Delta Personal Item Size Guide for Backpacks, Bags and More

Are you flying Delta and need to don’t know what is considered a personal item? We’ve been there.

Delta is very explicit with what counts as a carry on on their official carry on page but they keep it vague when it comes to personal items.

They describe a personal item as “1 purse, briefcase, camera bag or diaper bag, laptop computer or item of similar size” but they don’t give you much in terms of size limit or dimensions.

That’s why we have decided to write up this helpful guide for those who want to bring their favorite bag or backpack on their next Delta flight. Let’s explore what counts and doesn’t count as a Delta personal item.

Delta Personal Item Size

While Delta carry on bags have a strict dimensional cutoff of 22" x 14" x 9" (or 56 x 35 x  23 cm) their personal item size limit is not so clear. 

The key difference between a Delta personal item and a carry on is that a personal item has to be able to safely fit underneath the seat in front of you. Just about any item, including backpacks, will be considered a personal item if they can fit in underseat storage.

Most Delta underseat dimensions are 20” L x 15” W x 11” H

We say most because the underseat dimensions can vary by airplane, boarding class and seat location. For example, there is no underseat stowage in the front rows behind the bulkhead and smaller planes tend to have smaller underseat storage dimensions.

The above underseat dimensions are a good starting point to where you need to be in terms of personal item size since any bag larger than 20” x 15” x 11” will automatically be considered a carry on.

Bags Delta will consider as personal items include: a small backpack, purse, briefcase, camera bag, small musical instrument case. As long as it can fit underneath the seat then you are good to bring it on.


Is a backpack considered a personal item on Delta?

Yes, a backpack can be considered a personal item on Delta airlines. But it’s good to know the difference between a Delta carry on backpack and a smaller backpack that will be treated as a personal item. 

Sticking with a backpack that is 18” x 13” x 9” or smaller will ensure that your personal item safely fits underneath your seat. It’s important to pay attention to the backpack size as larger backpacks will have to be stowed overhead and may be counted as carry ons.

Below are some examples of backpacks that are sure to fit Delta’s personal item requirements. 



Anti-theft travel daypack


Opens like a suitcase. to fit 2-3 changes of clothes


Stylish backpack with laptop compartment

Important tips: Choosing your Delta personal item

Important Tips: Choosing Your Personal Item

Before you decide on which bag to carry please make sure to follow some simple guidelines to make sure you are prepared for any variations in underseat storage that you may encounter on your next Delta flight:

It’s better to go smaller than larger

Keep in mind that each flight can be different and that underseat storage sizes aren’t guaranteed. It’s better to go with a smaller bag or backpack than one you may risk having to stow in overhead storage. We recommend keeping your personal item 18” x 13” x 9” or smaller.

Keep your personal item backpack or bag flexible.

It’s always a good idea that your personal item has some give to it. This means avoiding overstuffed backpacks or hardcases that don’t have any give to them. This will come in handy on unexpectedly cramped underseat areas such as those found in smaller Delta planes.

Don’t compromise legroom if you don’t have to

Keeping your personal item on the smaller side will give you extra room to stretch your feet during the flight. A bag that is too big may be uncomfortable, especially during long flights.


So now that we have gone over what exactly Delta considers a personal item with examples, let’s wrap it all up:

  • Delta allows 1 carry on item and 1 personal item passenger (unless you are traveling Basic Economy where different rules apply)

  • Delta personal items must fit in underneath the seat in front of you. Most Delta underseat dimensions are 20” x 15” x 11”

  • Stick with a bag or backpack that is 17” x 13” x 9” or smaller to ensure that it will fit in underseat storage.

  • Any bag or backpack larger than the underseat dimensions may be considered a carry on and will have to be stowed in the overhead compartment.

We hope this guide is of help while planning your next trip. To check out more backpack guides make sure to check out our Travel Buying Guides.

Happy travels!