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.
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, or I need to take a traditional full sized carry on plus a personal item bag, 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.
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. If my flight allows and I’m traveling with only carry on luggage, then I take two bags – a 20 inch suitcase for the overhead bin and a smaller bag for under the seat.
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 smaller personal item bag with no wheels 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.
Best Hardside Luggage with a Front Pocket
What is the Best Underseat Rolling Bag?
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.
The next question about wheeled underseaters is should it be a 4 wheeled underseat tote or a 2-wheeled? While you will find enough 4 wheels spinners that are classified as airplane underseat bags, those protruding wheels take up a lot of space, thereby reducing your actual packing space inside the case. Two wheeled luggage doesn’t sacrifice as much packing space. Also, a wheeled underseat cabin bag is not going to be heavy to pull along on two wheels, so the trade off on wheels for packing space is worth it, in our opinion. However, in order to satisfy all customers’ needs, we’ll give you some great options for both types.
You can pick out the best underseat luggage 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 seats. 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. However, we’ve carefully curated some bags that make the cut by us. Take a look at the best underseat carry on luggage with wheels 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.
What Size Bag Can Fit Under an Airplane Seat?
The answer should be simple but it’s not, so we’ve come up with a list of 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 2020, these are the airlines flying around or in and out of the USA that have stated personal item limits for luggage that fits under airplane seats:
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)
Air France: 16 x 6 x 12 inches (40 x 15 x 30 cm)
Lufthansa: 15.7 x 11.8 x 4 inches (40 x 30 x 10 cm)
British Airways: 16 x 6 x 12 inches (40 x 15 x 30 cm)
Delta: This airline doesn’t specify their personal item dimensions restriction but we do know that for a 737 plane main cabin the aisle seat space is 18”L x 13”W x 11”D. The width can increase a bit for the other seats.
Virgin Atlantic: This airline does not disclose underseat space either. General recommendation is 17 x 10 x 9 inches (43 x 25 x 22 cm).
Bestselling Under Seat Carry on Luggage With Wheels
AmazonBasics Underseat Carry-On Rolling Travel Luggage Bag with Wheels
This polyester quilted bag from AmazonBasics is of great value and is available in quite a few different colors.
This 22L quilted rolling underseat tote measures 13.3 x 9.4 x 14.1 Inches overall and weighs 4 lbs and 7 ozs.
This bag is great for organization freaks as there are pockets everywhere! It opens from the front via double zippers that run from the bottom of either side and there’s a roomy external front zipped organizer pocket large enough for your boarding pass, passport, wallet and keys.
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. Three zippered pockets, 2 opaque and one mesh, are built into a velcro fastened flap attached to the inside of the door to this compartment. There are two external side pockets present, both zippered vertically, so you can stash a water bottle, a compact umbrella, or something smaller and secure the pocket fully.
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. When not in use, it disappears completely into its own zippered pocket at the back. Two feet at the bottom balance the bag when it’s stationary.
Samsonite Upright Wheeled Carry-On Underseater Luggage
This Samsonite underseat carry on with wheels is also pretty inexpensive and has similarities in design to the AmazonBasics bag above. Since it is Samsonite, you can be assured that it’s a popular, practical and durable piece of luggage.
It measures 13.0″ x 13.0″ x 6.5″ overall and weighs 5.07 lbs. This small rolling tote bag has a larger sister as well that is a bit taller and slightly deeper that may fit under some seats on larger aircraft, but this smaller model is the one that is safer for all flights.
It opens via a front double zippered panel that you can keep from falling completely open if you don’t unzip it fully. On the inside of this panel is a detachable panel of 3 zippered pockets – one opaque, one clear plastic and one mesh. If you open the bag while it’s vertical, there’s a flap secured by two velcro fasteners to keep your things in the main compartment from falling out. The inside of this flap also has two zippered pockets. It can be quickly freed when you need to access the inside. Right at the back of the bag is a large clear plastic zippered pouch that you can use to keep dirty or damp clothes separate. The rest of this space can hold your clean clothes.
The external front of the bag features an organizer zippered pocket with 4 zippered compartments and one slip pocket. There are two side pockets for an umbrella or water bottle and both pockets can be zippered shut when not in use.
There’s a piggy-back strap at the back of the bag, a dual pole retracting handle with its own zippered storage pocket, and two top carry handles joined together by a velcro wrap. Two inline skate wheels and two feet at the bottom are used for rolling and standing.
LUCAS Wheeled Under the Seat Cabin Bag
Customers used to gush over this bag because of its great value. Now it is still popular and moderately priced, but some other brands have taken over in terms of popularity. This cabin bag from Lucas is made of lightweight polyester and weighs just 5 lbs. It measures 16 X 14 X 9 inch and fits under all seats if it is not stuffed to the gills. This is possible because of the way it is designed.
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 also 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 Paris Underseater
This Delsey quilted rolling underseat tote also opens from the front via double zippers that run from the bottom of either side.
This women’s rolling tote for travel 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 aircrafts. This bag is currently available in black or purple with a contrast interior lining.
This is another bag with lots of pockets for the neat freak! The main compartment is for your clothings and shoes, while the flap that separates that from the front door panel holds a full zippered mesh bag for your hairbrush, cosmetics, etc. There’s a U-shaped organizer compartment on the inside of the door panel with two zippered pockets, while the front exterior of this features a u-shaped organizer pocket for your phone, travel documents and even a tablet that can be stored in the padded sleeve. 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 hiding a mesh elastic top pocket for anything that might leak, as it’s fully lined in clear plastic.
This also has a pass-through band at the back to make sliding it over another bag’s telescopic handle easy. Its own retracting handle locks into position while pulling on the two inline skate wheels and retracts into a zippered pocket at the back when not needed.
Lily Bloom Designer 15 Inch Wheeled Underseat Carry On Bag for Women
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. There is a strap at the back to attach this bag to another bag for easy transporting of both.
This is another bag that features several pockets on the outside. There are two zippered pockets on the front – one small one is placed over a larger u-shaped one. The two exterior sides boast vertical zippered pockets than can hold either a water bottle or a shoe each.
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.
Travelpro Crew Versapack Rolling Underseat Carry-on Bag
If you want to know what’s the best underseat carry on bag with wheels is just ask any airline crew member. There’s a reason why so many travel with TravelPro’s Crew line of luggage – the pieces are strong, practical and functional while looking very smart! This Travelpro Crew Versapack carry on tote with wheels measures 8.25 x 13.25 x 16 inches overall and weighs just over 6 lbs. It’s available in black, blue, grey and purple. It may not be the most affordable on this list but its extra features and top quality makes it worth every extra penny.
This is the only underseater on this list with an external USB port that’s connected to an external TSA-approved battery pack. The port lies above the pack, which is hidden inside the vertical zippered side pocket on the right.
On the opposite side is another zippered pocket with an elastic band to hold a travel umbrella or water bottle. There’s a quick access front pocket that snaps shut by magnetic closure and a dual zippered u-shaped organizer pocket right in front.
The main compartment is accessed via a downwards opening door with high quality dual zippers, the inside of which is a padded tablet/laptop pocket that can hold one up to 14″ diagonally. The door is prevented from falling completely open by snap button side gussets. The main inner cavity is separated by a detachable toiletry bag with two zippered pockets and its own hanger hook so you can remove it and hang it up in your hotel room. The rest of the space is for your clothes and shoes.
The sealed ball bearing wheels in durable wheel housings ensure a smooth and silent rolling experience in airports and train terminals, but also withstands rough surfaces like cobblestone streets. The shell of the case is made of ballistic nylon fabric with Duraguard coating to make it water resistant and repellent to any stains and abrasions. The PowerScope extension handle minimizes wobble and has multiple stop levels at different heights for comfortable rolling of the bag.
Travelpro Maxlite 5 Rolling Underseat Compact Carry-On Bag
If you want to know what’s the best underseat carry on bag with wheels is just ask any airline crew member. There’s a reason why so many travel with TravelPro’s Crew line of luggage – the pieces are strong, practical and functional while looking very smart! This Travelpro Maxlite 5 luggage tote with wheels measures 17.5″ x 14.5″ x 8.5″ and weighs 5.5 lbs. It’s available in mauve, grey, black and blue. If you like Travelpro luggage but find the Crew bag above too pricey, then this one costs a bit less and is slightly lighter as well.
This tote bag with wheels is very similar to the Crew collection one but it doesn’t have the battery pack and USB port. Both the two vertical zippered side pockets can be used for accessories like water bottle, compact umbrella, rolled up magazine, etc. This bag has a luggage tag holder at the back. Also, instead of ballistic nylon, the Maxlight 5 is made of polyester. However it does still have the Duraguard protection treatment.
All the other features are the same – PowerScope telescopic handle, sealed ball bearing wheels, a pair of velcro wrap top handles and a piggy-back strap.
All the compartments and pockets on this bag are also the same as the one above – detachable toiletry bag, padded pocket for a small laptop or tablet and external organizer pocket.
Best Underseat Spinner Luggage
When looking for under seat carry on spinner luggage you have to be more careful about choosing something that gives you enough packing space while still being small enough to fit under most, if not all, aircraft seats. That’s because 4 spinner wheels take up more space than two inline-skate wheels, so the dimensions of just the packing case of spinner bags tend to be less than the above rolling tote bags for travel. That’s why most brands fail at or don’t attempt to make underseat spinner bags. However, we found two worthy options that we think will allow you to still have 4 wheels if you need them but also get enough space for your belongings.
Samsonite Underseat Carry-On Spinner with USB Port
Our pick for best underseat spinner bag goes to the Samsonite Underseat Carry-On Spinner with USB Port. It is a vertical type bag but the overall dimensions including the 4 spinner wheels are 16.5″ x 13.75″ x 9.0″. It weighs 7 pounds. When placing it under the seat in front of you, you can do it either wheels first or wheels last and on some planes it may protrude out a little bit towards you but the width and depth makes it fit otherwise. It is available in black, blue and purple.
This bag features a USB port on one side near the top. Unlike the Travelpro Crew bag above, there’s no battery included so you’ll need your own to carry with you. The zipper compartment for the battery is inside on the other side of this port. Below the USB port, there’s an external zippered pocket that reveals a port that you can pass the other end of a USB cord through to charge a tablet or phone that you may have stored inside the bag.This pocket is also gusseted and big enough to keep a small water bottle.
There’s a well designed external organizer pocket right in front with dual zippers to open. Behind that is the dual zippered door to the main compartment that opens downwards. The inside of the door sports a large zippered mesh pocket. A panel made of a padded laptop slip pocket with velcro fastener and an elastic top pocket in front separates the front from the inner cavity and is secured by velcro fasteners that can be released to fully access the inside. The inner cavity features two elastic top mesh pockets on the sides to hold a shoe each or undergarments. The remaining space is best for your clothes.
The back of the bag features a pass through strap to let you slide it over the telescopic handle of another larger bag. The top grab handles are kept together by a snap button fastener. A push button telescopic handle extends with 4 low profile spinner wheels help you maneuver the bag easily.
London Fog Cambridge II 15″ 8 Wheel Under Seat Bag
The London Fog Cambridge II underseat spinner carry on features a different design, as it is a horizontal bag, unlike all the others on this page that are either vertical or square. Its dimensions are 16.25″ x 14.5″ x 8.5″ and it weighs 5.9 lbs.
The durable woven exterior shell is protected by Fog Guard repellent for water and stain resistance. This bag has 4 dual spinner wheels for really easy maneuvering along with a dual pole multi-height locking retracting handle. The two top carry handles are made of faux leather and there’s a piggyback strap at the back too.
This bag has just enough pockets inside and outside to keep things simple but organized. The exterior features two vertically zippered side pockets and a front exterior pocket with hidden zipper. When you open the bag’s main compartment via the dual zippers, you’ll find two clear zippered pockets on the inside of the door and one zippered mesh pocket that also serves as a partition to the remaining space. There’s also a padded tablet sleeve inside.
This Cambridge line from London Fog is quite popular all around and its duffel bag features in our list of best carry on duffel bags.
Smallest Rolling Underseat Tote 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 Boarding Blue 17″ tall under seat bag is probably the smallest wheeled personal item bag out there and is designed a bit like an upright underseat duffel bag with wheels. It is specifically designed for United Airlines Basic Economy but its dimensions pretty much make it safe for any other economy seat too.
It measures 17″ long, 10″ wide and 8″ 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 is also extremely lightweight, coming in at just over 3 lbs.
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 store your hand sanitizer or hold a charging device and cables, so you can quickly recharge your devices at the airport without opening the main compartment. There’s an external USB charging port under this pocket and next to the water bottle pocket. 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 (7″x 8.5″) 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 16.5 x 13.8 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 rolling underseat carry on 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.
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 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. Another one is the Victorinox Werks Traveler 5.0 wheeled tote.
Featured image “legroom” by Robert Couse-Baker is licensed with CC BY 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/