What is Allowed in a Carry-on Bag?: Rules and Regulations

What is Allowed in a Carry-on Bag?: Rules and Regulations

While traveling from one place to another you are required to a lot of stuff to carry along and for that, you need some baggage. But if you are traveling by air then you cannot take a huge bag in the main cabin. In that case, you are required to carry a bag that can easily get fitted into the shelf situated above the passenger seat. The bag that you can carry along in the passenger cabin is known as a carry-on bag. 

When traveling by air, carry-on bags are subject to certain regulations and restrictions for the safety and security of passengers and the aircraft. But the prominent questions that arise here are what is allowed in a carry-on bag and what you must avoid. 

Well, in this blog, I have mentioned some general needs and limitations on carry-on baggage. Along with that, I have talked about some airlines’ regulations as well. So without any further ado, let’s dive into this blog together. 

Understanding Carry-On Bags

Before we proceed further, you need to have some understanding of carry-on baggage. All the essential details are been mentioned below; 

Size and Weight Restriction on Baggage

While carrying a carry-on bag, you must have some basic knowledge about the size and weight limit of the baggage. The dimension of the bag should be under 22cm x 14cm x 9cm including its handles and wheels, and its weight should not exceed 30 to 35 pounds. However, the dimension and the weight are subject to change according to your respective airlines.  

Some of the Basic Advantages of Traveling with a Carry-on Bag

Traveling with a carry-on bag can give you a lot of advantages. Some of the prominent advantages are listed below:

  • One of the main and crucial benefits of traveling along with a carry-on bag is convenience. You can easily move around airports and terminals without the hassle of checking in or waiting at baggage claim. This saves you time and allows for a smoother travel experience.

  • If you carry a carry-on bag, then you can easily eliminate the need to wait in long lines to check your luggage. You can simply walk off the plane and be on your way, avoiding potential delays and reducing the risk of lost or mishandled baggage.

  • A carry-on bag gives you more flexibility and control over your stuff. You can easily access your essentials during the journey, making it convenient to grab items like a jacket, snacks, or entertainment without having to dig through checked luggage or wait until reaching your destination.

  • While traveling with a carry-on bag you can navigate through crowded areas, stairs, or tight spaces very easily. You don't have to worry about maneuvering large and heavy suitcases, and you can move more freely and comfortably.

  • Baggage mishandling or loss is an unfortunate reality of travel. If you do not have much stuff to carry then a carry-on bag will be enough. This will minimize the chances of your luggage being misplaced as your carry-on bag will be with you all the time, unlike checked baggage. This can help you avoid potential stress and inconvenience associated with lost baggage.

  • If you have connecting flights or short layovers, having a carry-on bag can be advantageous. You won't need to wait for checked luggage to be transferred, giving you more time to reach your next flight or explore the airport.

  • Many airlines charge additional fees for checked baggage, so if you carry less stuff then your items can be carried in your cabin/ carry-on baggage. In that way, you can save some pennies on your baggage. 

What is Allowed in a Carry-on Bag?

When traveling with a carry-on bag, it's important to be aware of the specific rules and regulations set by the transportation authorities or airline you are flying with, as they may have their own restrictions. However, I can provide you with a general list of items that are typically allowed in a carry-on bag irrespective of the airline. 

A. Essential travel documents and personal items

Some important documents and personal stuff that you can carry are:

  • Passport, ID, and boarding pass: If your carry-on baggage is under baggage limitation then you are allowed to take it along in the passenger cabin. In your baggage, you can carry your passport, visa, your driving license, and boarding pass. 

  • Wallet, keys, and mobile devices: If you carry any cash or credit card then you can easily carry your wallet. However, you must not put any sharp things inside the wallet. Apart from that you can carry any kind of key along. 

  • Medications and medical supplies: If you are under any medication, then you can carry your medical supplements. However, to carry any medication you have to show an authorized prescription to the airport authority. Apart from that, be sure to carry the medicine in its original packaging or box that shows the medicine name clearly. 


B. Clothing and accessories

The next items on the list that are allowed to be carried in the cabin baggage are; 

  • Clothing essentials for the trip: Any clothes from undergarments to proper attire that do not help to exceed the baggage weight limit are allowed to carry. Apart from that you can take neck pillows, eye masks, and blankets.

  • Jewelry and accessories: Any kind of valuable and expensive jewelry or accessories you can keep in your cabin baggage, just to avoid any grave damage to it or any situation like stealing. 


C. Electronics and entertainment

Small electronic items that can be ported easily are allowed such as:

  • Any electronic devices that are not damaged are allowed in the cabin. The list includes laptops, tabs, e-readers, and cameras. 

  • Other electronic devices such as blow dryers, curling irons, and hair straighteners are allowed unless they contain any batteries or gas/fuel cartridges. However, these items are needed to be packed safely.  

  • You can take your mobile along. And if you are traveling with a phone, then it's obvious that you would be needed some support devices such as phone chargers, headphones, power bank chargers, etc. All these are allowed.


D. Toiletries and personal care items

Some other essential items that you can carry are:

  • All Travel-sized toiletries in a container of about 3.4 ounces or 100 milliliters are allowed. The list includes toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, face scrub, face wash, and lotions 

  • You can also carry your makeup and beauty products such as lipstick, foundations, face serum, and moisturizers. 

  • Apart from these, you can carry some dental care essentials such as teeth braces or clear aligners. 


E. Other Items

Other items allowed in carry-on baggage are listed below:

  • Books, newspapers, and magazines are allowed.

  • You can carry all non-liquid food items such as granola bars, fruit, and sandwiches.

  • Ice packs, freezer packs, and frozen gel packs are also acceptable.

  • Small foldable umbrellas.

Note: For better clearance, it is advisable to confirm the rules and limitations on carriable items from your respective airlines.

Special Considerations and Exceptions

If you are traveling with any kid or if you have any illness, then here are some Special Considerations and Exceptions are mentioned exclusively for you; 

A. Traveling with Children

There are some items that you can carry in your carry-on bag. The list is mentioned below: 

  • If you are traveling with an infant, then you must keep some spare clothes especially undergarments in your bag. 

  • Sanitizing wipes are also allowed to be carried along. 

  • You can pack baby foods, and diapers as well.

  • If you are on a breastfeeder then you can carry your milk-feeding equipment. 

B. Medical and Accessibility Needs

If you have any serious health issues and you have to take some medication and injections that you are allowed to carry in your carry-on bag. 

However, to carry these things, you have to show an authentic doctor's prescription and a letter along with you. The letter must be written in English and must have mentioned that you need that particular injection or supplement with you. 

Along with that the procedure to take the medicine should be also mentioned on the prescription. 

Tips for Packing a Carry-On Bag

If you want a smooth and hassle-free travel experience, then packing an efficient carry-on bag is compulsory. However, to help you pack your bag without any problem, I have mentioned some useful tips below:

  • Check airline restrictions: Before you start your bag packing, I would advise you to be aware of the baggage restrictions applied by your respective airline. This will ensure your bag meets the requirements and avoids any issues at the airport.

  • Make a packing list: Always make a list of the items that you need while traveling. This strategy will help you stay organized. Apart from that, you will not forget to pack anything important.

  • Choose the right carry-on baggage: Always go for a carry-on bag that is lightweight, durable, and the airline's baggage restrictions. Consider a bag with multiple compartments or pockets to keep your items organized.

  • Essential items first: Pack your essential items, such as travel documents, medications, and valuables, in a small bag or pouch that can easily be accessed during your journey.

  • Roll your clothes: Rolling your clothes instead of folding them saves space and minimizes wrinkles. Roll each item tightly and stack them vertically in your bag.

  • Use packing cubes or compression bags: Packing cubes or compression bags can help maximize space in your carry-on bag. They allow you to separate items by category and compress your clothes, making them more compact.

  • Pack versatile clothing: Select clothing items that can be mixed and matched to create different outfits. This reduces the number of clothes you need to pack while still providing various options.

  • Layer strategically: If you're traveling to a destination with varying weather conditions, wear your bulkier items, such as jackets or sweaters, during your journey to save space in your bag.

  • Minimize toiletries: Pack travel-sized toiletries or decant your regular products into smaller containers. 

  • Utilize empty spaces: Try to fill in all the empty spaces in your bag with small stuff like socks, undergarments, or accessories. This helps maximize space and prevents items from shifting during transit.

  • Pack electronics safely: Place your electronic devices, such as laptops or cameras, in a protective sleeve or padded compartment within your bag to ensure they remain secure and undamaged.

  • Keep chargers and cables organized: Use cable organizers or small pouches to keep your chargers, cables, and adapters neatly organized and tangle-free.

  • Pack travel essentials: Include travel-sized essentials like a travel pillow, earplugs, eye mask, and travel-sized blanket to ensure comfort during the flight.

  • Secure valuable items: If you're carrying valuable items like jewelry or electronics, consider using a small lock or keeping them in a secure compartment of your bag.


Summary of Carry-On Bag Allowances by Major Airlines

All general instructions are described in the upper section. However, for your convenience, I have listed below some of the official rules and limits on carry-on baggage from the 4 major domestic airlines;

A. Southwest Airlines 

If you are traveling with Southwest Airlines, then the size of your carry-on baggage should be 24 inches (L) + 16 inches (W) + 10 inches (H) and the weight should be under 50 pounds. 

B. American Airlines

According to American Airlines baggage policy, the size of a carry-on bag should be under 18 x 14 x 8 inches (45 x 35 x 20 cm). The weight should not exceed 51 - 70 lbs.

C. Delta Airlines

To travel with Delta Airlines, your carry-on baggage should be under the size limit of linear 62 inches (length+width+height). However, there is no weight restriction on the baggage.

D. United Airlines

While traveling with United Airlines, be sure the carry-on bag size stays under  9 inches X 14 inches X 22 inches (22 cm X 35 cm X 56 cm) including its handle and wheels. The weight should be under 70 lbs. 

Final Thought

Carrying cabin baggage can be very beneficial, but before traveling with it you must make sure that the baggage is under the weight and size restrictions. Along with that, you must know the limitations on items in a carry-on bag. 


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