Will a 40-Liter Backpack Fit Under Airplane Seat?

Have you ever wondered if your trusty 40-liter backpack would fit under an airplane seat? Whether you’re a frequent traveler or planning your first trip, understanding the dimensions and restrictions of your carry-on luggage is crucial. In this article, we’ll delve into the specifics of whether a 40-liter backpack can be stowed under an airplane seat, providing you with insights and tips to help you make the most of your air travel experience.

Air travel comes with various regulations and limitations, particularly when it comes to carry-on baggage. Airlines enforce restrictions to ensure passenger safety, smooth boarding processes, and efficient use of limited cabin space. Knowing the rules and making informed choices can greatly enhance your travel experience.

Will a 40-Liter Backpack Fit Under Airplane Seat?

Airline Carry-on Restrictions

Before we explore the specific dimensions of a 40-liter backpack, let’s understand the concept of personal items and their allowed sizes. In addition to the standard carry-on luggage, most airlines permit passengers to bring a personal item on board.

What Is Considered a Personal Item?

A personal item is a smaller bag or item that passengers can bring on board in addition to their main carry-on luggage. This can include backpacks, purses, laptop bags, or small duffel bags. Personal items are typically meant to be stowed under the seat in front of you, making them easily accessible during the flight.

Dimensions of a 40-Liter Backpack

A 40-liter backpack refers to its carrying capacity, indicating how much volume it can hold. However, the dimensions can vary across different backpack models and brands. It’s important to check the specifications of your particular backpack, paying close attention to its length, width, and depth.

Airplane Seat Dimensions

Airplane seats come in various sizes and configurations, depending on the aircraft and airline. However, most standard economy class seats have similar dimensions. On average, the width of an airplane seat is around 17 to 18 inches, while the distance between seat rows (known as pitch) ranges from 30 to 32 inches.

Factors to Consider

Several factors come into play when determining if a 40-liter backpack can fit under an airplane seat. Let’s explore these factors to better understand the possibilities and limitations.

1. Airline Policies

Different airlines have different carry-on baggage policies. Some may be more lenient, allowing larger personal items, while others may have stricter restrictions. It’s essential to familiarize yourself with the specific regulations of the airline you’ll be traveling with.

2. Aircraft Type

The type of aircraft you’ll be flying on can also impact the available under-seat storage space. Some planes have bulkier equipment or configurations that limit the room under the seats. Smaller regional jets, for example, may have narrower seats or reduced space due to the presence of life vests or other equipment.

3. Seat Selection

The seat you choose can affect the available space for your personal item. Exit rows, for instance, often have more legroom but may have limited under-seat storage due to the emergency exit equipment. Selecting a regular economy seat could provide more room for your backpack.

Airlines That Allow 40-Liter Backpacks as Personal Items

While specific regulations may vary, some airlines generally permit 40-liter backpacks as personal items. These airlines understand the needs of modern travelers and provide more generous allowances. However, it’s still important to verify the current policies of the airline you’re planning to fly with.

Tips for Ensuring a 40-Liter Backpack Fits Under an Airplane Seat

If you’re determined to bring your 40-liter backpack on board and stow it under the seat, consider the following tips:

1. Compact Packing

Efficient packing is key when fitting a larger backpack under an airplane seat. Roll your clothes tightly, use packing cubes, and prioritize essential items. Minimizing the overall bulk of your backpack will increase your chances of a successful fit.

2. Soft-sided Backpacks

A soft-sided backpack can provide more flexibility when squeezing it under the seat. Soft materials tend to conform better to available spaces, whereas hard-shell backpacks may be more rigid and difficult to fit.

3. Compression Straps

Backpacks equipped with compression straps allow you to tighten and secure the contents, reducing the overall size. By utilizing these straps, you can further compress your backpack, making it easier to fit under the seat.

Alternatives to Under-Seat Storage

If your 40-liter backpack doesn’t fit under the airplane seat, there are alternative options to consider:

1. Overhead Bin Space

If overhead bin space is available, you can stow your backpack there. However, keep in mind that overhead compartments can fill up quickly, especially on busy flights. Arriving early and being mindful of other passengers’ belongings is essential.

2. Checking In the Backpack

If you don’t require immediate access to your backpack during the flight, you can check it in as part of your checked baggage. This option allows you to travel with a larger bag, but it may involve additional costs and potential risks associated with checked luggage.

3. Upgrading to a Larger Baggage Allowance

Consider upgrading to a fare class that offers a larger baggage allowance if you frequently travel with a 40-liter backpack. Premium economy or business class tickets often provide additional benefits, including increased carry-on allowances.


In conclusion,  Will a 40-Liter Backpack Fit Under Airplane Seat depends on various factors such as airline policies, aircraft type, and seat selection. While some airlines permit larger personal items, it’s essential to double-check their regulations before your flight. By following packing tips and being aware of alternative storage options, you can make the most of your travel experience while keeping your backpack close at hand.

FAQs – Will a 40-Liter Backpack Fit Under Airplane Seat?

Q1: Can I bring a 40-liter backpack as a carry-on item?

You can typically bring a 40-liter backpack as a carry-on item, provided it meets the size and weight restrictions set by the airline you’re flying with.

Q2: Are any airlines specifically allowing 40-liter backpacks as personal items?

While individual policies may vary, several airlines generally permit 40-liter backpacks as personal items. However, reviewing the current regulations of the airline you’re traveling with is always recommended.

Q3: What if my 40-liter backpack doesn’t fit under the airplane seat?

If your backpack doesn’t fit under the seat, you can consider stowing it in the overhead bin or checking it in as part of your checked baggage. Alternatively, upgrading to a fare class with a larger baggage allowance can provide more flexibility.

Q4: Can I use a compression bag to reduce the size of my 40-liter backpack?

Yes, using a compression bag or compression straps can help reduce the overall size of your backpack, making it easier to fit under the airplane seat.

Q5: Should I arrive early to secure overhead bin space for my backpack?

Yes, arriving early can increase your chances of finding available overhead bin space for your backpack. It’s important to be considerate of other passengers’ belongings and follow the instructions of the cabin crew.

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