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Can I carry two handbags on a plane?

When packing for a flight, one of the key questions travelers often ask is whether they can bring two handbags on board the airplane. The rules around carry-on luggage can be confusing, with variations between airlines and aircraft types. This article will provide a quick overview of the typical policies for bringing multiple handbags onto a commercial flight, as well as tips for maximizing your carry-on while staying within the size and weight restrictions.

Can You Bring Two Purses on a Plane?

The short answer is yes, you are generally allowed to carry on two handbags or purses onto an airplane. However, there are some important caveats to be aware of:

  • Most airlines restrict passengers to one personal item (such as a purse, laptop bag, or small backpack) plus one larger carry-on bag. So you can bring two purses or handbags, but one needs to be your personal item and the other your carry-on bag.
  • Both bags must meet the airline’s size restrictions for carry-on luggage. These vary by airline but are generally around 22″ x 14″ x 9″ for the larger carry-on, and around 18″ x 14″ x 8″ for a personal item.
  • You’ll need to be able to fit both bags easily into the overhead bins or under the seat in front of you. Space is limited, so if your bags are on the larger side they may not both fit.
  • Watch out for weight restrictions too, usually around 40 pounds total for all carry-on bags.
  • On smaller regional jets, the overhead bins are smaller and won’t fit larger carry-on bags. You may be asked to gate check one of your bags.

So if your two handbags or purses meet the size and weight limits, and you can fit them on board, then there should be no problem bringing them both with you. Just be prepared in case you’re asked to check one bag at the gate.

Tips for Packing Two Bags

Here are some tips for maximizing your carry-on allowance with two handbags or purses:

  • Choose your bags wisely – go for soft-sided, lightweight bags without rigid frames or lots of protruding hardware if possible.
  • Pack the essentials in one bag to be stowed under the seat, such as medications, documents, valuable electronics, etc.
  • Evenly distribute weight between the two bags.
  • Place any liquids, gels or aerosols that are over 3.4oz in your checked luggage.
  • Wear your bulkiest, heaviest clothes and shoes to keep carry-on weight down.
  • Pack bags strategically so opening/closing is easy and contents don’t spill out.
  • Be prepared to consolidate if needed – have empty space in one bag.
  • Carry any bag you wouldn’t want gate checked in the under seat personal item slot.

If possible, opt for bags that have hideaway straps so they can be carried or worn crossbody as needed. Having both hands free while navigating through the airport is very helpful.

What Are the Carry-On Rules for Major US Airlines?

Carry-on allowance policies will vary somewhat between airlines. Here is a quick rundown of the major US carriers’ rules for bringing on two bags:

American Airlines

  • 1 personal item plus 1 carry-on bag up to 45 linear inches total
  • Personal item max size: 18″ x 14″ x 8″
  • Carry-on max size: 22″ x 14″ x 9″

Delta Air Lines

  • 1 personal item plus 1 carry-on bag
  • Personal item max size: 18″ x 14″ x 8″
  • Carry-on max size: 22″ x 14″ x 9″

United Airlines

  • 1 personal item plus 1 carry-on bag up to 45 linear inches total
  • Personal item max size 17″ x 10″ x 9″
  • Carry-on max size: 22″ x 14″ x 9″

Southwest Airlines

  • 1 personal item plus 1 carry-on bag up to 52 linear inches total
  • Personal item max size: 18.5″ x 8.5″ x 13.5″
  • Carry-on max size: 24″ x 16″ x 10″


  • 1 personal item plus 1 carry-on bag
  • Personal item max size: 17″ x 13″ x 8″
  • Carry-on max size: 22″ x 14″ x 9″

As you can see, the dimension and weight restrictions are fairly similar between airlines. Be sure to check your specific airline’s website for details before packing two bags.

What if My Second Bag is Too Big?

If your second carry-on bag is over the size limits, you have a couple options:

  • Some airlines offer discounted checked bag fees for oversized carry-ons that must be gate checked. This is often cheaper than paying a full checked bag fee.
  • You may be able to compact or condense your second bag’s contents to meet sizing requirements.
  • Wear any bulky clothes or jackets to reduce bulk and weight of bags.
  • If possible, redistribute contents evenly between two smaller, lighter bags.
  • You could try checking your second carry-on bag from the ticket counter instead of gate checking.
  • As a last resort, you will need to check your second carry-on at regular checked baggage rates.

Careful measurement and packing can help avoid issues with oversized bags to begin with. Make sure both your carry-ons fit within the airline’s stated dimensions before arriving at the airport.

What’s Allowed in My Personal Item?

Your smaller personal item is meant to hold your essentials that you may need quick access to in flight. Most airlines allow you to bring aboard these common personal items:

  • Small purse, shoulder bag, crossbody bag or fanny pack
  • Briefcase or laptop bag/sleeve
  • Small backpack or messenger bag
  • Tote bag
  • Camera bag
  • Diaper bag
  • Device case (tablet, e-reader)

You can store items like phones, wallets, keys, headphones, glasses, medications, documents, books, snacks, and other small accessories in your personal bag. Just be sure liquids adhere to the TSA’s 3-1-1 liquids rule and qualify for the flight.

What Should Go in My Carry-On Bag?

Your larger roller bag, duffel, or tote carry-on is meant to hold everything else you may want onboard for your flight:

  • Clothing and underwear for the trip
  • Travel toiletries in 3.4oz containers
  • Chargers, batteries, cables, devices
  • Neck pillow, eye mask, headphones
  • Snacks
  • Travel documents (passport, visa, etc.)
  • Medications
  • Magazines, books, e-reader
  • Travel wallet with payment cards and cash
  • Additional personal care items (hairbrush, makeup, mirror)

Be selective about heavier items and only pack essentials in your carry-on. Wear bulky clothing like sweaters and jackets to maximize your space.

Tips for Packing Two Handbags

To keep your two carry-on bags organized and under the maximum dimensions, follow these tips:

  • Use packing cubes, folders, pouches to consolidate items
  • Roll clothes tightly to optimize space
  • Place shoes, toiletries, electronics in plastic bags to contain messes
  • Utilize interior and exterior pockets for easy access to small items
  • Pack reusable shopping/garbage bags to corral dirty clothes
  • Leave a little room for last minute items you add at the airport
  • Weigh bags at home first to ensure they meet the weight limits
  • Distribute weight evenly so one bag isn’t much heavier

Following these suggestions will ensure you make the most of your two permitted carry-on bags.

Can I Bring a Purse and a Backpack?

Yes, a purse plus a backpack, or any other combination of a small personal item and larger carry-on item is perfectly acceptable. Just remember a few key points:

  • The backpack counts as your one carry-on bag, not a personal item
  • Both bags must meet the airline’s size restrictions
  • The purse should be your personal item that fits under the seat
  • The backpack needs to fit in the overhead bin
  • Combined weight can’t exceed 40 pounds

As long as your purse and backpack meet the criteria, you can absolutely bring both onboard your flight. This is a smart combination for travel since backpacks are easy to wear when moving through airports. The purse contains your flight essentials for easy access while seated.

Can I Carry a Large Purse and a Small Bag?

This combination is also fine, as long as the larger purse meets the carry-on size limits and the smaller bag is your personal item. The smaller bag must fit under the airplane seat without issue. Some suggestions if taking a large purse plus an additional small bag:

  • The large purse should have a shoulder strap for easy carrying
  • Use the small bag for items you need in flight like snacks, headphones, wallet, medications
  • Pack the large purse carefully and keep it lightweight if possible
  • Be prepared to check the large purse at the gate if unable to fit it onboard
  • Opt for a small bag with a slim crossbody strap to maximize underseat space

Prioritize what really needs to go in your personal item vs. the overhead carry-on bag. Distribute weight between both bags so they are comfortable to transport.

What’s the Best Way to Carry Two Bags?

Maneuvering through a crowded airport with two bags can be challenging. Here are some tips to make juggling your double carry-on easier:

  • Wear crossbody bags across your chest for handsfree carrying. Adjust straps to balance bags evenly on both sides.
  • For a backpack and handbag, wear the backpack and carry the handbag by its straps or wear it crossbody style.
  • Use luggage with hideaway backpack straps that can be deployed when needed.
  • Bags with smooth rolling spinner wheels are much easier to maneuver than basic two-wheel rollers.
  • If possible, attach your personal item securely to the handle of your rolling carry-on.
  • Carry one bag in front and one in back to keep the weight distributed when walking.
  • If bags are heavy, take occasional breaks to switch which hand or shoulder bears the burden.

Choosing ergonomic luggage suited to your needs, and switching up carry methods can definitely help with transporting two carry-on bags.

What Are Some Good Lightweight Handbags for Travel?

When trying to maximize your carry-on allowance, lighter bags are key. Here are some excellent lightweight handbag options for travel:

  • Packable totes – Fold up into their own pocket for storage
  • Dome-shaped crossbodies – Designed to be compact while still roomy
  • Sporty backpacks – Made from lightweight tech fabrics
  • Messenger-style shoulder bags – Slim and streamlined silhouette
  • Tote bags – Choose ones without heavy hardware
  • Satchels – Leather or nylon styles tend to be lighter weight
  • Foldable fabric bags – Can fold, twist, or collapse down when not in use

Prioritize bags made of lightweight nylon, canvas, polyester, cotton canvas, microfiber, or soft structured materials without bulky frames or hardware.

Should I Pack a Purse Inside My Carry-On?

This comes down to personal preference, but there are pros and cons to packing an additional purse inside your carry-on bag:


  • Convenient to have a special bag just for going out while on your trip
  • Helps maximize space if your carry-on is a backpack or duffel
  • Lightweight foldable purses take up minimal room


  • Adds weight and bulk to your carry-on
  • Takes up valuable space that could be used for clothes, shoes, etc.
  • You’ll have to take out your purse at security checkpoints
  • More items to keep track of when packing up

Ultimately it’s a personal call – if you have plenty of room in your carry-on and want the versatility of a separate purse, go for it. Just be mindful of the added weight and be prepared to rearrange contents at security.


Bringing two carry-on bags aboard your flight is permitted by most airlines, provided you adhere to size and weight restrictions. Carefully choosing and packing your bags, wearing bulky heavy items, and utilizing ergonomic luggage can help make transporting your double carry-on manageable. Focus on packing light, only bringing essentials in your underseat personal item, and distributing weight evenly between bags. With smart packing and preparation, plus an understanding of airline policies, you can easily maximize your carry-on allowance with two handbags.