Southwest Airlines Carry-On Bag Size & Weight Rules

Southwest airplane taking off

Southwest Airlines has specific size requirements for carry-on luggage, which must fit either in overhead compartments or under the seat in front of you. Here we’ll go over the Southwest carry-on size restrictions and help you decide whether or not you can travel with the items packed in your carry-on bag.

Southwest Carry On Size and Weight Restrictions

The Southwest carry-on policy allows passengers to bring one piece of carry-on luggage and one personal-type item on flights. When it comes to Southwest baggage weight limitations, you don't need to worry about how heavy your carry-on luggage is, although you will need to be able to lift carry-on bags to store them in overhead bags. If you cannot lift and store your carry-on yourself, it should be checked instead of carried onto the plane.

Southwest Airlines Carry-On Size Requirements

Southwest carry-on bag size is limited to bags no larger than 10 inches X 16 inches X 24 Inches (25 cm X 40 cm x 60 cm). These dimensions include wheels or handles, so be sure to measure your carry-on with that in mind.

carry on and check in size requirements

Luggage that exceeds Southwest Airlines’ carry-on size will be checked at the gate before departure. Southwest allows passengers two checked bags for free, provided the bags weigh no more than 50 lbs and are not more than 62 linear inches (height x length x width). If you have checked two bags and have to check your carry-on, you will have to pay a $75.00 fee. Checked carry-on luggage will be sent to baggage retrieval with your other checked luggage. 

Southwest Personal Item Dimensions

In addition to a carry-on bag, Southwest allows each passenger one personal item, such as a purse, briefcase, laptop bag, camera bag, or food container. Southwest personal item size can be no larger than 18.5 inches X 8.5 inches X 13.5 inches (46.9 cm X 21.6 cm X 34.3 cm) and must be stored beneath the seat in front of you. 

personal item size requirements

In addition to carry-on luggage and personal items, Southwest allows passengers to bring the following onboard flights:

  • A child-restraint seat dedicated to a child with a reserved seat.
  • Assistive mobility devices for people with physical disabilities. 
  • Clothing items worn as you board the flight.
  • Food in disposable packaging for consumption during the flight. 
  • Umbrellas 
  • Walking canes

What Can I Bring On Board Southwest Airlines Flights?

Southwest allows you to pack a range of items into your carry-on luggage. The airline allows liquids in accordance with TSA rules, so you can pack one quart-sized clear, sealable plastic bag of liquid containers as long as each container does not weigh more than 3.4 ounces of liquid (100 milliliters). Shampoos, conditioners, toothpaste, gels, and aerosols fall under TSA liquid restrictions. 

Pets

Pets in carriers are permitted on Southwest flights, but will be counted as either your carry-on or personal item, depending on carrier size. In addition to conforming to carry-on luggage size, Southwest requires all pet carriers be checked at the airport ticket counter. Pets are accepted on a first-come, first-served basis, with a maximum of six per flight. Only one pet carrier is permitted per paying customer. An additional 95.00 pet fee is charged for each way.

Note: Southwest does not allow pets to travel in-cabin on international flights or on any itinerary that includes international travel.

Human Remains

Southwest does not allow the transport of human remains in checked luggage. Cremated remains may be carried onboard domestic US or international flights under certain conditions (contact the airline in advance to see if you meet their requirements). If traveling with cremated remains, it’s recommended you present them for transport in a temporary plastic or cardboard container and allow extra time for passing through security. Cremated pet remains are subject to the same guidelines.

Medical Assisted Devices

Medically necessary devices such as needles and medical syringes are permitted under the Southwest carry-on policy, as long as they are properly secured to prevent injury to yourself or Southwest employees. Walkers, canes, crutches, and CPAP machines may all be transported in the cabin and do not count as the passenger’s carry-on or personal item.

Battery-Powered Mobility Aids

Battery-powered wheelchairs and other mobility aids are permitted in Southwest cabins as long as the following conditions are met:

  • The device is used by a passenger with a disability.
  • The device is turned off and the key removed, or
  • The device’s on/off switch is in the off position, or 
  • The devices joystick is disconnected, or
  • The battery is removed, and terminals are isolated.

Mobility device batteries must be accessible by Southwest, with clear battery labels in English. The battery must have no signs of damage or defect.

Other items

  • Children’s strollers
  • Camcorders (as either carry-on bag or personal item)
  • Media cameras if stowed in accordance with FAA safety regulations
  • Musical instruments in cases or covering that can fit in overhead bins or under seats. Instruments that exceed Southwest carry-on bag sizes will only be stored in overhead bins if the flight has room. If not, the instrument will be transported as checked luggage.
  • E-cigarettes or vaping devices, which cannot be used or recharged while on the plane..
  • Perishable items wrapped in heavy plastic or styrofoam cartons (as long as said items are not hazardous).
  • Parachutes. which may not be worn in flight. 
  • Skateboards, if substituted for a carry-on bag. 
  • One box of safety matches or one common lighter.

Prohibited Items on Southwest Carry-on and Personal Items

Passengers traveling with Southwest cannot pack any items prohibited by the TSA in their carry-on or personal item. It’s recommended you check with the TSA website before packing anything if you’re unsure whether it's permitted or not. Items prohibited explicitly under Southwest’s carry-on policy include the following:

  • Any beverage with more than 70 percent alcohol (any alcohol container in your carry-on should meet TSA liquid restrictions and contain no more than 3.4 ounces or 100 milliliters).
  • Firearms and ammunition
  • Gasoline-powered tools
  • Internal combustion engines
  • Motor oil, hydraulic fluids, brake fluid, and transmission fluid
  • Poisonous, infectious, or radioactive substances
  • Sharp objects (knives, cutting instruments, razors, ice picks, carpet knives, metal scissors, box cutters, or similar items) 
  • Camping equipment containing flammable liquids or gasses 
  • Flammable liquids, including gasoline and kerosene
  • Motor oil, hydraulic fluids, brake fluid, and transmission fluid
  • Hoverboards, including electric skateboards, balance boards, gravity boards, and self-balancing devices
  • Medical or liquid oxygen 
  • Marijuana 
  • Torch lighters, lighter fluid, strike-anywhere matches, and fire starters
  • Wet-cell batteries

Choosing the Right Carry-on Bag for You

The right carry-on depends on your needs. Pack a backpack with items you’ll need the day you arrive at your destination, so you don’t need to unpack everything at once unless you want to do so. Use a larger weekender carry-on duffel bag or wheeled carry-on luggage for clothing and items you’ll need later in your trip. All Travelpro carry-on bags are designed to meet Southwest carry-on size restrictions so you can travel with confidence.

man holding weekender duffel bag

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