Can You Bring a Shopping Bag On a Plane? 2024

As you plan your next trip you may want to bring along your favorite ,stylish shopping bag, or if you decide to do some shopping at the airport, you will need to know what the regulations are when traveling with extra items, like shopping bags or plastic bags.

Fortunately most airlines do not have any restriction when traveling with duty free shopping bags purchased at the airport and they don’t count them as a piece of your luggage.

But if you want to bring a shopping bag not from duty free shopping in addition to your luggage it is better to know what are your airline luggage rules.

Keep reading to know more about traveling with shopping bags, duty free items, plastic bags and when your shopping bag will be considered a personal item.

Let’s dive right in..

Tip: If you’re in the market for a good and durable suitcase that will fit most airlines carry-on requirements, check out this Samsonite Omni PC Hard-side Carry-On.

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Large Black Thank You shopping Bags / Courtesy of Amazon

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The Airport Security

Do not worry about those guys.

Generally the Airport security do not have any issues when traveling with a shopping bag, but rather they will need to know what’s inside it.

But there’s one big problem with most security airports.

Most airports are strict with liquid items, they have to be packed neatly and transported in certain amounts.

You will need to limit the amount of liquids you bring outside the airport.

And if you want to bring liquids that surpass the allowed amount, you can do some shopping after you pass the security checkpoint or place them in your checked luggage.

You can buy items and place them in your shopping bag without the hassle or questions of the security agents.

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If you are not sure what is a airports duty free bag, here is a short definition:

Duty free bags are shopping bags or plastic bags with products purchased at the airport from airlines or at the airport retailers after the security checkpoint, they are called free duty shopping because the taxes do not apply on them.

Make sure that you always keep receipts of items that you purchase from the duty free shopping at any airport, you may get asked with the airline staff or when you get to your destination.


Can I Bring a Shopping Bag As a Carry-on Or As a Personal Item?

Duty free shopping bags are good to be transported on board the airplanes without any issues.

But if you want to bring a shopping bag from home or outside the airport like grocery bags or other bags in general there will be some rules .

So in addition to a personal item which is a small bag that can be placed under the seat in front of you.

Most airlines have a standard carry-on size, which is mostly a 20 inches suitcase (like the Samsonite Omni above), that can be placed in the overhead compartment easily.

A shopping bag won’t be considered a carry-on unless it is too large, so even if you bring a suitcase you will be allowed to bring an additional item, and it can be a shopping bag or any other small item.

But if it is another type or a large shopping bag most of the time the airline will count it as your personal item.

Here is some of the major airlines carry on luggage sizes:

American Airlines22 in x 14 in x 9 in (55 cm x 35 cm x 22 cm)
Delta Air Lines22 x 14 x 9 in (55 cm x 35 cm x 22 cm)
Southwest Airlines10 x 16 x 24 in (25 cm x 40 cm x 22 cm)
United Airlines22 x 14 x 9 in (55 cm x 35 cm x 22 cm)
JetBlue 22 x 14 x 9 in (55 cm x 35 cm x 22 cm)
Alaska Airlines22 x 14 x 9 in (55 cm x 35 cm x 22 cm)
Spirit Airlines18 x 14 x 8 in (45 cm x 35 cm x 20 cm)
Frontier Airlines24 x 10 x 16 in (60 cm x 25 cm x 50 cm)
Hawaiian Airlines22 x 14 x 9 in (55 cm x 35 cm x 22 cm)
Allegiant Air22 x 14 x 9 in (55 cm x 35 cm x 22 cm)
British Airways22 x 18 x 10 in (55 cm x 35 cm x 22 cm)
Air Canada9 x 15.5 x 21.5 in (22 cm x 39 cm x 54 cm)

You can find more about airlines luggage dimensions and weight here.

Some airlines do not have a specific size for their personal item, but they enforce that it should fit under the seat in front of you.

This is an example of a personal item backpack.

  • Width: 9 inches
  • Height: 17 inches
  • Length: 10 inches

As the United customer service answered Vanessa below “It is best to place a shopping bag inside a personal item bag or backpack”.

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Can You Use Shopping Bags As Checked Luggage?

photo of person holding a bag
Photo by cottonbro on

I don’t think it is a good idea to check in a shopping bag, or a plastic tote as long as it is small enough to be transported in carry-on.

Shopping bags are not that sturdy, they can be opened easily or torn and your items will be scattered everywhere, even when you think that you secured it perfectly.

But if you don’t have space in your carry-on or you are traveling with certain items that are not permitted in carry-on, you can place your shopping bag inside your checked bag, and check in it with your airline.

Just to know it is better to avoid sending any valuable items in checked luggage, there is more chance they will be damaged or sometimes even vanished.

Can You Bring a Plastic Bag On a Plane?

Just like a shopping bag, a plastic bag is also allowed and good to go on planes, it won’t be considered a carry on bag on most airlines if you get it in the duty free shopping.

Otherwise, if it is not from the duty free shopping it will be counted as a personal item on most airlines.

Just make sure it is an Eco friendly plastic bag.


Whether you want to bring some souvenirs from your destination or you just love to do some shopping before you board the airplane, you are good to bring a shopping bag on your flight without any issue.

In general duty free bags won’t be counted as a part of your carry-on or personal item.

The only thing you should consider is the size of your shopping bag if you bring it outside the airport. But if it is small you are fine, and you don’t need to worry about it.

It is always better to place any items than you bring outside the airport inside your carry-on bag rather than taking them in your hand, some airlines may be so cocky about any additional item.

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