Traveling is the one occasion where we can all agree your handbag could offer a lot more space and organization. Let’s face it, flying with a bag that does not suit the travel lifestyle can be a hassle when lugging on your carry-on essentials.
The best handbags to carry on a plane have enough space for exactly what you will need, as well as what you might need while you’re inflight. The list includes travel tote bags and laptop bags, although there are more options to choose from. Ultimately, the best bag for you will depend on what exactly you need to carry and what you’re most comfortable using.
Below you will find the best handbags to carry on to the plane for each type. I recommend every option when it comes to size, functionality, and price. The look and feel are all up to your preference!
Can I Carry a Handbag to the Plane?
Absolutely! The general rule is that passengers can bring one small suitcase and one personal item, which is what would count as a handbag. Typically, it is more convenient to bring a personal item, so you don’t have to deal with putting anything heavy in the overhead.
If you are traveling heavy and need to bring both carry-on items, a handbag with more room for essentials will be better suited for the plane and will even out the weight.
What Size of a Handbag is Too Big for Carrying onto the Plane?
Maximum handbag sizes vary across different airlines, but the general rule of thumb is that your personal item should fit underneath the seat in front of you. So you’ll be very much aware of the size is too big because you won’t have room to put your feet down or the bag won’t budge to fit under at all.
Of course, you want to be well prepared, so this doesn’t happen. Fortunately, all airlines list their carry-on size limits on their website. This can help you avoid getting to the airport only to find out your bag is too big… which leaves you with all kinds of problems on your hands.
Instead, check this table before you choose your bag, depending on what airline you’re flying. This will help you know exactly what size handbag you can bring on the plane:
|Airline||Carry-on Size Limit||Personal Item Size Limit|
|American Airlines||22 x 14 x 9 inches||18 x 14 x 8 inches|
|JetBlue Airlines||22 x 14 x 9 inches||22 x 14 x 9 inches|
|Southwest Airlines||24 x 16 x 10 inches||18.5 x 13.5 x 8.5 inches|
|Spirit Airlines||22 x 18 x 10 inches||18 x 4 x 8 inches|
|United Airlines||22 x 14 x 9 inches||17 x 10 x 9 inches|
The 5 Best Handbags to Carry on to the Plane
Now, let’s get to the fun part! Listed below are 5 of the best handbags to carry on the plane. Each bag comes in sizes that measure below the general personal item size limit and offers a unique design that best fits your travel essentials.
Travel Tote Bag
It’s right there in the name! The travel tote bag is made to travel anywhere and everywhere. Tote bags have become trendy for their timeless style and roomy compartments. It can be used as both a carry-on or personal item as its lightweight material makes storing it overhead much simpler, and it can easily fit right under your seat.
Travel tote bags are water-resistant and can easily latch onto your luggage with a sleeve that slips onto the luggage handle. They also come in many color options, so feel free to choose a color that best matches your wardrobe.
The bag’s functionality is ever-changing as there are many travel tote bag options to choose from to fit your travel essentials, such as laptops, chargers, phones, clothes, and more. Not only are tote bag interiors super roomy, but they can also come with plenty of exterior pockets for many tiny essentials such as lotion, water, and keys, which are perfect for organization and easy access.
Travel tote bags are one of the best types of handbags to carry on a plane because they serve every purpose as they provide great functionality, design, a lightweight style, and multiple uses.
A Weekender Duffle Bag
A weekender duffle bag is made to grab and go for a weekend getaway. It is also the perfect handbag to carry on a plane as it is bigger than a backpack but smaller than a suitcase. The bag is ideal for the organization as it fits your essentials just like a suitcase but carries like a duffle.
Many weekender duffle bags come with a dual compartment design, which offers versatility when organizing work and travel items. They are made of leather, cotton, and micro-fiber, and there are water-proof versions of this bag as well if you’re heading somewhere with unpredictable weather. The weekender bag works as an all-in-one!
This special duffle is built for multi-purpose as each compartment safely stores each item with easy access. When it comes to straps, we all know there is no worse feeling than your handbag sliding off your shoulder every chance it gets. Fortunately, the weekender duffle comes with adjustable straps to make for a comfortable carry and steady boarding.
The weekender duffle is 100% airplane friendly as it provides multiple uses for every type of essential and has the functionality of a suitcase with a duffle bag look and feel.
Your laptop is one of the many prized possessions you want to keep safe when traveling. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to find the right bag that will keep your laptop fully in place and secure, which is why the laptop backpack is listed here in the top 5. A laptop backpack is a great handbag to carry onto the plane because it has added compartments for your laptop and its accessories, which keeps each item separate from scratches.
Of course, there are many backpack options to choose from, whether you are looking for one more durable, more spacious, or more specifically designed for your personal items. One of my favorite finds includes the anti-theft laptop backpack, which has a thicker, durable design. This type of laptop backpack is perfect to carry on the plane since you don’t have to worry about damage lugging it through security or through-plane turbulence.
If you’re looking for a more tote style, laptop tote bags are a thing too! Instead of placing your laptop in a normal tote bag where it can get scratched by other items, laptop tote bags have a front compartment just for your laptop or tablet.
If you’re on the lookout for a more professional laptop handbag, laptop briefcases are the perfect business-styled bag to carry on board. It is up to your preference whether you prefer a thin or more durable, bulky bag. Also, always make sure you find the right bag with your laptop’s measurements!
A laptop backpack is a great handbag to carry on board because it is made for durability, and it’s the best option if you want to carry on more fragile personal items.
It is common to travel heavy; sometimes you’d rather bring every outfit you have and choose the right one when you get there. Been there, done that! When you need to pack a lot for a longer trip, you may find yourself stressing out about weight distribution and a handbag on the smaller side. Unfortunately, it can’t provide much help with that.
Luckily, under-seat luggage is built like luggage but counts as a personal item. This comes in handy when flying airlines that charge for carry-ons, like Frontier and Spirit, because under-seat luggage still counts as a free personal item, and you can avoid baggage fees.
The main difference between most under-seat luggage and duffle bags is that it is wheeled just like a mini suitcase. Many designs to choose from best match your style, and under-seat luggage can uniquely come as a wheeled shoulder bag like a tote or duffle. It is all up to you whether you want to roll or carry the bag onto the plane. Rolled under-seat luggage is a great investment if you’re packing heavy and don’t want to deal with carrying a shoulder bag
The waist pack comes in last, but not least as a personal favorite. Not only is the waist pack (AKA fanny pack) a fashionable, 90s statement, but it is one perfect handbag for traveling because it is completely hands-free.
The waist pack is small but mighty as it offers great style and functionality worn around the waist or as a cross-body bag. Waist packs give you the opportunity to get creative since they’re a part of your outfit rather than around your shoulder or attached to your luggage.
Just like the rest of the listed handbags, waist packs offer many pocket options that best fit the items you’re looking to bring. This is a great option if you are traveling light or traveling heavy and need an extra hand.
The straps are the most popular feature for the fanny pack since they’re easily adjustable and made to be comfortable and secure while traveling. Although the normal fanny pack only includes one or two pockets, travel waist packs include many features. Common waist pack features include:
- Theft-proof pockets
- Zippered pockets for phone, passport, wallet, and snacks
- Water-resistant material
- Dual side access
These top five handbags don’t have to be an expensive investment when shopping for a quality bag best suited for your traveling. There are many inexpensive brands that sell travel handbags, and discounted designer brands are easy finds as well! Some online stores with tons of handbag options include:
- Urban Outfitters
When picking your top one out of these five best handbags, it all comes down to how you usually travel and what main issue you run into when lugging your bags. For example, suppose you typically do not travel as often. In that case, organization is key when looking into handbags. Therefore, a waist pack or weekender duffle bag may be your best bet.
Traveling can be super stressful, and it is always nice to know a handbag can make such a difference when it comes to functionality, style, and affordability. Hopefully, reading through these top 5 best picks will help you narrow down your newly selected handbag for your safe travels!