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eBags.com Tip: What is the difference between carry-on luggage and personal items?
Carry-on luggage generally covers a bag with total dimensions (length + width + height) of no more than 45 inches, weighing no more than 40 pounds.
Personal items are most often permitted in addition to the carry-on luggage, giving you a bit of extra room for your belongings. Some need every cubic inch, while others prefer to avoid the excess bulk and weight
Personal items can be a purse, laptop bag, briefcase or backpack. Any luggage store, whether online or not, will have standard sizes. Virtually all name brands -- American Tourister, Atlantic, Samsonite, Travelpro, or other -- of carry-on luggage will be within the airline regulations.
Keep your personal item as small and lightweight as possible. On full flights, some passengers may be asked to check their carry-ons or even personal items to free up room in the overhead bins.