When you’re flying for the first time, you might not be sure what to bring. You’ve heard you can take at least a single personal item on the plane, but you don’t even know what counts as one.
Are you allowed to bring a backpack? What is the best backpack for under an airplane seat?
In this article, we’ll alleviate your anxieties about personal item backpacks. Not only will we define which personal items are allowed, but we’ll also share 10 of the best personal item backpacks.
What Is Considered a Personal Item When Flying?
First, let’s discuss what constitutes personal items. According to the TSA themselves, these items are:
- Camera cases
- Small backpacks
Have a look at this carryon size chart to see the sizes that many of the top airlines allow personal items to be. Some don’t specify personal item dimensions, they just require that your personal item fits under the seat in front of you.
Does a Backpack Count as a Personal Item?
Per the TSA guidelines, a backpack would indeed count as a personal item. If you’re thinking of taking a backpack or a purse with you on a flight, do know that there are certain restrictions on the sizes of these and other personal items. The restrictions will vary depending on which airline you choose to fly.
According to Tortuga Backpacks, those restrictions are as follows:
- If you’re flying Virgin America, your personal item has to be able to fit beneath a plane seat or in your overhead bin. If it doesn’t, then you can’t use it as a personal item. You’re also restricted from taking items that are bigger than 90 centimeters or 36 linear inches. If your item exceeds 43 x 25 x 22 centimeters or 17 x 10 x 9 inches, it’s too big.
- When you book your flight through Lufthansa, make sure your personal item isn’t any larger than 15 x 11 x 3.9 inches or 40 x 30 x 10 centimeters. Otherwise, it doesn’t count as a personal item.
- Emirates Airlines defines personal items as carry-on luggage for economy class flights. The size limit is 55 x 38 x 20 centimeters. However, there’s also a weight limit you must be aware of. If your personal item is any heavier than 15 pounds or seven kilograms, you’ll have to lighten it. If you can’t, then you cannot bring it onboard as a personal item.
- Did you schedule a flight through Delta? If so, then know they count other items as personal items besides the ones we listed above. For instance, you can also bring a diaper bag. They will not check computers. If your personal item is about the size of a laptop computer, diaper bag, camera bag, briefcase, or purse, it can be brought on the plane as a personal item.
- At American Airlines, personal items cannot be bigger than 18 x 14 x 8 inches. If it can’t go beneath your seat, it’s too large.
- Finally, those flying via Air Asia will have to measure their personal item before they fly. It needs to be 40 x 30 x 10 centimeters or less. Again, if it can’t fit beneath your seat, you might want to reconsider bringing it. Air Asia considers backpacks, handbags (purses), and laptop bags as personal items.
Best Inexpensive Personal Item Backpacks for Air Travel
Hynes Eagle 3L Weekender Carry-on Backpack
Measuring 13 x 7.9 x 19.7 inches or 33 x 20 x 50 centimeters, the Hynes Eagle 3L Weekender can go beneath your plane seat or in your overheard compartment. It’s capable of fitting three packing cubes or 38 liters.
- Compression buckle straps on the sides let you shift the backpack to your personal height
- The shoulder straps are padded as well as being adjustable and suppressible
- You also get a side and top handle for more convenient traveling
- The entire backpack is made of 600-denier polyester
- There are several colors to choose from, such as red violet, orange gray, black gray, red violet with fuchsia, and black
- You can also get this backpack with patterns like stamps or maple leaves
kopack Slim Business Laptop Backpack – Best Overall Choice
The kopack Slim Business Laptop Backpack is designed for carrying your computer on flights and just about anywhere else you want to go.
- The material used for the backpack is water-resistant and tear-resistant
- You also get back and shoulder straps with sponge padding
- This backpack doubles as an anti-theft device, as it as four-tooth zippers that are puncture-proof and a dual-layer zipper to make your personal items harder to steal
- You get a USB cable in the backpack so you can charge your computer, tablet, or smartphone before your flight or right after
- There are 17 slots total so you can keep all your favorite flying essentials close
- You can select from several cool colors, including purple, magenta, gray black, gray, and black
Waycarrier II Carry-on Backpack
A sleek-looking backpack that counts as a personal item is the Waycarrier II. The manufacturer says it’s TSA-approved. The Waycarrier II measures eight inches deep, 14 inches long, and 18 inches high.
- Made of polyester (600-denier), the Waycarrier II includes PVC lining that will keep the backpack dry if it gets wet
- As a two-in-one rucksack, this bag has a lot of storage compartments and pockets so you can keep all your must-have items in one convenient place
- The Waycarrier II can fit 33 liters of stuff, such as electronics, clothes, diapers, toiletries, and snacks
- With belt-like closures in the front, you can easily open and access the bag when you need to
- The sleek black color adds a cool factor to your travels
Outlander Ultra Lightweight Backpack – Budget Choice
Slim and ideal for fitting beneath your seat, the Outlander backpack weighs less than a pound. It’s foldable and also useful for camping and other outdoor adventures.
- With a carabiner clip, you can carry extra items like a water bottle or even a smaller bag
- This Outlander backpack has plenty of storage pockets and compartments, like dual side pockets for drinks, a security pocket with a zipper, dual front zipper pockets for tiny items, and a front compartment
- You can fold up this bag when it’s fully emptied so it takes up less room on your travels
- The Outlander backpack has a nylon fabric base that promises durability and fewer rips and tears
- The zippers are SBS metal and abrasion-proof
- There are lots of great colors to pick, like orange, gray, green, dark blue, black, red, purple, pink, and light blue
Lily & Drew Casual Travel Backpack
This appealing backpack from Lily & Drew not only looks nice, but it’s a great personal item bag, too. It has a depth of 8.7 inches, a width of 10.2 inches, and a height of 15 inches.
- The plastic clips attached to the bag prevent fabric rips and other damage while providing greater internal support
- This backpack is lighter-weight and has shoulder padding so one shoulder doesn’t feel the pressure more than the other
- The doctor-style, fish-mouth opening measures 8 x 10 inches
- There are tons of sleeves and pockets, including a padded internal sleeve perfect for a tablet, dual internal slip pockets, dual external pockets for water bottles, and three external zipper pockets
- The color selection is quite nice, including hues like red, purple, dark gray, dark blue, and black
Hynes Eagle Veegul Backpack
Another solid pick from Hynes Eagle is the Veegul. This fully-loaded yet lightweight nylon backpack makes a perfect personal item backpack for air travel. It measures 37 x 27 x 16 centimeters or 14.6 x 10.6 x 6.3 inches.
- The Veegul includes several pockets and compartments, such as dual side open pockets and a front utility zipper pocket
- The doctor-style opening is easily accessible
- The shoulder straps and back panel are both padded for long hours spent waiting in line at the airport
- The Veegul is incredibly lightweight at 1.32 pounds
- The color choices include khaki green, gray, dark blue, bright red, ash black, rose gold, navy blue, mint green, gray, calendula yellow, and black
Rangeland Multi-Function Laptop Backpack – Our Choice
The Rangeland Multi-Function Laptop Backpack is available at a great price on Amazon. It measures 12 x 5.25 x 17 inches and can slide under your seat effortlessly.
- You get several pockets, including interior slip pockets, dual pen pockets, dual passport pockets, and a pocket for a laptop that’s at least 15 inches
- The backpack features external compression buckle straps for keeping all your belongings with you
- The shoulder straps are designed for comfort and functionality
- The interior of the backpack can hold 17 liters
- Weighing just 1.35 pounds, this backpack isn’t too heavy for regular traveling
- You can pick from colors like mustard, khaki green, green camo, blueberry, navy, and black
BoardingBlue Personal Item Laptop Backpack
A relatively inexpensive backpack, BoardingBlue is a personal item backpack meant for flying. It measures 18 x 13 x 8 inches.
- Weighing just a pound, this bag may look large, but it doesn’t weigh you down when you carry it
- It has many pockets on the exterior and interior, even pen holders
- The entire bag is made of durable polyester that’s 600 deniers
- If you need to stay overnight on your travels, the BoardingBlue should be able to carry everything you need
- The bright purple color is quite appealing while the black hue is professional
Lifeasy Travel Backpack
The Lifeasy is 18.9 x 11.8 x 7.1 inches or 48 x 30 x 18 centimeters and designed for travel. It’s inexpensive, too.
- With a handle made for comfort and a horizontal design, this bag is meant to be carried with your luggage
- There are other ways of toting this backpack along; you can make use of a crossbody shoulder strap (which is removable), look in the hidden compartment for dual shoulder straps, or carry the bag the usual way
- You get a lock to prevent theft
- This waterproof bag has a capacity of 30 liters
- The backpack can hold plenty of items, including an umbrella, notebooks, tablets, and laptops
- The Lifeasy’s square-shaped design is trendy, and its gray or black color choices are minimalist
Kroser Laptop Backpack
Our final pick for personal item backpacks is the Kroser Laptop Backpack. This sleek backpack is 18.5 x 13.3 x 7.8 inches.
- This durable bag includes a luggage belt for attaching the backpack to luggage trolleys
- The foam padding throughout cradles your laptop, which can be up to 17.3 inches and still fit
- You can pull the bag closed via leather pullers
- The shoulder straps are padded and can be loosened or tightened as you like
- You can fit a power bank, clothes, a wallet, A4 files, and a tablet in this bag
- The color choices are charcoal black and gray
Our pick for the best personal item backpack is the Rangeland Multi-Function Laptop Backpack. This one has a five-star rating on Amazon. While many of the other backpacks come close, this one was chosen as a favorite for flying by many users.
Backpacks count as personal items for many airlines, but they have to be of a certain size. They should also be able to fit beneath your seat or in your storage compartment. The 10 picks we covered are great traveling bags for your first flight or your hundredth.