Picking the right size bag for your carry-on can be the difference between a quick walk onto the plane or the frustration of having to check it. Each airline sets their own rules on size and weight and it can all become a bit confusing. Here are the following bag sizes and requirements for all North American-based airlines.

Alaska Airlines

Not only does Alaskan offer a free carry on, but its maximum size of 24 inches in length x 17 inches in width x 10 inches in height (61 x 43 x 25 cm) exceeds both American and Delta – putting it second on the list of the largest free bags.

Allegiant Air

You can bring a rolling bag, garment bag, or tote bag that fits within 9 x 14 x 22 in. for between $15 to $45, depending on when you pay for it.

American Airlines

When flying with American Airlines you can bring one free personal item and one free carry-on up to 45 inches (22 x 14 x 9 in.) or 115 centimeters (23 x 36 x 56 cm).

US airways is the same company as American, so they have aligned their baggage policies, as well as American Eagle.  American Eagle has smaller planes and often your carry-on will be valeted to the cargo hold.

Carry-on Luggage

Delta Air Lines

Just like American, Delta allows for a free carry-on fitting 45 linear inches (or 114 cm), (approximately 22 x 14 x 9 in. or 56 x 35 x  23 cm) including any handles and wheels. They do have an exception for small musical instruments that fit in the overhead compartment space or under-seat space, depending on available space.

If flying on Delta Connection flights, with fifty seats or less, you are only permitted to carry personal items on board. All other bags will be checked.

Frontier Airlines

Frontier does not offer free carry-ons and charges $30 to $60 depending on when the carry-on is paid for. It can be no larger than 24 x 10 x 16 in. or over 35 pounds.

Great Lakes Airlines

Great Lakes Airlines allows one personal item and one gate-checked bag free of charge. Your personal item can be no more than 20 x 15 x 11 in. A gate-checked bag needs to be at no larger than 22 x 11 x 11 in.

Hawaiian Airlines

Similar to Delta and American, your free carry-on needs to not exceed 22 x 14 x 9 in. (45 linear inches), but watch the weight. If the bag exceeds 25 pounds (11.5 kg), checked bag fees can be from $25 to $200 depending on weight.

JetBlue Airways

JetBlue uses two different aircraft that have different requirements for free carry-ons. For Airbus A321, your bag needs to be 17 in. (43.2 cm) x 13 in. (33 cm) x 11 in. (27.9 cm). For Airbus A320, you need to keep it under 18 in. (45.72 cm) x 15 in. (38.1 cm) x 8 in. (20.32 cm). They don’t have a weight restriction, but they ask that you make it light enough to easily get into the overhead bins.

Southwest Airlines

Southwest falls just behind Alaska Airlines with one the largest free carry-on bags at 10 x 16 x 24 inches. The generous size is worth looking into if you don’t want to wait around for your checked bags to arrive.

Spirit Airlines

Spirit allows a free personal item as long as it fits under the seat in front of you. If you bring a carry-on under 40 pounds, it will run you between $26 to $100 depending on if you paid for it while booking or if you get caught with it at the gate.

Sun Country Airlines

Sun Country ties with Virgin to offer the largest free carry-on measuring 24 x 16 x 11 in. tall (including wheels, handles, or any other protruding items). Fees are applied over 35 pounds.

United Airlines

United, much like Delta and American, allows for a free carry-on bags of 9 x 14 x 22 in. (22 x 35 x 56 cm) but don’t state a weight restriction.

Virgin America

Virgin America also offers a free carry-on as long as it is under 24 x 16 x 11 in. (the same as Sun Country). They don’t watch for weight, but it must either fit under the seat in front or be lifted easily into an overhead bin.

Items Not Counted as a Carry On

A few items that you can bring on board will not count as a carry-on. They can basically be broken down into four groups:

  • Duty-Free items (alcohol, cologne, etc.)
  • Food (for immediate consumption while in flight)
  • Special items (pillow, coat, umbrella, infant car seat, diaper bag, etc.)
  • Assistive devices (wheelchairs, canes, walkers, service animals, oxygen tanks, etc.)

Check with any airlines you are flying with to see if any of your credit cards or frequent flyer memberships offer waived or discount baggage fees.

Airlines with Free Carry Ons

  • Alaska Airlines
  • American Airlines
  • Delta Air Lines
  • Great Lake Airlines
  • Hawaiian Airlines
  • JetBlue Airways
  • Southwest Airlines
  • Sun Country Airlines
  • United Airlines
  • Virgin America

Airlines that Offer the Largest Free Carry-Ons

  1. Virgin America
  2. Sun Country Airlines
  3. Alaska Airlines
  4. Southwest Airlines

To help pack that carry-on, check out out packing tips in our travel tips section. Good luck and happy flying!