Will A Backpack Fit Under An Airplane Seat In 2023? (Revealed)

Traveling light is an art, and nothing encapsulates that better than the challenge of fitting everything you need into a backpack. 

But the burning question many travelers grapple with is: will a backpack fit under an airplane seat? 

In many cases, if a backpack can snugly fit under the airplane seat, it’s deemed acceptable. However, airlines tend to have varying criteria, and while some items like purses or laptop bags are often mentioned, backpacks might not always make the cut.

Will a Backpack Fit Under an Airplane Seat? – Quick Guide

The airline industry doesn’t always specify backpacks as personal items, leading to confusion among travelers. 

Generally, a backpack’s acceptance on a flight largely leans on its dimensions and the airline’s policy. Small to medium-sized backpacks, such as daypacks or standard school bags, usually find their place under the seat effortlessly. 

However, larger travel or hiking backpacks may pose a challenge. As with many travel dilemmas, the key lies in preparation: understanding your backpack’s size, the airline’s regulations, and smart packing can make all the difference.

What Size Backpack Will Fit Under an Airplane Recliner Seat?

Airplane designs vary, but there’s a semblance of consistency when it comes to the under-seat space dimensions in recliner seats.

Typically, you’re looking at a height of about 11 inches, a width of around 17 inches, and a depth ranging from 18-20 inches. This is the ballpark figure but always refer to your airline’s specific guidelines.

So, how do these measurements stack up against standard backpacks? A regular school backpack, for instance, usually has dimensions of 17 x 12 x 5.5 inches, making it a good fit.

However, some outdoor or hiking backpacks can be significantly larger. As travelers, we often have to consider space dimensions, similar to how we’d evaluate the dimensions of furniture for our homes. In fact, if you’re looking for expert insights on furniture sizes and how they fit into different spaces, Furniture Ruler X is a great resource. For instance, a 40L backpack could measure 22 x 13 x 10 inches, making it a challenge to fit under a typical airplane recliner seat.

Different Sizes of Backpacks That Will Fit Under an Airplane Seat

When we think of backpacks, an image of our trusty school bag might come to mind. 

However, in the diverse world of backpacks, there are numerous sizes and styles tailored to various needs. 

Let’s delve deeper into understanding which backpack sizes are best suited for that coveted space under an airplane seat.

1. Small Backpacks

  • Daypacks: Lightweight and compact, daypacks are ideal for short excursions, whether it’s city sightseeing or a brief hike. Their design focuses on carrying essentials, which makes them a perfect fit under airplane seats.
  • Hydration Packs: Slim and vertically elongated, these backpacks are primarily designed to hold water bladders. With a small storage compartment, they snugly fit under seats without hassle.
  • Kids’ Backpacks: Naturally smaller in size to fit a child’s frame, these backpacks can easily slide under a plane seat. Plus, they often come with playful designs that add a splash of color to your travel gear.

2. Medium Backpacks

  • Standard School Backpacks: The quintessential backpack, they’re roomy enough to carry books, a laptop, and a lunchbox. Their general dimensions usually adhere to most airlines’ personal item size guidelines.
  • Laptop Bags: Tailored to protect your tech, these bags are slim, padded, and designed to house laptops, chargers, and perhaps a few documents. Their streamlined design means they’re usually a good fit under seats.

3. Large Backpacks

  • Hiking or Traveling Backpacks: Crafted for the adventurer, these backpacks come with a plethora of compartments, straps, and, sometimes, external frames. While they offer ample space, their bulkier size might make them challenging to fit under a seat, especially when fully packed.

Can a Regular Backpack Fit Under an Airplane Seat?

A ‘regular’ backpack typically refers to the everyday bags we use for school, work, or casual outings. Measuring around 17 x 12 x 5.5 inches, these are the norm and not the exception.

Using a regular backpack as a personal item offers the advantage of convenience. They are easy to carry, access, and store.

On the flip side, if you’re a savvy packer and your backpack is brimming with items, it might become a tight squeeze.

Remember, while most regular backpacks should fit, overstuffing them could lead to storage challenges. To further understand using backpacks as a carry-on, you might want to check out this article on backpacks and air travel.

How Do I Know If My Backpack Will Fit Under My Plane Seat?

Navigating the myriad of airline regulations can be daunting. But ensuring your backpack fits under the plane seat need not be a Herculean task. Here’s a simple guide to give you clarity.

1. Check Airline’s Official Website

Before flying, it’s imperative to visit your airline’s website. Most airlines provide clear dimensions for personal items that can fit under the seat.

2. Measure Your Backpack

Grab a measuring tape and check the height, width, and depth of your packed backpack. Remember, backpacks can bulge when full, altering their dimensions.

3. Test It Out

If you have a suitcase or a container that fits the airline’s under-seat dimensions, try fitting your backpack into it. It’s a tangible way to test out its size.

4. Seek Feedback

There are numerous travel forums and platforms where fellow travelers share their experiences. It can be a goldmine of information about specific backpack models and airlines.

Solutions for Storing Bags That Don’t Fit Under Flight Seats

So, you’ve packed, measured, and tested, but alas, your backpack just won’t fit. Don’t fret! There are alternatives to ensure your belongings travel safely with you.

1. Overhead Compartment

This is the go-to storage space for larger carry-on items. Though it’s spacious, space can run out on fully booked flights. Ensure you board early or consider priority boarding.

2. Baggage Check-In

If your backpack is significantly oversized, checking it in might be the best option. While this usually comes with a fee, it ensures your bag is stored securely in the plane’s cargo area.

3. Compression Sacks

These wonders can reduce the volume of your packed clothes, potentially freeing up much-needed space in your backpack.

4. Foldable Bags

Consider packing a lightweight, foldable tote or duffel bag inside your backpack. If needed, you can transfer items from your backpack to this secondary bag, ensuring both bags meet size regulations.

5. Seek Assistance

Airline staff are experienced in handling such situations. Approach them with your concern, and they might provide a solution, be it a particular storage spot on the plane or a protective cover for checking in your backpack.

Remember, each airline has its own regulations and aircraft layouts, so what works for one flight might not work for another. Always check, plan, and be prepared for contingencies. Safe travels!


In the dynamic world of travel, backpacks emerge as both heroes and, sometimes, minor hurdles. 

Determining whether your trusty bag will fit under that airplane seat is a blend of knowledge, preparation, and a dash of flexibility. 

While it’s essential to be aware of the general guidelines, it’s equally vital to be adaptable. 

So, the next time you’re packing for a jet-set adventure, remember: it’s not just about what you pack, but also how and where you pack it. Safe and savvy travels await!


Will a 30-liter backpack fit under an airplane seat?

Typically, a 30L backpack can fit under an airplane seat, but it largely depends on how full it’s packed and the specific airline’s under-seat dimensions.

Will a 35L backpack fit under an airplane seat?

A 35L backpack, when fully packed, might be a tight squeeze. Always check the airline’s size restrictions and consider how densely your backpack is filled.

Will a 32L backpack fit under an airplane seat?

A 32L backpack generally falls between the size ranges of most airline specifications. If not overpacked, it should fit under the seat, but it’s always best to confirm with the airline.

What can I carry in my backpack on a plane?

You can carry essentials like electronics, travel documents, snacks, and personal care items. Always adhere to TSA guidelines, especially for liquids and sharp objects.

Can you take a backpack on a plane for free?

Most airlines allow a personal item for free, which can include a backpack if it fits under the seat. However, larger backpacks might count as carry-on and could incur a fee.