If I’m traveling on planes where I’m not assured of overhead bin space, or I want to have access to my laptop or accessories mid-flight, I opt for wheeled underseat carry on luggage that is guaranteed to fit under any aircraft seat but also gives me ample packing space for at least a 2 day trip. I also sometimes have difficulty hefting a larger bag into an overhead bin as I’m on the short side, so it’s just easier to take a smaller one with me.
On longer trips, I sometimes take my underseater along with a personal item bag with me on the flight and check in a regular upright suitcase. This way I don’t have to worry that there’s a risk of my carry on bag being placed in the hold at the last minute. Even aisle seats on internal European or Asian flights will have space underneath for it.
There are no official dimensions for wheeled underseat carry on luggage, but the general accepted overall linear measurements should total no more than 38 inches, with the depth being no more than 9 inches. Some non-structured bags can be larger than this as long as you don’t pack it fully. You can also pick a slightly taller bag as long as you’re OK with having it stick out in the front under your feet.
More and more luggage brands are wising up to the need for carry on luggage that fits under seat specifically. While many have been making rolling tote bags or rolling backpacks, not all of them are small enough for the strictest requirements. For example, Samsonite has many wheeled totes on offer, but while most of them fit under normal seats on larger carriers, they sometimes don’t squeeze into the smallest of spaces.
However, Samsonite has very good small and large versions of a wheeled under seater for small planes and large planes.
If you don’t mind a slightly larger bag but want the versatility to use it on both business and leisure trips, check out the Lipault Vertical Rolling Briefcase. A very recent addition to the market is the Victorinox Werks Traveler 5.0 wheeled tote.
If you’re looking for more of a business look and not something to pack clothes in, try a briefcase style bag.
A few airlines have recently become stingier with these dimensions and their aisle seat spaces beneath have narrowed. This makes it tough to get a bag with wheels into those spaces. In fact there is only one brand that has recently made one that will definitely fit. Keep reading to see which one it is! If you want to see more established options, take a look at the rest of the best underseat carry on luggage pieces below.
The Smallest Wheeled Personal Item Bag
BoardingBlue Wheeled Personal Item Under Seat
These days, most carry-ons that need to fit under the narrowest of aisle seats don’t come with wheels. But for those that just can’t carry a backpack, tote or duffel bag in that size, this new Boarding Blue Wheeled Personal Item Under Seat Bag is a good bet.
It measures 17″ long, 13″ wide and 9″ high, weighs under 4 lbs and can hold 12-15 pounds of stuff. It has a single pole telescopic handle and inline skate wheels for rolling, or you can carry it like a duffel, either by the detachable padded shoulder strap or by the dual handles.
One exterior side holds a zipped pocket and an elastic top mesh pocket for a water bottle, but you may not be able to use these when it comes time to push the bag under your seat.
Aerolite Carry On Under Seat Wheeled Trolley Luggage Bag
Another underseater that’s quite small and very light is the 28L Aerolite Carry On Under Seat Wheeled Trolley. It measures 16.6 x 14 x 7.8″ and weighs under 4.37 lbs and fits under any seat, including aisle seats on Frontier or Spirit Airlines.
This is also a single pole telescopic handle bag with inline skate wheels. It is stable while rolling and does not tip sideways. It has one padded top carry handle as the second option for transport and a piggy back strap at the back lets you slide it over another bag’s telescopic handle.
There are pockets and compartments galore on this bag, so the ultra-organized traveler will love it. There are two u-shaped double zippered front compartments – the larger one placed above the other. Each of these also has a straight zippered pocket lying on top. Two zippered vertical pockets on either side can hold water bottles or a travel umbrella.
The main compartment has a top lid opening via double zippers. This design is helpful for packing things that could otherwise easily fall out when you open a compartment with a front opening lid.
Bestselling Under Seat Carry on Luggage With Wheels
LUCAS Wheeled Under the Seat Cabin Bag
Customers gush over this bag because of its great value. This very popular and inexpensive cabin bag from Lucas is made of lightweight polyester and weighs just 6 lbs. It measures 15.7″ x 15.7″ x 9.8″. While this is a little larger than what is ideal for an underseater, it does fit under all seats if it is not stuffed to the gills. This is possible because of the way it is designed. It is one of the most popular bags because it is inexpensive and very light but roomy enough to hold a 15″ laptop.
You can open the bag either while it is upright or on its back, as the zippered front flap folds completely down. A clear zippered partition pocket acts as a clear divider for the roomy main compartment and prevents its contents from spilling out.
The bag includes a separate hanging toiletry bag, a travel document holder and light slippers to keep your feet clean while going through airport security.
The front flap holds two clear zippered compartments on the inside for your other accessories. The outside of the flap has 3 pockets of different sizes, there are two zippered side pockets and one large zippered back pocket. These give plenty of additional organizational space without taking away from the space offered by the main compartment.
The telescopic handle is a single tube with a push button release and the wheels are inline skates.
It is available in black, purple or red and features yellow trim.
Delsey Quilted Rolling UnderSeat Tote
This quilted bag from Delsey also opens from the front via double zippers that run from the bottom of either side.
This underseat tote measures 14.5″ x 14″ x 9″ and weighs 5 lbs and 9 ozs. While it will fit under all middle and window seats, it may not go under aisle seats on small aircraft. This bag is currently available in a stylish brown with a contrasting blue for the interior lining.
This bag is great for organization freaks as there are pockets everywhere! The main compartment can hold a few items of clothing and a pair of shoes, while a full length mesh zippered pocket can keep some items separate. A U-shaped organizer compartment in front opens via a single zipper and is great for travel documents and accessories. It also has a padded foam compartment for your tablet. There are two side pockets present – one is a mesh elastic top pocket that’s big enough for a small water bottle and a rolled up magazine. The other is a vertical zippered one with an expansion mesh panel and can hold a compact umbrella, even when wet because it’s fully lined.
A pass-through band at the back makes sliding it over a telescopic handle easy. Its own retracting handle locks into position while pulling on the two inline skate wheels.
Top Rated Underseat Carry on Bag for Men and Women
Travelon Wheeled Underseat 15 Inch
This best-selling bag came out in 2014 and amassed very good reviews immediately. It’s in the style of the bags above but with more structure and durability and is sized just perfectly to even fit under aisle seats on small aircraft. The older quilted model from Travelon which is very popular just doesn’t fit under an aisle seat and is not the kind that you can risk getting gate checked, so this Travelon 15 Incher is a great alternative.
Its dimensions are 8.5 x 15 x 14 inches and weighs just 5 lbs and 4 ozs. It’s available in wine red, purple and black in 100% polyester.
The main compartment is very roomy and features two zippered pockets and two open top pockets in the inside. The front U-shaped zipped organizer compartment has a padded pocket for an iPad as well as more pockets for small items. A straight zipped pocket is placed in front of that to store last minute items like keys and loose change at security checkpoints. There’s one side pocket for a water bottle that folds down flat when empty.
Nicole Miller New York Kristina Collection 15″ Under Seat Bag
For a feminine but stylish look, the Kristina Collection 15″ Under Seat Bag by Nicole Miller New York might do the trick.
This sturdy polyester bag is available in black, brown or silver and all have high gloss black trim. It measures 16 x 15.4 x 9 inches and weighs 6.5 lbs. While it will fit under the middle and window seats of all planes, it won’t fit under an aisle seat of airlines like Frontier and Spirit.
The telescopic handle is single pole and is slightly finicky when extending it. The two top carry handles are kept together for carrying by a snap button wrap. There is no strap at the back to let you piggy back it on top of another wheeled bag.
This bag is another one with lots of pockets on the inside and outside. The main compartment opens from the top with its lid falling out to the front. Inside are three clear zipped pockets – one large one on a front wall that prevents the contents of the main space from falling out, and two on the inside of the lid. Behind the front wall is enough space for quite a few things.
The exterior features a large zippered pocket at the back for magazines, etc. There are two vertical zippered side pockets on the side with a mesh elastic top pocket inside each. The front exterior features a double zippered u-shaped organizer pocket with a smaller pocket on top of that the closes by a hidden zip. Right at the top of the main lid is a zipped pocket as well.
Best High End Under Seat Rolling Carry on Luggage
Briggs & Riley Transcend Rolling Cabin Bag
If you want the best quality luggage with lifetime warranty and are willing to pay for it, then look no farther than this updated Transcend Rolling Cabin Bag by Briggs & Riley. It measures 13.5″ x 15.5″ x 8.5″ and weighs 6 lbs and 4 ozs. It is available in black, crimson red and hunter green and is made of a tough but soft two-tone twill nylon fabric.
The main compartment opens via a wide U-shaped zippered front flap to allow easy access to its contents. Inside you will find a padded laptop pocket for devices up to 15.6″ and a padded tablet pocket. Side elastic top mesh pockets are good for socks or undergarments, while the rest of the space is roomy enough for the rest of your clothes.
The front features a zippered organizer compartment with pockets, loops and straps for a magazine, files, keys, pens, earphones, power brick and other accessories. A smaller zippered pocket in front of that is to store items for quick access at the security check. Two elastic mesh pockets on the sides are perfect for a water bottle and umbrella.
Top and back grab handles of soft neoprene makes carrying it by hand easy. The telescopic handle is mounted on the outside of the bag so as not to take up any packing space inside.
There’s a hidden Nubuck ID tag and clip on handle on the back for stacking it on a larger Briggs and Riley bag.
Haven’t found the best wheeled underseat carry on luggage piece for your needs yet? Then check out more options on Amazon.