Does a Purse Count As a Carry On ?

A question that often comes up for ladies is if does a purse count as a carry on? and can i bring a purse and a backpack on a plane?

Here is a short answer:

In the United States most major airlines will not count a women’s purse as a carry-on if it is small, what is considered a carry-on is a suitcase or backpack or a duffle bag that can be placed in the overhead bin or under the seat in front of you.

Airlines also will not consider small items like a ladies bag, briefcases, laptop bags, diaper bags, and small daypack as a personal item, so you can bring your main carry on bag, a personal item in addition of your purse.

Before we go into the details about what airlines are saying about the purse as a carry-on, let’s answer some of these frequently asked questions.

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Can You Bring a Purse And a Backpack On a Plane?

Yes, most airlines allow passengers to bring on board airplane two items, one main carry-on bag that can be a suitcase, a backpack, a duffle bag etc, this carry-on bag must fit the overhead compartment.

In addition to the carry-on bag you can also bring a personal item, and it can be a purse, a small backpack, a laptop bag or any other item that can fit under the seat in front of you.

If you are traveling with a small purse that you can carry all the time with you, you don’t need to place it under the seat.

Can I Put My Purse Inside My Carry-on?

If it happens that your airline wants to count your purse as an additional item.

Yes, you can put your purse inside your carry-on bag and that won’t be an issue, as long as your carry-on is within the allowed size of the airline you are flying with.

How Big Of a Purse Can I Take On a Plane?

Most airlines do not specify a size of a personal item however they insist the purse be big enough to be placed under the seat in front of.

For example, you can take on United a personal item or a purse with the following dimensions 17 x 10 x 9 inches, while Southwest does not specify the dimensions of its personal item.

The overall rule is that your personal item (purse, small backpack, laptop bag etc… )should fit under the seat in front of you. If you have a large purse it can affect your legroom. Especially if you have long legs like me. Some people with short legs actually like to use a personal item as a footrest.

Can I carry a handbag as well as hand luggage?

If your handbag is small, you are fine. It will count as a personal item, and the other hand luggage will be considered your carry-on.

Here is how airlines define carry on luggage.

One personal bag, such as a handbag, laptop bag or small backpack, which must be able to fit under the seat in front of you. One bag. that must be able to lift into the overhead bin without any help.

Does A Purse Count As A Carry On US Airlines?

Below we will give a brief on what airlines consider as carry on and personal items, if your purse is small it counts as a personal item on most airlines however some airline carry on regulations may change at any time.

Here is what airlines are saying about a purse as my carry on bag.

Southwest Airlines

Southwest is known with its generous carry on allowance, and it is clear about it.

you are allowed 1 carry-on bag and 1 personal item ( it can be purse, briefcase, laptop bag) per passenger the purse is counted as a personal item not a carry on bag.

you won’t be charged for the purse on Southwest  Airlines.

However Carry-on should not exceed the following size and weight restrictions: 50 linear inches (24 x 16 x 10 in) or 127 centimeters (61 x 41 x 28 cm) including handles and wheels.

American Airlines

AA carry on allowance is known for its strictness.

However,you are allowed 1 carry-on bag and 1 personal item ( it can be purse, briefcase, laptop bag) per passenger; the purse is counted as a personal item not a carry-on bag.

Your carry-on on American airlines, should not exceed the following size and weight restrictions: 45 linear inches (22 x 14 x 9 in) or 115 centimeters (56 x 36 x 23 cm) including handles and wheels.

United Airlines

United is known with its generous carry on allowance, and it is clear about it.

you are allowed 1 carry-on bag and 1 personal item ( it can be purse, briefcase, laptop bag) per passenger the purse is counted as a personal item not a carry on bag.

Your purse must be small enough to be placed under the seat in front of you.

Your carry on must not be above United carry on allowance or you will have to check your items, 45 linear inches (22 x 14 x 9 in) or 115 centimeters (56 x 36 x 23 cm) including handles and wheels.

Spirit Airlines

Spirit airlines will count your purse as carry-on baggage, but it will be counted as a personal item(purse, briefcase, laptop bag) free of charge , and must not be placed perfectly under the seat in front of you.

What will be considered a carry-on bag is the larger carry-on bag with the size of 22 x 18 x 10 inches (including handles and wheels) the carry-on bag will be transported for a fee.

Delta Airlines

All Delta passengers are allowed to have 1 carry-on bag and one personal item free of charge, like a purse or laptop bag or item of similar size.

Make sure at least one item fits underneath the seat in front of you.

Exceptions apply for passengers traveling with an infant-in-arms.


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Final Thoughts: Does a Purse Count As a Carry-on?

When choosing your suitcase, you can’t always rely on the dimension shown in the product description, sometimes the manufacturer does not include the overall dimensions.

but for a personal item you’re just fine, because must purses will fit perfectly under the seat in front of you, especially the biggest ones like American, Delta, and United.

And with the ongoing airline changes for luggage allowances, sometimes your purse may be the only item you will take for free, so make sure you fit all your needs on it, if it will be the only item you will travel with.

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