If your luggage arsenal doesn’t include a bag that fits under an aircraft seat then you’re not taking advantage of the most convenient spot available to you on a flight. With the best wheeled underseat carry on luggage, travel becomes easier than if you only travel with a bag that meets the maximum allowable carry on specifications.
- 1 Why You Should Travel with an Under the Seat Wheeled Bag
- 2 What is the Best Under Seat Carry On Luggage?
- 3 Maximum Underseat Luggage Dimensions for Popular Airlines
- 4 The Smallest Wheeled Personal Item Bags
- 5 Bestselling Under Seat Carry on Luggage With Wheels
- 6 Other Top Rated Underseat Carry on Bag for Men and Women
- 7 The Best of the Rest
Why You Should Travel with an Under the Seat Wheeled Bag
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 a wheeled underseat carry on that is guaranteed to fit under any aircraft seat but also gives me ample packing space for at least a 3 day trip.
When everyone else is rushing to get to the front of the boarding line just to grab overhead bin space for their regular carry on, I hang back and board towards the end. With my underseater, I know I always have my own storage space under the seat in front of me, so there’s no need for me to rush in. When the plane lands, I’m one of the first to get off because it’s easier to get my bag from under the seat rather than from a bin that may or may not be right above my seat.
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.
While duffel bags and backpacks often meet the underseat size criteria, I like to have a wheeled bag so that long airport transfers and any occasion where I may have to walk with my bags is not so tiring. While it’s not so easy to find a wheeled bag for under the seat that also has a large enough packing capacity, there are a few that do.
On longer trips, I sometimes take my wheeled 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.
What is the Best Under Seat Carry On Luggage?
There are no common official dimensions for wheeled underseat carry on luggage, but if an airline doesn’t state specific personal item bag dimensions, 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 so that it can be squeezed into a tight space. You can also pick a slightly taller bag that goes in feet first as long as you’re OK with having it stick out in the front under your feet.
You can pick out your underseat bag with wheels from a really wide range because more and more luggage brands are wising up to the need for carry on luggage that specifically fits under seat. However, don’t take the manufacturer’s word for it if they label a bag as an underseater. Some aircraft just don’t leave that much space underneath for it. In fact, in some cases there may even be entertainment electrical boxes under certain seats. 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. Instead, Samsonite has very specific and good small and large versions of a wheeled under seater for small and large planes.
A few airlines have recently become stingier with these dimensions and their aisle seat spaces beneath have narrowed. If you’re the kind that likes to sit on an aisle seat, know that you’ll have to be extra careful selecting a bag because most of these seats have an extra bar on the aisle side that limits the breadth of the bag. 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 under this seat in all airlines. Keep reading to see which one it is! If you want to see more established options, take a look at the rest of our best underseat carry on luggage picks below.
If you have the option to select your seat beforehand and want to know which seats don’t have restrictions, go to Seatguru for a seat map of your airline and flight.
Maximum Underseat Luggage Dimensions for Popular Airlines
This list is not extensive and you should do your own airline research by visiting its website to see if they post exact maximum dimensions. As of early 2018, these are the airlines based in the USA that have stated personal item limits:
Spirit Airlines: 18 x 14 x 8 inches (45 x 35 x 20 cm)
JetBlue: 17 x 13 x 8 inches (43.2 x 33 x 20.32 cm)
American Airlines: 18 x 14 x 8 inches (45 x 35 x 20 cm)
United Airlines: 17 x 10 x 9 inches (43 x 22 x 25 cm)
Frontier Airlines: 18 x 14 x 8 inches (45 x 35 x 20 cm)
Southwest: 18.5 x 8.5 x 13.5 inches (47 x 34 x 21.5 cm)
Air Canada: 17 x 13 x 6 inches (43 x 16 x 33 cm)
Westjet: 16 x 13 x 6 inches (41 x 15 x 33 cm)
The Smallest Wheeled Personal Item Bags
BoardingBlue United and American Airlines Free Rolling 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 Rolling Personal Item Under Seat Bag is a good bet.
It measures 17″ long, 10″ wide and 9″ high and can hold 2-3 days worth of stuff. Customers love that it is allowed as an underseat personal item on United Airlines, American and Wow Airlines and that it has plenty of external pockets for just that little bit extra packing space.
It has a dual pole telescopic handle and inline skate wheels for rolling, or you can carry it in your hand by the dual handles. There is also a padded side grab handle and a piggyback strap at the back.
One exterior side holds an elastic top mesh pocket for a water bottle and there’s a small zipped pocket right on top to hold a charging device and cables, so you can quickly recharge your devices at the airport without opening the main compartment. There’s also a zipped front pocket and the main compartment’s flap opens down and out via dual zippers. The inside of the flap has a padded tablet sleeve with velcro closure. The contents of the inside of the bag are prevented from falling out when the bag is opened while standing up by a snap button gusseted divider panel that has its own zippered mesh pocket.
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 4.29 lbs and fits under any seat, including aisle seats on Frontier or Spirit Airlines. While it is available in basic black, there are also two unique prints to choose from.
This is a dual pole telescopic handle bag with inline skate wheels. It is stable while rolling and does not tip sideways. The telescopic handle retracts into its own zippered space opening on the top and it locks into two different positions when extended. It has two top carry handles kept together by a Velcro wrap around 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 is a u-shaped double zippered front compartment and one larger straight zippered pocket behind that. the front one is gusseted on the sides and can be used for an iPad and the other can be used for a magazine or book. Two zippered vertical pockets on either side with stretchy mesh pocket holders inside to hold a water bottle, snacks or a travel umbrella. The fact that there are so many exterior pockets means that on board essentials can be easily accessible even if you want to stow this bag in the overhead bin rather than under your seat. However, stuffing these pockets also risks making the bag too bulky to fit under an aisle seat on some planes.
The main compartment has a front top lid opening via double zippers. This design is helpful for accessing things while in transit so you don’t have to lay it down on its back to open it. However, when unpacking in your hotel room, you can do so as normal, as the lid unzips all the way to the bottom. The inside features a clear plastic zippered pocket on the lid and a mesh zippered pocket on the back wall.
This back is more than enough to hold everything you need for a weekend and if you’re a light packer you can get away with up to 5 days worth of lightweight clothes.
Ricardo Beverly Hills Malibu Bay 16-Under Seat Rolling Tote
Another underseater that’s small and super light is the 27.3 L Ricardo Beverly Hills Malibu Bay Rolling Tote. It measures 16 x 13 x 8″ and weighs 4.2 lbs and fits under even a Frontier Airlines seat. Inspite of it being a structured bag, its weight is kept down because of the light frame and Dreamful® material used, which is lighter than polyester or nylon. However, the construction is very durable and abrasion resistant. It is one very stylish looking bag too!
This is also a dual pole telescopic handle bag with inline skate wheels. The handle is nice and long when fully extended but has multiple lower stops as well. It has one top carry handle and a piggyback strap at the back.
This is also a very well designed bag for organized travelers who like to have easy access to things at all times. There are two zippered front compartments and two zippered vertical pockets with gussets on either side can hold an umbrella and water bottle.
The main compartment has a front lid opening with two zipped pockets on the inside of the lid. A plastic zipped bag forms a front wall to prevent things from the main compartment falling out. The translucent plastic bag cannot be detached but it is useful for storing toiletries or damp items.
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.
Lily Bloom Under the Seat Carry on Bag
Made just for women, the Lily Bloom brand of luggage sports a variety of great prints to combat boring and sober luggage and the Lily Bloom under seat rolling carry on luggage is no different. The fabric is environmentally friendly, as it’s made from recycled plastic bottles. Measuring 15 X 9 X 14 inches and weighing 4 lbs, this bag will fit under most airline seats, although for Spirit Airlines’ latest baggage policy and for one or two others, it may be a tight squeeze if the front bulges out too much.
This is a monopole telescopic handle bag but it does not have the problem of twisting sideways, which many monopole handle bags do. The two inline skate wheels have a wide base and prevents this. The telescopic handle locks into position in the extended state and it retracts through the small opening, leaving just the handle grip sitting on top. While there is no strap at the back to attach this bag to so you’ll need a separate luggage bungee strap for that.
This is another bag that features several pockets on the outside. There are three zippered pockets on the front – one small one is placed over a larger u-shaped one, and the largest is placed above that with the opening just below the main compartment’s opening. The two exterior sides boast vertical zippered pockets than can hold either a water bottle or a shoe each. A large zippered pocket at the back is perfect for a magazine or travel documents.
The main compartment opens by a double zippered front door that opens all the way down. The inside of the door features two clear zippered pockets. There’s a clear wall with zippered pocket to prevent contents falling out of the space inside.
This bag is really roomy and with judicious packing, you could probably get enough in for 5-6 days.
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.
Other Top Rated Underseat Carry on Bag for Men and Women
Travelon Wheeled Underseat Carry-On with Back-Up Bag
The first version of this best-selling bag came out many years ago 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. This Travelon Wheeled Underseat Carry-On comes with a Back-Up Bag that you can use as your personal item in addition to the main carry on. Both the main wheeled bag and the Back-up bag have a piggy back strap at the back to slide over another larger bag’s trolley handle.
The wheeled bag comes with inline skate wheels and an adjustable telescopic handle that goes up to 3 feet. Its dimensions are 12 x 8.5 x 14 inches and weighs just 5 lbs and 7 ozs. It’s available in chocolate brown and black in Quilted Microfiber polyester.
The main compartment is very roomy and features a gusseted divider in front to prevent everything from tumbling out when you open the bag. It doubles as a zippered mesh pocket. The front U-shaped zipped organizer compartment has a large clear zipped pocket as well as two elastic top drop pockets for small items. A U-shaped zipped pocket is placed in front of that and is big enough for an iPad. There’s one side pocket for a water bottle that folds down flat when empty.
The Best of the Rest
Now if you don’t need to keep to such tight restrictions on dimensions but still prefer to take a wheeled bag that’s smaller than maximum carry on size, you may consider the following types of wheeled bags:
Rolling tote bags: These can be wheeled or carried by their grab handle or dual tote handles.
Rolling backpacks: While some are small enough for the strictest airline requirements, a few are better suited for car or train travel or even business or first class air travel where you have more space under your large seat.
Wheeled briefcase style bag: If you’re looking for more of a business look and not something to pack lots of clothes in.
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.