Is A Backpack A Personal Item? – Here’s What You Need To Know

Backpack a Personal Item

Last Updated on Aug 28th, 2023 by Renu Dahiya, Leave a Comment

Have you got everything ready for your next vacation? Have you chosen your destination, snatched up your flights, found some cheap accommodation, and planned an epic itinerary? Yes? Great! Now, it’s time to pack. You must be wondering ‘is a backpack a personal item?’. And, more importantly, should you use a flight backpack as a carry-on? All these questions seem simple, but there is actually quite a bit to consider. But, don’t worry, this blog tells you all about backpacks as personal items or carry-on and teaches you some tips on how to pack light for comfortable flights. So, let’s dive in. 

Does A Backpack Count As A Personal Item?

You find backpacks available in multiple sizes such as some are short for single-day hikes and some large for multi-day hikes and extended vacations. These are categorized as carry-on items and personal items. So, to give you a straight answer to your question ‘can you use a backpack as a personal item or carry-on?’, it’s yes, you can use backpacks as personal items and carry-ons as long as it fits within the airline’s size and dimensions requirements. 

Here’s a quick definition of personal item and carry-on – A carry-on is technically any item that you carry onto the plane, but it is supposed to fit in the overhead bin. Personal items are smaller and meant to fit underneath your seat. 

Speaking of extra luggage charges, if you are confused if you can take a backpack as a carry-on for free – It depends. Some carriers allow you one free carry-on and personal item. But, others may charge some amount. So, to avoid future hassles or surprises, always check with your airlines before booking a flight ticket. 

Difference Between Carry-On And Personal Items

Airlines always require personal items to be considerably smaller than carry-ons because they have to be stored underneath your seat. A backpack of up to 45 liters makes an excellent carry-on in almost all cases. But, if the backpack is small – something around the size of a traditional school backpack – the airline will allow you to use it as a free personal item. If you are planning to use a flight backpack as carry-on, make sure to use a large backpack (or suitcase) to make it worth the cost. 

To know about the best under-seat luggage for travelers, check out this blog now! 

Carry-On & Personal Item Rules And Size Restrictions

Here are the rules and backpack dimensions for carry-on and personal items of the different major airlines. The details are subject to change, please check with the airline before booking your travel. 

American Airlines 

With American Airlines, flyers can take one personal item and one carry-on bag for free on both domestic and international flights. If you have both personal items, they must be stowed under the seat in front of you. 

  • Personal item size and weight – 18x14x8 inches (45x35x20 cm)
  • Carry-on size and weight – 22x14x9 inches (56x36x23 cm)

Delta Airlines

travelers can bring one personal item and one carry-on bag for free on both domestic and international flights of Delta Airlines. If you have both personal items, they must fit under the seat in front of you.

  • Personal item size and weight – No exact dimensions given – similar size to purse, briefcase, or small backpack.
  • Carry-on size and weight – 22x14x9 inches (56x36x23 cm)

United Airlines 

The size limits of United Airlines on personal items are smaller than most standard backpacks. Basic Economy fare only includes a free personal item, not a carry-on bag. If you want to add a carry-on bag to the Basic Economy ticket, the charges will start at $30.

  • Personal item size and weight – 17x10x9 inches (43x25x22 cm)
  • Carry-on size and weight – 22x14x9 inches (56x36x23 cm)

JetBlue Airways

Blue Basic fares of JetBlue Airways only include a free personal item, not a carry-on bag. And, if you have a carry-on bag on Blue Basic tickets, please know that these will be checked at the gate starting at a cost of $65. 

  • Personal item size and weight – 17x13x8 inches (43.2x33x20.32 cm)
  • Carry-on size and weight – 22x14x9 inches (55x36x23 cm)

Frontier Airlines 

Air tickets of Frontier Airlines only include a personal item, not a carry-on bag. If want to bring a carry-on bag too, the charges for the same will start at $30.

  • Personal item size and weight – 18x14x8 inches (45x35x20 cm)
  • Carry-on size and weight – 24x16x10 inches (60x40x25 cm)

Spirit Airlines 

Flight tickets of Spirit Airlines only include a personal item, not a carry-on bag. Charges for adding a carry-on bag to your tickets start at $36.

  • Personal item size and weight – 18x14x8 inches (45x35x20 cm)
  • Carry-on size and weight – 22x18x10 inches (56x46x25 cm)

Allegiant Airlines

Allegiant Airlines’ tickets only include a free personal item, not a carry-on bag. And, if you want to bring a carry-on bag with you on a plane, the airline will charge you something. These charges will start at $10. 

  • Personal item size and weight – 16x15x7 inches (40.6×38.1×17.8 cm)
  • Carry-on size and weight -22x14x9 inches (56x36x23 cm)

Also, please note that both carry-on and personal item sizes are typically different between domestic and international flights. For instance, the size requirements for New York to Dallas flights will be different (small size) and for Chicago to Delhi flights will be different (big size). 

Items Not Allowed In A Personal Item And A Carry-On Bag

Here’s the list of items not allowed in personal items and carry-ons – 

  • Alcoholic beverages over 140 proof
  • Many chemical and flammables
  • Any fluids that exceed 3.4 ounces
  • Sharp objects such as axes, knives, or hatchets
  • Baseball bats, brass knuckles, mace, bear spray, bows & arrows, or basically anything that could be used as a weapon. 

If you want to know the prohibited items under checked baggage rules, do check out our blog here. 

Amazing Packing Tips For Flight Trips With Just A Personal item

Packing for flight journeys at times can be hectic and even frustrating. We always get confused between what to pack and what not to. Then, there is also this overweight fee that we need to handle. But, stop worrying if you also face such situations. Here are some amazing tips that will surely help you pack light – 

  • Use packing cubes that you can compress after they are full to maximize space even more.
  • Purchase toiletries on location and don’t bother bringing them home with you.
  • Don’t carry an outfit for each day of your trip. Plan to do laundry along the way. This is especially useful with small things that are easy to wash in hotel room sinks. 
  • Wear your bulkiest clothing and heavy hiking boots on the plane.
  • Don’t pack all your shoes. We understand that this is not always possible to stick to one pair of shoes, but you will save loads of space in your personal item bag. 
  • Pack earphones instead of headphones. Or, you can carry Bluetooth earbuds with you on a plane. If you are wondering ‘can you use Bluetooth on a plane?’, check out our guide and get all the answers. 


Backpacks can be used as personal items and carry-ons, but they must fit in the plane’s cabin and must be less than the size limitations of the particular airline. Otherwise, you will be charged an additional cost or have things abandoned at the airport while checking in.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Does a backpack count as a carry-on or personal item?

A: Yes, you can use a backpack as a carry-on or personal item as long as it matches the size and dimensions requirements of the airline. 

Q: Is a backpack considered a carry-on or a personal item?

A: A backpack can qualify as a personal item or a carry-on item depending on the luggage size requirements of the airlines. 

Q: Is a suitcase better than a backpack for a carry-on?

A: Yes, suitcases are generally better than backpacks at maximizing your carry-on space. You can take advantage of every square centimeter available on rectangular suitcases. But, these bags are not fun in destinations that don’t have smooth sidewalks. So, if you don’t mind carrying a weight on your back, backpacks are more versatile as carry-ons.  

Q: Can I bring both a carry-on and a personal item on a plane?

A: Yes, you can carry both a personal item and a carry-on backpack with you on a plane. Your carry-on bag must fit in the overhead bin, and your personal item must be stored below your seat. 

Q: What is the difference between a carry-on and a personal item?

A: There are many differences between a carry-on and a personal item. The main difference is where they are stored during a flight. Carry-on bags go in the overhead bin since they are typically too large to fit under the seat in front of you, which is where your personal item should be stored. 

So, now you know what you have to do on your next air travel, pack your backpack or carry-on bag and get going. 

We hope this blog solved all your queries regarding ‘is a backpack a carry-on or personal item?’. If you still have any further doubts, do ask us in the comment section below. Our team, at MyTicketsToIndia, will resolve all your queries at the soonest possible time. 


We aim to make a flight booking a hassle-free experience for customers by incorporating user-friendly features on our travel portal. Our travel professionals are friendly and strive to provide instant solutions to any air ticketing query you may face while booking cheap air tickets to India from USA and vice versa. With us, you can expect excellent flight booking services without breaking the bank. Also, we advocate 100% transparency in our dealings. So, gear up for a budget-friendly trip by booking your flight tickets with us. Contact our team today!


About Renu Dahiya | View Posts

Renu Dahiya is a passionate writer who worships her profession. Her love for writing has encouraged her to pursue her career as a writer. Her friends call her a “travel worm” and always come to her to know some interesting traveling tips and destinations. Renu is a repository of knowledge about traveling who knows which place should be visited in which season. Oh yes, she is insanely in love with dancing too. Writer, traveler and dancer, a perfect combination! Without a doubt, she is a complete package.

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