Using a Backpack as Your Personal Item

Using a Backpack as Your Personal Item

Using a Backpack as Your Personal Item

With so many rules and regulations to follow at airports, understanding what you can and can’t bring on a plane is bound to get confusing — especially when airlines have differing opinions on what they call a “personal item”.

Is a backpack a personal item? Or does a backpack count as a carry-on? Is a personal item the same as a carry on? Let’s unpack these questions and more so you can travel with ease and avoid paying additional fees for oversized bags.

What Is Considered a Personal item?

A personal item is meant to hold the belongings you might need easy access to during your flight, and they are typically much smaller than a carry-on bag, which gets stowed in the overhead compartment when boarding. After securing your carry-on luggage above your seat, you’ll place your personal item below the seat in front of you on the plane. 

Personal Item Size Limits

While most backpacks, purses, and briefcases can pass as personal items, a large camping backpack probably won’t fit under the airplane seat. Most airlines publish  specific measurements for what counts as a personal item. Here’s a breakdown of a few popular airlines’ guidelines for personal item size restrictions:

Using a Backpack as Your Personal Item

Some airlines are strict about what additional items you can bring on a plane, so always make sure to check their website before packing to avoid paying any additional fees at the airport. For the most part, the following should be allowed in addition to your carry-on bag and personal item: 

  • A sweater or jacket 
  • Food or drinks purchased after security 
  • A pillow or blanket 
  • A pet carrier 
  • Duty-free purchases 
  • A safety seat, stroller or diaper bag for a ticketed child

How can you best utilize a carry on and personal item?

There are plenty of differences between a carry on vs personal item. The main variation is where they’re stowed during a flight. Carry ons go in the overhead compartment, since they are typically too large to fit under the seat in front of you, which is where your personal item should go.

When you’re traveling with both a personal item and a carry-on, pack the carry-on luggage with everything you won’t need until you’ve reached your destination. Use your personal item to store all your in-flight and commuting needs – headphones, snacks, reading material, laptop, credit card, money, a pen, and a jacket or wrap.

Man sitting at a table with his laptop and backpack

You might also enjoy