Can You Have Two Carry-On Bags When Flying?

Traveling can be stressful enough without having to worry about luggage restrictions. If you’re wondering whether you can bring two carry-on bags on a flight, here’s a quick answer: In most cases, yes, you can have two carry-on bags when flying. However, there are some caveats to be aware of.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll provide all the details you need to know about bringing two carry-on bags on a flight. We’ll cover the standard carry-on size and weight restrictions, airline policies, tips for maximizing your carry-on allowance, and what to do if you get flagged for having too many bags at the gate.

Read on for the full scoop so you can travel confidently with multiple carry-ons.

Standard Carry-On Size and Weight Restrictions

When it comes to traveling with carry-on bags, it is important to know the standard size and weight restrictions set by airlines. These restrictions ensure that all passengers have enough space for their belongings and that the aircraft remains balanced.

Maximum dimensions for standard carry-ons

Airlines typically have specific size limitations for carry-on bags to ensure they fit in the overhead compartments or under the seat in front of you. While dimensions may vary slightly between airlines, the general guideline is that carry-on bags should not exceed 22 inches in length, 14 inches in width, and 9 inches in height.

It is always a good idea to check with your airline’s website or contact their customer service for their specific carry-on size restrictions.

Weight limits for carry-on bags

In addition to size restrictions, airlines also impose weight limits on carry-on bags. The weight limit can vary depending on the airline, but a common standard is around 15 to 22 pounds (7 to 10 kilograms).

However, it is important to note that weight restrictions can vary, so it’s always best to check with your airline to ensure compliance. If your bag exceeds the weight limit, you may be required to check it in at the gate or pay an additional fee.

Personal item allowance

Most airlines allow passengers to bring a personal item in addition to their carry-on bag. A personal item can include items such as a purse, laptop bag, or small backpack. The size restrictions for personal items are usually more flexible compared to carry-on bags.

However, it’s important to note that the personal item should still be able to fit under the seat in front of you. It’s always a good idea to check with your airline for their specific personal item allowance and size restrictions.

Airline Policies on Carrying Two Bags

When it comes to traveling by air, understanding the airline policies on carrying two bags can save you from any potential headaches at the airport. Different airlines have different rules and restrictions, so it’s important to familiarize yourself with their policies before you fly.

Here are a few key points to consider:

Basic Economy vs. Standard Economy

Many airlines offer different fare classes, such as basic economy and standard economy. In basic economy, passengers are often limited to carrying only one personal item, such as a purse or a small backpack, while standard economy allows for one carry-on bag in addition to a personal item.

It’s important to check the specific policies of the airline you’re flying with to ensure you’re aware of any restrictions that may apply to your fare class.

International Flights

When it comes to international flights, the policies on carrying two bags can vary depending on the airline and the destination. Some airlines may allow passengers to bring two carry-on bags, while others may enforce stricter rules.

It’s always a good idea to check with the airline directly or consult their website for the most up-to-date information on their specific policies for international travel.

Low-Cost Carriers

Low-cost carriers, known for their affordable fares, often have more restrictive policies when it comes to carry-on baggage. These airlines may charge additional fees for carrying extra bags or have strict size and weight restrictions.

If you’re flying with a low-cost carrier, it’s important to carefully read and understand their policies to avoid any unexpected charges or issues at the gate.

Remember, it’s always best to be prepared and informed before your flight. Checking the airline’s website or contacting their customer service can provide you with the most accurate and up-to-date information regarding their policies on carrying two bags.

By familiarizing yourself with these policies, you can ensure a smooth and hassle-free travel experience.

Tips for Maximizing Your Carry-On Allowance

Traveling with carry-on bags can be a convenient and cost-effective way to fly. However, many travelers are unsure about the rules and regulations regarding the number of carry-on bags they can bring. So, can you have two carry-on bags when flying?

Let’s dive into some tips for maximizing your carry-on allowance.

Choosing the right bags

When it comes to maximizing your carry-on allowance, choosing the right bags is crucial. Opt for a carry-on suitcase or backpack that meets the airline’s size restrictions. Most airlines have a limit on the dimensions and weight of carry-on bags, so it’s important to check their guidelines before you pack.

Investing in a lightweight and durable bag will also make it easier for you to maneuver through the airport.

Packing strategically

Efficient packing is key when it comes to maximizing your carry-on allowance. Start by making a list of essential items you’ll need for your trip. Roll your clothes instead of folding them to save space in your bag. Utilize packing cubes or compression bags to further optimize the space.

Remember to pack liquids in travel-sized containers and place them in a clear, zip-top bag to comply with TSA regulations.

Wearing bulky items

One clever trick to maximize your carry-on allowance is to wear your bulkier items. If you’re traveling to a colder destination, consider wearing your heaviest coat, boots, or even multiple layers of clothing.

This not only frees up space in your carry-on bag but also keeps you warm during your journey. Just be prepared to remove these items during security screenings.

Handling gate checks gracefully

Sometimes, due to limited overhead bin space, airlines may require you to check your carry-on bag at the gate. While this may seem inconvenient, there are ways to handle it gracefully. Keep your valuable and fragile items in a smaller bag that can fit under the seat in front of you.

This ensures that you have your essentials with you during the flight. Additionally, consider attaching a luggage tag with your contact information to your carry-on bag in case it needs to be checked.

Remember, it’s always best to check the specific rules and regulations of your airline before traveling. Some airlines allow two carry-on bags, while others only permit one. By following these tips and being aware of the guidelines, you can make the most of your carry-on allowance and have a stress-free travel experience.

What To Do If You Get Flagged at the Gate

It can be frustrating when you arrive at the gate and realize that you have two carry-on bags, but the airline’s policy only allows one. However, there are a few steps you can take to navigate this situation smoothly and avoid any unnecessary stress.

Checking your second bag plane-side

If you find yourself in a situation where you have two carry-on bags and are informed that you can only bring one on board, one option is to check your second bag plane-side. This means that you will be able to keep your bag with you until you reach the gate, at which point it will be checked and loaded onto the plane.

This can be a convenient solution if you have valuable items or important documents in your second bag that you prefer not to check in.

Offering to gate check one bag

Another option is to offer to gate check one of your bags. Gate checking allows you to keep your bag with you until you reach the gate, at which point it will be checked and stored in the cargo hold. This can be a good compromise if you have two bags that you prefer not to check in but are willing to part with one of them for the duration of the flight.

Keep in mind that gate checking is typically free of charge, so you won’t incur any additional fees.

Politely asking for an exemption

In some cases, it may be worth politely asking the gate agent if they can make an exemption and allow you to bring both of your carry-on bags on board. While there’s no guarantee that they will grant your request, it doesn’t hurt to ask.

Be polite and explain your situation calmly, emphasizing the importance or value of the items you have in your second bag. Remember, it’s ultimately up to the gate agent’s discretion, so being respectful and understanding can go a long way.

Checking bags at the last minute

If all else fails and you’re unable to bring both of your carry-on bags on board, you may need to check one of them at the last minute. This can be a bit inconvenient, especially if you have items that you prefer to keep with you during the flight.

However, it’s important to follow the airline’s policies and regulations to ensure a smooth travel experience for yourself and other passengers. Plan ahead and pack your essentials in your smaller carry-on bag, so you can easily transfer them if necessary.

Remember, each airline has its own specific policies regarding carry-on baggage, so it’s always a good idea to check their website or contact them directly to familiarize yourself with their rules before your flight.

By being proactive and prepared, you can avoid any surprises at the gate and ensure a stress-free journey.


While most airlines technically allow passengers to bring two carry-on bags on board, space constraints sometimes necessitate gate-checking bags. Carefully choosing your luggage and packing strategically will give you the best chance of avoiding this.

Remember to always stay polite if asked to check a bag – the gate agent is just enforcing policy. With the right bags and packing techniques, plus an understanding of airline rules, you’ll be set to maximize your carry-on allowance and breeze through security when traveling with two carry-ons.

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