One of the most important items on a checklist for passengers looking to board a plane is the right carry-on and personal item bag to carry along with them unto the plane. Now while a compact personal item bag fits (or is meant to fit) effortlessly under the seat right in front of you, a bulky one always has to rest its heavier head in the overhead compartment. This makes the lighter, more compact, personal item bag your go-to choice for packing in items you might need to use while still on a flight.
It is important to note however that not all airlines allow passengers to board planes with a personal item bag (if he or she already has a carry-on). That been said, most airlines do, and in any case, it is always easier and less stressful to simply swipe out your personal item bag from underneath a seat than from an overhead compartment. In general, personal item bags more convenient to get to during flights than carry-on bags – especially when you need to access your bag during takeoff and landing without having to eat up the glaring shots fired at you by flight attendants.
The basic thing to note about personal item bags is the fact that they actually have to fit underneath a seat, and because lots of folks are not the exactly the lightest packers, the decision as to which personal item bag to bring along on a trip can turn out to be such a huge factor to consider before leaving for the airport. The fact that choosing the wrong bag can lead to extra baggage charges, check-in steps, and longer wait times at baggage claim, makes the need to choose the right bag only more apparent.
Top 10 Best Personal Item Bags
The two major strengths of this bag are its durability and its ease to manage. One thing customers often complain about bags with shoulder carry straps is that most of them do not come with extra support. The On Hand Flight Duffle Bag, however, comes ready to right this wrong; as its shoulder carry strap is not only sturdy but also packs the extra support feature which allows individuals, like you, size up the strap until it balances perfectly on your shoulder.
Apart from the color black, the bag also comes in two additional colors and in terms of size, the bag measures 16x10x8 (inches). Based on its size, it is highly recommended for travelers who would like to carry more with them unto the plane as it has 6 main compartments. It also has an extra zip pocket located on its front which can be used for sorting items like, toiletries, tickets, passports, and adaptors. Its zippers are smooth, robust, and heavy-duty and from the customer reviews we’ve seen, none have reported a situation where he or she experienced any zipper problems.
The downside, however, is that due to its size, it is only suited for travelers who do not plan to fly using low budget airlines, i.e. those that have personal item bag size restrictions or only allow a carry-on bag.
Its fabric is very strong and this makes it able to accommodate the carrying of heavy or sharp objects. (Note: it is generally advisable not to carry any pointed object in a personal item bag).
The bag has a strong zipper and this is a particularly handy feature for travelers who like to fill up their bags to the brim.
It is highly suited for those who love to have not only more room for their stuff but also more organization control as well.
The bag is not as malleable as some of the other options on the personal item bag market.
The bag comes in a limited amount of colors and styles
The sleek design of this small but amazing rolling luggage bag is simply stunning, plus, it comes in up to ten different colors. It is spacious yet light, malleable yet sturdy, if ever there was an all in one traveling bag, this is defiantly it. It fits easily on the overhead compartments found in most airlines and also slides easily under the seat in front of you. Its easy-to-access organizer (located on its front) makes it easy to tuck away items like magazines, boarding passes, books and plane tickets. The rolling wheels help in terms of mobility and its telescoping push-button handle works like magic in locking the arms in place so the bag can easily pass through panels.
However, like with all the greats, it has a BUT! Despite its small lightweight design, it still comes in at 13x13x9 (inches) and though perfect for traveling via most international airlines, it might still fail to pass the test for a personal item bag when flying via budget airlines like Norwegian.
The bag comes in a wide variety of colors, which is not too common for small rolling luggage bags.
Travelers seem to love it, a lot, as it has over a thousand positive reviews on Amazon. Clearly, AmazonBasics is doing something right!
It offers its user a palatable sum of organizational freedom, especially via its easy-to-access organizer.
Even when crazy full, it’s still easy to move around, thanks to its lockable arms and well built rolling wheels.
Even with its sleek design, it might still not fit under the plane seats of some budget airlines.
It is basically a traveling bag and as such, it wins very little points in terms of versatility.
This classic backpack packs quite a punch in terms of style and quality. With a variety of colors (about 10) to choose from, you can be certain that you’ll always travel sleek no matter your preferred outfit choice. It is also lightweight, coming in at only 1.54 pounds, and also comes with a padded, adjustable (shoulder) strap drop which lets you handle it like a tote bag. It has two front zipper pockets, a couple of open side pockets, and a very spacious interior with absolutely no compartments. The entry point makes use of a doctor bag-style wide opening for easy access. In terms of versatility, this bag comes highly recommended and in terms of size, it measures at 14.6×10.6×7.1.
The Veegul Stylish Backpack is in many ways a queen in terms of versatility. It can be used for nearly any occasion and by almost anyone (male or female). This is because it combines but the fashionable look with a professional one, while still fitting perfectly into the traveling bag niche.
Zipper quality of this bag. You need only one hand to operate the zippers.
The bag is really spacious yet compact. The two back pockets are deep and the bag offers enough organizational features for the average traveler.
The bag can be handled as a tote bag and can also be hung around the back. The tote handles can be held together with a provided snap.
The bag’s canvas fabric is not waterproof
When hung on the back, the tote bag handles look a little bit wired (due to their height and positioning). This in no way, however, affects its functionality.
For more organizational power, travelers might want to look elsewhere as the bag’s inner compartment has no dividers or laptop sleeves.
Next on the list is a fan favorite with over two thousand customer reviews on amazon. The Samsonite brand has always been a classic traveling companion and this bag personifies the company’s commitment towards providing its clients with high-quality traveling experiences. The bag is a 100% blend of polyester and nylon, and its sturdy build enables it to stand upright without leaning. Its wheels are customized with polyurethane ball bearings; this helps to reduce friction during movement hence better mobility. One additional feature worthy of note is its WETPAK Zippered compartment, a space for all your damp or soiled items. Its size dimensions come in at 13x13x6.5 (inches).
The downside happens to be its price. However, it fluctuates a lot and often at times, you can always get a great discount if you just wait a little longer before making your purchase, and you know how the saying goes, “the patient dog enjoys the most affordable rates!”
This bag comes from Samsonite, one of the leading manufacturers in the luggage biz, hence, quality and warranties are guaranteed.
For travelers who fancy seamless mobility, the rolling wheels of this bag will sure come in handy!
Its WETPAK Zippered compartment is a very nice feature which can greatly mitigate the awkwardness of some uncomfortable spots travelers sometimes find themselves in. (e.g having to store away a soiled shirt which got stained while en-route)
Due to its small size and dimensions, it fits the personal item bag requirements of most airlines.
Its major drawback, as earlier stated, happens to be its price (which also tends to fluctuate a lot!)
It is incredibly small for a rolling suitcase and might not be suitable for travelers who intend to use it as an all-in-one luggage solution.
This bag comes loaded with features. It is lightweight (only 0.34kg), waterproof and also doubles as a duffle bag. It is made using tough oxford fabric and this makes it not only tear-resistant but also capable of carrying over 50lbs worth of your goods. Its foldable construct – which allows it to fit the dimensions 7x7x1.5 inches and 18x12x6 inches (when unfolded) – makes it a really portable and convenient travel companion. The bags custom design allows it to fit or be placed on one’s luggage easily and it can also come in handy as an emergency spare bag when the occasion calls for it. It is also affordable and comes in 4 additional colors (in addition to the original black). It also comes with an adjustable shoulder strap-on bag.
It is incredibly lightweight.
It is really strong for such a small malleable bag and its foldable feature makes it easy to store as an emergency suitcase/bag.
The bag’s carrying capacity is worthy of applaud.
The bag is waterproof and this feature has been tested and reported true by several satisfied customers.
The bag’s shoulder straps could be longer.
The bag has very little to none organizational features (a downside which is worsened due to its super malleability).
This bag looks like the kind of bag every young, tech. oriented, and entrepreneurial youth should have. Its sleek design, safety features, and super sturdy zippers are its major selling point. This, however, does not mean it fails in other areas as it is designed using highly durable, water-resistant polyester fabric and also comes not only with quality metal zippers but an additional theft-proof combination lock. The bag also comes with 3 main pockets, 2 sealed pockets, a USB charger port (outside) and a charging cable (inside) all in-built. It also packs a cool 9 inner small pockets and measures 20×12.2×5.7 inches. It also comes in 8 different colors (including white).
The bag is made using a nice-looking, water-resistant fabric.
The bag is light-weight and feels comfortable to wear. This makes it well suited for travelers who love to wear their personal item bags around their backs.
The bag’s in-built USB port lets you charge your phone, while still being able to use it, via a USB cord connected to a power bank located within the bag. This is a really impressive feature, one which makes it highly suitable for tech-lovers.
The bag’s many pockets provide travelers with more organizational power than most personal item bags do.
The multiple straps and buckles as non-functional and clunky
Due to higher organizational features and slightly lesser malleable form, it is made less spacious and thus less suitable for travelers who prefer to pack as much as possible in their personal item bags.
In recent times, most manufacturers have begun shipping out bags with multiple handling styles. An example of such a bag to hit the market in recent times is the 8x12x16 (inches) weekender bag which fits the requirements checklist of top affordable airlines like Spirit Airlines (8x14x18). Its black and white stripes design is simply chic, and its backslide sleeve lets you saddle it atop your luggage with ease. It is perfect for the fashion/trend-conscious and the bag also has a padded tablet sleeve which can accommodate most tablets in addition to 13” laptops.
Customers are particularly fond of its back opening which is useful for attaching the bag to a suitcase or main luggage handle.
The bag looks classy and can double for everyday use.
Its adjustable shoulder straps make the bag easy to handle. Customers have also commented on how comfortable the handles are.
The bag has limited organizational features.
The bag is not particularly waterproof.
Designed especially to pass seamlessly through the check-in process when boarding a plane via Spirit Airlines, this foldable, 17x14x7 inch, all in one multipurpose bag is truly a traveling masterpiece. Its fabric is tough enough and is made using tear-resistant nylon. It weighs less than an average empty suitcase, is more spacious than your average carry-on bag, and its pouch (when used as a strap) makes the duffle fit nicely over the handle of a standard luggage bag. It comes in a large variety of colors, has a carrying capacity of about 30L.
One downside is that due to its build and carrying capacity, mobility might be an issue for travelers who are not too keen on packing light. It is also less suitable for travelers would prefer a personal item bag with more pockets and room for better organization.
It is extremely lightweight and super easy to pack down despite its large size (for a personal item bag).
For what the bag delivers, it is very affordable, plus it comes in about 10 different colors
It is particularly useful for travelers who love to pack as lots of light stuff which takes up space and would normally not fit in a smaller personal item bag.
The bag is super light for a reason; it’s made of very thin nylon fabric. Now while lightweight is good, durability seldom comes light, hence, it is advisable not to pack particularly heavy or sharp items into this bag.
The duffel is not really a winner in terms of organizational features, as it is lacking in terms of pockets and dividers. It has but one zippered pocket on the outside – one which flops widely when unzipped. Packing cubes should be used if needed.
It is not waterproof.
This bag fits on a trolley handle so seamlessly you would think they were twins. This little tote duffel bag is not only compact but also stylish. It comes in about seventeen different colors and patterns can hold a 15.6-inch laptop, and is good for short journeys as it can accommodate up to three days worth of clothing. On its bottom are five metal studs, useful for keeping the bag off the ground and due to its aesthetic appeal, it can be used for simple outings which requires one to pack a bit more and also for daily use (like shopping and going to the gym). If nothing else, it’ll still serve as a very nice gift for your girlfriend, wife or mum!
Though small enough to fit under a seat, this bag is still spacious enough to pack quite a lot.
Sliding and transporting the bag under the handle your main luggage (with rolling wheels) is made easy due to its outer pocket.
It’s a truly stylish and versatile bag that can be used for picnics, beach trips, and everyday use.
The bag is not hard enough (thus is prone to tear) and the zipper gets stuck at times. It is advisable not to use the bag for carrying heavy or sharp items.
Last but not least on our list of the best personal item bags to choose for your travels comes one of ECOSUSI’s finest. This bag happens to be one of the most beautiful yet sturdy traveling bags on our list. It is incredibly smooth to the feel, alluring to look at and better still, the right size for easily sliding under the seat in front of you. Its dimensions are as follows: Length 18 inches / Height 8 inches / with top and bottom widths at 6 and 8 inches respectively.
It is made using water-repellant nylon fabric, and it also comes fitted with an adjustable padded shoulder strap. Tickets and passports can easily be stored in its zipper pocket and its spacious zippered compartment serves as a home for your other items. The tote is kept off the ground via 4 metal studs found on its bottom and its multipurpose build makes it one which can be used not only for traveling but for regular outings as well.
The bag looks both professional and fashionable.
The bag’s custom nylon fabric design makes it waterproof and highly durable.
Due to its size and depth, it can easily be used as an all-in-one luggage solution.
The bag is not well suited for individuals who’d love more organizational features or pockets on an item bag. This is because the ECOSUSI Weekender Bag has but one giant compartment and a kindle-sized sleeve.
How to Choose the Best Personal Item Bag
Selecting the right personal item bag needn’t be a sore thumb for anyone as simply keeping things simple, in most cases, does the trick! Picking the right bag is less about looks, texture, and color, and unless you’re a heading to a fashion event in Milan straight from the airport, it is always advisable to take note of the following when making your choice:
Most airlines have size restrictions, and if your bag doesn’t fit the bill, you just might have to pay extra fees. In some cases, these fees can actually turn out to be quite large! This makes size the paramount thing to consider when selecting your personal item bag. Luckily for most modern-day travelers, several traveling luggage manufacturers now produce carry-on bags that are perfect for use as personal item bags and due to the competition, these bags also tend to be on the low side in terms of cost.
The personal item bag you choose to carry should pass the check-in requirements of the particular airline you wish to use. The tightest restrictions are typically found on budget airlines like Wizzair while larger international airlines or even domestic flights (like those in the U.S.) will normally allow you more leverage when it comes to size restrictions.
The size restrictions on some budget airlines (e.g. Ryanair) can be set to as little as 8x8x14 (inches) (20x20x33 cm).
As much as bag rigidity is something to seek after when it comes to personal item bags, the reverse seems to be the case as one should avoid choosing bags that happen to be hard-sided. Malleable, soft-sided bags are the winners, and just because a bag is soft-sided does not necessarily mean it is less in terms of strength.
One of the many advantages of picking a soft-sided bag is that, due to its malleability, you not only get to stuff in more of your “essential and can’t-travel-without accessories”, but in the event that you get boxed into an unfortunate seat – you know, those seats that provide very little legroom – you can always squish in the bag so it fits perfectly!
Never – unless absolutely necessary – settle for a personal item bag that only works for ‘on-flight’ travels. Pick a bag that fits your traveling style. Something you’ll feel comfortable carrying around with you; a bag that can serve both as a personal item bag and also a daypack. With a good multi-purpose personal item bag, you’ll be able to zoom through your after flight activities with ease while still looking chic.
Buying a multipurpose bag also comes in handy during situations when you need to make a quick personality switch. An example is perhaps that of John Doe who has to transform from a regular guy to a businessman, in other to make it in time for a presentation barely more than 30mins of landing at the airport. In such a case, walking into the board room with an ‘off’ bag would instantly reduce John’s professional outlook in such a meeting.
As much as it is good to select a malleable bag, it is also equally important to pick a bag that can stand the test of time. It is never fun to have your bag’s zipper slack in public, worse if it happens while your bag is in a slanting position, which results in your private stuff falling all across the public floor. Opt for malleable bags with high durability and bags made with slash-proof material. Durable personal item bags that come with additional features (like lockable zippers) are nice picks too.
In the end, the choice of which personal item bag to carry along with you boils down to your preference. Your personal item bag could be a duffel bag, a laptop case, a shoulder bag, a small backpack, a briefcase or even a purse. We’ve taken the liberty of compiling a list of the top 10 personal item bags below; bags that fit the bill in terms of airline restrictions, size, quality, and versatility.
FAQs on Personal Item Bags
What is the maximum weight allowed for a personal item bag?
In reality, only a handful of airlines actually have any weight limits on personal item bags. Their main focus is geared towards making sure your bag fits underneath your seat and whether or not your bag fits their dimension requirements. However, the somewhat “safe personal maximum weight limit” one can set for him or herself is 25L.
What is the maximum size my personal item bag can be?
Well, it usually ranges between 16-18 inches in height, 10-15 inches in width and 7-9 inches in depth. It is, however, worthy to note that certain airlines use even smaller dimensions and it is always wise to confirm what dimensions your particular airline uses before selecting a personal item bag.
What types of bags can pass as personal items?
Any type of bag really. As long as it fits the airline requirements in terms of size, anything from a laptop bag, purse, briefcase, duffle bag, tote bag, small backpack, small rolling bags, shoulder bags, and duffels can be used. Just make sure the dimensions meet your airline’s requirements.
What can I include in my personal item bag?
If you’ve got an item that you know you might want to reach for during a flight, it should go into your personal item bag. This could be your laptop, phone, tablet, journal, book or magazine. It could even be something to help you relax or fall asleep during the trip, something like an eye mask, a pair of socks, a neck pillow, earplugs, a sweater, medications or even toiletries. You can also include some juice and snacks as well.
Basically, if you think you might want to reach for it during a flight, put it into your personal item bag as it’ll be way easier to reach than anything you’ve got tucked away in the overhead compartment.
A perfect trip begins with choosing the right bag; anything really to help you avoid being charged extra at the airport terminal. Now even though it is advisable to have a personal item bag onboard with you whenever you travel, in the end, you need to consider your preferences, habits, and overall, your traveling style.
Are you the type who loves to travel light and in style? Then a smaller more aesthetic bag might do the trick for you. Are you the type who loves to cut costs at all costs, while still being able to carry as much as possible? Then a more spacious bag with the right dimensions would work best for you. Are you the dress cautious type, someone who loves his or her luggage to blend with his or her outfit no matter what? Then a classic shoulder bag should do the trick. Either way, it’s all about your preference, and as long as you remain true to yourself, and your budget, you’ll always have a wide list of personal item bags that fit your traveling style to choose from.
Lastly, every bag has its own strengths and weaknesses. A traveler should always endeavor to select the bag which accommodates his or her traveling needs the most – as there’s no point getting a bag you’ll end up seeing as a waste of money simply because you purchased the bag out of mere sentiment and not careful planning.