The carry-on suitcase has become one of the symbols of the popularization of economy class airline tickets. There is no doubt that traveling only with cabin luggage on short breaks – or optimizing your space to the maximum on longer departures – saves us time and money. Plus, a small cabin bag is more comfortable on vacation tours .
Do you think there is the perfect carry-on bag or does it seem like a legendary animal? In this article, we are going to find the handbag for you or your family, we will review the airline regulations, we will tell you what you can and what you cannot carry in your hand luggage and we will analyze the purchase criteria that you must take into account when purchasing a suitcase.
The most important
- The size that most airlines admit is 50 x 35 x 25 cm, but this restriction varies depending on each company. On the other hand, there are companies that barely accept 7-kilo bags, while others do not limit this aspect.
- Remember that in the carry-on suitcase it is not allowed to carry liquids in containers of more than 100 ml. The total amount of liquid you can carry is 1 liter. The cans should preferably be inside a bag that allows you to see inside.
- When you buy a carry-on bag, pay attention to the materials it is made of, whether it is solid or soft, and its weight. We will talk about these and other purchase criteria in the last section of the article.
The best carry-on bags: our recommendations
In case you are thinking of buying a carry-on and you don’t know whether to be guided by the brand, by what they cost or by their appearance, calm down, don’t despair. Here are five options that stand out for their good value for money.
- A rigid carry-on with interior compartments
- A solid bag with spinner type wheels
- The semi-rigid luggage from American Tourister
- The luggage with the largest capacity
- A very sporty cabin suitcase
A rigid carry-on with interior compartments
This carry-on bag is approved by most airlines in Europe and the rest of the world. The housing is made of strong and durable ABS plastic, capable of withstanding impacts.
Its dimensions are 55 x 35 x 20 cm, it has a capacity of 34 l and 2.6 kg of weight. Includes a combination lock, packing straps to keep everything in place, and four wheels.
A solid bag with spinner type wheels
The shell of this American Tourister suitcase is made of polypropylene, which makes it very resistant to shocks. Includes fixed three-digit combination lock with TSA function.
Its dimensions are 55 x 40 x 20 cm, it has a capacity of 32 l and 2.5 kg of weight. It offers great internal organization, with numerous pockets and straps, and is available in multiple colors.
The semi-rigid luggage from American Tourister
This suitcase belongs to the SummerFunk collection by American Tourister, which is designed for globetrotters looking for quality. Its polyester finish offers numerous features for you to enjoy your getaways.
Its dimensions are 55 x 40 x 20 cm, it has a capacity of 42 l and 2 kg of weight. The expandable options give you even more capacity, although they may not be accepted by all airlines.
The luggage with the largest capacity
This semi-rigid suitcase is made of durable 600 x 600 dernier polyester with PU coating. It also repels water and dirt. It has two wheels and can be carried on the back.
Its dimensions are 55 x 40 x 25 cm. Supports up to 48.5 l capacity and weighs 2.4 kg. Inside we find numerous pockets that help organize belongings and keep everything close at hand.
A very sporty cabin suitcase
The renowned luggage brand Eastpak presents us with this carry-on suitcase, whose textile lining is made of 60% nylon and 40% polyester.
Its dimensions are 51 x 32.5 x 24 cm, although, being soft, it can be compressed with the side straps to adapt to the requirements of any airline.
Shopping guide: What you should know about carry-on luggage
How to prepare a carry-on suitcase?
Some time ago, airlines realized that boarding with a suitcase should be a luxury and there are many that today charge for each package that we send to the warehouse. The rules of the airlines are very strict – some low cost ones are crazy – so we are going to give you several tips to optimize the volume of your cabin suitcase to the maximum.
- The countdown: Which is nothing more than counting from five to one to rationalize your needs. Never carry more than five of the same item with you. Of course, make a list of everything you need before getting to work with your suitcase.
- To roll it has been said: Well, Marie Kondo says it. The way to fit more clothes into a carry-on bag and make them wrinkle less during the trip is to roll them up. On the internet you can find numerous tutorials on how to roll each garment.
- Vacuum: Although the ideal is to minimize your luggage, you can also vacuum pack your clothes to take up less space. This is especially useful with outerwear that can be compressed, such as floaty sweaters.
- Move to solid products: As you already know, liquids are a problem in unchecked luggage. This point can be the perfect excuse to try bar body soaps or solid shampoo . It is also not a bad idea to carry a suitable soap for clothes.
- The secret of the onion: It is important that you know how to dress to fly. You don’t have to wear all your clothes, but you do have to think about which items weigh the most. For example, it is a good idea to board with boots instead of sandals.
What can be carried in the cabin
Although it is always recommended that you check with the airline before the trip, here we clarify which “doubtful” items you can take with you on the plane without having to check in your suitcase:
- Electronic devices: Although you must remove them from the bag for review at the airport security controls, these types of items, such as computers, tablets, music players or video games, are allowed in the cabin.
- Medicines and baby food: Of course, you can take your medicines with you. You don’t need to carry a prescription – no one is going to ask you if you really need them. You should only be careful in the case of liquid medicines that exceed 100 ml.
- Liquids: You can carry liquids with you, as long as their containers do not exceed 100 ml. Also, the set must be less than 1 liter and it is recommended to carry them in transparent plastic bags.
- Food: It is allowed to bring food in good condition: nobody can forbid you to get on the plane with your homemade sandwich or with a bag of snacks , if you wish. The exception would be intercontinental flights, where there may be restrictions.
What cannot be carried in the carry-on suitcase
Especially since the 9/11 attacks, airlines have put in place numerous restrictions on what cannot be carried in hand luggage. Since many “urban legends” circulate, we offer you a correct and complete list of what cannot be got on the plane.
- Kitchen supplies and DIY: With common sense. You can bring a spoon, but not a corkscrew or pointed knife. Likewise, scissors with blades less than 6 cm are allowed, but not larger ones.
- Guns and ammo: Not much more to add, right? Dynamite and pyrotechnic material are not allowed either.
- Large sporting goods: Of course, the snorkel can fly with you in the cabin, but items such as baseball bats, hiking poles, rackets, martial arts equipment, golf or billiard sticks, paddles and boats are prohibited and crampons.
- Baby strollers and wheelchairs: You will not be able to board with baby strollers or wheelchairs, but, don’t worry, because the airport will supply one, if you need it.
- Chemical substances: It is not allowed to travel with acids, aerosols, fire extinguishers, poisonous substances, compressed gases, radioactive material, fuel and flammables.
What size and weight does each airline support?
|Airline||Maximum dimensions||Maximum weight|
|Argentine Airlines||55 x 35 x 25 cm||5 kg|
|American airlines||56 x 36 x 23 cm||x|
|Air Europe||55 x 35 x 25 cm||10 kg|
|air France||55 x 35 x 25 cm||12 kg|
|Air Berlin||55 x 40 x 20 cm||8 kg|
|Alitalia||55 x 35 x 25 cm||8 kg|
|British Airways||56 x 45 x 25 cm||23 kg|
|Easy jet||55 x 40 x 20 cm||x|
|Emirates||55 x 38 x 20 cm||7 kg|
|Iberia||56 x 45 x 25 cm||x|
|KLM55||x 35 x 25 cm||12 kg|
|Lufthansa||55 x 40 x 23 cm||8 kg|
|Norwegian||55 x 40 x 23 cm||8 kg|
|Ryanair||55 x 40 x 20 (if you have purchased priority and two pieces of hand luggage)||10 kg|
|Swiss air||55 x 40 x 23 cm||8 kg|
|Tap Air Portugal||55 x 40 x 20 cm||10 kg|
|Volotea||55 x 40 x 20 cm||10 kg|
|Vueling||55 x 40 x 20 cm||10 kg|
What is the difference between a carry-on bag and a personal item?
Many people do not know that, in the cabin, in addition to the handbag, the airlines allow us to carry a personal item. Now, what exactly do you mean by “personal item”? A personal item can be a purse – regardless of your gender -, a small backpack, a wallet, a camera bag or a case for your laptop.Although it may vary by company, only one personal item per person is allowed. Normally airlines do not offer a limit size, but it should be small enough to fit under the seat. Calculate that, approximately, your personal item will have to measure a maximum of 45 x 35 x 20 cm.
What is better, suitcase or backpack?
|Pros||Greater security, due to its closing systemsLess strain on the back
Clothes wrinkle less
More organized belongings
Protection against external elements
|Total mobility on all types of terrainBeing more flexible, they fit almost in any corner
They adapt to different activities in the same trip
|Cons||Depending on the terrain, they can be more uncomfortableThey give us less mobility than a backpack||Clothes may arrive wrinkledIt’s not easy to keep them tidy
They provide less protection to our belongings than a rigid suitcase
Most obvious: they weigh
Buying a carry-on bag always involves concern: we do not know if the airline will accept it, we do not know if it will be resistant to possible impacts or we do not know if everything we want to carry will fit inside us. So that the certainties are more than the uncertainties, we recommend that you consider these purchase criteria.
- Manufacturing materials
- What is better, a rigid or flexible suitcase?
- Two wheels, spinner or double spinner ?
- Hand luggage weight
- Safety is important
Manufacturing materials depend a lot on the type of carry-on you choose: hard or soft — we’ll talk about this in the next section. There are good suitcases made of very different materials, so you should think about the use you are going to give it, as well as your personal preferences:
- Rigid materials: Polypropylene (widely used, weighs very little), polycarbonate (good durability and resistance), ABS (cheap) or aluminum (not widely used, due to its high price and low resistance).
- Flexible materials: Ballistic nylon (very resistant), cordura (resistance to abrasions) and polyester (inexpensive and resistant).
What is better, a rigid or flexible suitcase?
Again, each type of carry-on has its good things and its less good things. Hard suitcases offer more protection for your belongings, but they weigh more, they can have a smaller interior space – by having thicker walls – and it is more difficult to “fit” them in small spaces, such as the compartment of an airplane.
Soft suitcases, meanwhile, provide less protection, but are noticeably lighter than solid ones. In addition, they can compress a bit in tight spaces. For some people, their more casual appearance can also be a disadvantage; however, for others, this will be one of the strengths of bags with a textile cover.
Two wheels, spinner or double spinner ?
The first hand luggage did not have wheels, later they went on to have two wheels and later the four-wheel spinners appeared on the scene . Although four-wheel options are becoming more common, there are people who value two-wheel options more:
|Two wheels||Four wheel spinner||Double spinner|
Greater capacity, by dispensing with the spinner system
More comfortable to climb curbs
Greater effort and load when maneuvering
|Ease of movement due to 360 degree rotation
Minimal effort to transport luggage
|By having a total of eight wheels, mobility is increased
The load is distributed in a greater space, which makes driving easier
Hand luggage weight
This rule is simple: the more your suitcase weighs, the less of your belongings, such as clothing or toiletries, for example, you can carry. Remember that most airlines limit the maximum weight of the carry-on bag, and this restriction includes the bag itself. Our recommendation is that you opt for cabin bags that do not exceed three kilos in weight.
There are carry-on suitcases that have several pockets separated by zippers or fabric walls, both inside the bag and outside. Although they allow you to carry your things more organized and are ideal for short trips in which you are not going to unpack, it is also true that they reduce the volume available when you want maximum space.
Safety is important
We cannot control everything: there are times when, although the ideal is that our carry-on bag travels with us in the cabin, the airline sends it to the hold for various reasons. In these cases, it is very important that your bag is equipped with either a small padlock or a key system that joins both zippers so that only you can open it.
Getaways by plane are becoming more and more popular, given the increasingly low price of tickets. The bad thing is that, although the base price decreases, the airlines increasingly charge us more extras, and one of them is checked luggage. It is for this reason that carry-on bags are on the rise and it is increasingly common not to carry anything else when we go on vacation.
Of course, putting all our belongings in a handbag is not easy. For this reason, in this article we have tried to tell you everything you need to know to acquire the cabin suitcase that best suits your needs and to prepare it so that everything fits, that you do not forget anything and that the airport staff do not put a but.