Flying Basic Economy is not anyone’s first choice, but the savings can sometimes be too good to pass up. While most legacy carriers include a full-size carry-on bag when traveling with a Basic Economy ticket, there’s one exception; United, along with several budget airlines, that require your carry-on bag to be small enough to fit under the seat in front of you.
Carry-On Bags That Fit Underneath Your Seat
Have a look at these 10 top-rated underseat carry-on bags that fit the free “personal item” dimensions of carriers like Allegiant, Frontier, Flair Air, Porter, Spirit, Sun Country, Swoop, and United. Whether you like to roll your bag onboard, schlep it over your shoulder, or carry on your back, there’s a bag for every type of traveler.
Size: 17.5 x 14.5 x 8.5 inches
This bag is packed with organization including a padded laptop or tablet sleeve, removable toiletry compartment, and quick-access external pockets. The interior is large enough to carry what you need for a quick weekend away or an extended trip as a minimalist. Think of it as your office on wheels.
Amazon User Review: “Great little bag. Has many pockets and compartments. Can get quite a bit in it. Very compact and well organized bag. Light weight and fits perfectly under the seat in front of you on just about any airplane. Plus, as a flight attendant, I can tell you, you can’t beat Travelpro.”
Average Star Rating: 4.3
Size: 18 x 11.8 x 6.5 inches
This sleek looking backpack is designed to keep you organized while fitting all of your belongings underneath an airline seat. This backpack is made with 840D ballistic nylon so it’s able to handle any travel conditions. And the RFID blocking pocket will keep your sensitive information safe. Best of all, the bag only weighs one pound so you’ll easily be able to keep the total weight under any limits that may be imposed by the airlines. There’s also a sling style backpack if you prefer.
Amazon User Review: “It is just the right size to go under the seat when traveling, small enough to be considered a personal item, but large enough to store all of my essentials.”
Price: Starting at $49.95 on Amazon
Average Star Rating: 4.6
Size: 16 x 13 x 7.5 inches (large); 14 x 12.5 x 9 (small)
This bag comes in two different sizes. Both are small enough to fit underneath an airline seat even though some reviews claim the large version is technically too big. You’ll likely not have any issues with either bag and be able to fit slightly more things in the large version. With a removable hanging organizer pouch and a 3-1-1 pouch for toiletries, you’ll whisk through the security checkpoint and easily board the plane without the need to search for overhead bin space.
Amazon User Review: “The bonus with this Underseater bag is that you don't have to fight for overhead bin space and you can be on your way quickly without wasting time at baggage claim. At check in go straight to the checkpoint.”
Price: Starting at $56.50 on Amazon
Average Star Rating: 4.3
Size: 16 x 10 x 8 inches
Designed specifically to be an approved personal item size for all major airlines, this duffel bag will always be free to carry-on. It’s also extremely lightweight and has a larger capacity than most bags on this list. What you lose in organization pockets, you’ll gain in extra packing space. And the bag still has a front pocket to stash your ID, boarding pass, and other smaller items.
Amazon User Review: “I love this Carry-On. It was not expensive, under $20.00. It is well made and sturdy. Has a handle as well as an adjustable shoulder strap. The zipper is strong. Has one nice zippered pocket on the front. No inside pocket. I got a black one and it looks classy. Light weight. The size meets all the Carry-On guidelines for airline travel. It fits right under the seat. I am very pleased with this product.”
Price: Starting at $14.99 on Amazon
Average Star Rating: 4
Size: 17 x 14 x 8.25 inches
If you’re looking for a quirky design and smart organization, this fashionable bag from Olympia may be right for you. It has a spacious main compartment and a padded laptop casing. The front zipper pocket and side velcro pockets make it easy to grab any small items you want to access quickly. Choose from several different colors and styles.
Amazon User Review: “Purchased this for a trip to Iceland based on two factors, first that it was able to fit under the seat, and second because of how cute it is. It arrived quickly and well packaged and was so cute in real life. Lots of helpful pockets and a study pull handle and in line skate type wheels.”
Price: Starting at $60.55 on Amazon
Average Star Rating: 4.3
Size: 15 x 13.5 x 8 inches (expands to 22 x 13.5 x 8 in.)
This bag can work as either an under seat “personal item” bag or you can expand it to a full-size carry-on bag when flying on legacy airlines that allow the larger dimensions. It has both interior and exterior zipper compartments and a push-button retractable handle.
Amazon User Review: “I love the size of this. It fits under the seat on the airline and when I return home I have extra room for anything I buy. I just unzip it and it becomes a carry on that I can put in the overhead bin. This is a great bag and I highly recommend it.”
Price: Starting at $79.98 on Amazon
Average Star Rating: 4.2
Size: 15 x 12 x 7 inches
This backpack is packed with features like a shoulder strap safety light and an interior LED flashlight so you can easily find what you are looking for. It can also be converted into a tote bag in seconds, giving you the flexibility to have the look you want at any moment. Its roomy compartment has a padded computer sleeve and numerous pouches to keep everything organized. Connect a battery pack to the supplied cable and you’ll have an external USB charging port right on the bag itself.
Amazon User Review: “This is one of the best-looking bags I've seen in a while. When the price and features factored in, it is the best that I have seen and used in several years. It is a versatile and extremely attractive backpack and tote bag all in one.”
Price: Starting at $99.99 on Amazon
Average Star Rating: 4.3
Size: 20 x 11.5 x 8.25 inches
Shh…don’t tell anyone but the actual dimensions of this bag are slightly larger than what is allowed as a free “personal item” on most airlines. However, if you don’t pack this bag full to the brim, it will squeeze down to fit in any bag sizers and will always fit underneath the seat. If you’re looking for a high quality and good-looking leather bag, this handmade duffel from Rustic Town is the perfect choice.
Amazon User Review: “The craftsmanship was outstanding. The color was a dark rustic brown. Prefect carryon size TSA approved. On one flight the attendant even allowed as a personal item to be placed under the seat. He was able to fit a five day summer trip into this bag.”
Average Star Rating: 4.5
Size: 16 x 13.5 x 7.5 inches
If you like to save money by flying on budget carriers such as Frontier or Spirit, this rolling underseat bag from Boarding Blue is a perfect choice. It easily fits the free “personal item” size dimensions of these airlines and also has a few outside pockets to keep your passport and boarding pass handy.
Amazon User Review: “This bag worked out great at the airport. I actually used it on a Frontier flight as my "personal item". While filled to the brim, it fit perfectly in the sample sizing display at the gate, and fit easily under the seat once on the plane.”
Price: Starting at $44.85 on Amazon
Average Star Rating: 3.7
Size: 16 x 12 x 8 inches
You’ll look your best with this stylish canvas bag. It works great as a carry-on bag for travel and can also double as a beach bag or a gym bag. Some models also come with a separate shoe compartment and the lifetime warranty means that you can trust this is a quality bag.
Amazon User Review: “We used this bag as a carry on for our Mexican vacation then we used it as a beach bag a downtown shopping bag, it’s been used hard for a week let’s put it that way. And my boyfriend and I both love the bag. No damage rips or tears. No color fading. I might actually buy more for travels! It fits so much clothes towels, gifts, you can put a lot in this bag. You won’t regret the decision.”
Price: Starting at $32.99 on Amazon
Average Star Rating: 4.4