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What Counts as a Personal Item? Airline Size Requirements Matched With Sherpani Bags

Hey there, travel bugs!

Today, we are covering a long-awaited topic: baggage size requirements of various airlines. Size requirements can be a big source of confusion because each airline has its own rules. Bag policies can range from rigid to vague, and while some airlines may be lenient about their policy, others have rules that are strictly enforced. Perhaps the greatest source of strife for a traveler navigating air travel is regarding the "personal item."

Virtually every airline allows passengers to bring a complimentary personal item on board. A personal item could be many things, but most commonly, it is a small travel bag to hold your in-flight essentials.

The main defining factor of a personal item is that it is small enough to fit under the seat in front of you. This makes it different from carry-on luggage, which is stored in the overhead bins. Of course, different airlines and their various aircraft models can have different-sized seats. So a bag that counts as a personal item on one flight may be rejected as one on the next. Failing to meet an airline's size requirements can result in prolonged boarding processes and outrageous fees.

Needless to say, we don't want this to happen to you, and thanks to the guide below, it won't!

We compiled a list of major airlines' personal item size requirements. With thousands of airlines operating worldwide, we decided to start with the twenty-three airlines that fly out of our home airport: Denver International Airport. They range from budget airlines to luxury travel, and each one has its own personal item policy.

Naturally, we've paired them with Sherpani bags which are all personal item favorites! Here is our cheat sheet for personal item size:



Personal Item Dimensions 


Sherpani Style That Fits


Doesn't Specify

Best to call and ask. Customer service number: 1 (800) 237-6639

Air Canada

13" 17" x 6"


Air France

12" 16" x 6"


Alaska Airlines

Doesn't Specify

Best to call and ask. Customer service number: 1 (800) 654-5669


14" x 18" x 8"


American Airlines

14" x 18" x 8"


British Airways

11.8" x 15.7" x 5.9"


Cayman Airways

14" x 14" x 10"


Copa Airlines

10" x 17" x 9"


Delta Airlines

Doesn't Specify

Best to call and ask. Customer service number: 1 (800) 221-1212

Denver Air Connection

13" x 14.5" x 9"

Different dimensions for SA227-DC Metro 23 aircraft: 13" x 14.5" x 6"



11.8" x 15.7" x 3.9"

This airline has the second best edelweiss flower logo we've seen ;)


Frontier Airlines

14" x 18" x 8"



11.8" x 15.7" x 5.9"


JetBlue Airways

13" x 17" x 8"



11.8" x 15.7" x 3.9"


Southern Airways Express

Doesn't Specify

Though dimensions aren't listed, they specify a weight limit of 15 lbs.

Southwest Airlines

13.5" x 16.25" x 8"

These under-the-seat dimensions are for their smallest aircraft; a bigger personal item may be allowed.


Sun Country Airlines

13" x 17" x 9"


United Airlines

10" x 17" x 9"


Viva Aerobus

14" x 18" x 8"



14" x 18" x 8"



13" x 16" x 6"



Let's talk smallest and largest from the data above…

Airlines that allow the largest personal items: Allegiant, American Airlines, Frontier Airlines, Viva Aerobus, and Volaris. They all share the same roomy dimensions of 14" x 18" x 8".

Spacious Sherpani designs that fit: Camden, Juno, Sola, Stride, and Terra.

Airlines with the smallest personal item dimensions: Edelweiss and Lufthansa. The issue being that pesky 3.9" depth restriction.

Sherpani travel bag we recommend: The Metro!

Note: This post is accurate from the time of publishing. Sherpani cannot guarantee airline policies have remained the same since publishing. Before you fly, double-check the personal item size requirements with your airline.

For a little more about the eight Sherpani styles mentioned above, here is a personal item roundup:



Dimensions: 10" x 18" x 6"

Weight: 1 pound, 8 ounces

The Camden is a classic backpack with an ergonomic design that includes padded and adjustable straps. Add travel-friendly features like the luggage pass-through and RFID protection, and you've got yourself a perfect personal item backpack!

Shop the Camden!



Dimensions: 9" x 13" x 5.5"

Weight: 1 pound, 2 ounces

One of the most versatile bags imaginable, the Dispatch has adjustable and removable straps for three-in-one functionality as a backpack, tote, or crossbody. Pair that with the unique doctor-bag style opening that allows you to see everything within, and the Dispatch is a perfect travel companion.

Shop the Dispatch!



Dimensions: 11" x 17.5" x 7.5"

Weight: 2 pounds

This eco-friendly design includes plastic hardware that has been sourced from "ghost nets" - abandoned fishing nets floating in the ocean. Backpack functionality meets duffel bag convenience in this sustainable choice of personal item.

Shop the Juno!



Dimensions: 7" x 12" x 3"

Weight: 10 ounces 

The Metro is a mini travel sling bag that has Anti-Theft features and a reversible design! Left-handed travelers rejoice with a sling design that can be worn over either shoulder. The Metro is minimalist travel at its best.

Shop the Metro!



Dimensions: 17" x 12" x 8"

Weight: 1 pound, 6 ounces 

This lightweight duffle design is a crowd favorite! The Sola has an external compartment for storing toiletries, so you can easily pull our your liquids during airport security. Add in the luggage pass-through feature and the detachable crossbody strap, and the Sola will take you anywhere.

Shop the Sola!



Dimensions: 11" x 15" x 4.5" 

Weight: 1 pound, 10 ounces

This award-winning design has three-in-one functionality. You can carry the Soleil as a backpack, crossbody, or tote. Add the Soleil's Anti-Theft features, padded laptop sleeve, and three water bottle holders, and you've got yourself a truly perfect travel companion.

Shop the Soleil!



Dimensions: 14" x 18" x 5.5"

Weight: 1 pound, 2.5 ounces

This travel tote includes a stylish daisy chain feature that can function as an attachment point for your neck pillow or other travel accessories. The Stride is equipped with RFID protection and has the popular luggage pass-through feature to make the airport a breeze.

Shop the Stride!



Dimensions: 13.5" x 17" x 6"

Weight: 1 pound, 9.5 ounces

The Terra is a backpack and tote in one, with a built-in insulated cooler compartment for food and beverage storage. Traveling with kids? The Terra is the perfect way to bring along the in-flight snacks you'll need.

Shop the Terra!


Hopefully, you're feeling more confident about what you can and can't use as a personal item on your next flight. Ready to discover the Sherpani bag that will help you get there?

Shop all Sherpani styles!


Discover More from the Sherpani Travel Blog

We've covered all the bases of air travel! For more on the topic, check out the following posts:

How to Fight Jet Lag Like a Pro

Will you Survive or Thrive on Your Next Long Flight? 

Here are Five Ways to Kill Time at the Airport

By women for women, the Sherpani Travel Blog talks about all things travel. With a new post every week on Travel Tuesday, our blog is the go-to place for unique travel guidesgeneral travel tipspersonal travel stories from women in our community, and more!

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