Just How Small is the New Spirit Airlines Free Personal Item Allowance?

Jan 30, 2017

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About a year ago I shared that Spirit Airlines was going to shrink the size of their allowed free personal carry-on item as per their website’s information. However, they changed their mind and those rules didn’t ultimately go into effect in 2016 as they originally stated.

Wonder if my parent's Spirit go-to bags will make the new cut?
Wonder if my parent’s Spirit go-to bags will make the new cut?

But, Spirit is once again set to introduce new and smaller personal item dimensions effective April 2017. I have to imagine they won’t change their minds at the last minute again.


Currently the one free personal item (purse, small backpack, etc.) that you can bring on a Spirit Airlines flight must not exceed 16 x 14 x 12 inches.

Effective April 4, 2017, the Spirit airlines free personal item must not be larger than 18 x 14 x 8 inches, including handles, wheels, etc.

Spirit New Personal Item Size.jpg

To put this into practical terms, a traditional Jansport Right Pack backpack that we have probably all seen on countless high school students backs measures 18 x 13 x 8.5 according to the company’s website. While that is technically 1/2 an inch over the new rules in one direction, I have to assume that width is just based on how it is packed, and it could easily be compliant…assuming Spirit really measures personal items that closely anyway, which I haven’t really seen them do in the past. 

For those curious, American’s free personal item size via their forthcoming Basic Economy fares is non-coincidentally also 18 x 14 x 8. Spirit will now downgrade their overall carry-on size to align with American’s offering on their Basic Economy fares.

While we are on the topic of Spirit, their PreCheck capabilities are now live! Will the new Spirit Airlines personal item size rules require you to go shopping for a new smaller personal item?

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