Personal Item Size: What Size Can Your Personal Item Be On A Plane?

Last Updated on

Let’s cut to the chase.

Here are the personal item sizes for all the popular airlines you know and hate.

AirlinePersonal Item Size
American Airlines“like a purse or small handbag”
“must fit under the seat in front of you”
18 x 14 x 8 inches (That’s 2016 cubic inches)
Delta Air LinesDelta doesn’t have an official size for what they consider a personal item. Here’s what they have to say:
1 purse, briefcase, camera bag, diaper bag or 1 laptop computer
“or 1 item of a similar or smaller size to those listed above”
Jackets or umbrella’s don’t count as your personal item. – Read More
Southwest Airlines18.5 x 8.5 x 13.5 inch (That’s 2123 cubic inches)
United Airlines17 x 10 x 9 inches (That’s 1530 cubic inches)
Note: United have a much more restrictive idea personal item size
Alaska AirlinesAlaska are unclear about their personal item size limit. Customer service on Twitter twice responded that the personal item can be the same size as the carry on i.e. 22 x 14 x 9. But they also reply that it needs to fit under the seat and suggest that the space under the seat is 17 x 11 x 9.5 inches.
Jetblue Airways17 x 13 x 8 inches (That’s1768 cubic inches)
Spirit Airlines18 x 14 x 8 inches (That’s 2016 cubic inches)
Frontier18 x 14 x 8 inches (That’s 2016 cubic inches)
Allegiant Air 16 x 15 x 7 inches (That’s 1680 cubic inches)

In most cases, the “personal item” is the small piece of luggage that you are entitled to take in addition to your carry on luggage.

It’s usually a handbag, purse, diaper bag, laptop bag, small daypack or something of that nature. But sometimes your umbrella can count as your personal item too.

The TSA or the FAA don’t make the rules about personal items, each individual airline sets their own limits. Sometimes they can be pretty vague about it.

So you need to check with your airline what constitutes personal item size in their eyes. International airlines have similar rules.

The table above can be helpful if you are shopping for a bag that you want to use as a personal item with multiple airlines.

The table contains links to more detailed posts about each airline’s personal item policies. It also has links to the relevant page on the airlines website.

Remember your personal item should go under the seat in front of you. If you chose a large personal item it can affect your legroom. Especially if you have long legs. Some people with short legs actually like to use a personal item as a footrest.

You shouldn’t really pack your personal item in the overhead bins. This leads to other passengers not having enough space for their carry on luggage.

What Makes For A Good Personal Item?

A good personal item should probably not have too rigid a shape. This will allow you to squeeze it if you need to make it fit under the seat. Small backpacks, small duffel bags or small weekender bags can make great personal item sized bags for this reason.

Some miniature under seater carry on luggage that might qualify as a personal item. But if you are stick in the aisle seat it tends to have less room you might struggle to fit it under the seat.

Check this photo of the seats from a Boeing 737.

You can see that the aisle seat has less space underneath to put a personal item. It’s something to bear in mind while booking your seat if you know you will have a large bag that needs to go under.

The Verdict

There isn’t a standard size for personal item luggage. United are pretty tight about it. Budget airlines like Spirit and Frontier might be more strict about personal item size than full-service carriers. They cut the prices of their flight and need to recoup that money elsewhere. Charging for oversized bags can be lucrative.

What’s your personal item? Do you just have a purse or a briefcase or are you trying to maximize the use of this space?

Let us know in the comments.