How Heavy Can a Carry On Be?

Have you ever had to pay extra fees for checked bags that exceeded weight restrictions? Maybe you could have squeezed some items into your carry-ons to avoid the fine. 

But are there the same weight limitations on carry-ons?

Most airline companies in the US pay more attention to the size and contents of hand luggage instead of the weight. However, some companies may limit the weight to 15-40 pounds (7-18 kg) per passenger, depending on the airplane size and the destination. 

This article will provide helpful information about the carry-on size allowance and policies of some major airline companies in the US.

Carry-On Baggage Allowance per Airline

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) recommends passengers reach out to the airlines to find out more about their carry-on allowance. In addition, airlines might consider various factors to decide restrictions, such as whether you’re in business or economy class. 

As discussed, many airline companies don’t limit the weight of hand luggage as long as they fit into the overhead cabin. Commonly, carry-on luggage size cannot exceed 45 linear inches, including handles and wheels. 

Check out the baggage and personal item policies of the following airlines listed below:

Alaska Airlines

Alaska Airlines allows passengers to carry one personal item, such as a laptop bag or a purse, and one carry-on without a specified weight limit. The company emphasizes that you must carry your own bag and it must fit inside the overhead bins. 

Carry-On Luggage Size Dimensions:

Height: 22 inches (56 cm)

Width: 14 inches (36 cm)

Thickness: 9 inches (23 cm)

The company has set some exceptions for items that may not meet the required dimensions, such as small musical instruments, paintings, and more. In addition, there’s no limit to the number of medical and assistive items a passenger may carry into the cabin.

You can also have other personal items, such as umbrellas and pillows. 

American Airlines

American Airlines doesn’t have a weight limit for handbags or personal items as long as they meet the acceptable dimensions

Carry-On Maximum Dimensions:

Height: 22 inches (56 cm)

Width: 14 inches (36 cm)

Thickness: 9 inches (23 cm)

Also, carry-on luggage size cannot exceed 45 linear inches.  

Personal Item Dimensions:

Height: 18 inches (45 cm)

Width: 14 inches (35 cm)

Thickness: 8 inches (20 cm)

Delta Airlines

Like most airline companies in the US, Delta Airlines allows one personal item that can safely fit under the seat. They also permit customers to bring hand luggage for free regardless of the weight as long as they meet the size requirement.

Carry-on Dimensions:

Height: 22 inches (56 cm)

Width: 14 inches (35 cm)

Thickness: 9 inches (23 cm)

In addition, Delta doesn’t have a maximum weight limit for hand luggage for most flights, except those flying to and from the following airports:

  • Beijing Capital International Airport, in Beijing, China (PEK) – 22 lbs. (10 kg)
  • Pudong International Airport in Shanghai, China (PVG) – 22 lbs. (10 kg)
  • Changi International Airport in Singapore (SIN) – 15 lbs. (6.8 kg)

You may check out more information about Delta Airlines’ cabin baggage policies on their website.

Frontier Airlines

Frontier Airlines charges a fee for cabin luggage and limits the weight allowance to 35 lbs (15.88 kg) per person. However, passengers who have Frontier Miles Elite membership and those who purchased THE WORKSSM may bring a cabin bag for free.

Carry-On Dimensions:

Height: 24 inches (61 cm)

Width: 16 inches (40 cm)

Thickness: 10 inches (25 cm)

Personal Item Dimensions:

Height: 14 inches (35 cm)

Width: 18 inches (45 cm)

Thickness: 8 inches (20 cm)

You may check the applicable rates for hand luggage on Frontier Airlines’ website.

Hawaiian Airlines

Passengers of Hawaiian Airlines flights can bring one carry-on bag and one personal item on board for free. Currently, weight limits for hand luggage are 25 lbs (11 kg).

Carry-On Dimensions:

Length: 9 inches (22.86 cm)

Width: 14 inches (35.56 cm)

Height: 22 inches (55.88 cm)

There are no set dimensions for the size of a personal item. However, the company emphasizes that it must fit under the seat in front of a passenger.

You can visit the company’s website to learn more about the exceptions to the general rule on cabin baggage. 

JetBlue

At present, JetBlue doesn’t have a weight limit for cabin bags, but it has set some restrictions on the size to ensure that they fit in the overhead bin. 

Carry-On Dimensions:

Length: 22 inches (55.88 cm)

Width: 14 inches (35.56 cm)

Height: 9 inches (22.86 cm)

Personal Item Dimensions:

Length: 17 inches (43.2 cm)

Width: 13 inches (33 cm)

Height: 8 inches (20.32 cm)

It’s important to note that passengers with Blue Basic Economy fare can not bring a carry-on bag into the cabin. They’ll need to check in their bags at the gate at additional costs.

For more information on JetBlue’s carry-on luggage rules and exceptions, visit the company’s website.

Southwest Airlines

Southwest Airlines does not have weight limits for carry-on bags for either economy or business class passengers. Customers only need to observe the size requirements.

Carry-On Dimensions:

Height: 24 inches (61 cm)

Width: 16 inches (40 cm)

Thickness: 10 inches (25 cm)

Passengers may also bring a personal item that they can place underneath the seat in front of them. These items include:

  • Laptop bag
  • Camera bag
  • Shoulder bag or small handbag
  • Briefcase
  • Food container
  • Diaper bag

Passengers with special, medical, or childcare needs can carry equipment or devices into the cabin, in addition to their hand luggage and personal item.

Spirit Airlines

On Spirit Airlines, passengers are allowed only one personal item onboard for free. They’ll have to pay an extra fee to bring carry-on bags. 

Weight limits at Spirit include nothing over 40 lbs (18.14 kg), so traveling light is your best option. Moreover, rates vary depending on the destination.

Carry-On Dimensions:

Height: 22 inches (55.88 cm)

Width: 18 inches (45.72 cm)

Thickness: 10 inches (25.4 cm)

Personal Item Dimensions:

Height: 14 inches (35.56 cm)

Width: 18 inches (45.72 cm)

Thickness: 8 inches (20.32 cm)

United Airlines

United has a carry-on baggage policy that passengers must comply with for a smoother check-in and flight process. Most passenger airplanes operating under the company follow the standard policy that allows one carry-on and one personal item per passenger.

Carry-On Dimensions:

Height: 22 inches (56 cm)

Width: 14 inches (35 cm)

Thickness: 9 inches (23 cm)

Personal Item Dimensions:

Height: 17 inches (43 cm)

Width: 10 inches (25 cm)

Thickness: 9 inches (23 cm)

Carry-on bags that follow the set dimensions are free of charge. However, if the size exceeds the limit, the airline will check in the bags for an additional fee.

Meanwhile, customers with Basic Economy tickets or those boarding smaller aircraft under United Express may carry only one personal item onboard. The items must fit underneath the seat in front of the passenger.

Below is a list of personal items accepted as carry-on luggage:

  • Laptop bag
  • Breastfeeding equipment, breast milk, and baby formula
  • Mobility aids
  • Medical devices
  • Assistive devices
  • Carry-on suitcase
  • Diaper bags

Passengers who meet certain exceptions, such as possessing qualified membership cards or going on trans-Pacific or trans-Atlantic flights, possibly can bring a cabin bag and a personal item as usual. 

What About Checked Luggage?

Typically, checked luggage can not exceed 50 pounds (22.7 kg). For some airlines, 50 pounds is the combined weight of all checked luggage. 

Also, a checked bag usually has a size limit of 62 linear inches. 

Thus, you should always find out your checked baggage measurements before you get to the boarding gate. 

Conclusion

Airline companies have varied size limits for hand luggage. Even flights operating under the same company may set different dimensions depending on the size of the aircraft or the destination. 

Therefore, since there’s no one rule regarding hand luggage and personal items, it’s crucial to check airline company websites for new or existing policies before booking a flight. If you have already booked a ticket but don’t want to incur extra fees, you may contact the airline company for more information.

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