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Luftansa personal item bags

We have economy flights booked on Luftansa from JFK to Paris. The allowed size for the personal item
is only 11.81 x 15.75 x 3.93 inches. This seems way to small. I don't even think I can find a bag with depth of only 3.93 inches.
The carry on luggage allowance is very small as well. I am worried about this as we were hoping to bring only carry on bags and personal items. Is Luftansa Airline strict with these requirements? Can anyone recommend a personal item bag that meets those requirements?

Thank You!

Posted by
690 posts

I travel on Lufthansa 2–3x per year for business, primarily in business class. In the past 2 out of the 3 flights out of SFO, they didn’t measure my luggage, but weighed it and made me check it. Note, I don’t check in at the desk, but online, so this happened at the gate. On personal item bag, I have never had anything measured or checked, but typically take a laptop bag.


Posted by
7605 posts

The personal item is like a purse or computer bag. That is why the dimensions are so small.

Personal Item = purse, underseat bag, etc.. Not another suit case. So, you are looking at an item like a medium sized backpack (i.e. LLBean school/book bag), zip top tote (RS, LLBean, Eagle Creek, Patagonia). Possibly the RedOxx gator bag or RedOxx Metro. Figure 4 inches depth with a bag that can be compressed (squished) a bit. Ameribags (purses) are great.
The dimensions allowed aren't that bad. Just know the personal item is not another suitcase. This is a soft-sided, underseat bag. A large packing cube with a strap handle. If it's soft - it can be squished.

Posted by
18310 posts

You are looking at about a 15 liter bag.

It's 12 liters, actually.

What do you mean "cheat"? I hope you are not recommending that she can take more than 15 liters or more and might get away with it. You might be able to exceed one of the dimensions if the soft bag squeezes down as long as it doesn't exceed another dimension in the process, but you still have to fit it in 12 liters.

The carry on luggage allowance is very small as well.

The Lufthansa carry on allowance is actually 21.6 x 15.75 x 9 inches, which is slightly shorter and a lot wide than most US airlines allow (22 x 14 x 9 inches). It's over 3000 cu. in. on Lufthansa vs 2772 cu. in. US.

It's plenty of capacity if you don't over-pack. Basically, pack what you really need, not what you fear you might need (and probably won't).

Okay Lee,
What do I mean by "cheat." If OP gets a fabric, structure less bag like a RS or LLbean or Eagle Creek zip top tote and the bag is slightly too large, then OP can still use it if she does not fill it to capacity by squishing it down a bit to fit a tight space. (Roll the top down and cinch it with a strap if necessary.)
Eagle Creek has the wayfinder Mini pack that is about 12 liters. Red Oxx gator may be a good option. Unfortunately, I am away from home and can't check the dimensions for her. Ameribag purses also fit the requirements and can be compressed.
I would be strict about the carry on bag requirement for the overhead bin. (More rigid bag with some structure to it.). Fortunately, there are quite a few bags that are 21" or shorter nowadays.
Eagle creek - packable daypack.

RedOxx Gator Bag. I just found the info. online. 12x9x6. About 10.5 liters. The 6" dimension is slightly too deep. But, the other 2 dimensions are significantly less. It can be compressed a bit. We use this as an underseat bag for planes and have no problem with it. It is pricey. A large packing cube with a strap is a lot cheaper. Zippered totes and EC packable daypack are much cheaper also.
Have fun shopping. (Use Amazon or for "research.")

Posted by
3 posts

Thank you for all the insights! I think I should start practice packing now for our summer trip.

The ideas that the bag can squish down to the 3.93 inch size is helpful. Also, thank you for the brand recommendations.

I should mention that packing cubes will help more than you think. Roll your clothes into short logs and line them up in a cube. Saves a lot of space. Helps with organization.
There are lots of cubes out there. My favorite are the ebags Classic cubes combined with the ebags slimline cubes. You can order a value, combo. Set. Get bright, easy-to-see colors. Easier to find in a dark wooden drawer and less likely to leave behind.

Posted by
18310 posts

So we are in agreement. By cheating, I think of somehow getting more than 12 liters in, either because the bag is soft sided and appears smaller, or otherwise, not just using a bigger bag not fully packed. We are also in agreement to use a soft sided bag.

And the bag should be as light as possible. Considering the density of nylon, it displaces at least 24 cu. in. per #, probably considerably more, so a 2.5# bag is going to use up at least 40 cu. in. of the 732 cu in allowed. An oversized bag will probably weigh more than one that just meet carry-on limits and will thus eat up more volume.

Posted by
1179 posts

The bag should also be a matte black if at all possible. It looks smaller than a brighter color bag. If not black then another dark color.
Also know that a bag that is solid colored (Vs multicolored) will also appear smaller.

Also swing it over your shoulder to make it look smaller.

The goal is to not get challenged.

Yes, I did this on Lufthansa. My personal item was fairly small. But I put shoes, jewelry, and electronics in it since it is the main carry on that gets weighed.

Posted by
1819 posts

I flew Air Canada to Italy in September, and home on Lufthansa via Munich from Florence.
Have traveled a lot, but first time with carryon only.
AC did not look at my bag, or weigh it or measure it.
I believe it weighed about 15 lbs.
Coming back, I was not allowed to take it carryon, even though it fit into the measuring device.
The agent said it weighed too much , even though there was less in it than when I arrived.
(And I had done no shopping in Italy !)

She was adamant, even when I explained my flights were all on one ticket, and I had flown over with it and no problem.
She grudgingly checked it for free, but wasn't happy with me.
I am a conscientious traveler, and had researched and found a carryon suitcase that was actually smaller size wise, than all the airlines I like to fly on require.
So: check the airline luggage policy very carefully, and go with it or you may end up paying.
Yes, they are stricter in Europe!
It's the weight, not the size.

Posted by
65 posts

On my last several trips on Lufthansa, they nearly always weigh carryons in Europe. They have been very strict about that. More so weight than actual size.

Thanks Warst! Perhaps, OP should get a cheap luggage scale to weigh bags at home. A luggage scale can be purchased at places like Wal-Mart and Bed, Bath, and Beyond. It's simply a handle with a strap attached. Strap it to a bag, lift off ground, and read the weight on the handle meter,

Posted by
18310 posts

I'm not so confident in the accuracy of those scales. I used to weigh my bag at the scale at the post office. In fact, when I started to try to pack light for carry-on, I weighed each item (like my mesh bag with shirts) separately at the PO and kept track of each item on a spread sheet. That way, I not only knew the total weight of my packed bag, but also where to weight came from.

Posted by
1179 posts

I'm not so confident in the accuracy of those scales. I used to weigh my bag at the scale at the post office.

The weigh in scales at the airport have a reputation for being incorrect. They aren’t calibrated that often and people are hoisting and throwing 20+ pound bags onto them (which knocks off the calibration).

It’s worth while to challenge the weigh in if you are within a pound or so. Having your own scale to counter-challenge their weight helps also.

A home luggage scale just needs to be close, not perfect. Cindy H. Made a good point that all scales will have some variances when compared against each other due to scale design and calibration. With a home luggage scale - you will be close. At the airport, you can find a scale at an unmanned desk and weigh again. You can remove an item or two and stick it in your pocket or elsewhere (no rudeness intended) to decrease your bag's weight. Some (not all) desk clerks allow a small margin on weight as well.