U.S. Airline Carry-On Rules: The Ultimate Guide

There's a lot to take in when it comes to the complex world of airfare -- particularly as it pertains to carry-on rules. To make matters more confusing, sometimes the airline you fly out on isn't the one you fly back with. Booking sites like Kayak and Skyscanner will often compile itineraries with different airlines to offer the best price. All of this makes it tough to figure out the size and weight of a bag you're allowed to bring into the cabin. To help, we've broken down the carry-on guidelines for 11 major U.S. carriers. If applicable, we also took into account fare class. Consider this your cheat sheet.

Alaska Airlines

What You're Allowed to Bring on for Free: One carry-on and one personal item, such as a purse or briefcase

Maximum Dimensions for Carry-Ons: 22 x 14 x 9 inches (including wheels and handles)

Maximum Weight for Carry-Ons: Not specified, but you must be able to lift your own bag into the overhead compartment

Exceptions: The following items count as carry-ons and can exceed the standard carry-on dimensions, if they can be "safely stowed" in the cabin: 

  • Art/advertising portfolios
  • Human organs
  • Paintings
  • Delicate scientific equipment
  • Fishing poles
  • Small musical instruments

Allegiant Air

What You're Allowed to Bring on for Free: One personal item; you can purchase one carry-on bag per passenger

Carry-On Bag Fee: Priced by route

Maximum Dimensions for Carry-Ons: 22 x 14 x 9 inches (including wheels and handles)

Maximum Weight for Carry-Ons: Not specified  

American Airlines

What You're Allowed to Bring on for Free: One carry-on and one personal item

Maximum Dimensions for Carry-Ons: 22 x 14 x 9 inches (including wheels and handles)

Maximum Weight for Carry-Ons: Not specified

Other Rules: Musical instruments count as carry-ons and must fit in the overhead bin or under the seat. Pet kennels and containers also count as carry-ons and carry-on pet fees apply (see here for more information).

Delta Airlines

What You're Allowed to Bring on for Free: One carry-on and one personal item

Maximum Dimensions for Carry-Ons: 22 x 14 x 9 inches (including wheels and handles)

Maximum Weight for Carry-Ons: No maximum, except for the following airports:

  • Changi International Airport, Singapore (SIN): Carry-on should not exceed 15 pounds 
  • Incheon International Airport, South Korea (ICN): Carry-on should not exceed 22 pounds  
  • Beijing Capital International Airport (PEK): Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) requires that domestic carry-on bags should not exceed 10 kilograms. Individual carrier rules apply for international flights.
  • Shanghai Pudong International Airport (PVG): Carry-on should not exceed 22 pounds  

Other Rules: Musical instruments count as carry-ons, but must fit in the overhead bin or under the seat. Pet kennels and containers also count as carry-ons and carry-on pet fees apply (see here for more information).

Frontier Airlines: Standard

What You're Allowed to Bring on for Free: One personal item; you can purchase carry-on bags

Carry-On Bag Fee: Depends on when and how the bag was purchased

  • Online at booking: $35 ($30 during certain times)
  • Online, between booking and 24 hours pre-departure: $38
  • Call center: $40
  • Web check-in: $40
  • Airport ticket counter or kiosk: $45
  • Departure gate: $60 

Maximum Dimensions for Carry-Ons: 24 x 16 x 10 inches (including wheels, handles, and straps)

Maximum Weight for Carry-Ons: No more than 35 pounds

Frontier Airlines: The WORKS and The PERKS

What You're Allowed to Bring on for Free: One personal item and one carry-on bag

Maximum Dimensions for Carry-Ons: 24 x 16 x 10 inches (including wheels, handles, and straps)

Maximum Weight for Carry-Ons: No more than 35 pounds

Hawaiian Airlines

What You're Allowed to Bring on for Free: One personal item and one carry-on bag 

Maximum Dimensions for Carry-Ons: 22 x 14 x 9 inches (including wheels, handles, and straps)

Maximum Weight for Carry-Ons: 25 pounds

Other Rules: Musical instruments can be taken onboard as a carry-on regardless of size, if it can be stowed and there's space.   

JetBlue

What You're Allowed to Bring on For Free: One personal item and one carry-on bag

Maximum Dimensions for Carry-Ons: 22 x 14 x 9 inches (including wheels and handles)

Maximum Weight for Carry-Ons: None specified

Southwest Airlines

What You're Allowed to Bring on for Free: One personal item and one carry-on bag

Maximum Dimensions for Carry-Ons: 24 x 16 x 10 inches (including wheels, handles, and straps)

Maximum Weight for Carry-Ons: None specified

Other Rules: Pet kennels and containers count as carry-ons.

Spirit Airlines

What You're Allowed to Bring on for Free: One personal item 

Carry-On Bag Fee: Depends on route and how and when carry-on is purchased. Use this calculator to find out what yours will cost.

Maximum Dimensions for Carry-Ons: 22 x 18 x 10 inches (including wheels and handles)

Maximum Weight for Carry-Ons: None specified

Sun Country Airlines

What You're Allowed to Bring on for Free: One personal item; carry-ons can be purchased 

Carry-On Bag Fee: $30 (U.S. $48), $35 (all other routes). Free for UFly Rewards Elite members as well as active U.S. military members. 

Maximum Dimensions for Carry-Ons: 24 x 16 x 11 inches (including wheels, handles, and straps)

Maximum Weight for Carry-Ons: 35 pounds

United Airlines: Basic Economy

What You're Allowed to Bring on for Free: One personal item (MileagePlus members are allowed a free carry-on)

Carry-On Bag Fee: Bags brought to the gate will incur a checked bag fee (calculate here) as well as a $25 handling charge.  

Maximum Dimensions for Carry-Ons: 22 x 14 x 9 inches (including wheels and handles)

Maximum Weight for Carry-On: None specified

Other Rules: Musical instruments count as carry-ons and must fit in the overhead bin or under the seat. Pet kennels and containers also count as carry-ons.

United Airlines: All Other Fares

What You're Allowed to Bring on for Free: One personal item and one carry-on

Carry-On Bag Fee: Depends on route and how and when the carry-on is purchased 

Maximum Dimensions for Carry-Ons: 22 x 14 x 9 inches (including wheels and handles)

Maximum Weight for Carry-Ons: None specified

Other Rules: Musical instruments count as carry-ons and must fit n the overhead bin or under the seat. Pet kennels and containers also count as carry-ons.

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