Airplane Etiquette: Carry-On Edition

With all of the new fees for checked luggage, there has been a lot of emphasis on travel blogs and websites on packing lighter. I talk about how to pack lighter all the time! It’s more efficient, less trouble, and saves room so you can carry-on. People who travel often are usually pretty adept at navigating the carry-on. And others need a little help. Some people loathe the idea of paying to check luggage so much that they will carry-on no matter what. And when I say no matter what, I mean they will try to make any size, overstuffed with who knows what, misshapen bag fit into an overhead bin. This can have so many consequences,  including other people’s bags not fitting, needing help lifting an overweight bag, and bags falling out of a bin and hitting someone.

Here are a few guidelines to keep in mind when bringing a carry-on:

  1. Know your airline’s guidelines. All major airlines have the size and weight restrictions for carry-ons on their website. If your bag is too big, they may make you check it. Also, there are slightly different size requirements for international carriers vs. American carriers, so make sure your bag works for your continent as well.
  2. Make sure you can lift your bag. There is no reason for you to expect other people to help you put your bag in the overhead bins. You may be surrounded by senior citizens who can’t help you, or you may be lucky and have someone strong next to you. Also, some flight attendants are not prohibited from helping customers put bags up. You just never know, so it’s better to assume you have to do it yourself.
  3. Listen to instructions on where to put your bag. This is a HUGE pet peeve of mine. On many American Airlines planes, standard sized rollerboards fit wheels first on the D-E-F side of the plane. On other airlines, a standard sized rollerboard will only fit sideways, and there are no instructions given. On one airline, the bags had to go in handles first. If there are instructions given, please follow them; they are given to you for a reason. If you put your bag in the way it is supposed to be, more bags will be able to fit.
  4. Only put your large bag in the overhead. Put your purse or briefcase under the seat in front of you, until you know for sure there will be room. Also, don’t put your jacket in a bin unless it’s going on top of or in front of your bag. Again, we’re trying to make room for everyone.
  5. Put your bag in the bin as close to your seat as possible. If you are sitting in row 25, and there is no room over 25 and there is room over 23, that’s one thing. But if you’re sitting in row 25 and you put your bag over row 8, that is just rude. If everyone did that then the people in the front of the plane will have no room for their bags. And there is almost always room at the back of the plane.
  6. Don’t make it your plan to gate check. I have been reading about people who knowingly bring their too-big bag onto a plane, assuming that the flight attendants will make them gate-check and they won’t have to pay the fees. Wow. If you bring a normal sized carry-on that you are happy to bring on the plane or gate-check, that is one thing. But gaming the system just seems wrong. If you are bringing too much stuff, check your bag. If you don’t want to pay the fee, bring less stuff. Don’t slow everyone else down because you’re trying to save $20.

This is the list for now, but you know that if I come up with more I will pass them on. The bottom line is, try to be considerate of others. Take up your allotted space and try not to infringe upon the space of others. Try to be as efficient as possible so you don’t make everyone late. And please, for goodness’ sake, don’t hit anyone with your bag. I’ve been there, it is not awesome. Good luck.


  1. […] Kun vaatteista on etukäteen muodostettu asukokonaisuuksia, ei matkaan eksy sellaisia vaatteita, joille ei selkeästi ole paria tai ne eivät sovi riittävän monen vaatteen kanssa yhteen. Pakkaus on onnistunut, kun yläosat sopivat yksiin sekä hameiden, että housujen kanssa. Näin laukkuun ei eksy turhaa ja matkallakaan ei tarvitse miettiä asuja, senkun nappaa jo jonkun valmiiksi mietityistä kokonaisuuksista päälle! Kuvat täältä (ylhäältä alas): kuva 1, kuva 2, kuva 3 […]


  1. Exactly. How many times have you said this and people still don’t listen and end up checking their bag on the jet bridge. Be nice to those still boardig and put your laptop case under your seat. When they check bags last minute it slows everyone down!

  2. I totally agree with #4. I worked with a partner who would absolutely not put anything under the seat in front of him, even a very small briefcase. Common courtesy, people!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.