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Think traveling with just an underseat carry on is impossible? To get you started, we’ve rounded up a list of the best under seat luggage and we’re showing you how to pack strategically to make the most of low-priced airfares. Find out how!
Best Under Seat Luggage
Airlines are constantly downsizing their offerings, and in the latest move to offer basic economy fares, some airlines now charge for carryons making use of the overhead compartments.
Before you worry, let me clarify. Several US-based airlines have now added new basic economy fares with competitive pricing but without luggage options. While this move has received much criticism, this isn’t necessarily a negative.
I spoke to a representative from a major US airline carrier and they explained their decision to offer this new basic fare.
To summarize, the major airline carriers in the US want to offer budget-friendly airfares similar to the low-budget carriers such as Southwest, Jet Blue, and Spirit. These low budget carriers charge a minimal fee for a seat but make their money upselling other items such as luggage space and food.
Europe’s budget airlines, RyainAir and EasyJet, have done this for years and now American based airlines are catching up. Savvy travelers can benefit from these fare wars and see this an opportunity for more budget travel options within the US; which has been expensive to travel domestically compared to Europe.
Let me show you how you can downsize your belongings to take advantage of these fares and travel only with a “personal item” such as the underseat luggage featured below.
Choosing the Best Under Seat Luggage
In order to travel just with a personal item you need to first choose the perfect underseat carry on. This bag has to fit perfectly under the seat of domestic airlines all while providing you ample room for everything you need to bring.
To be honest, an underseat carry on isn’t drastically smaller than a regular carry on. However, it is important to note that the dimensions of the bags and the space under the airplane seats will vary between airlines. Visit the website for the airlines you travel most frequently in order to choose the most versatile option.
Tip: the middle seat has the most space and it’s usually the least expensive! Keep this in mind when booking your flight.
Wheeled Underseat Carryon vs Shoulder Bag
Traditional “underseat luggage” features wheels, which many find more convenient than a regular shoulder bag or backpack. For the sake of this article, we’ve focused specifically on wheeled underseat carryon styles but you can also visit this post for ideas on weekender bags.
One of the biggest challenges with trying to find the best under seat luggage is that the majority of styles are designed for business travel. Consequently, this limits the space available for clothing and shoes.
Rest assured, the underseat luggage we’ve featured in this post offers the most spacious interior maximizing the space available for your belongings!
This is our round-up of the best under seat luggage:
- Delsey Sky Max 2
- Delsey Cruise Lite
- Delsey Quilted Tote
- Bali 2
- Ricardo Beverly Hills Malibu Bay
- Baggallini Rolling Tote
- Underseater by Travelon
- Travelpro Maxlite 3
- Eagle Creek Expanse Carry On
- Tumi Oslo Voyageur
- Briggs & Riley Cabin Bag
- Baggallini Travel Tote
- Delsey Ez Pack
Let’s start with a quick review. You can read more about each underseat carry on in the article below.
|BRAND / MODEL||SIZE / WEIGHT||FEATURES||RATING||PRICE|
|Delsey Sky Max 2||6.8 x 17.2 x 12.8 in / 4.6 lbs||Features 9 pockets and fits under the airplane seat of most airlines.||Check Price|
|Delsey Cruise Lite||12.2 x 14.8 x 9.2 in / 5.6 lbs||First hardside underseater that is ideal for someone who strives to pack light enough to travel.||Check Price|
|Delsey Quilted Tote||9 x 14.5 x 14 in / 5.6 lbs||Has a roomy main compartment.||Check Price|
|Bali 2||13.5 x 8.5 x 16 in / 4.9 lbs||Dual side exterior open elastic top beverage / accessory holster pockets on each side.||Check Price|
|Ricardo Beverly Hills Malibu Bay||8 x 13 x 16 in / 4.2 lbs||Its narrow frame rolls down even the narrowest aisles very easily and it fits under the seat, even when pretty fully packed||Check Price|
|Baggallini Rolling Tote||21.5 in / 5.4 lbs||Perfect for an aisle seater.||Check Price|
|Travelon Wheeled Underseat||12 x 8.5 x 14 in / 5.4 lbs||Has a convenient zippered water bottle pocket, "add-a-bag a sleeve on the back to fit the handle of a larger piece.||Check Price|
|Underseater by Travelon||9 x 18 x 14 in / 7 lbs||Holds a 15.6 inch laptop that doesn't compromise space.||Check Price|
|Travelpro Maxlite 3||13 x 8.5 x 15.5 in / 6 lbs||Has a wide open space.||Check Price|
|Eagle Creek Expanse Carry On||14.5 x 13.75 x 8.5 in / 4.5 lbs||Offers a more sporty look that is ideal for an adventure traveler that wants wheeles but packs very light.||Check Price|
|Tumi Oslo Voyageur||15 x 14 x 8 in / 7.9 lbs||It has usefully laid out compartments that aren't limited to use for business travel.||Check Price|
|Briggs & Riley Cabin Bag||9.2 x 15.5 x 13.5 in / 6.2 lbs||Has a unique (and ideal) top loading design which makes it very easy to access while traveling aboard an aircraft.||Check Price|
|Baggallini Travel Tote||9.2 x 15.5 x 13.5 in / 5.5 lbs||The interior opens to two sections which could easily hold a change of clothes and pair of shoes.||Check Price|
|Delsey Ez Pack||8 x1 4.5 x 13.5 in / weight unknown||Holds so much more stuff than one would think||Check Price|
Best Under Seat Luggage
Sky Max 2
After searching high and low for the best under seat luggage, the closest I got was the Sky Max 2 by Delsey. This bag conveniently features nine pockets and is supposed to fit under the airplane seat of most airlines.
It ticked off most of the boxes including a nice wide open space so you can organize your belongings the way you want to. Underseat luggage tends to have too many compartments limiting their use to business documents.
This bag, however, has a spacious interior where you can fit just about everything you need for a simple travel itinerary. At 4.6lb, it’s the perfect weight to adhere to limited baggage restrictions.
Read these tips on how to pack for 5kg baggage allowance!
The Cruise Lite Hardside 2 is another win by Delsey. It’s actually the first wheeled underseat carryon and weighs 5.6lb.
While it doesn’t have a strap to be layered over a larger suitcase, this is the ideal option for someone who strives to pack light enough to travel with only an underseat carry on or a business traveler on a 1-2 day trip for meetings.
One more by Delsey, their Quilted rolling underseat tote couldn’t be lest off our list. While it has various organizational pockets, it still has a roomy main compartment, which is enough to pack clothing and a pair of shoes. As a plus, it’s also available in two pretty blue colors!
Speaking of cute suitcases, Aimee Kestenberg has some of the most stylish prints available and we couldn’t exclude this piece from our list. The colors and designs are absolutely beautiful.
It features a dual side exterior open elastic top beverage / accessory holster pockets on each side: a zippered full pocket and a large pouch with elastic perfect for a water bottle or a small purse. It also has five interior pockets for toiletries and makeup including one mesh, two wet, and two regular.
Fashion and function. Impressive.
Its narrow frame should roll down even the narrowest aisles easily and fits under the seat, even when pretty fully packed! It has SO many compartments, even a removable compartment that can be used for bathroom toiletries.
As a bonus, it’s more eco-friendly than most as its approved by the FDA and OEKO-TEX standards, very little waste material is created during production, saving water and energy by solution dyeing the fabric pre-weaving.
If you are an aisle sitter, the under seat space is a little tight, but this bag should fit under the center and window seats. One of the best features is that the bag is lightweight, so it can help meet strict baggage allowance policies.
Travelon is one of our readers’ favorite brands, especially when it comes to anti-theft products such as purses and money belts. They also happen to have a few awesome travel products not related to theft including their Wheeled Underseat bag.
It weighs 5.4 pounds and gets rave reviews from our readers. The bags best features include a convenient zippered water bottle pocket, and an “add-a-bag a sleeve on the back to fit the handle of a larger piece.
Underseater by Travelon
Another reader favorite, this under seat bag by Travelon is a good buy. Its roomy main compartment has enough space for a couple of packing cubes and maybe even a thin pair of shoes such as ballet flats or sandals.
One traveler packed a pair of shoes, iPad, rain jacket, a pair of pants, 3 shirts, a skirt, two socks, a few undies, and a small Ziploc bag with toiletries. We’re impressed!
It has a front organizer that can holds a tablet, travel documents, or other small essentials. As a plus, it also holds a 15.6 inch laptop but this is a nicely built-in feature that doesn’t compromise space.
The major downside is that it doesn’t fit under the seat in all airlines so it might be best used as a smaller carryon for the overhead bin.
The bag’s best feature is the wide open space. We like the fact that it does not include a compartment for a laptop or business documents because that means that’s it’s much more functional as a carryon bag. Popular with pilots and flight attendants, the major downsize is the 7lb weight so you’d only be able to use it on a flight with a generous carry-on allowance.
Expanse Carry On
What stood out about the Eagle Creek Expanse is that it offers a more sporty look. Currently, the majority of underseat carry ons have more traditional suitcase styling so this would be ideal for an adventure traveler that wants wheels but packs very light. It even has lockable zippers, which is a major plus.
Another benefit is that it has tote handles so it should be easier to carry when needed and can be slid over the handle of a larger suitcase. A side compartment is convenient storage for items such as a water bottle, small shoes or even to roll your clothing without the need for a packing cube.
For a bit of luxury, Tumi has the good looking, feature-packed Oslo Voyageur Compact Carryon. It’s small enough for easy storage on planes yet large enough for clothing, too. It has usefully laid out compartments that aren’t limited to use for business travel.
It’s water resistant, has a sleeve for stacking onto other rolling luggage, and even has 4-wheels so you can easily wheel it down the plane aisle. Unfortunately, it’s more expensive than the other bags listed here. However, that’s the price you pay for a Tumi bag.
Baseline Cabin Bag
The Briggs & Riley Baseline under seat carry on has a unique (and ideal) top loading design which makes it very easy to access while traveling aboard an aircraft. It’s said to fit under the seat in most but not all planes.
The price may seem high for some, but the quality and the design are really unbeatable. It’s practical and rugged while being timeless in its design and functionality.
Rolling Travel Tote
If you are an aisle sitter, the under seat space is a little tight, but this bag should fit perfectly under the center and window seats. It’s lightweight, helping you meet strict baggage policies.
The real bonus is all the zippered compartments. There are two spacious zippered pockets on the exterior. The interior opens to two sections which could easily hold a change of clothes and pair of shoes.
And, the last one on our list of the best under seat luggage is the Ez Pack by Delsey. The minimalist, clean design with spaciousness is exactly what we want in a small carry on! Big points for the wide open space!
Packing Your Underseat Carry On Bag
There are a variety of packing organizers ranging from compression sacks to packing cubes to ziplock bags. Personally, we like using these packing cubes and our readers agree. They’ve helped millions of our readers travel carryon only – learn more!
The idea of packing in a packing cube may seem impossible, and it is if you don’t plan strategically. To make this a reality, use our signature capsule wardrobe framework that show you how to downsize your clothes for any trip to take only what you need to avoid overpacking.
We recommend starting with our ten-piece travel wardrobe and revolving or adding items as needed.
Need more clarification? Read our packing ebook, which reviews the capsule travel wardrobe concept on detail showing you exactly how it’s possible to pack light for every trip.
Once you’ve managed to downsize your clothing, the next big challenge is downsizing your shoe collection. When traveling with only one underseat carry on, you want to bring no more than two pairs of shoes and plan to wear your heaviest pair on the plane.
Make sure you follow these guidelines so that the two pairs you bring are versatile and mix and match with all your clothing.
Don’t forget that comfort is the number one priority. The wrong pair of shoes can ruin your trip!
Read our ultimate guide on how to choose travel shoes for more details!
Lastly, it’s time to downsize your toiletries, hair styling tools, and makeup. Our Ultimate Guide to Travel Toiletries shows you exactly how to pack less beauty products without giving up your favorite things – plus it has a free printable toiletry list!
Next, create a capsule makeup collection so you can make the most of mess stiff without sacrificing your beauty routine. If your hair is high maintenance, consider bringing a compact multi-tool like this one.
Tip: These travel containers are my secret to decreasing my beauty products and toiletries for any trip!
And for every single trick in my packing book, read my full course “Stop Overpacking“. I created the STOP OVERPACKING program to teach you my exact packing process. Every secret, every detail, nothing is spared.
Learn more about Stop Overpacking here!
What do you think is the best under seat luggage? Share in the comments below!
For more packing strategies, please read these posts:
- 10-Step Guide to Packing One Suitcase for any Trip
- How to Fit Everything in a Carryon (Video Tutorial)
- An Easy Packing Hack to Travel Carryon Only
- How to Pack for the Carry-on Crackdown
For suggested travel gear, please read:
- How to Choose the Best Luggage Organizer
- Top 10 Toiletry Bags for Travel
- Best Hanging Toiletry Bag for Women
- Anti-theft Travel Accessories 2017
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