Every Carry-On Bag Rule From Major Airlines In The U.S.

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If you've ever gone through the trouble of meticulously packing a carry-on bag so that you have all of your essentials within reach, in flight, only to get to the gate and find out it's too big and has to be checked, you know how important luggage size information is. The carry-on bag rules for major U.S. airlines are strict and available on every airline's website, and yet most people aren't fully aware of them or don't know if the bags that they use fall within that standard. While sometimes there might be a little bit of leeway, the overhead storage bins are built to accommodate only a certain-sized bag. And if your bag is longer or taller and takes up more space than you're allotted, you screw up the algorithm and someone else's bag won't fit.

The reason why these rules might seem flexible is because if you're on a flight that's not sold out, your gate attendant might be more willing to let you on with a bag that's slightly larger than the airline's regulation states, so long as it fits in the bin. However if you're on a flight that's totally booked, and a majority of passengers have with them carry-ons in addition to personal items, you're not going to have any luck sneaking your bulky bag on. What's more, if you're on a crowded flight and one of the last to board, you might be forced to check your bag, even if it is the right size, because there's no room left in the cabin.

The best way to ensure that you and your bag end up in the same place at the same time is to make sure that you are within the required proportions for the particular airline you're flying. As a general rule, U.S. airlines permit economy luggage that measures a total of 45 linear inches, with no weight limit, so long as you can lift it above your head to place it in the storage bin. An exception to this rule is if your flight is taking place on a small plane and the crew makes a last-minute decision to enforce checked bags.

Of course, each airline has its own specific rules — and they're all important to know if you're planning to fly with them. Here's the breakdown by domestic airline:

JetBlue

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Your carry-on must be no larger than 22'' x 14'' x 9'', and this total measurement includes the handle and wheels. JetBlue does not list a weight restriction on carry-on bags, but you must be able to lift it above your head and into the storage bins without assistance. You may also take one personal item.

Delta Airlines

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Your bag must be no larger than 22'' x 14'' x 9'', and this total measurement includes the handle and wheels. Delta Airlines does not list a weight restriction for carry-on bags taken on domestic flights, but you must be able to lift it above your head and into the storage bins without assistance. Before you board the plane, you can double check to see if your bag is the right size by holding it up to the size guide at the terminal.

United Airlines

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Your bag must be no larger than 22'' x 14'' x 9'', and this total measurement includes the handle and wheels. United Airlines does not list a weight restriction on carry-on bags, but you must be able to lift it above your head and into the storage bins without assistance. You may also bring one personal item for no extra fee, and one approved Duty Free item.

American Airlines

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Your bag must be no larger than 22'' x 14'' x 9'', and this total measurement includes the handle and wheels. American Airlines does not list a weight restriction on carry-on bags, but you must be able to lift it above your head and into the storage bins without assistance. American Airlines notes on its website that if you are flying on a particularly small plane, there might be even more restrictions for carry-ons, but, likely, checked fees won't apply.

Alaska Airlines

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Due to a recent update in bags size implemented in June 2019, your bag must be no larger than 22'' x 14'' x 9'', and this total measurement includes the handle and wheels. Alaska Airlines does not list a weight restriction on carry-on bags, but you must be able to lift it above your head and into the storage bins without assistance. You are also allowed one personal item, but it must fit under the seat in front of you.