Bringing certain things on a flight requires confirmation if they’re slightly unconventional – an air mattress is one of those things.
If you’re looking to travel with your inflatable mattress and it has a pump, things get a bit more complicated because the pump adds extra weight.
You’ll be pleased to know that you can take a deflated air mattress on a plane, and the TSA also allows air mattresses with pumps. You’ll be limited by the airline’s bag size and weight restrictions, but you are permitted to bring your air bed in your carry-on or checked luggage.
I always recommend double-checking the size and weight limits for specific airlines. While the TSA will allow an air mattress through security, how convenient the process depends on whether your bag is the right size.
Air Mattress Carry-On Size Limits
The average carry-on size limit for most airlines is 22” x 14” x 9” (56 cm x 35 cm x 22 cm), including handles and wheels, though smaller airlines may have further limitations due to reduced overhead space.
I don’t recommend bringing an air mattress in your hand luggage as it’s likely to take up space better used for more important things.
Depending on the size of your mattress, it might not even fit in your carry-on bag, and if you’re looking to bring a larger air bed, you’ll have no choice but to put it in checked luggage.
Most airlines are quite strict about carry-ons, and if you bring a bag that’s too large to fit in the overhead compartment, they may force you to check it anyway, which can come at a cost.
Moreover, an air mattress isn’t fragile, so it’s not likely to be damaged if you check it.
Air Mattress Weight Limits
Bringing an air mattress on a plane requires understanding the airline’s weight limits for carry-on and checked luggage.
For most airlines, the maximum weight for checked luggage is 50lbs (23kg) unless you’re flying First or Business Class, where the limit is 70lbs (32kg).
Some airlines don’t have specific weight limits for carry-on bags, but many airlines restrict hand luggage to 20lbs (10kg) or slightly below.
You’ll have to confirm with your carrier as to whether they permit passengers to bring carry-on items heavier than that.
A full-size air mattress weighs about 12lbs (5.4kg), over half the allowed carry-on weight for specific airlines.
If you’re traveling alone and don’t need many things on your flight, you can get away with stashing your air bed in your hand luggage.
However, making the most of the available space is crucial if you’re traveling with a family, and that usually means shoving all the items you won’t need during the flight into your checked baggage.
As a rule of thumb, if one item takes up more than 20% of the airline’s weight limit, it might be time to rethink your packing strategy.
How Do I Pack My Air Mattress?
The problem with bringing an air mattress on a flight isn’t necessarily where to store it, as most come with a carrying case – the most common issue is how to fold it so it fits.
To fold your mattress, press out any excess air and ensure it’s as flat as possible. You can do this by pushing out the air from end to end with the palm of your hand.
Next, fold the mattress in half by length, then by width, and repeat until it’s in quarters.
Finally, roll your mattress and store it in the carrying case to prevent it from being punctured by other items in your bag.
If you have a self-inflating mattress, you may want to consider bringing a manual pump as a backup.
In terms of size, I recommend bringing a single air mattress instead of a double one.
A double mattress will certainly be more comfortable, but a single is more portable and better suited for flying.
What Happens if My Suitcase Is Overweight?
If your checked luggage is overweight, you will be required to pay excess weight fees.
The charges for overweight luggage are specific to the route and the airline, but they can run you as much as $200 depending on how heavy your bag is.
Some airlines have handling fees, which are the costs for loading and unloading specific equipment, though these usually apply to heavy or oversized items like camping supplies or sports gear.
You’re unlikely to be charged extra handling for an inflatable mattress, but keep in mind that baggage fees often change, so confirm the current rates with the airline.
Will I Get Through Security With an Air Mattress?
Yes, you’re very likely to get through airport security with a deflated air mattress.
Though uncommon, air mattresses aren’t a big deal at security, and you’ll also have no issues if your mattress has a pump.
TSA agents sometimes carry out routine inspections to check your bag and ensure everything is ok.
It depends on who you get at the checkpoint, but it’s not usually a problem.
When traveling with an air mattress, the main factor to consider is the baggage restrictions at specific airlines.
You are permitted to bring your air mattress in your carry-on, but it’s not really efficient use of space.
To reduce the chances of paying high fees for oversized or overweight luggage, always check that your bag meets the airline’s requirements.