it using up your carry-on luggage allowance?

Common sense might tell you that since a fanny pack is worn on your body it’s just like a big pocket on your jacket. Jacket pockets don’t count as luggage so why would a fanny pack?

Well… as you’ll see common sense doesn’t always apply.

But whether a fanny pack will count as a personal item depends on which airline you are flying with. 

You won’t have any issues with a fanny pack at airport security. It’s the airline gate agents that monitor hand luggage compliance and each airline has different policies.

Alaska Airlines

Even once you have boarded the plane the flight attendant might ask you to stow your fanny pack under the seat. As far as they are concerned there is no difference between a purse and a bum bag.

American Airlines

Maiya felt discriminated against when she was asked to put her fanny pack inside her carry-on when boarding an American Airlines flight:

Delta Airlines

When Kevin flew with Delta airlines the gate agent considered his fanny pack to be a personal item. He had to put it inside his backpack before boarding:


According to Frontier, a fanny pack is counts as a personal item and you can only bring one personal item. You can’t bring a fanny pack and a personal item on a Frontier flight.


When this passenger flew on Southwest they considered her fanny pack to be a third carry-on bag.


No surprises that Spirit Airlines also consider a fanny pack to be a personal item:

United Airlines

When Nick flew with United Airlines he asked if he could wear a fanny pack in addition to bringing carry-on luggage and a personal item.

United seems to answer the he could wear a fanny pack on the plane and that it wouldn’t count as luggage.

So Should You Wear A Fanny Pack On A Plane?

Most airlines in the US do count a fanny pack as a personal item.

Different airlines have different rules and also enforce them differently.

If you are flying on a low-cost airline like Spirit or Frontier you need to remember that they make most of their profits by charging extra for luggage.

These airlines are much more strict in monitoring the hand luggage that passengers bring with them and hence are more likely to enforce their fanny pack rules.

Legacy airlines don’t make money by charging for carry-on luggage, so they don’t have the same incentive to police passengers wearing fanny packs.

A fanny pack worn under clothes us less likely to be spotted. Most fanny packs or waist packs are small and if you are wearing a jacket it might not be seen.

Regardless, you need to make sure you have a little space inside your carry-on bag to pack your fanny pack if you are asked to do so.

I have another warning since I know you pack your essential items and valuables like cash, cell phone, boarding pass, wallet, credit cards, passports, and tickets in your fanny pack.

You might be asked to put your fanny pack inside your carry-on bag by one gate agent. Subsequently a second gate agent might tell you there is no room in the overhead bins and inform you that your carry-on bag needs to be stored as checked luggage.

If this happens to you, make sure you remember to remove your fanny pack and any valuables before your carry-on is stowed in the luggage hold.

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