In this post, I will be addressing a common question among travelers: “Does a garment bag count as a carry-on item when flying?”
This topic is especially relevant for those who frequently travel for business or special events and need to transport formal or professional attire.
Airlines have different rules and regulations when it comes to the categorization of garment bags, often leading to confusion among passengers. We will compare policies from several major airlines, including Delta and British Airways, providing clarity on this complex issue.
Get ready for your next journey by gaining valuable knowledge about how different airlines handle garment bags as part of their carry-on luggage policies.
What is a Garment Bag?
When it comes to traveling with suits, dresses, and other formal wear, a garment bag is an essential accessory. A garment bag is a type of luggage designed specifically to transport clothing items that wrinkle easily, such as suits, dresses, and shirts, without causing any damage to them.
Garment bags come in various styles, sizes, and materials. Some are made of durable nylon or polyester, while others are crafted from leather or canvas. They typically feature a hanger at the top to keep your clothes wrinkle-free and a zipper to close the bag. Some garment bags also have additional pockets for shoes, toiletries, and other accessories.
Garment bags are often used by business travelers, frequent flyers, and anyone who needs to transport formal wear. They are also popular among wedding parties, theater performers, and musicians who need to keep their costumes and uniforms in pristine condition during transit.
When you’re traveling, it’s important to know what you can and cannot bring with you on the plane. One of the most common questions is can a garment bag be a carry on.
The answer is that it depends on the airline, but in general, garment bags are allowed as carry-on as long as they meet certain size and weight restrictions.
Carry-On Baggage Restrictions
Most airlines allow passengers to bring one carry-on bag and one personal item on board. The carry-on bag should be small enough to fit in the overhead bin, while the personal item should be small enough to fit under the seat in front of you.
The specific size restrictions vary by airline, so it’s important to check with the airline before you travel.
- American Airlines allows passengers to bring a carry-on item, as long as it meets the size and weight limits. The bag must be no wider than 22 inches in width, 14 inches in length, and 9 inches in depth. It must also weigh no more than 10 pounds.
- United Airlines requires that carry-on bags be smaller than 9 x 14 x 22 inches and personal items be smaller than 9 x 10 x 17 inches.
Personal Item Restrictions
In addition to a carry-on bag, most airlines allow passengers to bring a personal item on board, such as a backpack, purse, or small handbag.
Again, the specific size restrictions for personal items also vary by airline, but they are generally smaller than carry-on bags.
- Delta Airlines allows passengers to bring one personal item on board, such as a purse, briefcase, or laptop bag, as long as it can fit under the seat in front of you. The dimensions should not exceed 18 x 14 x 8 inches.
- Southwest Airlines allows passengers to bring one personal item on board, such as a purse, briefcase, or diaper bag, as long as it can fit under the seat in front of you. The dimensions should not exceed 18.5 x 8.5 x 13.5 inches.
Overall, it’s important to check with your airline before you travel to make sure you understand their specific carry-on and personal item restrictions.
Garment Bags as Carry-Ons
In this section, we’ll explore airline policies and size and weight restrictions for can you carry on a garment bag.
When it comes to airline policies, it’s important to note that each airline has its own rules and regulations regarding garment bags.
American Airlines allows passengers to bring a garment bag but it will count as their carry-on item, and as long as it meets the size and weight limits set by the airline.
Delta also considers a garment bag as a carry-on, so you’ll need to choose between bringing a carry-on bag or a garment bag in addition to a personal item.
Size and Weight Restrictions
Most airlines have size and weight restrictions for carry-on luggage, including garment bags.
American Airlines allows passengers to carry on a soft-sided garment bag up to 51 inches in total (that is length + width + depth) in lieu of a standard carry on luggage. It must also weigh no more than 10 pounds.
Make sure you measure and weigh your garment bag before you head to the airport to avoid any issues.
Sturdy Garment Bags
If you’re traveling with delicate or formal clothing, you may want to consider a sturdy garment bag.
These bags are designed to protect your clothing from damage during transit. However, they can be heavy and bulky, which may make them difficult to carry around the airport and may mean they no longer qualify as carry on.
Soft-Sided Garment Bags
Soft-sided garment bags are a popular choice for travelers because they are lightweight and easy to pack. However, they may not provide as much protection for your clothing as a sturdy garment bag.
This is the type I use and, so far at least, my suits always arrive in good order.
When it comes to garment bags and carry-on luggage, each airline has its own set of rules and regulations. Here’s a breakdown of the policies for some of the major airlines:
American Airlines allows passengers to bring a garment bag as their carry-on item, as long as it meets the size and weight limits set by the airline. America states “Soft-sided garment bags up to 51 inches / 130 cm (length + width + height) can be taken as your carry-on item.” It must also weigh no more than 10 pounds.
Delta flyers are allowed one carry-on bag and one personal item. Including wheels and handles, measurements may not exceed 22 inches long, 14 inches width and 9 inches high. The total length, width, and height of the garment bag should not exceed 45 inches.
JetBlue allows passengers to bring one carry-on bag and one personal item on board. The carry-on bag must be no larger than 22 inches x 14 inches x 9 inches, while the personal item must be no larger than 17 inches x 13 inches x 8 inches. Garment bags are allowed as long as they meet these size requirements.
Passengers on Southwest are allowed one carry-on bag and one personal item. The carry-on bag must be no larger than 10 x 16 x 24 inches, while the personal item must be no larger than 18.5 x 8.5 x 13.5 inches. Garment bags are allowed as long as they fit within these size requirements.
According to United Airlines, carry-on bags will usually need to be smaller than 9 x 14 x 22 inches and personal items need to be smaller than 9 x 10 x 17 inches. This means that your garment bag will need to fit these requirements in order for you to take it on the flight. The sizes can vary based on the airline as well.
Air Canada allows passengers to bring one standard article, such as a carry-on bag, and one personal article, such as a purse or briefcase, on board. The standard article must not exceed the maximum dimensions of 55 cm x 23 cm x 40 cm (21.5 in x 9 in x 15.5 in). The personal article must be smaller than the standard article and must fit under the seat in front of you. Garment bags are allowed as long as they fit within these size requirements.
British Airways allows passengers to bring one cabin bag and one personal item on board. The cabin bag must not exceed the maximum dimensions of 56 cm x 45 cm x 25 cm (22 in x 18 in x 10 in), including handles, wheels, and any side pockets. The personal item must be smaller than the cabin bag and must fit under the seat in front of you. Garment bags are allowed as long as they fit within these size requirements.
Remember that these rules and regulations are subject to change, so it’s always a good idea to double-check with your airline before you travel.
Here’s the information summarized in a table:
|Airline||Carry-on Bag Limit (L x W x H)||Personal Item Limit (L x W x H)||Garment Bag Limit|
|American||22″ x 14″ x 9″||18″ x 14″ x 8″||Up to 51 inches combined (length + width + height)|
|Delta||22″ x 14″ x 9″||Same as carry-on||Max. 45″ combined|
|JetBlue||22″ x 14″ x 9″||17″ x 13″ x 8″||Must meet carry-on/personal item size|
|Southwest||24″ x 16″ x 10″||18.5″ x 8.5″ x 13.5″||Must meet carry-on/personal item size|
|United Airlines||22″ x 14″ x 9″||9″ x 10″ x 17″||Must meet carry-on/personal item size|
|Air Canada||21.5″ x 9″ x 15.5″||Smaller than carry-on||Must meet carry-on/personal item size|
|British Airways||22″ x 18″ x 10″||Smaller than carry-on||Must meet carry-on/personal item size|
Note: For airlines where the personal item limit is listed as “Same as carry-on” or “Smaller than carry-on,” the exact size limit for the personal item was not provided, so it’s assumed that the personal item should fit within the size limits of the carry-on bag. In these cases, passengers should check with the airline for more specific size limitations for personal items.
Also read: What Are Carry On Bags: Your Ultimate Guide to Stress-Free Travel
I have been traveling around the world by air since the early 70s and living overseas too. I worked for British Airways for a number of years and I am also a private pilot. About Me