How to Navigate New Airline Carry-On Rules


Several major airline services have made new changes to their carry-on policies, some of you may find this a challenge to keep up with.

Not knowing these new changes or how to best navigate them could easily cause you to experience dreaded travel delays. No one wants to miss out on the vacation they have been looking forward to for months or the visit with loved ones miles away.

We review these new policies along with offering some helpful insights on how to maneuver these policies with ease!


What You Need To Know

Size Requirements

The luggage size allowed for carry-ons vary from airline to airline, but we have listed some on the requirements for some of the more well known airlines:

  • Allegiant Airlines – 56 X 35 X 23 cm

  • American Airline – 56 X 35 X 25 cm

  • Delta Airlines – 56 X 35 X 23 cm

  • Southwest Airlines – 60 X 35 X 25 cm

  • United Airlines – 56 X 35 X 23 cm

  • Virgin Atlantic Airlines – 56 X 35 X 23 cm

  • Lufthansa – 56 X 40 X 23 cm



If you are bringing your medication on board its important you understand the rules for carrying them on. Although you are allowed to bring as much of your medication as needed in your carry-on you will want to make sure to place them in zip lock bags, no larger than 1 quart for screening. If you are traveling with liquid medications they will need to be in 3.4 0z. clear bottles. 

For all liquids such as lotions, creams, mouthwash they will also need to be in 3.4 0z clear bottles.


Restricted Items

Not everything you travel with on your trip will be allowed in your carry-on. You will want to avoid bringing anything flammable, sharp objects, weapons, firearm tools with you in the carry-on.


Cost for Carry-Ons

Not all carry-ons are treated equal! Some airlines include the carry-on, while others charge an additional fee for your carry-on: 

  • Allegiant Airlines – Varies from $10.00 to $75.00 based on the trip you are taking. They do allow for one free personal item I.E. laptops, purses, small bags, small backpacks.

  • American Airline – They offer both a free personal item and 1 free carry-on. However if you opt to get their cheaper ticket, Basic Economy that will only include the one personal item. 

  • Delta Airlines- Allow one free carry-on and one free personal item, however they must be able to fit in the overhead bin or under the seat.

  • Southwest Airlines- Permits one free carry-on and one free personal item, they must be able to fit in the overhead bin or under the seat.

  • United Airlines- Both a free personal item and 1 free carry-on. Basic Economy tickets only allow for one personal item. 

  • Virgin Atlantic Airlines- All classes except Upper Class allow for one personal item and one carry-on. If you opted for the Upper Class ticket you will be allowed one personal item and TWO carry-on bags.


Get Ready To Go!

Now that we have taken the time to review the new carry-on guidelines let’s talk about what you can do to navigate these like a frequent traveler! When it comes to the sizes of carry-ons for these major airlines it’s safe to say 56 X 23 cm should easily pass the requirements. If you’re a light traveler then purchasing the best underseat luggage of that size would ease your mind knowing that you can use that on a variety of airlines. If you really want the extra space for more items, you can always check the measurements on the tag of the luggage before you purchase your new bag. There are even some manufactures that clearly state if it is “carry-on size” right on the label.

So you have your bag picked out, now it’s all about getting packed and through TSA. At most retail stores such as Walmart, Target, Meijers, Amazon you can purchase prepackaged toiletry carry-on bags. In these bags you will find a variety of different products like toothpaste, deodorant, mouth wash, and lotions all in bottles or containers that are already TSA compliant. In addition to being the perfect sizes, they are also all packaged together in a clear travel bag. It is helpful to bring anything you need quickly in your carry-on. Obviously no one wants to think about their luggage getting lost, but this happens every day to travelers. If you pack your important documents, medications and other sensitive items in your carry-on you will not have to worry about being completely without in the event the luggage is lost or delayed.

If the flight you need is with an airline that charges for carry-ons, but you do not want to pay the additional price tag for a carry-on that is still possible.  Most airlines allow free personal items. Take any large items and put those in your checked bags that leave more space in the personal item for a variety of things.  You can take this a step further and purchase small packing cubes. These cubes can really be a life saver as they allow you to pack items inside the cube in a tight, but strategic manner. This will let you use every available inch in the personal item. In some cases you may not even miss the Carry-on bag when you use a tip.



As airlines continue to change their carry-on policies it’s always good practice to check airline and TSA websites to ensure you are up to speed on any changes. Most commercial airlines have detailed carry-on policies that can be located on their websites. You can also contact the airline for further information in regards to carry-ons, if you prefer to speak to a live representative.

Traveling can be a great adventure, but it can quickly become a nightmare if you are unprepared or have unexpected mishaps. We hope you find this article insightful and that you have safe travels!

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