Is carry-on and cabin bag the same?
This is a question people are asking because there’s confusion around these terms. People are confused because some airlines use carry-on while others use cabin bags.
In this article, we are going to address the question head-on and clear up any confusion around these two terms.
Table of Contents
Yes, carry-on and cabin bags are the same; the phrases are used by airlines to describe bags you bring into the plane cabin with you on a flight. Other words used to describe a bag you bring into the cabin are hand luggage, under-seat bag or personal item. You do not hand these bags over at check-in to go into the plane’s hold. Rather, these are usually stowed in the overhead compartments, or under the seat in front of you.
In case you still have any doubts, read on to find out how these two terms are used interchangeably.
Again, cabin bag and carry-on are the same because different airlines use either of these phrases to describe a bag you can bring with you on board a plane. We know for sure that these two terms mean the same thing when we consider the size of the bag being described.
In general, the dimension of the bag being described (whether cabin bag or carry-on) is often around or less than 22 x 14 x 9 inches, the maximum size that most airlines permit for bags that can be taken into the plane cabin with the passenger.
Now, let’s take a look at some airlines.
Delta airlines use carry-on to describe a bag you can bring with you into the cabin; Emirates and Ryanair use cabin bags.
However, looking at their guidelines, we see that the dimension of a carry-on or cabin bag is around or less than 22 x 14 x 9 inches – which as aforementioned is the most common maximum size permitted by the majority of airlines for bags that can accompany passengers in the plane cabin.
For Delta Airlines, the maximum dimension allowed is 22 x 14 x 9 inches. For Emirate, it is 22 x 15 x 9 inches and for Ryanair it is 16 x 10 x 8 inches.
Here are some other examples to reinforce the point:
- The terminology used: Carry-on
- Size restriction for carry-on: 22 x 14 x 9 inches
- Size restriction for personal item: 18 x 14 x 8 inches
- Weight limit: No restrictions specified.
- The terminology used: Carry-on
- Size restriction for carry-on: 21.5 x 9 x 15.5 inches
- Size restriction for personal item:13 x 6 x 17 inches
- Weight limit: No restrictions specified.
- The terminology used: Cabin-bag
- Size restriction for cabin-bag: 22 x 17.7 x 9.8 inches
- Size restriction for under-seat cabin: 17.7 x 14.2 x 7.9 inches
- Weight limit: Up to 15kg (You must be able to lift your bag into the overhead bin)
- The terminology used: Cabin bag
- Size restriction: 22 x14 x 9 inches
- Weight limit: 7kg
As you can see from these airlines’ guidelines, carry-on and cabin bags mean the same thing since the maximum size of the bag being discussed is usually around or less than 22 x 14 x 9 inches.
Note: 22 x 14 x 9 inches is the general maximum dimension allowed for carry-on luggage; it is not always the case as you can see from the table in this Wikipedia hand luggage piece. So it is important to always check with your airline (on their website) for their guidance and their latest rules before heading to the airport.
Carry-on or Cabin bags come in different types and styles.
A carry-on could be a backpack, a tote, a handbag, duffels, a briefcase, or even a suitcase (hard-side or soft-side).
These bags can be put on the overhead bin of the aircraft or under the seat in front of you depending on their dimensions.
Bags that you put underneath the seat are called “under-seat luggage”. In some cases, the terminology used is either a “personal item” or “hand luggage.”
A personal item could be a laptop bag, a purse (make-up or jewelry), or a briefcase containing vital documents. Usually, personal item bags should not be more than 18 x 14 x 8 inches.
In general, most airlines allow you to bring one carry-on and one personal item.
The carry-on must have the required dimensions of 22 x 14 x 9 inches to fit into the overhead bin of the plane while your personal item must have the dimensions of 18 x 14 x 8 inches to fit underneath the seat.
These dimensions vary across airlines, so always verify!
The type of bag you carry on board a plane is simply up to you. Just make sure it adheres to the airline luggage policy and has the right measurements.
Related: The Ultimate Guide to Carry-on Luggage
Related: Carry-on Luggage Rules
Related: Is a Backpack a Carry-on?
Related: Is a Duffel Bag Considered a Carry-on or Personal Item?
What is a cabin?
Cabin bags otherwise known as hand luggage or carry-on are bags that you take on board a plane or into the cabin of the plane.
Most modern commercial airplanes sometimes use “cabin bags” to describe the bag you bring on board with you.
Others use “carry-on” instead.
Don’t get confused when you see these terms, they both mean the same!
Can you have a musical instrument as carry-on
Of course, you can! Small musical instruments that meet the guidelines of your airline can pass as a carry-on as long as it fits in the overhead compartment or fits underneath your seat.
If your musical instrument is too big to fit the overhead bin, you can buy an additional seat. But, your instrument must meet the seat size restrictions.
Alternatively, you can check it in.
The maximum size and weight for a checked-in musical instrument are 150 inches and 165lbs/75kg respectively. Anything larger than this size and weight will have to be shipped via cargo.
Can I bring sports equipment on a plane?
Yes, you can! Provided that it meets the measurement set out by the airline you’re traveling with.
Sports equipment is accepted by most airlines on their domestic and international flights as either carry-on or checked luggage.
Depending on the type of sports equipment you’re traveling with, you might want to check the website of the airline to see if you can carry it onboard the plane or check it in.
TSA usually has some regulations on the type of sports equipment you can carry with you on the plane and the ones you can check-in.
Do well by checking what is acceptable on their site.
So, is carry-on and cabin bag the same?
Yes! Carry-on and cabin bags both mean luggage that you can bring with you into the plane to either stow away in the overhead bin compartment or under the seat in front of you. Both terms mean the same thing and can be used interchangeably. Some airlines use the word “cabin bag” while others use “carry-on”.
For your cabin bag to pass as a carry-on, it has to meet the airline’s size restriction which is usually around or less than 22 x 14 x 9 inches.
With that being said, it is advisable to read through the airline’s requirements before you set out for the airport.
Alternatively, you could measure and weigh your luggage before you leave the house.
I hope you found the information in this article helpful. Let me know your thoughts in the comment section below!
2 thoughts on “Is Carry-on and Cabin Bag the Same? All You Need to Know”
This is very useful. The different guidelines for sizes of carry-on bags (or cabin bags) is confusing me, and it irks me that airline employees treat us as if we’re supposed to know the differences – we all have lives to live, I have enough trouble remembering my phone number, let alone an airline’s requirements for carry ons 😉
I will bookmark this list you posted, in case I travel again, it will be good to refer back to 🙂
Femi, so good to have all the measurements handy, it makes buying a bag so much easier,
I know of people who only travel with a cabin bag, no extra luggage,
You have to be very selective, that is the ideal, but very hard to meet.
Thank you for explaining the terminology of the different bags, it is quite logical but can get confusing sometimes.
Thank you for the valuable information,