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Airlines are getting tough on ‘personal items,’ and it could cost you

London City Airport passengers got beer on luggage carousel

Airlines are becoming increasingly strict with regard to the dimensions of passengers’ personal belongings, and it may end up costing you much more than you had planned.

The definition of a personal item is typically stated clearly by airlines. A purse or small handbag that must fit under the seat in front of you, for instance, is how Americans interpret it. No more than 18 by 14 by 8 inches should be the bag’s measurements.


The smell from a passenger’s carry-on bag forced an American Airlines flight to make an emergency landing in Florida(Opens in a new browser tab)

According to a recent analysis by IdeaWorks and CarTrawler, American Airlines, for example, made a record $7.42 per passenger in baggage revenue in 2021, bringing in $1.22 billion systemwide. Many travelers have been informing me that the rules governing carry-on and checked baggage have been more strictly enforced, which would be consistent with the increased income.


A la carte pricing for things like carry-on luggage have helped other airlines, particularly the ultra-low-cost carriers, build their businesses. According to travelers, they are particularly interested in the personal item category of luggage.

How are ‘personal items’ defined by airlines?


It is described as a purse or little handbag that fits beneath the seat in front of you by American Airlines. The bag’s dimensions shouldn’t be larger than 18x14x8 inches.

It can be a briefcase, a small backpack, a camera bag, or a diaper bag, according to Delta Air Lines. Personal items are not charged costs because they are not considered carry-on luggage.


Purses, backpacks, and laptop bags are considered personal items by United Airlines and must fit under the seat in front of you. Maximum dimensions are 17x10x9 inches.

As long as they fit inside the 16.25 by 13.5 by 8-inch space under the seat, Southwest Airlines does not impose size restrictions on passengers’ carry-on luggage. Bags, briefcases, cameras, food containers, and laptop computers in cases are examples of personal things.


The size of personal objects, including handles, wheels, and straps, which measure 14x18x8 inches, is strictly regulated by Frontier Airlines.



He is an aviation journalist and the founder of Jetline Marvel. Dawal gained a comprehensive understanding of the commercial aviation industry.  He has worked in a range of roles for more than 9 years in the aviation and aerospace industry. He has written more than 1700 articles in the aerospace industry. When he was 19 years old, he received a national award for his general innovations and holds the patent. He completed two postgraduate degrees simultaneously, one in Aerospace and the other in Management. Additionally, he authored nearly six textbooks on aviation and aerospace tailored for students in various educational institutions. jetlinem4(at)