If you’re heading off to an important business conference and you need your suit looking as immaculate as you got it from the dry cleaners, you need to bring it in a garment bag for your flight. But, do garment bags count as carry-on (and will airlines be forcing you to pay for everything else as checked baggage)? We set about investigating this dilemma to bring you a definitive answer.
So, do garment bags count as carry-on luggage? Garment bags don’t usually count as part of the carry-on allowance for air travel. The baggage specifications provided by many airlines allow for garment bags to be carried as hand luggage, meaning you can still bring your rolling bag luggage and stow it away on the overhead bin (or the space provided under the seat).
TBE Garment Bag Recommendation
Here are two of the best garment bags we could find in our experience and research:
To ensure your garment bag fits the provision for personal “hand” luggage on a flight, you need to ensure the dimensions and weight of the contents meet the recommendations provided by the specific airline you are flying on.
When does your garment bag count as carry-on luggage?
We went through the websites of dozens of airlines, combing through their baggage guidelines to determine when garment bags count as carry-on luggage. Not once did we come across an airline service that restricts travelers to a single item of onboard luggage.
In most cases, however, you are only allowed two pieces of luggage: one you can carry in your hands (i.e. a personal item – this is one of the most versatile we’ve found) and another one you can keep on the overhead luggage bin or beneath the seat (i.e., the carry-on).
This can make it tricky if you are traveling for business and need to bring along rolling bag luggage, a laptop bag, and a garment bag for your suit. In that case, your garment bag (or any of the other 2 pieces of luggage) will have to be taken as checked luggage.
5 tips to avoid having your garment bag count as carry-on or checked baggage
With some commonsense precautions and planning, you can avoid the inconvenience and expense of having a garment bag (or some other essential item) taken as part of checked baggage on a flight.
Here are the 5 most effective ways to avoid paying for your garment bag as part of checked baggage.
1. Buy a rolling bag with a garment bag compartment
Some rolling luggage concepts are designed to help you carry your suit in a compartment that ensures it doesn’t generate creases. In fact, some come with an internal or removable garment bag that is big enough for one or two suits. Such versatile designs add even more convenience, as you do not have to check into your flight toting two or more pieces of onboard luggage.
2. Choose airlines that allow you to keep your garment bag in an onboard closet
Some airlines make provisions for travelers who need to keep their suits in pristine condition. They offer a closet, usually located at the front of the plane near the cockpit, where you can hang your business suit in its bag.
3. Go for a sturdy garment bag
Garment bags are not built for the rugged nature of baggage taken on as freight. However, in some cases, you may have no choice but to check it in as you board the flight.
If that is the case, ensure you go for a model built to withstand rough treatment without jeopardizing the pristine condition of your dry-cleaned and neatly-pressed suit. Such garment bags are made to be as sturdy as an ordinary travel suitcase.
4. Consider buying suits made of wrinkle-free material
Today you can buy suits made of a material that is resilient enough to avoid developing creases and wrinkles even when folded up. However, this may mean going for suits that are made from a large proportion of synthetic materials.
Many business travelers consider such suits not impressive enough to wear on a business trip. However, if you don’t fall within that line of thought, a wrinkle-free suit can be safely stowed away with the rest of your travel gear and be none the worse for it.
5. Invest in a Portable Garment Steamer
With a portable garment steamer, you do not have to worry about unsightly creases and wrinkles on your clothes – even if you do not carry them in a garment bag. The steamer effectively smoothes out every wrinkle and crease, leaving your suit as pristine as when it came from the dry cleaner.
There is an important catch for using a garment steamer, though. While it is useful enough to make wrinkles disappear, a steamer is not an adequate substitute for actually dry cleaning and pressing your clothes.
5 essential packing tips to avoid luggage nightmares
With a little ingenuity, creativity, and plain common-sense precautions, you can maximize the space in your carry-on bag such that you do not need to check any luggage on your flight. If all you are traveling with is the carry-on and whatever personal item you have in your hands, there is no way the airline can lose your luggage.
Here are 5 quick tips that’ll save you from going through the trouble or spending extra money by using the permitted carry-on luggage allowance more efficiently.
1. Roll your clothes, don’t fold
While a garment bag is the best solution for ensuring your newly pressed suit arrives spick-and-span post-flight, it is still possible to pack your suits in ordinary luggage in a way that doesn’t result in unsightly wrinkles.
To accomplish this, you should consider rolling your clothes instead of folding them. Moreover, rolled clothes take considerably less space compared to folded ones.
2. Always check the luggage policy of the airline
A lot of the problems air travelers face with baggage can be avoided simply by going over your airline’s luggage policy. Even if you booked your flight through a travel agency, you’re still responsible for looking through their requirements.
Airlines provide detailed luggage guidelines on their websites. Some guidelines could also be printed on the back of your ticket. However, for the most detailed information, as well as any caveats you should be aware of, it is best to check the website.
3. Consider the length of the trip
Always pack your luggage according to how long you will be away from home. Even then, you can avoid taking non-essential items that may easily be obtained at the destination without causing you inconvenience or extra costs.
Items that best fit this description include toiletries and stationery. Furthermore, only take items of clothing you will need, keeping in mind that the outfit you travel in should be part of your wardrobe at the destination, too.
4. Don’t forget: Your carry-on luggage may be checked at the gate before boarding
As you pack your carry-on luggage, remember that keeping it within the airline’s weight and size restrictions do not guarantee that you won’t have to check it at the gate. On some rare occasions, carry-on luggage has to be checked in if the plane is very full or if you have to fly on a smaller plane than originally scheduled.
As such, always keep essential items, such as your travel documents, pricey electronics, and any medication in a hand-held bag that you can have on your lap during the flight. Even then, ensure that there is an obvious name tag on your carry-on that includes all of your contact information.
5. Pack clothing and essentials with the destination in mind
It pays to always pack for a flight with the destination in mind. Consider the weather and climate in the place you will be operating from as you pack clothing and accessories. To be even more efficient, ensure the clothing you have on as you board the plane is appropriate for your destination as well.
Related Carry-On Questions
There’s definitely more to packing than garments bags, carry-ons, and luggage. Here are some other luggage-related questions many travelers grapple with before boarding a plane.
Can I bring my own food on a flight?
There is no particular rule banning passengers from bringing food items aboard a plane. However, any food or drinks must meet the official restrictions on liquids and gels. Foods that spread, such as butter or margarine, are considered gels. This means the maximum amount you can bring with you on a flight is 100 milliliters (3.4 fluid ounces).
What restrictions are there for shaving blades and toiletries?
Knives and blades are expressly prohibited on both domestic and international flights. Disposable blades used with a safety razor are therefore not allowed. However, there are no restrictions on disposable razors and electric shavers.
Scissors are also okay provided the blades are shorter than 4 inches (10 centimeters). As noted, the largest quantity of liquids or gels you can have with you is 100 milliliters (3.4 ounces). This applies across the board to include drinks and toiletries. If you have full-size bottles/tubes of toothpaste, sunscreen or shampoo they must be in your checked luggage.
Can I bring a lighter on a plane?
Travelers who smoke usually have a hard time traveling by air. Indeed, no smoking is allowed while on the plane. Many assume that lighters are equally banned on flights. However, while there are strict guidelines relating specifically to lighters, they are not banned outright.
You can only bring a lighter in your checked luggage if it has no fluid in it. Furthermore, you may not bring extra lighter fluid in your checked luggage or your carry-on. Only disposable or Zippo-type lighters are allowed in your carry-on. However, under no circumstance may you take your lighter out of the bag or pockets. This may be interpreted as a threatening gesture and may land you in trouble.
Can I bring a soft-sided garment bag as a carry-on?
It depends on the airline and the size of the garment bag. Many airlines have size restrictions for carry-on luggage, and a garment bag may not fit within these limits. Be sure to check with the specific airline you will be traveling with to see if your garment bag meets their size requirements.
Are garment bags allowed as carry-on luggage on United Airlines?
United Airlines allows passengers to bring one personal item and one carry-on item on board. Personal items must fit under the seat in front of you, while carry-on items must fit in the overhead bin. The size limits for carry-on items on United Airlines are 22 inches x 14 inches x 9 inches (22 cm x 35 cm x 56 cm). If your garment bag meets these size requirements, it should be allowed as a carry-on item.
Are garment bags allowed as carry-on luggage on Delta Airlines?
Delta Airlines allows passengers to bring one personal item and one carry-on item on board. Personal items must fit under the seat in front of you, while carry-on items must fit in the overhead bin. The size limits for carry-on items on Delta Airlines are 22 inches x 14 inches x 9 inches (22 cm x 35 cm x 56 cm). If your garment bag meets these size requirements, it should be allowed as a carry-on item.
Can I check a garment bag as luggage?
Yes, you can check a garment bag as luggage. Some airlines may have size restrictions for checked luggage, so be sure to check with the specific airline you will be traveling with to see if your garment bag meets their requirements.
Are garment bags worth it?
Whether or not a garment bag is worth it depends on your personal needs and preferences. Garment bags are a convenient way to transport and protect your clothing, particularly if you need to bring formal or delicate items. However, they can be bulky and may not be necessary for everyone. Consider your specific travel needs and whether a garment bag would be a useful addition to your luggage collection.
Are garment bags allowed as carry-on luggage on Delta Airlines?
See Delta answer above!
Does a suit bag count as a carry-on on United Airlines?
It depends on the size of the suit bag. United Airlines allows passengers to bring one personal item and one carry-on item on board. Personal items must fit under the seat in front of you, while carry-on items must fit in the overhead bin. The size limits for carry-on items on United Airlines are 9 inches x 14 inches x 22 inches (22 cm x 35 cm x 56 cm). If your suit bag meets these size requirements, it should be allowed as a carry-on item.
What is the Size and Weight Limit for American Airlines’ Carry-on Garment Bag?
American Airlines allows passengers to bring a garment bag as their carry-on item, as long as it meets the size and weight limits set by the airline. The bag must be no wider than 22 inches in width, 14 inches in length, and 9 inches in depth. It must also weigh no more than 10 pounds. If the garment bag exceeds any of these limits, it will have to be checked at an additional fee.
Does a suit bag count as a carry-on on Ryanair?
It depends on the size of the suit bag and the specific Ryanair flight you will be taking. Ryanair has size restrictions for carry-on luggage, and a suit bag may not fit within these limits. Be sure to check with Ryanair to see if your suit bag meets their size requirements for carry-on luggage.
What are the dimensions for a suit bag?
Suit bags come in a range of sizes, and the dimensions can vary depending on the specific bag you are using. In general, suit bags are designed to hold one or two suits and are typically long and narrow in shape. Some common dimensions for suit bags are approximately 24 inches x 44 inches (61 cm x 112 cm) or 24 inches x 40 inches (61 cm x 102 cm). However, it is important to check the dimensions of the specific suit bag you are using to ensure it meets size requirements for carry-on luggage or fits within your luggage collection.
Can I bring a wheeled garment bag as a carry-on?
It depends on the airline and the size of the wheeled garment bag. Many airlines have size restrictions for carry-on luggage, and a wheeled garment bag may not fit within these limits. Be sure to check with the specific airline you will be traveling with to see if your wheeled garment bag meets their size requirements. Additionally, some airlines may have restrictions on the types of bags that can be brought on board as carry-on items, so it is important to check their policies before packing your luggage.