Items such as laptops are considered personal items. (Photo: Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images )
Getting your carry-on items in order in anticipation of your upcoming trip by air might not be exciting, but it's an important step to take before you travel to the airport. The number of carry-on items with which you can travel varies from airline to airline, but in most cases, you can board your flight with at least a carry-on item and a personal item. These items must meet the specific airline's carry-on luggage regulations.
Breakdown of Items
Although the short answer of how many carry-on items you can take on your flight is two, you'll have trouble if you attempt to travel with two small suitcases. Each airline has its own rules concerning carry-on items but, in general, you're permitted to board the plane with a traditional carry-on bag and a personal item. In many cases, you can travel with an item beyond your carry-on bag and personal item, but this third item has to meet specific criteria. Before your flight, devote time to checking your airline's website to determine its specific rules concerning carry-on items.
Although you might categorize all the items you carry onto the plane as carry-on items, airlines typically only permit one traditional carry-on bag. Such items can be small suitcases or other styles of luggage and airlines regulate these items by size. For example, on U.S. Airways, your carry-on bag can be no larger than 9 by 14 by 22 inches. On Virgin America and Southwest Airlines, your bag can be as large as 10 by 16 by 24 inches.
Personal and Additional Items
Depending on the airline on which you plan to travel, you can often carry at least one extra item beyond your carry-on bag. These items must meet the airline's regulations. On Virgin America and Southwest Airlines, for example, acceptable personal items include purses, briefcases and laptop bags. Many airlines permit you to travel with an additional item that doesn't count as your carry-on bag or personal item. On Delta Air Lines, for example, this item can include a jacket, umbrella, wheelchair, crutches or stroller. Southwest allows food, outerwear and assistive devices.
Packing Your Carry-On Luggage
Carefully packing your carry-on luggage is especially important if you have a long flight. Passing the time during an international flight, for example, can be arduous if you have trouble sleeping in the air and don't have enough things to keep you occupied. Pack your carry-on luggage with such items as an mp3 player, magazines and books. If you're not fond of airline food, you can pack snacks that you bought after the airport's security checkpoint. To keep your carry-on luggage light, only pack items you plan to use.