Air Travel - Is a Duffel Bag Considered a Personal Item

Many major airlines today allow passengers to bring one carry and one personal item in the cabin. Planning means you can use the personal item as an overflow from your carry-on and avoid baggage fees. However, what’s allowed on board as a personal item will vary by airline. 

What is a Personal Item?

It is defined as a personal item that is small enough that it can fit on your lap or under the seat of the airplane. This means a purse, backpack, laptop bag and camera bag.

Can a Duffel Bag Count as a Personal Item?

Be prepared that airline employees might single out your duffle as a personal item if it is not the usual size or look. Some airlines allow a duffel bag; however, it is counted as a carry-on in most cases.

Some airlines specifically state that a duffel bag will not qualify.

How to Get the Right Duffel Bag?

There are two types of duffel bags. You want to choose the right size and design that works for you.

  • The Large Duffel Bag

  • If you want to use the duffel bag as a carry on, then consider a large duffel bag. This is the kind you might use for camping or other outdoor adventures.

    The advantage of a large duffel is the amount of gear it holds and the ability to roll it.

    The large duffel bag is usually 22 inches tall, 14 inches wide and 10 inches deep. You can fit a lot in these bags. They can be closed by a zipper, drawstring or rolling top.

    Duffel bags in this category will be large enough to surpass airline size restrictions.

  • The Medium Duffel Bag

  • A medium duffel bag is excellent for car trips and plane rides. It will be smaller than a large duffel bag and still hold a lot of gear.

    A medium duffel bag is usually 16 inches tall, 10 inches wide and six inches deep. You can fit a good amount of gear in these bags.

    The medium sized duffel bag will not get past airline size restrictions. However, you may be able to bring this personal item onboard if you can fit it under the seat.

  • Small Duffel Bags

  • Small duffel bags are convenient for short trips or gym trips. The smaller size might get past airline size restrictions faster.

    The small duffel bag is usually 14 inches tall, 8 inches wide and 6 inches deep.

    The small duffel bag can still hold a good amount of gear. However, airplane seats may not fit under the seat.

    What Should My Duffel Bag Contain?

    There are some essential items for any duffel bag. You will need to plan for some essentials and other items based on the trips you take with the duffel bag.

    The Essentials

    • Travel Towel: Small towels take up minimal space and are useful for camping, sporting events and the gym.
    • Travel Pillow: The small inflatable travel pillow is the first item that comes to mind when you think of a travel pillow. However, they take up a lot of space and are not the most comfortable. Some alternatives include a travel neck pillow that can easily be tucked into a bag.
    • Shoes: Traveling with shoes is a lot easier than without. If you need to travel with dress shoes, then consider a duffel bag with a shoe compartment.

    The Right Duffel Bag for You

    Now that you know the style of duffel bag, you can narrow down what duffel bag is right for you.

    Not all travel duffel bags are the same. They can range from a small duffel bag for camping trips to a large duffel bag that is used as a carry-on bag.

    Make a list of how you will use the duffel bag and then decide which duffel bag is right for you.

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