Sorting Out The Confusion: Does Your Handbag Count As Carry-On Baggage?

    airport-screening-bagsSometimes you can only bring along one item, sometimes two or even more. How on earth can you travel comfortably, when you switch airlines?  Don’t even get me started on the size of the luggage!  Let’s just try to make sense of the chaos. Here you can find a comprehensive list for the luggage allowed on the major airlines around the world.

    American Airlines

    Aboard the planes of American Airlines exactly one personal item and a carry-on bag is allowed.  Your handbag can be used as your personal item, provided it does not exceed 36 inches total (length+width+height) so it can fit in under the seat.

    Air Canada

    One of the more lenient airlines it allows on board one item with a maximum dimensions of 9 x 15.5 x 21.5 inches and weight up to 22 lbs, along with a personal article such as a large handbag up to 6 x 13 x 17 inches and weighing maximum 22 lbs.

    Not to mention it allows passengers to keep with them small personal items during the time. Small purses for example, which are under 10 x 12 x 5.5 won’t be counted towards the limit.

    British Airways

    The weight limit here is 51 lbs and must be within 22 x 18 x 10 inches. Don’t worry you can still take you handbag with you as long as it can fit under the seat (18 x 14 x 8).

    Delta Airlines

    It allows you to bring with you a carry-on bag and one additional personal item, a handbag for milady and a briefcase for monsieur.  On flights with less than 50 seats however you can only bring one item (22 x 14 x 9) aboard but your carry-on items will be gate-checked for no additional costs.


    You are limited to one personal item in total and it must be within 22.4 x 18 x 10 inches including wheels, and must fit into the overhead bin.  This fits most hand bags.

    EasyJet’s website also warns that on busy flights, they can’t guarantee that all carry-on baggage will fit in the cabin, so they advise passengers with carry-on bags to arrive earlier in order to avoid having their bags put on hold.


    Quantas allows you to bring one piece (2 pieces for First/Business/Premium Economy) of carry-on luggage up to 15 lbs, as well as an additional small personal item such as a handbag.


    RyanAir permits a single piece of cabin baggage per passenger.  The item may have maximum dimensions of 22 x 16 x 8 inches and a maximum weight of up to 26 lbs. Your designer handbags must be used as the carry-on item or placed within it.

    RyanAir’s website also cautions that oversized or extra carry-on baggage will be refused at the gate or placed in the hold of the aircraft for an additional fee of £50/€50.


    Southwest passengers can bring aboard one carry-on bag along with one small personal item.  Carry-on bags must be under 10 x 16 x 24 inches.

    United Airlines

    United Airlines passengers can bring aboard one carry-on bag, no larger than 45 linear inches or 14 x 9 x 22 inches, as well as a personal item like a handbag.

    Virgin Atlantic

    Virgin Atlantic allows you to bring aboard one piece of carry-on luggage not exceeding 9 x 14 x 22 inches, and two pieces for Upper Class passengers.  You can also bring along your handbag as an additional item – provided you’re using it as you normally would – meaning you’re not stuffing your handbag as extra baggage space to bring on extra travel items.

    If You’re Unsure, Give The Airline A Call

    In the modern travel environment, the rules and regulations are constantly being adjusted.  Remember, the only way to be 100% sure that you’re getting the most up-to-date and accurate information at check-in time is to give the airline a call beforehand.  Also, specific regulations in local jurisdictions may create exceptions to the rules above, depending on local government regulations.  In the U.S. for example, all airlines must allow disabled passengers to bring on additional mobility equipment, without counting it towards the carry-on baggage or personal item allowance.

    If you’re uncertain about a rule or an allowance, give the check-in desk a call beforehand to ensure that you’re complying with the regulations.  Going over your allotted carry-on or baggage allowance can be costly and can delay your travel plans, so make sure you prepare ahead of time.

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