Traveling with a laptop? One common question I often hear is, “Is a laptop bag considered a personal item when flying?”

Let’s dive into this and clear up any confusion.

Is a Laptop Bag Considered a Personal Item?

Let’s cut to the chase – yes, your laptop bag can be your personal item when flying. Most airlines are okay with it, as long as your bag is small enough to fit under the seat in front of you. This is a common rule you’ll find across many airlines.

But here’s a tip: before you zip up your laptop bag and head to the airport, double-check your airline’s size guidelines for personal items. Each airline has its own rules, and it’s better to be safe than sorry. A little bit of prep can save you from any last-minute stress at the boarding gate.

Airline Policies on Laptop Bags as Personal Items

Is a Laptop Bag Considered a Personal Item?

When you’re planning to fly with your laptop, it’s pretty handy to know how different airlines view laptop bags. Generally speaking, most airlines are okay with you bringing a laptop bag as your personal item. The main thing they care about? Size.

Too big, and you could run into issues or extra fees, especially with stricter airlines. Always check your airline’s website for the exact size limits before you pack.

Delta, for instance, is pretty clear about this in their policy. They specifically listed laptop bags as personal items and want you to make sure it’s small enough to fit under that seat.

Now, when you’re flying with budget airlines like Spirit or JetBlue, things get a bit tighter. They generally let you bring just one personal item. So if your personal item choice is a laptop bag, it has to fit their size criteria. Spirit Airlines is pretty upfront about this on their website. They’ve specified a maximum dimension of 18” x 14” x 8” for personal items. Anything bigger, and you might have to pay up for it as a carry-on.

So, what does this mean for you? Well, your best bet is to measure that bag before you leave for the airport. Stick to the size limits, and you should be good to go.

Size and Dimension Criteria for Laptop Bags

Below are some of the airlines that allow a laptop bag as a personal item bag:

  • Allegiant Air: They’re a bit on the stricter side. Allegiant Air sets the limit for personal items at 16 x 16 x 7 inches. Most standard laptop bags or backpacks can squeeze into this size. But, if your bag is bigger, it might qualify as a carry-on, for which there are additional fees.
  • American Airlines: With a limit of 18 x 14 x 8 inches, American Airlines offers a bit more leeway. So, if you’ve got a larger laptop bag, you’re likely in the clear, as long as you don’t overstuff it.
  • Frontier Airlines: Frontier allows a personal item bag up to 18 x 14 x 8 inches. Just make sure your bag fits under the seat, as they check the size during boarding and charge extra for oversized items.
  • Hawaiian Airlines: They don’t specify exact dimensions, but the guideline is that “it should fit under the seat”. A safe bet would be a bag no larger than 18 x 14 x 8 inches.
  • JetBlue Airlines: JetBlue’s limit is 17 x 13 x 8 inches, calling for either a compact laptop or careful packing. Oversized bags will incur baggage fees.
  • Southwest Airlines: Their personal item size is a bit unique at 16.25 x 13.5 x 8 inches, giving you a little less width to work with.
  • Spirit Airlines: Known for being stringent, Spirit allows a personal item of 18 x 14 x 8 inches. A slim laptop bag should fit just fine.
  • United Airlines: They have a tighter restriction of 17 x 10 x 9 inches, so your laptop bag needs to be quite compact to qualify as a personal item
  • Alaska Airlines: While they don’t specify exact dimensions, the bag should be small enough to go under the seat in front of you.
  • Delta Airlines: Delta’s rule is simply that the bag must fit under the seat. However, remember that stuffing your bag to the brim might stretch its dimensions.

The key takeaway here is to always check the size restrictions of the airline you’re flying with. A bit of research and measuring your laptop bag beforehand can save you from any surprises at the airport. 

Travelers’ Real-Life Experiences

Is a Laptop Bag Considered a Personal Item? : a woman with a laptop and bag at the airport

From my perspective, it’s acceptable to have a laptop bag as a personal item, provided it fits within the airline’s size restrictions. This view is shared by many travelers on forums.

A member on Quora puts it well: “Most Airlines today will let you have one piece of hand luggage, plus a personal item, which can be a laptop (make sure it’s not in a large case, or it will become your main hand luggage) or a handbag.”

Seasoned travelers like Roy Chambers echo this sentiment. Chambers notes, “Many airlines consider a small laptop case to be a personal item like a handbag, and so it can be brought onboard without being considered an extra item. You have to check your airlines’ rules, as these can differ.”

However, a common issue arises when travelers try to bring a carry-on, a personal item, and a laptop bag – essentially three bags. This practice is typically not allowed by most airlines. As a Quora member pointed out, “Just for boarding you will need to put your laptop in either the carry-on bag or your backpack. They will not allow three items.”

This sentiment is reinforced on Reddit, where a member shared their recent experience: “Depends on mood but I’ve taken 4 flights in the last week on Delta and American and all the gate agents made it clear it was 1 carryon and 1 personal item and they enforced it strenuously.

Delta even specified that a fanny pack counted as a personal item, which I found a little harsh. Watched multiple people who were probably used to them not enforcing it have to check their bags and get lectured at the gate.

Smart Packing Solutions

A practical solution is to use a laptop backpack that doubles as your personal item, with dedicated compartments for your tech. This approach not only simplifies packing but also adheres to airline policies.

Reddit user advised, “Get a laptop backpack and kill 2 birds with 1 stone.” Another suggested, “Expect to have to make your three items into two items at the gate, or you’ll be checking one of them.

 The Sydney Morning Herald offers another clever tip: “If you can’t fit what you’re carrying within coo-ee of what your airline might allow, one strategy is a jacket with multiple pockets. No airline is going to stop you from boarding with a jacket, and those pockets can accommodate just about anything you might need for the flight.”

My Verdict

So, is a laptop bag considered a personal item? Based on these insights, my advice would be to stick to the airline’s guidelines regarding carry-on and personal items.

Opt for a laptop bag that can comfortably fit under the seat in front of you and serve as your personal item. This way, you’ll avoid any hassle at the gate and ensure a smoother travel experience.

And if you’re in the market for a new travel-friendly laptop bag, I’ve compiled a list of the best ones with dedicated laptop compartments, perfect for staying within airline guidelines.


Does a laptop bag count as a personal item?

Yes, in most cases, a laptop bag is considered a personal item by airlines. The key factor is size – it needs to fit under the seat in front of you. If it meets the airline’s size criteria for personal items, you’re good to go.

Can I take my laptop bag and hand luggage?

Absolutely! You can usually bring both your laptop bag and a piece of hand luggage (also known as a carry-on) on a flight. Your laptop bag will count as your personal item, and your hand luggage is your main cabin bag.

Can I carry laptop bag along with cabin baggage in Air Arabia?

On Air Arabia, the rules are a bit specific. According to their baggage policy, passengers are allowed one piece of cabin baggage. However, they also mention that a laptop, handbag, or small briefcase “must not exceed 10 kgs per passenger with dimensions within 55 x 40 x 20 cms including the handle, pockets and wheels.”

So no, you cannot take your laptop bag along with your cabin baggage on Air Arabia, as you’re only allowed one free hand baggage.

Is a laptop bag allowed in check-in baggage?

Yes, you can put your laptop bag in your check-in baggage, but I wouldn’t recommend it. Laptops are fragile, and check-in baggage can go through quite a bit of handling. It’s safer to carry your laptop with you in the cabin. Plus, you’ll have it on hand if you need it during your journey.

Final thoughts

Is a Laptop Bag Considered a Personal Item?

So, is a laptop bag considered hand luggage?

In conclusion on the question: is a laptop bag considered a personal item?, the answer is that a laptop bag can typically be considered a personal item during air travel, provided it adheres to the airline’s size restrictions. My advice is to always check with your airline before flying and choose a laptop bag that’s practical for both your tech needs and travel comfort.

If you have any questions or contributions you’d want me to know about, don’t hesitate to share in the comments below!

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