Can You Take a Backpack and a Carry On

Can You Take a Backpack and a Carry On?

(Last Updated On: February 2, 2023)

You do not want to be in a situation where you are planning to go on a long deserving vacation and find that you left some of your holiday outfit. Or you may be planning to go a week long conference at a different state and left your favorite business attire.

If you’re that someone, then your worst fear has to be airline baggage restrictions. Most travelers wonder, “Can you take a backpack and a carry on?” Besides, handing your precious baggage over to airlines is now a matter of worry with overcrowded planes. Therefore, bringing your belongings on board is the only option for those who fly frequently and don’t want their items to be handled roughly.

Quick answer: If your carry on/backpack (whichever is smaller) it fits under the seat in front of you, its considered a personal item. Which means which small backpacks and daypacks typically count as personal items.

Airline Baggage Restrictions

If you can bring a carry-on luggage and a backpack on board with you, you will need to consider the standard rules that most airlines impose. Airlines classify baggage brought by their passengers into three separate categories, in compliance with the regulations.

Checked-in luggage, carry-on baggage, and personal items are these specific categories. Let’s face it, when faced with the challenge of differentiating each of them from the other, everybody breaks into a cold sweat.

Checked Luggage

This type of luggage is mostly used if you’re traveling for 2 weeks or more domestically or internationally. If your luggage does not fit under the front seat or overhead compartment, it will immediately be placed into your checked baggage.

Carry-On Baggage

From small cabin packs to daypacks and travel backpacks, carry-on bags can vary. Not just the weight, but the size matters a lot in this situation. And if you’re wearing a bag, if it’s huge and exceeds the standard 22x14x9 dimensions, you’re not going to be able to take it with you. The alternative is to pick the best small backpack to take with you as a carry-on or as a personal item.

Personal Item

For personal items, the general rule is that it should fit under the seat in front of you. In this scenario, you can take it as a personal item with you, even though you’re carrying a backpack. And if you have a bag that doesn’t fit under the seat, you’ll have to put it in the overhead bin, meaning there’s no room for another carry-on. Don’t forget to check our guide to the best underseat luggage as well.

Can You Bring a Carry On and a Backpack: Airlines Guide


Delta is a widely acclaimed US airline that claims that it would consider it as a personal item if the bag fits under your seat. Therefore, you should be able to take a backpack and a carry-on freely. That said, the maximum size of 22 x 14 x 19 inches should conform with your carry-on. You can’t carry another bag with it if it’s not the appropriate size and would not go under the overhead bin.


They’d count it as a personal item if it fits under the seat in front of you. You can still take a carry-on in any situation. That said, you can also do it if you want to carry your backpack and put it in the overhead bin and have a smaller bag or purse under the seat in front of you.

American Airlines

A backpack will count towards your allowance, and whether you bring it under the seat, or your carry-on if it is placed in the overhead compartment. Personal items should not exceed 22 x 14 x 9 inches. American Airlines are usually more lenient with sizes so do not worry to much when flying with them.


This would depend on your backpack’s size. For a carry-on bag, the maximum dimensions are 9 inches x 14 inches x 22 inches, while the maximum dimensions are 9 inches x 10 inches x 17 inches for your personal item.


As long as the bag is smaller than the 17 x 13 x 8 dimensions, it should count as a personal item.

How to Choose a Carry On Backpack: Factors to Consider

Typically, passengers with rolling bags are asked to check their baggage at the gate when a flight is fully booked, so the overhead bins fill up fast. They are often not adequate to fit loads of carry-on baggage, so the unlucky ones with the most heavy bags have to meet the specifications of the cabin crew.

If you carry a backpack, on the other hand, you are less likely to be asked to hand over your bags to the check-in desk. Meaning, a backpack is the perfect option if you’re bringing delicate things or simply don’t want the airlines to treat your bag. Anyway, you need to pick a perfect backpack to make sure you can hold an extra personal piece. Here are some factors to consider.


When purchasing a backpack as a carry-on, the most important factor to remember is the size. In order to get some ideas, we listed the necessary measurements for various airlines, but if you’re not entirely sure, you can search the website of your airline. To make sure your bag is consistent with the rules, you can also read the specifics on your booking. You may be interested in checking our guide to the best travel backpack for carry-on.


Weight doesn’t matter much when flying on an airplane. As long as the bag suits the size, you can take it on the plane with you. Most flights accommodate carry-on baggage of up to 15 lbs. Nevertheless, it is not advisibale to reach such weight, particularly if it is a connecting flight, to carry such a heavy backpack. So just make sure to keep this in mind.

Specialized Compartments

The best backpack to take as a carry-on with you is the one that boosts the overall experience of flying. With independent, structured compartments, many brands sell backpacks. This allows you, without messing up your things, to conveniently show the contents of your bag at customs and checkpoints. You will also find bags that exactly suit the carrier. Not only does this relieve the pressure, but at big, busy airports, it lets you navigate quickly through the crowd. When ordering a carry-on backpack, make sure to check for those characteristics.