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 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 it’s widely accepted that the 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.
A few 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 recently brought out 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 want to see more established options, take a look at the following best underseat carry on luggage pieces.
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.
Travelon Wheeled Underseat 15 Inch
This best-selling bag only came out in 2014, but it already has very good reviews and 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.
Top Rated Underseat Carry on Bag for Men and Women
Travelpro Luggage Crew 9 Rolling Tote Bag
No one knows more about luggage for frequent air travel than flight crews. Since they spend so much time on the go, they can’t be weighed down by large travel bags but they do need to have enough changes of clothes and necessary accessories at all times. Their bags also need to be tough and durable, as they undergo so many trips in a year.This underseat Crew 9 rolling tote by Travelpro is the bag of choice by many airline crew men and women and for good reason. It is built to last.
This sturdy 100% nylon bag is available in black and grey. It measures 16″ x 13″ x 8.5″ and weighs 7 lbs, 8 oz and is a good option if you’re looking for more of a business look but don’t want a briefcase style bag.
The telescopic handle is designed to minimize wobble when fully extended, and there’s a low profile grab handle on the top. The wheels are the inline skate type.
The interior is designed for packing both clothes and a laptop. Clothes are held in place in the main compartment by restraining straps, while a laptop is held in a padded compartment inside the front panel and secured by a Velcro strap.
The front features two zippered pockets – a smaller organizer compartment for keys, pens, phone and adapters, and a larger one that can hold an iPad or the included detachable clear toiletry pouch.
The back features an add-a-bag strap and there’s an expandable water bottle holder on one side.
Best High End Under Seat Rolling Carry on Luggage
Briggs & Riley Transcend Rolling Luggage
If you want the best quality luggage with lifetime warranty and are willing to pay for it, then look no farther than this Transcend rolling tote by Briggs & Riley. It measures 12.5″ x 15.5″ x 8″ and weighs 6 lbs and 3 ozs. It is available in black, red and rainforest green. It is made of a tough but soft Tuff-Lite™ nylon fabric.
The main compartment opens via a wide U-shaped zippered front flap to allow easy access to its contents. There’s a detachable clear TSA-friendly toiletries pouch inside and other mesh drop pockets as well.
The front features a zippered organizer compartment for your iPad, keys, pens and other accessories. There’s even a headphone cord storage loop to keep cords from tangling. 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.