Does a Fanny Pack Count as a Personal Item?: a female wearing a fanny pack

You probably know airline rules about personal items and carry-on bags. But how does a simple fanny pack fit into all of this? Does a fanny pack count as a personal item? or is it just a personal attire you wear?

What makes it even trickier is that different flights have different rules about what can be a personal item. So, what’s the truth? 

Find out the answer below!

Does a fanny pack count as a personal item?

In most cases, yes, fanny packs (also known as bum bags in the UK) are considered personal items on most flights!  

That said, there are certain caveats you should be aware of:

  • Always double-check with your airline to make sure they allow fanny packs as personal items.
  • Confirm with your airline if you’re allowed to bring an extra piece of luggage along with your fanny pack.
  • Remember different airlines have different levels of strictness when it comes to enforcing their rules about hand luggage.

Read on for more details…   

Understanding Airline Personal Item Policies

Personal items refer to the smaller bags you can take with you on the plane, along with your main luggage. These can be things like purses, laptop bags, briefcases, diaper bags, and backpacks.

Even though some airlines might not specifically mention fanny packs as part of these personal items, they still count if they’re small and can easily fit under your seat.

The main rule for personal items is that they should fit under the seat in front of you. If you’re unsure about whether your fanny pack is too big, keep in mind that the typical largest size for a personal item is 18 x 14 x 8 inches (46 x 36 x 20 centimeters).

That said, you should always check with your airline to see their dimensions and weight allowances for personal items because different airlines have different rules about these things. 

Why fanny packs are considered personal items

Does a Fanny Pack Count as a Personal Item?

Now that we’re clear on what personal items mean, let’s dig into why fanny packs fit the bill as personal items.

Travel On A Fly mentions that according to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), fanny packs are considered personal items because most airlines permit passengers to bring one carry-on bag and a personal item on the plane. However, they suggest double-checking with your specific airline before heading to airport security with a fanny pack.

Further research by James Eagleman from Traveling Light reveals that several major US airlines, including Alaska, American Delta, Frontier, Southwest, and Spirit, classify fanny packs as personal items!

But why is a small bag like a fanny pack counted as a personal item that goes under your seat? Well, Blardiblah sheds light on this. They propose that most airlines consider fanny packs as personal items primarily due to the revenue generated from checked baggage fees. They explain, “You should remember that low-cost airlines like Spirit and Frontier make most of their income from additional fees for checked baggage. These airlines are more likely to enforce their fanny pack policies since they are considerably stricter about inspecting hand luggage.

Furthermore, Blardiblah points out that legacy airlines, on the other hand, don’t rely heavily on carry-on fees, which makes them less motivated to enforce laws against people wearing fanny packs.

That said, some people still think that fanny packs should be regarded as attire, not personal items because you wear them. Due to their small size, they suggest that fanny packs may not be noticeable when worn under a jacket.

However, while some airlines might not consider a fanny pack as a personal item, I still think it’s best to lean toward caution. If you already have a personal item bag along with your carry-on,  I think it’s wise to assume that gate staff or flight attendants may instruct you to stow your fanny pack into your suitcase or risk paying for having a third carry-on bag.

To sum it up, as Reddit member Gerry Mccartney succinctly puts it, “If in doubt, stick the fanny pack inside your main carry on bag while you board.”

Real Travelers’ Perspectives on Fanny Packs as Personal Items

Does a Fanny Pack Count as a Personal Item?

Let’s explore what various travelers have shared regarding the classification of fanny packs as personal items. These insights are drawn from real experiences and knowledge shared on platforms such as Reddit, Quora, Flyertalk, Trip Advisor, and other blogs. 

Opinions in favor of fanny packs as personal Items

Numerous travelers believe that fanny packs qualify as personal items. One Quora member suggests that fanny packs could be considered personal items when flights are crowded or if the crew is enforcing rules strictly. They advise being prepared to adapt by combining contents into a larger purse or creating space in carry-on luggage.

Another forum member recounts being informed by airline agents that their ‘wallet type of crossbag’ was a personal item bag, saying, “One day, someone decided that my wallet was a personal item,and with that usual politeness only airline employees are capable of delivering, told me that I had to dispatch one of the bags. I opened the bag, put the wallet inside of it, and went on my merry way.”

On Reddit, opinions align, confirming that a fanny pack is often treated as a personal item. Some even mention specific airline practices. American Airlines, for instance, is noted as considering fanny packs within the bag limit. Someone shared: “I’m waiting to board an AA flight and they advised 2 bags only, and specifically mentioned fanny packs as counting towards the bag limit.”

A Flyertalk forum contributor clarifies that fanny packs are personal items according to Delta Airlines rules. They said, “That is clear from DL’s rules. It counts because it is not specifically listed as an exception item (umbrella, duty free, crutches). So, if a DL employee wants to count it, it counts.” The recommendation is to stow it in carry-on baggage if needed temporarily. 

Opinions against fanny packs as a personal item bag

Conversely, some travelers argue that waist packs should not be considered personal items but rather personal attire

Quora and Reddit members express the idea that if a fanny pack is worn on the person, it’s more akin to clothing and might not necessarily count as a separate personal item.

An example is this member who echoes the same thought, saying “ I don’t believe if you are wearing a fanny pack it would be considered a personal carry-on because it is not being stored in any space. This is assuming that you keep it around your waist. It is just like if you were wearing a hat or a coat.”

Due to their small size, they suggest that bum bags may not be noticeable when worn under a jacket. The rationale is that since fanny packs are worn, they are considered part of personal attire rather than the carry-on bag subjected to weight and space limitations.

The Professional Hobo blog asserts that fanny packs are considered personal attire and are not scrutinized in the same way as carry-on items saying “But fanny packs don’t count. In fact, because you wear your fanny pack, it’s considered personal attire, and thus it’s not part of your carry-on entourage. It doesn’t get weighed, analyzed, or even glanced at.”  

Summing up the perspectives

In essence, it appears that you can get away with using a fanny pack as personal attire instead of a personal item on certain airlines, but only if it’s very small.

If the fanny pack is tiny and can be worn during the flight, the airline may not have any issues. However, if it’s larger, closer to the size of a camera bag, it’s reasonable to expect that the airline would treat it as a small bag qualifying as a personal item.  

How fanny packs are a convenient travel accessory 

Does a Fanny Pack Count as a Personal Item?: a Patagonia Black Hole Waist Pack 5L

Fanny packs have gained popularity as trendy 90s travel accessories due to their practicality and versatility

These compact bags, worn around the waist, offer several benefits that make them a go-to choice for travelers seeking ease and efficiency during their journeys. 

Pros of using a fanny pack

  1. Hands-free convenience: Fanny packs, often worn around the waist or across the body, keep your hands free. This is especially advantageous when navigating busy airports, and crowded streets, or engaging in various activities during your travels.
  2. Easy access to essentials: They provide organized storage and easy access to essentials like a passport, boarding pass, mobile phone, wallet, car keys, and small accessories.
  3. Lightweight and compact: You get to carry your essentials without the bulk and weight of larger backpacks or tote bags. This can be especially valuable during day trips, sightseeing excursions, or when you want to pack light.
  4. Security: Fanny packs are worn close to your body, making them less vulnerable to theft compared to bags that you carry on your shoulder or hold in your hand. I imagine this added security is particularly beneficial in crowded tourist areas or public transportation.
  5. Comfort and mobility: Fanny packs are designed for comfort, distributing weight evenly around your waist or body. This ergonomic design reduces strain on your shoulders and back, allowing you to move freely and comfortably, whether you’re hiking, strolling through a city, or navigating airports.

Drawbacks of using a fanny pack

  1. Limited Storage: Due to their compact size, fanny packs have limited space for storing belongings. This can be restrictive, especially for those who need to carry larger items or multiple essentials.
  2. Fashion Perception: Some travelers might find fanny packs less fashionable or associated with outdated fashion trends.
  3. Social Perceptions: Depending on the destination and cultural context, wearing a fanny pack might draw unwanted attention or label you as a tourist.


Does a Fanny Pack Count as a Personal Item?: a Twitter image on fanny packs

Does a fanny pack count as a personal item on United Airlines?

As verified by this Twitter response, United Airlines considers a fanny pack as a personal item, provided that its dimensions do not exceed 9 x 10 x 17 inches (22 cm x 25 cm x 43 cm).

Can I bring fanny pack and personal item?

Some airlines classify a fanny pack as a personal item. So, if you bring a fanny pack and another personal item, like a purse or backpack, it could be an issue. Always check your airline’s baggage policy before traveling.

What bags count as a personal item?

Personal items can be bags such as purses, camera bags, briefcases, small backpacks, laptop bags, small duffels, weekender bags, etc.

Does a bum bag count as hand luggage?

Yes, a bum bag (or fanny pack, waist pack, belt bag, money belt, or whatever you want to call them), is typically considered part of your hand luggage. It aligns with the items passengers are permitted to bring aboard the aircraft. I strongly advise verifying with your airline to ensure that a bum bag adheres to their precise regulations and size restrictions for hand luggage. 

Can I carry 2 bags in the cabin?

Yes. Generally, most major airlines around the world allow passengers to bring one carry-on bag and one personal item onboard. 

Do you have to pay to carry a fanny pack as a personal item?

No, a fanny pack is typically considered a personal item and is usually allowed on board without an additional fee.

What bags count as hand luggage?

Hand luggage (also known as cabin baggage or carry-on), are bags that passengers can carry with them onto the cabin. This can be a purse, laptop bag, diaper bag, duffel bag, small backpack, briefcase, small suitcase, or even a bum bag.

The rule of thumb is that the ‘personal item’ should be small enough to fit beneath the seat in front of you, while the carry-on bag should be suitable for the overhead bins. 

Can I carry everything I need in a fanny pack?

Whether you can carry everything you need in a fanny pack depends on your needs and the size of the fanny pack; for short trips or minimalistic travelers, it might be sufficient, but for longer trips or those requiring more items, it may not be adequate.

So, do fanny packs count as personal items?

Does a Fanny Pack Count as a Personal Item?: a male wearing a red fanny pack

In conclusion, fanny packs indeed count as personal items on flights. Though some travelers have worn small fanny packs alongside other personal items without issue, it’s not a guarantee. I advise you to check with your specific airline to ensure compliance with their policies. Don’t assume wearing a fanny pack will always be permitted; many times, you might be asked to place it in your carry-on luggage.

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