Does A Purse Count as A Carry-On?

Does our purse count as a carry-on? It is one of the most asked questions. Most airlines do not consider purses as a carry-on but more like personal items. In order to know if it counts as a carry-on, we need to differentiate the two first.

What is a carry-on?

Before knowing whether your purse is a carry-on or a personal item, it is important to know what a carry-on really is. A carry-on or hand luggage is any luggage that passengers can take in the passenger compartment of a vehicle. 

Most of the time, the purpose of taking these carry-ons In the passenger compartment is to take those valuables that passengers may need during their journey. It includes snacks, makeup, medicines, chargers, etc. It is helpful and easier to take these carry-ons as you can keep this luggage under the seat or the overhead.

What is a personal item?

Any form of hand luggage that fits underneath the seat in Infront of you is a personal item. Personal items may include a laptop, backpack, baby bag, or a zip wallet. But doesn’t a carry-on and personal item sound almost the same? There are some differences that we need to look at. 

Difference between carry-on and personal item

The basic difference between a carry-on and a personal item is the size of the bag or purse you carry. Carry-ons are usually larger in size.

Examples of carry-on items may include rolling cabin luggage, a hiking backpack, a large duffel bag, etc. Examples of personal items include purses, laptop bags, miniature backpacks, small underwater roller suitcases, card holders, and other card holders are some of the examples of personal items. 

There are some criteria based on which you can differentiate between personal items and carry-ons.

Personal items can usually fit under your seat, but carry-on luggage must fit in the overhead compartment of your seat. Carry-ons are usually larger in size, with approximately 22x14x9 inches in dimensions. On the other hand, personal items are smaller than carry-ons, approximately 18x14x8 inches. 

The usual weight allowance limit for personal items is 33 liters. However, most airlines only allow carry-on luggage with a maximum volume of 45 liters. Even though all airlines permit some form of personal item, most low-cost airlines do not include carry-on in the ticket price, and you have to pay for it separately. While forced gate checking is less likely to happen with personal items, it is more likely to happen with carry-ons.

Requirements of Airlines

When boarding, most airlines still allow you to take two pieces of luggage. Many airlines allow passengers to bring both carry-on and personal items on board. They do so because it can fit under the seat in front of you.

However, every airline has a different criterion about the size allowance of a hand carry. Some airlines are lenient with their luggage allowance policies, while others are not. Some airlines require passengers to measure their carry-ons on a measuring device before letting them in, while others don’t. 

Many travelers who bring only a carry-on bag opt for rectangular rolling luggage. But you can also use a backpack or a duffel bag that fits in the overhead compartment. It Is usually allowed to bring one personal item and carry-on on every airline. However, you may be able to get more than that in the upgraded classes, including business or first-class.

Should I bring a Carry-on or a personal item?

Ideally, you can only bring one carry-on and one personal item when flying in economy class on low-budget airlines. If you carry two bags, only one can fit in the overhead compartment, and the other must fit behind your seat. The airlines might permit you to have a second carry-on bag if you're traveling in an upgraded class like business or first. 

You might only have the allowance of one personal item on flights that are not expensive. If you have a basic economy ticket on some airlines (on specific routes). Policies can change, so always confirm what the present policies of the airlines you choose for your journey are. 

What items you want to take with you truly determines whether you intend to bring a carry-on or a personal item. Traveling around with a smaller purse with necessary items will be simpler and easier to carry than carrying a large carry-on bag.

On some flights, travelers only bring personal items. Some people bring a large carry-on and a large personal item. Pilots and air hostesses frequently use this option. Remember that if you do this, you must pack every purse within your flying luggage. Some travelers bring checked bags as well as personal items like purses. 

It is preferable to keep belongings near you rather than put them in carry-on luggage. It is because you might never see them again if you lose them. Some passengers travel with a carry-on and a purse both. This way, they are using their item allowance appropriately. If your airlines allow both, why not use this opportunity wisely and bring along both?


In conclusion, a purse is not a carry-on but a personal item. Personal items are considerably easier to travel with because they are smaller, so your purse may be easier to carry than a carry-on. You just need to be mindful that you'll have a spot to store your purse under the seat in front of you.

This way, when the flight makes an announcement, you won't need to rush to the gate and stand in a large queue to try to get on the plane first. On the other hand, a carry-on is much bigger and allows you to bring more items. You'll need a carry-on if you require extra space. Like most travelers, you can bring a carry-on and a purse if you need more space.

Always take along a small purse to keep your valuables and anything else you'll need on the flight close at hand.  A smaller purse or personal item is the best choice if you go on a short trip of two to three days. 

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