Is a Backpack a Carry On?
The Tortuga Promise
At Tortuga, our mission is to make travel easier. Our advice and recommendations are based on years of travel experience. We only recommend products that we use on our own travels.
When it comes to navigating the seemingly endless rules and regulations surrounding air travel, most people have a lot of questions about luggage. You want to get it right because few things will throw a snag in an otherwise smooth airport experience like finding out at the last minute that your bag is the wrong size. Suddenly you have to check a bag you didn’t expect to, and all your valuables and in-air necessities end up going in the cargo hold.
Whether or not a backpack is considered a
Before we dive in, here are a few luggage definitions you need to know:
- Check in: A large suitcase or bag that must be checked into the plane’s cargo hold then retrieved from the baggage claim upon landing.
- Carry on: A smaller suitcase or
travel backpackthat can be carried onto the plane then stowed in the overhead compartment.
- Personal item: A much smaller bag like a purse, laptop bag, small backpack, or briefcase that can be carried on then stowed beneath the seat in front of you.
Is a Backpack a
In a word, yes, but in two words, it depends.
While a backpack can be a
|Airline||Carry On Size (in)||Carry On Weight (lb)||Carry On Size (cm)||Carry On Weight (kg)|
|Alaska Airlines||22 x 14 x 9 in||Not specified||56 x 36 x 23 cm||Not specified|
|Allegiant Airlines||22 x 14 x 9 in||Not specified||56 x 36 x 23 cm||Not specified|
|American Airlines||22 x 14 x 9 in||Not specified||56 x 36 x 23 cm||Not specified|
|Delta Air Lines||22 x 14 x 9 in||15 or 22 lb²||56 x 36 x 23 cm||7 or 10 kg²|
|Frontier Airlines||24 x 16 x 10 in||35 lb||61 x 41 x 25 cm||16 kg|
|Hawaiian Airlines||22 x 14 x 9 in||25 lb||56 x 36 x 23 cm||11 kg|
|JetBlue Airlines||22 x 14 x 9 in||Not specified||56 x 36 x 23 cm||Not specified|
|Southwest Airlines||24 x 16 x 10 in||Not specified||61 x 41 x 25 cm||Not specified|
|Spirit Airlines||22 x 18 x 10 in||Not specified||56 x 46 x 25 cm||Not specified|
|Sun Country Airlines||24 x 16 x 11 in||35 lb||61 x 41 x 28 cm||16 kg|
|United Airlines||22 x 14 x 9 in||Not specified||56 x 36 x 23 cm||Not specified|
|WestJet||21 x 15 x 9 in||Not specified||53 x 38 x 23 cm||Not specified|
If your backpack is larger than these measurements on these airlines, your bag will usually not be accepted as a
Other factors that may disqualify a backpack from being carried on include packing it with liquids or toiletries that don’t meet the TSA size restrictions, knives or other sharp objects, or anything else that might be considered dangerous.
How to Get the Most Out of Your
Carry On Backpack
We’ve got a few tips on how you can maximize the use of your
Choose the Right
Carry On Backpack
Packing right starts with having the best carry-on-sized backpack possible. The right bag is comfortable, organized, and made to squeeze every last square inch out of your
I’ve been traveling with the Tortuga Travel Backpack for many years and won’t fly with any other bag. No other carry-on-sized
The 45L size will fit the
Whichever size you choose, the
Packing for every eventuality might seem like a good idea, but the truth is that you’ll never use most of the “just in case” items you packed. Learn to travel like a minimalist, which means packing only what you actually will use.
Build a Capsule Wardrobe
One of the hardest things about minimalist travel is reducing clothing, but we have a solution. Capsule wardrobes allow you to pack less while having the right individual pieces necessary to create a variety of different outfits.
Carry On Packing Hacks
The more you travel, the more you learn about
Make a Packing List
Make the Most of Your Personal Item
In addition to your
Make the most of your second bag with this personal item packing list of electronics and in-flight essentials.
Whether you’re winging off for a weekend or heading out for months or even years of travel, a carry on sized travel backpack will make your airport experience significantly easier. You’ll eliminate the time and cost of checking a bag so you can get off the plane and head directly to your destination without standing around and waiting at baggage claim.