On a flight we booked through United we are flying United from Sacramento - San Francisco, then Aer Lingus from there to Dublin. We have already decided to check our bags since we can’t manage the tiny personal size bag allowance on Aer Lingus. Our trip is 10 weeks long and there’s only so much we can downsize. We use backpacks as our personal bags and I’m wondering if that would be considered a carry on size so we could also bring something that fits their personal bag allowance to bring a change of clothes in case our checked bag is delayed. I have a small packable duffel bag that would work and would be stashed away once we’re there. If anyone knows the answer I’d like to know what to expect. Thanks! Note that we will have Apple AirTags in our suitcases so they can be tracked.
If anyone knows the answer I’d like to know what to expect.
Sorry, you lost me there - what exactly is your question?
You can bring two bags on board, only one can be larger than personal item size. If you are asking if you can bring two personal-item-sized bags on the plane, the answer is yes. One will have to be stowed in the over head and one will have to be stowed underneath the seat in front of you.
Also...terminology check. Don't conflate or confuse:
Checked bag, sometimes also called "hold" bags (often by European airlines): that's what goes down in the baggage/cargo level. For things too large/too heavy to take with you in the aircraft cabin. Wave goodbye to this bag when you check it at the airport, hopefully you'll see it soon after you land at the baggage claim area.
Carry-on bag, also sometimes referred to as "cabin baggage" or maybe even "hand baggage" (again, a common Europeanism): Small and light enough that you can take it aboard, with the expectation that it will fit below the seat in front of you or in the overhead bin. Many airlines (especially popular European low-cost airlines but also many Big Name airlines) have low limits (maybe shockingly low limits) for size, weight, or both. If someone with authority (staff at check-in counter, gate or on board) deems your carry-on bag is too large to fit under the seat or in the overhead bin, you may be forced to have it "gate checked". If your flight is very full, and/or if you are among the last to board, even if your carry-on bag meets the official requirements, you may still have to gate-check it because there may be no space left for it on the plane. Exactly how strictly the limits will be enforced for you is impossible to predict with great certainty.
"Personal item" (also goes by many other names): Typically something fairly small, eg a small laptop computer bag, a woman's purse, maybe a small day-pack, but the airline's intent is usually pretty clear: this should be a small item, not a wheeled duffel or other large bag. Many (but not all) airlines provide detailed dimensions and weight limits, though many just give a short description; a few don't mention it at all. Again, how strictly those limits are enforced is impossible to predict.
Every airline in the world has limits for the size and weight of all the different "classes" of baggage you can get on the plane (some are not very specific about that "personal item"); it's always posted on their website.
IMPORTANT: Every airline is different. Their limits are different, their policies are different, what you get "for free" (included in your ticket price) and what you have to pay extra for (and how much extra will cost you), is different. Also, of course, the class of the ticket you have purchased determines how much/little you get included. Don't assume anything - look on the airline's website to see what you do/do not get. If you need to pay extra to bring your stuff, look carefully to see if the cost for doing that goes up if you wait to pay for it at the airport (can make a large difference in some cases).
You should know what the official limits are, and be prepared for those limits to be enforced (even though they may or may not examine every bag carefully).
Be careful about the terms you use, eg " We use backpacks as our personal bags" (I'm guessing you don't use backpacks as a "personal item" as defined by the airlines).
There's no reason you can't do some creative shuffling of your possessions between the three officially designated kinds of containers you are typically allowed. I do that all the time. It can make al the difference when they are using the "bag sizer" boxes to ensure carry-ons all fit.
Also don't forget the really sneaky little tricks: nobody (other than security staff) is going to check how many layers of clothes you are wearing, or how full the pockets on your cargo pants are, as you move through the airport and get on the plane. There are limits to how much you can get away with via wearing extra layers and stuffing pockets, but you can move a little bulk around, once you're on the plane you can re-organize things a bit so you don't feel like the Michelin Man. Been there, done that.
Toddling, you understood my question. Thanks for the answer. I’m sorry to the others if my question wasn’t clear.
I already checked the Aer Lingus baggage allowances, which is how I know my “personal” bag is too big for the airline.
“Be careful about the terms you use, eg " We use backpacks as our personal bags" (I'm guessing you don't use backpacks as a "personal item" as defined by the airlines).”. The answer is yes, for years we have used backpacks for our personal bags on United. Not a suitcase sized backpack. It goes under the seat. We also bring a carry on sized suitcase. In this case we would check the suitcases, use our backpacks as the larger carry on, and something smaller that fits the proper dimensions to stash a change of clothes for each of us and possibly a few other things as the small personal bag. I was hoping that someone that has flown a U.S. airline and connected to Aer Lingus to fly transatlantic would know if what I would like to do is possible.
Andrea - while you definitely can do what you intend for the transatlantic aer Lingus flight, I do not know whether united will allow both bags if you have a basic fare and don't have status or the united credit card, but I was assuming the question was just about the aer Lingus portion
Our trip is 10 weeks long and there’s only so much we can downsize.
That is simply not true if one is following carryon-only dogma. The length of one’s trip makes no difference in how much one packs.
I do have a United credit card and we book our flights with miles. Our suitcases work on United, but we have to gate check them in Sacramento because it’s a small plane. Ordinarily we would carry it on for the overseas flight, but we have a 9 hour layover at SFO because they have changed our Sacramento departure time twice, so instead of departing at 2:30 p.m. we depart at 7:30 a.m. Plus the AL personal bag size is tiny as I’ve explained. It’s easier to take the bags we want and check the suitcases. Yes, we can pare down what we are taking, but I don’t think a carryon sized suitcase and a backpack is excessive. Thankfully we are on United the entire way home.
Are you sure you're looking at the EI international allowance and not regional?
Carry on - 21.5x15.5x9.5; personal - 10x13x8
Compared to AF:
Carry on - 21.7x13.8x9.9; personal - 12x16x6
EI doesn't seem overly restrictive compared, at least to AF....
Yes, I can do math. Our preferred personal bags, think of backpacks for computers, doesn’t fit the AL requirements.
My last comment on this thread, since it seems we are talking past each other...one of us (maybe both) are over-thinking this. I think it's not complicated...
It seems (to me) that you want to know if what you want to do will work. There's good news and bad news: Nobody else can answer that question for you, but you should be able to know if it will – and quite easily – because...
Aer Lingus and United both clearly post their baggage limits on their websites. You've said you looked at those. There's no ambiguity there. There are numbers.
You keep using descriptions such as "backpacks" and "personal bags" to describe the things you want to bring along. That may not be helping. You can call objects whatever you want, but the terms you are using have no meaning to the airlines or to other people who have gone before you. All the airlines care about are dimensions (and weights). You have three items you want to bring along, never mind what you call each. You (probably) get one checked bag (presumably included in your ticket - see below), one carry-on bag, and one "small personal item".
The biggest, heaviest item should be you checked bag (I call it that because you are going to check it; it could be a backpack, it could be personal, or not). That has to meet the requirements for checked bags. The next largest item should be your carry-on, because you are going to carry it on the plane. Doesn't matter what it is or how you feel about it. Final item -- the smallest -- should be your "small personal item," because it's gotta be rather small, even if it's no more "personal" than a laptop computer.
On their websites, both airlines clearly state the maximum dimensions/weights for these kinds of baggage. You can (and should) measure and weigh your three items. Compare your numbers with the numbers stated on the airline websites. Whether or not you will pass the dimension/weight limits will be immediately evident. You're done. There's no mystery.
You only recently shared the extra detail that this is an award ticket. That should not make much difference. I've flown Aer Lingus on an award ticket before, and it was a non-event (though, my flight was out of SEA, not SFO, and more importantly, I was in business class...but I've flown many, many times on award tickets booked with United miles and flown on partner airlines...I could go into more detail but suffice to say that the rules should be very clear, just look at Aer Lingus' and United's websites, which you already have...unless you did something extremely unusual, you booked a standard United coach award ticket, you get one checked bag).
Bottom line: You know how big your three items are. You know what the requirements are. You should be able to see if your items will meet the requirements. If they do, stop worrying and let this go. If they do not, then see if you can find a way to make things work by moving items around to fit.
(By the way, the code for Aer Lingus is "EI", not AL – "AL" is El Al, the national airline of Israel, which shouldn't be involved in getting you from SMF to DUB...if they are, you've got much more complicated issues to sort out).
Hope that helps. Good luck and have fun in beautiful Ireland.
Thanks again everyone. We will check our suitcases and carry on our backpacks.
I have friends in Sacto who never fly to SFO due to fog and use the Park and Fly and spend a night at SFO on either leg.
I disagree, about the 10 days not making a difference. Dealing with laundry is not a fun part of a vacation. I prefer not to have to deal with it. In France it cost me a fortun,. The Rick Steves wash your cloths in sink is not ho everyone wants to travel.