Choosing what to bring as an allowed personal item on the trip is one of the essential considerations travelers must make when getting ready for air travel. Many individuals think about bringing their preferred pillow on board to increase comfort.
So, it’s crucial to know what kinds of pillows are currently allowed on airlines before packing that pillow in your carry-on luggage or using it as your personal item.
Regarding pillow allowances for carry-on luggage, airline policies vary. Larger pillows like those you might use on your bed at home rarely fit the requirements for carry-on baggage and may need to be checked instead. Small, inflatable travel pillows that support the neck are allowed as personal items.
In our guide, you can learn more about will a pillow count or be treated as an additional carry-on, so you can keep your neck supported. By the end, you’ll better understand the size of the pillow you can take and how to pack your pillow according to the different types of pillows you can choose from. (Read Can You Bring Nips On A Plane)
Which Neck Pillow To Bring on a Plane
When wondering what pillow to bring on a plane, most airlines allow passengers to bring one personal item and one carry-on bag on board. Many travelers wonder if they can bring a pillow on a plane and have the pillow count as a carry-on item. The answer depends on the size and type of pillow you want to bring.
You are allowed to bring a small travel neck and travel pillows or inflatable pillows. These will be compact enough to fit under an airline seat and are accepted as personal items by most airlines.
These pillows provide neck support during flights and do not take up too much space. As long as your neck or travel pillow can fit in your lap or under the seat in front of you, it will probably be considered a personal item.
Does A Pillow Count As A Carry-On Or Personal Item On A Plane?
Airline policies differ on what pillows are allowed as carry-on items. Most airlines allow soft, compressible pillows that fit within the size limits for personal items, which are 18 x 14 x 8 inches. Pillows that meet these size restrictions can fit under the seat in front of you or your lap during the flight. These count as a personal item on many significant airlines like Delta, United, American Airlines, and Southwest.
However, large, full-sized bed pillows usually exceed the personal item size limits and must be checked as luggage or gate-checked if allowed. Standard pillows are often 16 x 24 inches or larger when fully fluffed, making them too cumbersome to qualify as a personal item. Some airlines like Spirit may also prohibit any pillows not worn around your neck or attached to your seat as a personal item.
If you want to bring a pillow on board, opt for travel neck pillows or small, compressible pillows you can quickly store under the seat during takeoff and landing. Review your airline’s carry-on baggage policies before traveling to ensure your pillow will comply with their specific size restrictions. (Read Wearing A Cowboy Hat)
Types of Pillows Allowed On Airlines
When deciding what pillow to bring on the plane, choose a compact, portable option to be compressed to fit within a personal item’s dimensions.
Here are some of the pillow styles travelers can often carry-on as personal items:
- Travel neck pillows: Does neck pillow count as a personal item? These crescent-shaped pillows support your neck during flights. Travel pillows come in various sizes to attach around your neck.
- Inflatable pillows: There are inflatable travel pillows to be deflated to a small size and then inflated once onboard for comfort. They inflate around your neck or are used as a lumbar support and won’t count as a personal item if inflated on board.
- Compressible pillows: Some compressible, lightweight foam pillows can condense down to meet carry-on size limits. These are better than fully fluffed pillows.
- Small airline pillows: Many airlines provide miniature pillows, usually 12 x 12 inches. Carrying your similar-sized pillow is allowed as a personal item.
- Kid-sized pillows: Children’s pillows are typically smaller than standard sizes and can often work as a personal item if very compact.
Measure your pillow’s dimensions when compressed or rolled up for best results. Now, ensure it meets what you are allowed to bring on your airline under their personal item policy before taking the pillow on the plane.
TSA Rules for Carrying Pillow On A Plane
The TSA allows pillows to be carried through airport security checkpoints either as a personal item or within carry-on luggage. However, pillows may be subject to additional inspection to ensure they do not contain prohibited items if agents cannot quickly determine the contents through an X-ray scan.
If your pillow is not oversized according to the airline’s personal item rules, TSA agents should allow it through security when traveling domestically. Be prepared to take your pillow from your bag and unfold it during screening if asked.
For international flights, pillows may count toward your carry-on liquid allowance if the pillow has a liquid or gel-filled cover. Check any applicable liquid restrictions for pillows based on your departure point and destination. (Read Are Co Cartridges Allowed In Checked Baggage)
Can You Take a Travel Pillow in Your Carry-On Bag?
Pack a pillow inside your carry-on luggage if you want to use a different bag as your personal item. This allows you to bring the pillow on board while keeping your hands free. Most airlines allow pillows packed inside carry-on bags as long as the overall carry-on dimensions meet bag size limits.
Compress and place the pillow in your carry-on to stow in overhead bins. Overstuffed carry-ons may need to be checked at the gate. Ensure your backpack fits under the seat in front of you. If it’s too large, they will treat the backpack as a personal item and an additional carry-on bag. Here, a neck or travel pillow will fit in bags without wasting space.
Does a Pillow Count As A Personal Item?
A pillow that meets an airline’s guidelines for a personal item usually will not count toward your carry-on bag allowance. Airlines consider personal items and carry-on luggage as separate allowances.
Just ensure your pillow qualifies as a personal item under the airline’s size restrictions and fits under a seat. It should not affect your ability to also bring a regulation-sized carry-on bag on board.
There are some exceptions. For example, if you pack a full-sized pillow inside an already full carry-on bag, that causes the bag to exceed size limits. To avoid carry-on restrictions, choose a pillow compact enough to fit inside your carry-on bag with room to spare.
Alternatively, use the pillow as your permitted personal item rather than packing it inside luggage to maximize your carry-on allowance.
Can You Bring Pillows and Blankets on a Plane?
You are allowed to take blankets and a pillow to help rest are permitted on airplanes. However, they must as long as they meet the same size and style guidelines outlined for pillows alone. Blankets that compress to personal item dimensions can be carried on as part of your carry on allowance.
Pillows take up a lot of space that is allowed on a plane. So, if you don’t want a blanket and pillow as personal items, you’ll find airlines won’t let them onboard unless they conform or you pay extra baggage.
For example, rolling up a blanket tightly and then attaching a compressible pillow to create one compact bundle to fit in a carry-on bag or personal backpack can work.
Some other tips for pillows allowed on airplanes:
- Choose lightweight, compressible options that won’t weigh down your bags
- Use compression sacks to condense bulky blankets into smaller shapes
- Pillows are available as wearable blanket hoodies or pillows that attach around your neck
- Pack blankets and pillows inside carry-on bags instead of using them as personal items
With creativity, you can create a cozy in flight sleep setup with your personal blanket and pillow for travel. Just verify specific airline rules on these items before you bring along a larger-than average pillow.
The pillow must be taken on the plane as a personal item, and you can be charged. Or, your pillow will need to be put it in your checked luggage.
Are Pillows Provided on Planes?
Popular airlines offer small pillows and blankets to passengers upon request on longer international or overnight flights. However, airlines provide pillows; pillows are generally small, thin, and not always comfortable for sleeping like a full-size pillow.
To travel with a pillow from the airline, you may find they may not provide much neck support or padding. Take a small travel pillow that is small enough to fit in your bag. These sit around the neck and improve your ability to rest on a plane.
FAQs About Bringing Pillows on Planes
Are pillows considered carry-on or personal items on planes?
Pillows allowed on airlines must meet airline size restrictions when carried in luggage or as a personal item. Personal items just need to fit under seats. Note: If you count your pillow as a personal item, you may not be allowed to carry an additional bag like a purse or backpack.
Do airlines allow memory foam pillows as carry-ons?
If it compresses to meet size limits, you can carry a pillow made of memory foam. However, rigid or oversized foam pillows may need to be checked.
Can you bring a body pillow on a plane?
A full-body pillow will count as an excess and exceed carry-on allowances. Some airlines may allow this sized pillow if arranged in advance for health reasons. (Read Can You Bring Walkie Talkies On A Plane)
Are gel pillows prohibited in carry-ons because of TSA liquid rules?
Gel pillows may count towards your carry-on liquid allowance. Ensure the pillow is small enough to conform to the applicable liquid size allowances or take a pillow in a checked bag.