Does a Diaper Bag Count as a Carry On?

Mother sitting on bed, holding baby, next to Petunia Pickle Bottom Diaper Bag

TSA regulations limit carry ons to one bag and one small, personal item. Most airlines will include diaper bags in your carry on allowance. If your child is traveling for free as an unticketed infant/child, they do not have a baggage allowance. Please keep that in mind when you decide what to carry on and what to check.

In this blog post, we will take a look at the policies of seven major airlines and help you figure out what you need to do when packing your Petunia bag for your next trip!

Delta: Delta includes diaper bags as part of your carry on allowance. So long as it meets carry on size restrictions, you can bring it as your carry on or personal item. 

Delta will also allow your breast pump and associated cooler bag as an additional item (in addition to your carry-on allowance). If this bag is also your diaper bag, it may be best to call in advance and clarify their policy so you don’t have any surprises at the gate. 

SouthWest: SouthWest includes diaper bags as part of your carry on allowance. As a carry on, it should be no larger than 24” (L) + 16” (W) + 10” (H). If you are using your diaper bag as a personal item, it should be able to fit under the seat, 16.25” (L) + 13.5” (W) + 8” (H).

United Airlines: United Airlines has one of the most generous carry on luggage  policies for families with young children. You may bring a diaper bag and breast pump/milk storage on board in addition to your carry-on bag and personal item.

Please keep in mind that if overhead space does get full, you may be asked to gate check your carry-on bag.

American Airlines: American Airlines allows one carry-on diaper bag per child. Diaper bags, soft-sided cooler bags with breast milk, child safety seats, strollers and medical or mobility devices don’t count toward your personal item or carry-on.

If you’re flying internationally with an infant on your lap, they will allow you to check one bag for the infant at the same rate as the adult’s first checked bag.

Spirit Airlines: Spirit Airlines only includes one free personal item with each fare. The personal item must be smaller than 118” (L) + 14” (W) + 8” (H), or the size of a laptop bag or purse. They make an exception to this policy for diaper bags. You may bring one diaper bag per paid seat in addition to your personal item, for no extra charge.

JetBlue: Similar to United Airlines, JetBlue also has a generous policy for diaper bags and baby equipment. If you’re traveling with a lap infant, you can bring aboard a diaper bag in addition to a permitted carry-on and personal item. They also consider breast pumps as assistive devices and do not count them as a carry-on bag.

Alaska Airlines: Alaska Airlines's official policy is that diaper bags can be allowed as the adult’s personal item or carry on so long as it meets their size restrictions

On Alaska Airlines, not only are lap infants not allowed a luggage allowance, they are also not eligible for complimentary meals. So, remember to pack snacks and food for long flights.

As you can see, there is no one-size-fits-all answer when it comes to diaper bags and carry ons. The best thing you can do is call ahead or check the website of the airline you will be flying with to get their most up-to-date information.


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