If you think your carry-on bag will be allowed on every U.S. airline, think again—or regret it when you're forced to check a bag that's allowed on one carrier but not on another. We've taken the measurements and selected the carry-on bags that will give you the best bang for your buck on every major American airline.
Alaska allows bags of 24" x 17" x 10" and doesn't have a weight restriction, which means you can get away with a heavier hard-sided suitcase. The N.Y. Cargo Vacationer Hardsided 24" Spinner Luggage has a durable polycarbonate exterior and wheels that rotate a full 360-degrees to help you maneuver around the airport. The handle retracts with a push of the button to stash it away in the overhead.
Like many domestic airlines, American will only accept carry-ons of 22" x 14" x 9". Unlike most, however, they also have a weight restriction (40 lbs.). Don't waste pounds on the suitcase itself—get the IT Luggage World's Lightest Second Generation 22" Carry-On Upright, which weighs about 3 lbs. Measuring 22" x 14" x 8.7", it will maximize your allowable space. And best of all, it's super light on your wallet.
Delta, United, and Allegiant
These three airlines will take bags of up to 22" x 14" x 9" with no weight restrictions in the cabin. This Travelpro Crew Rollaboard meets the dimensions precisely, plus it has a lifetime warranty. Bought too much at your destination and need to check a bag on the way home? This suitcase expands to accommodate extra shopping. We like that the telescoping handle can be set to use at different heights (great for shorter or taller travelers).
Frontier has a unique carry-on allowance: 24" x 16" x 10" and a maximum of 35 lbs. It's tough to find baggage that will give you those extra few inches of width without going higher than 24", but the Lucas Vortex Spinner fits the bill. It's also made of 100 percent polyester, so it's lightweight but still has deluxe features like four spinner wheels and an ergonomic grip handle.
Hawaiian has the most restrictive weight allowance for domestic airlines, at just 25 lbs. The bag allowance is one of the smallest as well: 22" x 14" x 9". You'll definitely want a lightweight suitcase for this airline, like the IT Luggage Los Angeles Carry-On, which weighs a mere 3 lbs 9 oz. It measures only 21.9" x 14" x 8.1" yet doesn't sacrifice details like interior organizational pockets and tie-down garment straps.
JetBlue and Southwest
These airlines both let you bring a 24" x 16" x 10" bag aboard, but only one lets you check a bag for free, so you'll be more likely to fight for overhead space on JetBlue. The SwissGear Spinner is a great, affordable option within these dimensions. It's packed full with features like zippered toiletry and easy access pockets, 360-degree spinner wheels, and a pull-out ID tag. Plus, it starts out at 24" x 16" x 8" but expands by 1.5" in case you need a little more room.
Virgin America's carry-on allowance is the same as JetBlue's and Southwest, but Virgin's weight limit is 30 lbs. The Lipault Foldable 2 Wheeled 22" Carry-On is a great choice due to its 100 percent Nylon Twill material, which is super lightweight. Best of all, it folds away for compact storage at home.
Spirit charges for carry-ons, but at least the airline gives you a generous size allowance once you've paid. You can bring a maximum size of 22" x 18" x 10", so make the most of it with the Samsonite Silhouette Sphere 2 Hardside Spinner 22. There's also no weight limit, which means you can splurge on a suitcase with heavier features, like this Samsonite's gel-infused comfortable handle, built-in TSA-approved lock, and an integrated wet-pack pocket for your swimwear.
Of course, you can avoid a fee altogether by packing just a personal item that measures 16" x 14" x 12" and fits under your seat. To do it, go with a bag that's designed to meet that requirement, the aptly named Spirit Airlines Rolling Personal Item UnderSeat. It can be rolled along using the telescoping handle, or carried via the padded shoulder strap like a duffle bag.
More from SmarterTravel:
- 10 Ultralight Rolling Carry-on Bags Under 5 Lbs.
- How to Travel Without a Bag
- The Best Travel Bags for Guys
(Photo: Putting Luggage in Overhead Bin via Shutterstock)