Does a Diaper Bag Count as a Carry On? A Guide by Airline

Does a Diaper Bag Count as a Carry On? A Guide by Airline

If you've ever flown with your kids, you know how much stuff you have to pack to keep them fed, entertained, happy during a flight. It feels like you have to pack up half of your kids' bedroom and your kitchen pantry just to make it through a brief flight. You have to bring with you diapers, wipes, milk, snacks, toys, loveys, extra clothes, the list goes on and on. Let's not forget you also have to bring your personal items as well - phone, wallet, keys, etc. It's almost impossible to pack everything into one bag. 

BUT, did you know that many airlines allow passengers with kids to carry a diaper bag for free, in addition to the standard luggage allowance? The policy is a bit confusing and varies by company so we're here to break it down for you airline by airline. 

First, there are some universal policies that all airlines follow when it comes to flying with children

  • Each ticketed passenger is allowed one stroller to be checked for free. Most airlines allow free gate checks, so you don't have to carry your child throughout the airport. 
  • Each ticketed passenger is allowed one car seat to be checked for free. 
  • Breast pumps are allowed to be brought onto a flight for free and do not count as a personal item. According to the TSA, breast pumps are considered medical devices and are therefore allowed as carry-ons. THis means that you won't have to pay any additional fees for bringing your pump on the plane. 

Airlines that DO allow a diaper bag as an additional item for free 

  • United Airlines: United is one of the most generous airlines when it comes to carry on allowances. They allow families to bring a diaper bag for free. Check out the company's Traveling with Children FAQs page for more details. 
United Airlines diaper bag policy
  • American Airlines: American is also quite generous and allows one diaper bag per child. 
American Airlines diaper bag policy
Jetblue Airlines diaper bag policy
Spirit Airlines diaper bag policy
Frontier Airlines diaper bag policy
    Allegiant Airlines diaper bag policy

    Airlines that DO NOT allow a diaper bag as an additional item for free 

    • Delta Airlines: Delta is the only one of the major airlines that does not allow a diaper bag as an additional carry on item for free. However, they do allow a breast pump and associated cooler bag on board for free. 
    • Southwest Airlines: Southwest does not allow a diaper bag on board as an additional carry on item. The carry on policy on their website is vague, so I called the airline and confirmed that diaper bags are not allowed on board as a free additional piece of luggage. 
    • Hawaiian Airlines: Similar to Southwest, the policy on Hawaiian's website does not mention anything about diaper bags. I called the airline and confirmed that Hawaiian does not allow diapers bags as an additional personal item for free. 
    • Alaska Airlines: Alaska explicitly states on their website that diaper bags will count towards the standard carry on limit for each adult ticketed passenger. 
      Alaska Airlines diaper bag policy

    Policies do change every so often and different classes of tickets may have different policies when it comes to airline friendly diaper bags. So, we recommend calling the airline ahead of time to be on the safe side. 

    Want a copy of a FREE Baby Travel Guide that includes a summary of this diaper bag carry on policies blog post? Click here