Airline Rules for Carry-On Bags

Written by lisa jensen
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Airline Rules for Carry-On Bags
Know what you can take as carry-on luggage before you go. (travelers009 image by robert stahl from

Airlines have stringent rules for carry-on bags, including limits on size, weight and the types of items you may carry on to the plane. Check specific rules for each airline you will be using and every country you will visit before you head for the airport. Most airlines allow one carry-on bag and one personal item. Be prepared for an inspection and have liquids or any questionable items easily accessible.


Each bag's length, width and height should total 45 inches or less. For example, a standard bag that is 14 inches long, 9 inches wide and 22 inches high totals 45 inches. In many airports, carry-on bags must fit through a sample frame. The bag must fit under the seat or in the overhead bin.


Check with each airline for weight restrictions for checked luggage and carry-on bags. Some airlines have separate limits for each and others have a total weight limit.

Personal Items

In addition to one carry-on bag, you may carry a personal item such as a laptop computer or purse. Such personal effects may not contain any prohibited items. Canes, crutches, child safety seats, coats and hats, reading material, umbrellas and food or beverages purchased inside the security area for on-board consumption are not counted in your carry-on or personal item limit.

Restricted Items

Liquids, gels and aerosols are allowed in containers of 85.1gr. or less. All of these items must fit into one clear, resealable quart-sized bag. Medications, breast milk and baby food are allowed in reasonable quantities exceeding three ounces but you should present them for inspection. Beverages purchased inside the security area are allowed. You may also bring an empty water bottle and fill it once you have cleared the security checkpoint. Some airlines allow small pets in the cabin with specific restrictions. Check with the airline before travelling with your pet.

Prohibited Items

Knives, box cutters, guns and firearms, explosive or flammable items and harmful chemicals such as bleach and spray paint are prohibited. You must check sporting goods including baseball bats, hockey sticks, golf clubs, ski poles and martial arts implements. Many common tools such as hammers, crowbars and drills must be checked, though you may carry on screwdrivers, wrenches or pliers less than 7 inches long or blunt scissors shorter than 4 inches. When in doubt, place the items in your checked luggage or leave them at home.

International Travel

Each airport or country may have specific airport security rules. Canadian law prohibits flying with incapacitating sprays, liquids and powders such as mace, bear spray and capsicum. Always check with each country and airline and be prepared for enhanced security rules.

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