You won't be able to carry a week's worth of luggage onto your plane (unless you travel really light), but all airlines allow you to bring a limited amount of baggage with you during a flight. Before you board you'll need to learn how big your bags can be and which items are allowed inside them.

The Transportation Security Administration determines what items you can safely bring on board a plane in your carry-on luggage. After learning what size bag constitutes a carry on, we’ll outline the allowed items that can be stored in your bag.

Carry On Size and Other Items

Policies for carry-on baggage can vary slightly among airlines based on the overhead bins in the planes they use. Generally, your bag shouldn't exceed 22 inches long, 14 inches wide and 9 inches tall. Size limits are pretty standard across airlines, but researching the size restrictions of your specific airline before flying is always a good idea. If you arrive to the airport and your carry on bag is too large, which you can find out using their carry on sizer, you will be forced to check it and be charged with extra baggage fees.

Airlines usually provide a place to check the size of your carry-on near the check-in counter. If your bag fits in the hole, it is OK to take it onto the plane. Most duffel bags, hand baggage, laptop bags, garment bags, small backpacks and other smaller sized bags will work, as they fit easily into the overhead bins and meet the size requirements. Anything you bring on the plane must fit below the seat in front of your or in the overhead compartment.

Other Items

Most airlines allow you to bring onto the plane one carry-on item and one personal item. Personal items can consist of a wide range of objects and include purses, cameras, laptops, hand luggage and diaper bags. Such items as coats, magazines and pillows would not count toward either quota.

If you bring a wheelchair or stroller to the gate, these items will be checked in there to allow easier access onto and off of the plane.

Forbidden Items for Carry On Bags

Generally, any item considered a sharp object, such as pocket knives, box cutters, scissors and razor blades (other than disposable razors) cannot be carried on, but can be checked with other luggage. The same goes for most firearms and ammunition, tools and martial arts weapons. You can neither carry on nor check most flammable and explosive materials.

Rules for Liquids

The TSA allows you to bring liquids, gels and aerosols onto planes -- but only in limited quantities. Place any of these materials you wish to carry on into one single quart-sized clear plastic bag to speed up the screening process.

Each container, such as a can of shaving cream or a tube of toothpaste should contain no more than 3.4 ounces. You can bring more than 3.4 ounces of baby formula, medication and breast milk onto a plane, but you must declare them at the security checkpoint.


While large tools, such as drills, saws, axes and anything measuring more than 7 inches in length, are banned from carry-on luggage, you can bring some small tools on board a flight. The TSA allows you to pack screwdrivers, wrenches and pliers that are shorter than 7 inches on board an airplane in your carry-on luggage. Since there is no weight limit for carry on bags, packing heavier tools like these won’t be a hindrance!

To be safe, only carry scissors with blades shorter than 4 inches in your checked baggage. Pack any forbidden items in your checked bags and avoid taking them through TSA.

Sports Equipment

Guns of all types, including BB guns and paintball guns, along with all knives, are not allowed on board airplanes. Most large sporting goods, such as baseball bats, golf clubs and ski poles are banned from carry-on bags. Some sporting goods, such as dumbbells and ice skates, are approved for in-plane luggage. Fishing poles are approved for carry-on bags, but fishing tackle must be placed in checked baggage. You may bring one small lighter or one book of matches on board with you when you fly.


Electronic equipment, including computers, cellular phones and camera equipment, is permitted in carry-on luggage. You may bring extra batteries, disposable or rechargeable, on board. Pack extra film in your checked luggage, since the machines used to screen carry-on bags can destroy film.