What Rules Usually Govern Carry On Baggage?

What rules usually govern carry on baggage? As with checked baggage, make sure you check with your airline for their specific rules and size and weight limitations. As with checked baggage, make sure you...

As with checked baggage, make sure you check with your airline for their specific rules and size and weight limitations. The policy for carry on baggage is also governed by the FAA and generally speaking you are allowed to take one carry on bag with you, which must be able to fit in the overhead bin or under the seat in front of you. This means the maximum size of a carry on bag is going to be around 9" high by 13" wide by 23" long. There is also a maximum weight which is usually around 40 pounds (18 kg.)


Many airports have devices by the departure gates in which you pass your carry on bag through an opening to determine whether it is too big to be carried on. If it is deemed to be too big, you may have to "gate check" your bag and as this is generally done at the last minute, you may not have the chance to retrieve items from it before it is checked on to the plane.




All carry on bags must fit under your seat or in the overhead bin. If you are putting your bag overhead try to do it as quickly and efficiently as possible, leaving room for other passengers' bags. If putting your bag under the seat, make sure it is actually under the seat and not in the aisle somewhere. If you are seated in an exit row (the row of seats where the emergency exit door is) you cannot put your carry on bag on the floor as it may block the way in case of passengers having to deplane through the emergency door.

You can actually fit quite a lot into the typical carry on bag and you may be able to manage comfortably without checking any bags. In addition to your one carry on bag, the airlines usually allow you to take a personal item - which includes such things as a purse, laptop computer, camera case, small backpack. You can also carry on coats, hats and scarves which are not considered to be part of your carry on allowance.

If you use a wheelchair, cane or crutch, you are also usually allowed to take these on board with you; they are not usually counted as part of your carry on allowance. Check with your airline the rules regarding taking your wheelchair on board with you as there is usually limited storage space.

If you are traveling with a baby (considered to be under 2 years old) the rules regarding what you can carry on for the baby can depend on whether or not you have paid for a ticket for the baby. You are allowed more luggage if you have paid for a seat for the baby or if you are traveling overseas and have paid a percentage of the adult fare for the baby.

You are usually allowed a stroller or car safety seat for the baby in addition to a diaper bag, which is also not considered part of your carry on allowance. And items purchased at the airport after you have cleared security are not considered to be part of your carry on allowance.

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