People email me questions about it. I see Google searches on it. And of course, I see it all the time while traveling. Evidently, there is a lot of confusion about where small carry-ons, or personal items, go. Let me clear it up for you.
There are only two scenarios:
1) You have only one bag, your personal item. In this case, it is perfectly appropriate to put your small carry-on in the overhead bins. If you want to have it closer at hand, put it under the seat in front of you.
2) You have two bags, a suitcase of some sort and a personal item. If you have two bags, put your larger one in the overhead bins (preferably as close to your seat as possible, with wheels facing the correct way) and your smaller one under the seat in front of you. Please do not put both of your bags in the overhead bins, as it takes up space that passengers getting on later will need. The only time this is appropriate is if you are in the bulkhead seats.
One place the personal item never goes is under your seat, or behind your legs. This may be more comfortable for you, but it means the person behind you loses out on space for their small bag or legs. Please be considerate!And the best way to know where all of your luggage goes is to listen to the flight attendants as you are boarding. They will tell you everything you need to know, especially if you don’t fly often.