Your long-awaited trip is just around the corner and it’s time to get packing!
But before you set up your out-of-office message, print your boarding pass and rummage through your wardrobe for your favorite OOTD pieces, you’ll want to make sure you have the right bag to avoid any hiccups at the gate — especially with your trusty travel companion!
Both a carry-on and a checked bag have their advantages, but which one is ideal for your upcoming adventure?
From size and fees to what to pack and everything in between, here’s all you need to know in the carry-on vs. checked bag showdown. Plus, we’ve included a quiz to help you choose!
What’s The Difference Between A Carry-On And Checked Bag?
A carry-on bag is any type of luggage that can fit into a plane’s overhead bin, including spinner luggage, a travel backpack, a tote or a duffle bag.
Typically, any piece of luggage that you “carry on” to a plane is considered a carry-on bag.
You can use a carry-on bag for both quick and extended trips — as long as you pack light — to avoid baggage fees, long lines at baggage claim and the dreaded lost luggage scenario.
On the other hand, a checked bag is any type of luggage that’s too big to fit into the plane’s overhead bin.
Compared to a carry-on, you can’t access checked luggage during a flight. But thanks to its ample amount of space, it’s perfect for when your list of travel essentials is longer than most.
Carry-On Luggage Characteristics
Now that you have a better grasp of the difference between a checked bag and a carry-on bag, let’s dive into each bag’s characteristics — from size to accessibility.
While you might find an inch or two of size difference between various airlines, the standard domestic carry-on luggage size is 22″ x 14″x 9″, including the bag’s handle and wheels. This size limit ensures that every passenger’s bag can be stored safely in the overhead bins.
Here’s the standard size of carry-on bags on major airlines in the United States:
- American Airlines – 22” x 14” x 9”
- Alaska Airlines – 22” x 14” x 9”
- Delta Airlines – 22” x 14” x 9”
- Frontier Airlines – 24” x 16” x 10”
- Hawaiian Airlines – 22” x 14” x 9”
- JetBlue Airlines – 22” x 14” x 9”
- United Airlines – 22” x 14.2” x 9”
- Southwest Airlines – 24” x 16” x 10”
- Spirit Airlines – 22” x 18” x 10”
Here’s the standard size of carry-on bags on major airlines in Europe:
- Turkish Airlines – 23 x 40 x 55 cm
Rollink tip: Check the airline’s website in advance for size requirements regarding carry-on bags!
2. Packing Volume
There are no carry-on weight restrictions for most major domestic airlines in the United States, including JetBlue, Southwest, Delta and Spirit Airlines.
However, that’s not the case for Frontier and Hawaiian Airlines, along with European-based carriers Ryanair, easyJet and Turkish Airlines.
So, what’s the fuss about carry-on weight limit? Well, for small commuter planes, weight is more important due to safety regulations.
Here’s the maximum weight limit for carry-on bags on major airlines in the United States:
- Frontier Airlines – 35 lbs
- Hawaiian Airlines – 25 lbs
Here’s the maximum weight limit for carry-on bags on major airlines in Europe:
- Ryanair – 22 lbs
- easyJet – 33lbs
- Turkish Airlines – 18 lbs
Rollink tip: When in doubt, make sure your bag is light enough to lift over your head, so you can secure it in the overhead bin with ease (unlike the guy below!).
3. What To Pack
From stun guns and razors to liquids and gels over 100ml, it’s important to know what you can and can’t pack in your carry-on bag. The last thing you want is to be met with a time-consuming run-in with a TSA agent, and not to mention the embarrassment of scrambling to get restricted items out of your carry-on bag.
Here’s a list of what you can’t bring in your carry-on:
- Liquids, pastes or gels in containers over 100ml
- Self-defense tools such as a pepper spray bottle
- Sharp objects such as razor blades and knives
Rollink tip: Travel with confidence by checking the rules and regulations of the airline you’re flying with, to ensure all of your items make it safely on board.
Most major airlines allow you to bring a carry-on bag for free — budget travelers, rejoice!
With baggage fees on the rise, frugal adventure-seekers pack light and try to fit everything into a carry-on bag or personal item — any item that fits underneath the plane seat in front of you (Speaking of hand carry bags, read our blog on a carry-on vs. personal item!).
Here are some major airlines in the United States where you can bring your carry-on free of charge:
- American Airlines
- Alaska Airlines
- Delta Airlines
- Hawaiian Airlines
- Southwest Airlines
And in Europe:
- Turkish Airlines
Here are some major airlines in the United States that charge for carry-on bags:
- JetBlue and Frontier Airlines – $30-55 for pre-booked carry-on
- Spirit Airlines – $31 for standard fare
Rollink tip: If you want to save big, here are five tips to avoid baggage fees!
Traveling with a carry-on allows you to keep your essentials within reach throughout your trip, without having to entrust them to the airline.
As a result, a carry-on ensures that your bag arrives at your destination when you do!
At Rollink, our luggage provides the best of both worlds — carry it on to keep your items close by or check it and collect it when you land!
Checked Luggage Characteristics
Allowing more of your OOTD pieces and offering ample room for souvenirs, here’s where checked luggage shines.
Are you heading out to a cooler destination that requires bulky pieces such as sweaters and boots?
Or maybe you’re embarking on a trip that requires a variety of wardrobe changes (say, your best friend’s wedding in The Bahamas!). In either scenario, a checked bag can help ensure that all of your must-have items make it to your destination.
The standard checked luggage size ranges from 23 inches to 32 inches for most American major domestic airlines, while the standard checked luggage size for European carriers is 81 x 119 x 119cm.
2. Packing Volume
The weight restriction for a checked bag for most major domestic airlines such as American Airlines, Delta, JetBlue and Hawaiian Airlines is 50 pounds.
However, Allegiant Air and Frontier have a maximum checked luggage weight of 40 pounds.
Rollink tip: Before you go a little overboard with packing souvenirs, weigh your luggage with a travel scale before heading to the airport, to avoid excess baggage fees.
3. What To Pack
Similar to a carry-on, the rules regarding the liquids, food, and other travel items you’re allowed to bring through TSA also apply to a checked bag.
Here’s a list of what you can’t pack in your checked luggage, through TSA in the United States:
- Alcoholic beverages with over 70% ABV
- Battery-powered lighters
- Liquid bleach
Rollink tip: Find out what you can take on a plane in checked luggage!
Your belongings are safe and sound in a checked bag, but not without a price.
On most major domestic airlines in the United States, it will cost you around $25 for your first checked bag and $35 for your second bag.
For European carrier Ryanair, a 10kg checked bag can go from €/£12 up to €/25.
Rollink tip: Avoid the risk of hefty baggage fees by packing light. Read our blog on how to pack a suitcase to maximize space!
If you’re not up to the challenge of lifting your bag into the overhead bin or rolling it around the airport with you until your flight takes off, then a checked bag is for you.
However, unlike a carry-on bag, you can’t easily access to your belongings whenever you please. Ensure you pack your travel essentials such as your passport and charging cord in your carry-on or personal item if you plan checking in your bag.
Rollink tip: Feeling a bit anxious parting ways with your checked luggage? See if the airline you’re flying with has a mobile app that notifies you when it gets loaded onto the plane, like Delta’s mobile app, Fly Delta.
Our Favorite Carry-On And Checked Bags At Rollink
Whether you want to bypass baggage claim or just need a suitcase that can hold all of your belongings, Rollink’s line of flexible, lightweight and durable luggage gives you the best of both worlds when finding your ideal travel companion, time and time again.
Rollink’s innovative designs were constructed to last for many years to come — each suitcase is built to accommodate any type of travel lifestyle or adventure!
Flex 360° Spinner
New in our luggage lineup is the Flex 360° Spinner, a carry-on or checked luggage piece that can house most of your essentials whether on the road or on the air!
Choose from a wide array of sizes, from domestic carry-on to large checked and everything in between.
Roll smoothly through airports or cobblestoned streets alike, thanks to the 360° double spinner wheels.
Available in four sizes and eight colors, Flex 360° Spinner features include:
- 360° double spinner wheels
- Impact-resistant, durable polycarbonate hard shells
- Built-in TSA-approved lock
- Multiple pocket interiors
- Aluminum adjustable telescopic handle
- Collapsible for hassle-free storage
- 10 lbs & 110 L packing volume
Rollink Flex Vega
Meet the Flex Vega. Our lightweight hard shell suitcase that can withstand water, scratches and impact — especially for bumpy conveyor belt rides!
You can carry-on or check your Flex Vega. Just choose the size you need, whether it’s domestic or international, or medium checked.
Available in three sizes and eight dynamic colors, Flex Vega features include:
- Durable polycarbonate hard shell
- Scratch, water and impact resistant
- Silent, coated wheels for smooth gliding
- Hassle-free storage at home and on the go
- Quick-access side pocket for essentials
- Height-adjustable telescopic handle
- Fits carry-on requirements for most major airlines
If polyester is more of your look and feel, look no further than the Flex Aura which is water-proof, flexible and durable! Select from two sizes: domestic and international carry-on.
Available in two sizes and seven colors, Flex Aura features include:
- Premium and luxurious design
- Durable, water- and impact-resistant fabric on each side
- Front and inner pocket for more storage
- Secure closure with a magnetic strap
- Folds flat to about 2’’ thick
- Silent, coated wheels for easy gliding
Carry-On Or Checked Bag? Find Out Which Is Right For You!
Avoid travel hiccups by taking this short quiz and find out if you need a carry-on or checked bag for your next trip!
1. How long is your trip?
- Just a short weekend trip!
- I’m off on a lengthy adventure!
2. Do you plan on bringing home souvenirs and trinkets?
- Nope! I’m just in it to make lasting memories.
- Duh, I’m not going to pass up leaving France without a fancy wheel of cheese!
3. Can you carry your bag on your own?
- Of course, look at these muscles I’ve built!
- I’d prefer to hang out in the airport lounge bag-free until I reach my destination!
4. Are you willing to spend a few extra dollars for baggage fees?
- No, thank you!
- Sure — it’s worth it!
If you answered A for most of these questions, your ideal travel companion is a carry-on bag. However, if you answered B for most, checked luggage is for you!
From stand-out hard shell bags to luxurious polyester luggage, check your bag or carry it on your flight with our durable line at Rollink.
Find your perfect travel companion and embrace your next trip with confidence!