Packing Your Carry-on Bag the Right Way

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Hitting the skies with just a carry-on is a lot easier for travelers. It can save time (no waiting at baggage claim) and money (no extra baggage fees) and hassle (potential baggage delays). But while there are some clear benefits for airline passengers choosing to go the carry-on route, there are also some challenges. Travelers must ensure everything must be TSA-approved, in order to get through security at the airport. So, how can you ensure your are packed properly? Here are some tips:

Travel sized products

The TSA allows passengers to bring quart-sized bags in carry-on bags and through the security checkpoint. Liquids, aerosols, creams and gels are okay. So, when picking out travel sized products ensure it is 3.4 ounces or less. To help speed along the screening process, place items in a bag to keep them separate from the rest of the items in your bag. Note: there are exemptions for medications and baby food. (Photo source: TSA)

screen-shot-2016-12-12-at-9-45-33-amLuggage size

Carry-on size is important. If you bring along a bag that is too long or wide or heavy, it could be deemed as “checked luggage” by the airline. To ensure your carry-on meets size requirements, check your airline’s website prior to departure for details. Most require the following:

  • Shouldn’t exceed 22 x 14 x 9 inches / 23 x 36 x 56 centimeters (including handles and wheels)
  • Must fit in the sizer at the airport


Source: American Airlines

Prohibited items 

The TSA is constantly updating its prohibited list.  The list often includes food items. So, if you plan to pack any food items into your carry-on, it is important they meet the size requirements. Anything bigger than 3.4 ounces must go into checked baggage. Here’s a list of carry-on acceptable food items:



Packing tips

Packing up can make a big difference when you head through the security checkpoint. Packing up properly can help speed things along and prevent additional lag time. Here are some tips to ensure you are packed up properly:

Pack items in layers (shoes one layer. clothes one layer, electronics one layer. etc.)

Firearms are only allowed in checked baggage and must be unloaded, placed in a locked, hard-sided container and declared to your airline.

All fireworks contain explosive materials and are not permitted in checked or carry-on baggage.

Pack large electronics an top layer of carry-on for screening accessibility.

Place your 3-1-1 bag with liquids, gels and aerosols in the front pocket of your carry-on for accessibility.

If traveling with a pet, be sure to bring a leash so carriers can be properly screened.

Travel insurance 

Comprehensive travel insurance does provide benefits in the event a checked bag is lost or stolen. But if you do decide to bring additional luggage, there is coverage available.

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