Is a Backpack a Personal Item | Informative Article 2022

Everyone loves to travel, especially when it is by air. When traveling by air, one has to make special preparations and arrangements. This gives rise to many questions regarding air travel and many complications. Is a backpack a personal item? This is the question that is most frequently asked, and people get confused.

So we are here to sort out this issue for people and set the record straight. The answer to this question is simple. A bag that fits easily under the seat in front of you is characterized as a personal item.

In other words, this means that all small handbags and daypacks are considered personal items. On the other hand, if a person is carrying a large travel bag or a 65-liter bag, it may somehow be called a backpack, but it will definitely not fit under the seat. So yes, it will be counted as a carry-on item.

And if the bag does not fit in the overhead bin as well, it will be a checked bag ignoring the fact that it has straps to carry around on shoulders.

Is a Backpack a Personal Item | A Detailed Article

What Does a Personal Item Mean?

In many instances, the airline by which you are flying allows you to take a carry-on bag or a backpack with you on board. The backpack or carry-on bag is used to store all your essentials in a small bag.

The question here arises what is then a personal item. So the answer is a personal item is generally referred to as a small bag, purse, laptop, or camera case. A bag will be considered a personal item when it is small in size and fits easily underneath the seat in front of you.

Is it Appropriate to Carry a Backpack as a Personal Item?

The answer to this question is definitely YES, you can!

A backpack counts as a personal item for sure. If you wish to carry a backpack as a personal item during travel, it should be small. It can be a laptop bag or a regular daypack.

While flying in any airline, place your backpack, which is your personal item, under the seat in front of you. If it does not fit there, then put it in the overhead bin. Avoid using the second spot in the overhead area. However, it is best to pack your backpack as little as you can. Do not give the airline you are flying any reason to name you out.

Major US Airlines Standards

Major US airlines have set up their statements regarding this issue, which makes it easy for people to find out whether their backpack counts as a personal item or not. The list is as follows:

American Airlines

American airlines’ personal item size should not exceed 18 x 14 x 8 inches.


There is no specific personal item size limit as a backpack. It can either be a handbag, briefcase, camera bag, or diaper bag. The only condition is that the purse should properly and efficiently fit under the seat.


Bags under 17 x 13 x 8 inches are listed as personal items in JetBlue airlines. This means a regular backpack will be best to keep with you.

United Airlines

In united airlines, backpacks under 17 x 10 x 9 inches are categorized as personal items. But unfortunately, this rule cancels out for bags that are wider than 10 inches. Those backpacks can only be a child’s bag but not a laptop bag.


In the southwest, bags that are under 18.5 x 13.5 x 8.5 inches are addressed as personal items. A friendly reminder is that if the backpack, your personal item, does not fit under the seat, you have to place it in the overhead bin.


There is no official statement by Alaska airlines about the specific personal item size limit and dimensions. The only possibility is that the bag has to fit under the seat easily.


Spirit does not permit a carry bag on their cheapest-priced ticket. However, Backpacks that are under 18 x 14 x 8 inches are personal items and allowed in spirit airlines.

So this makes it clear that no matter which airline you are flying, you better select a small backpack or don’t take one.

Can We Carry Two Backpacks While Traveling By Air (A Carry-On and a Personal Item)?

When traveling by any airline, you have to keep in mind their rules to keep your luggage and other stuff. Those rules should be noted before you get on board, so both sides cause no trouble.

Many questions arise, like is a backpack a personal item, or what the specific bag size is in the particular airline you are traveling to. Apart from this, people are also confused if they can take two backpacks with them on board.

So YES, they can definitely take two backpacks on a plane only if one of the backpacks, which is your personal item, fits easily under the seat in front of you. The other backpack as a carry-on luggage size limit should not exceed 45 liters and can be placed in the overhead compartment during the flight.

If you are not sure whether the particular airline allows you this or not, then it is better to call them up and ask, so no inconvenience is created. It will save a lot of time without making any mess at the airport.

American Airlines

Best Personal Item Backpacks For Airlines

Packing up your stuff when traveling by air is all about maximizing the space within the size and weight limits assigned by the particular airline. Apart from luggage, you can carry a small backpack as a personal item on the plane, which sits under the seat in front of you.

Here we provide you a small list of some of the best personal item bags for airlines you can take with you on board:

Tumi Sheppard Deluxe Brief Bag

Tumi is known best for designing the best traveling and business laptop bags. It is best in all aspects as it has small compartments and a portion for your laptop. You can also store this backpack on top of your rolling luggage bag.

Lululemon On My Level Duffel Small 22L

If you are a fan of a more stylish and sportier bag, then you are at the right place. This lightweight tote is the best bag you can take on board as it has small pockets for all your essentials and a separate portion for your laptop.

eBags Haswell Carry-all Tote

Known by its name, eBags is the house of all sorts of luggage and tote bags. This bag is best for travel as it comes with many compartments and an additional zipped bottom pocket for your shoes.

Dagne Dover Classic Signature Tote

Many people take a rather traditional bag or purse with them on the plane as a personal item. If you are also one of those, then this bag is best for you. This chic leather bag with a stylish exterior comes with a well-organized interior and a separate compartment for your laptop and other essentials.

Herschel Supply Co. Travel Tote Backpack

When it comes to choosing a travel bag, it is better to take a bag that serves all purposes. So this bag has been designed keeping in mind all people’s preferences. This tote bag can be carried as a backpack as well. It is one of the best on-the-go traveling backpacks.

Lo & Sons TheRowledge Backpack

If you are in need of a stylish yet small backpack, then this bag suits you best. The Rowledge Nylon and leather backpack by lo and sons have a sleek exterior. The interior comes with many pockets, making it a must-have to carry around on trips and vacations.

Samsonite Spinner Underseat with USB Port

If you need a bag that will fit the best under the seat on the plane, then this suitcase of Samsonite is for you. This multiple-zipped bag has a sleek exterior design. It also comes with a USB port that can charge your devices on the go.

Knomo Luggage Grosvenor Place Travel Shoulder Bag

Are you searching for a good shoulder bag for traveling? This chic black tote and shoulder bag from knomo is best for you. Having a laptop sleeve, this bag is easy to carry and handle during travel. It is one of the best personal item bags for airlines.

eBags Professional Slim Junior Laptop Backpack

Best Personal Item Backpacks For Airlines

People take too many things with them when going traveling, which makes their backpacks even bulky. eBags has the perfect combo for you with this least sturdy backpack. This well-organized bag is a must-have for travelers. This comes with a laptop sleeve and is very handy as all your essentials are safely kept with you.

The Final Verdict

Is a backpack a personal item? Yes, it is. You can carry a bag as a personal item with you on the plane. But it should be small in size so you can easily fit it underneath the seat in front of you.

Also, all airlines have their particular size limits, so they should be noted down. In conclusion, we can say that backpacks are a personal item only when more petite in size. If not aware of the size limit of your airline, gather information from the internet or get help from the airline to avoid any mess.

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