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The 6 Best Underseat Luggage of 2022

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What could be more satisfying than finding the perfect piece underseat luggage to carry everything you need on a short plane trip? (Well, there’s Jason Momoa serving drinks at 30,000 feet, but besides that…) With air travel back on the rise for many of us, PEOPLE Tested checked out 19 pieces of underseat luggage to determine your best bets.

We found eight bags to suit all budgets, needs and preferences.

Professional organizers are a great choice when shopping for an underseat luggage bag. Eryn DonaldsonOf The Model HomeShe says she is considering what other luggage she might bring with her. “I look for something that has a trolley sleeve so that I can hook it onto my rolling bag,”She told PEOPLE. “A shoulder strap is also a nice touch — basically, I like to keep my hands free to carry my phone or anything else.”

Security is only possible when you have the right organization. “A bag with a laptop sleeve is also great, especially for those that work remotely,” Donaldson advises. “Having organizational compartments in the bag is also something that I look for. It’s so much easier going through security when everything has its specific compartments and you can quickly pull out electronics without digging through the bottom of your bag while in line!”

We’ve selected our favorite underseat luggage and put them through their paces by our testers.

Table of Contents


Best Overall:
Calpak Hue Mini Carry-On Luggage

Pros

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  • Hard-sided, minimalist, and sleek

  • Great organization

  • Top-notch maneuverability

This mini carry-on is perfect for short trips. Our tester was able to easily fit two pairs of pants, a bomber jacket, flip-flops, three shirts, and a laptop sleeve inside — not bad for a piece of luggage this size.

The designWe were just as impressed as the potential. “This bag looks professional, minimalist, and tidy without looking too stuffy or conservative. I love that it has a built-in dial lock,”Our tester agreed. The only design downside, she adds, was the lack of outer pockets, so small items aren’t easily accessible in flight. The main compartment inside is clamshell-style. One side has a zip around compartment and the other side has two sleeves. The other side contains two small zip pockets.

As for comfort with the suitcase at your feet, our tester says it fits easily in an underseat compartment, and while it is hard-sided, there’s a bit of give, should you need to wedge the bag into a tight spot. The four spinner wheels made it easy to maneuver the Calpak Hue. It was smooth and sturdy during our testing.

Overall, the Calpak Hue Mini Carry-on Luggage was a great buy considering its performance and bonus features like well-designed pockets or a built-in appearance. “I love the stylish look and how easy it was to move around,”Our tester agrees. “This is a functional and sleek bag that would be great to have for quick trips.”

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Price at time published: $165

Dimensions: Exterior: 16″ x 14″ x 8″, Interior: 14” x 13.75” x 8”︱Weight: 6.4 lbs︱MaterialsExterior: Polycarbonate, Interior : Polyester

People / Conor Ralph



These are the best features:
Samsonite Adults Unisex Carry-On Spinner for Adults with USB Port

Carry-On

Samsonite


Pros

  • A bag that looks great and comes in many colors

  • It’s well-made with quality wheels

  • For easy access, there are nice exterior pockets

  • Bonus USB port

The Samsonite Spinner Underseater has a USB port. Functionality is the key word. This bag was able to fit all of our tester’s two-day trip belongings, with exterior pockets to store items for quick access while on a plane. The only thing that disappointed was the absence of ties to compress clothing inside the suitcase.

This bag is attractive and comes in many color options. The bag has many pockets and a separator for organization. Although the overall size is great, we found it a bit too small to fit under a chair. It was easy to maneuver when we tested it in an obstacle course. The bag’s handle and extended handle make it easy to switch between different types of flooring, stairs, or escalators.

Our tester found the price to be “decent”For this bag, you will need: “a good option to have for short trips because I don’t enjoy having a large bag. It’s a great-looking, functional bag that is sleek to maneuver. A good buy!”

Price at time published: $115

Dimensions: Overall – 16.5” x 13.75” x 9”, Internal – 15” x 13” x 8”︱Linear dimensions 39.2”︱Weight: 5.6 lbs︱Material: Polyester

People / Conor Ralph



Best for Toiletries
Steve Madden Underseat Bag with Wheeled Strap

Steve Madden Underseat Wheeled Bag

Amazon


Pros

  • Filled with quality, useful compartments

  • It’s easy to transport on just two wheels

You’ve got compartments galore with the Steve Madden Underseat Wheeled Bag, making it our top choice for toiletries. “I really love the compartments within the bag that allow spaces for all the small things you travel with, and there is a zippable clear compartment that is great for easily finding items as well,”Our tester agrees.

The aesthetics are also a major draw. “It has a nice vintage look with the brown and gold accents,”Our tester adds.

Even though the compartments keep everything organized and neatly tucked away, it was difficult to fit the bag under a chair. Our tester also packed the bag full of items, and the zipper tassels got in the way. “However, when I flipped the luggage face-down, it fit under the space with greater ease,” they shared. “I like its compartments and the compactness of the bag, but I dislike the struggle it may take to fit under the seat when packed to capacity (especially as an over-packer).”

The bag was lightweight and easy to use, even though it was packed full. Our tester found the price to be high considering the size and amount of space. “I think the price is more reflective of the look and appeal of the bag, rather than how much it fits. I think it would be more fitting for it to be $150 or under.”

She says that she would still recommend the bag to anyone traveling on a short summer vacation (bulky clothes would be problematic) and for people who value the appearance of their luggage.

Price at the time of publication: $165.99

Dimensions: 15” x 14” x 9”︱Weight: 4.84 lbs︱MaterialPolyester

People / Conor Ralph



Best Spacious:
Rockland Unisex Adults Melrose Wheeled Underseater Luggage

Underseater Luggage

Rockland


Cons

  • Our tester found the maneuverability to be a little lacking.

  • This bag has inline wheels rather than spinner wheels, which means it doesn’t take corners well

The bag is spacious enough to carry everything we needed for a short vacation. It easily fit under a chair and was packed with three tshirts, two pairs, three pants, a bulky sweater, and a pair heels. Rockland Melrose bag has two exterior pockets and two mesh side pockets. These pockets are large enough to hold two water bottles.

“This bag is very well designed,”Our tester praised the trolley sleeve and soft handles. There is an outer compartment with two zip mesh pockets and a tablet-sized pouch with an elastic strap that secures the contents. “This and the additional small pocket above it would be great for easily accessing belongings during your flight without taking your whole bag out. The main compartment has great organization: plastic pocket for toiletries, four separate sleeves and a removable mesh pocket.”

It is smart and roomy. design, we were disappointed by the bag’s performance on the maneuverability test. It doesn’t handle corners well because the wheels are inline, not spinner. It was difficult to push the bag vertically, but it moved well behind our tester. The bag’s maneuverability score was also affected by its difficulty in adjusting the extendable handle.

Price at time published: $125

Dimensions:  9″ L x 14″ W x 15″ H︱Weight: 3.99 lbs︱Material: Quilted polyester fabric

People / Conor Ralph



Best Tote
Travelpro x Travel + Leisure UnderSeat Tote

Travelpro x Travel + Leisure UnderSeat Tote

Travelpro


Are wheels not your style? Here’s a luxe, yet practical tote bag with tons of space and just the right fit. “Almost everything that I put in this bag fits,”Our tester said so. That meant  two pairs or pants, two shirts, a jacket, a pair of shoes, and a toiletry bag. Large enough to fit a few days’ worth of clothes, but small enough to slide under the seat, this tote is a clear winner in the underseat luggage category.

The leather details and optional shoulder strap are nice touches on the tote, which opens up to one large compartment that features two interior pockets—one is a buttoned sleeve, and one is a small zippered pocket. It is easy to pair this bag with larger luggage pieces by adding an exterior pocket on one side and a luggage sleeve at the back.

“This bag would be perfect for someone who likes stylish and functional bags,”Add the tester. “There aren’t many compartments, so it would also be good for someone who just wants to throw things in it and go.”

This tote was only valued for its value. Although this particular underseat tote may be functional and well-made, there are other comparable options at a much lower price point.

Price at the time of publication: $245

Overall dimensions: 9.25” H x 16.5” W x 9” D︱Weight: 2.3 lbs︱Materials: High-density, textured material with DuraGuard coating. Leather trim.

People / Conor Ralph



Best Lightweight:
Travelpro Maxlite 5 Lightweight Underseat Carry-on Travel Tote Bag

Travelpro Maxlite 5 Lightweight Underseat Carry-on Travel Tote Bag

Amazon


Cons

  • The bag was too large for the underseat compartment during our testing. However, it may have fit on larger aircrafts with more underseat space.

Consider this featherweight option if you are afraid of being asked by gate announcements to check your wheeled luggage. “As someone who prefers not to use roller bags—airlines love to check bags with wheels when the overhead compartments fill up—I would probably purchase this bag to use,”Our tester agrees. “It’s spacious, but light and easy to carry. For a weekend trip, this would be the perfect bag to grab and go.”

This bag held everything that our tester had packed inside. It even had room for two pairs of pants and two shirts. Three small exterior pockets hold items you’d like to access during a trip. The bag was very spacious and light, but it was too big to fit under the seat compartment. We tried flipping and squishing. On a larger aircraft with more underseat space, however, we don’t anticipate a fit problem.

This bag is a great value considering its capacity, quality and two carrying options. It also has multiple zippers and pockets. “I think this product is great for someone on the go, who can just throw all of their things in the bag,”Our tester is done. “I especially like how large the inside is, even though it doesn’t look that big on the outside.”

Price at the time of publication: $84.99

Overall dimensions: 11” x 18” x 8”︱Weight: 1.6 lbs︱Material: Polyester

People / Conor Ralph


Things to Consider Before Buying an Underseat Bag

Mobility

Underseat luggage can be broken down into two categories: with wheels or without. While having wheels on your bag makes the airport a breeze, what about once you’re seated? “You want to consider if having wheels will take up too much space to give you some leg room,” says flight attendant Casey P. Zack. “A smaller tote can be easily ‘scrunched’ to the side more so than a harder material like plastic.”This is a personal choice. Janelle Cohen, professional organizerAnd Author of The Folding book, regards wheels as a priority. “An important feature for any easy trip is four wheels. This makes it super easy to navigate airports and adding a backpack to the handlebar.”

Storage

Zack also suggests asking the question of underseat baggage: “Does it have multiple pockets for easier access to finding items such as headphones, passport, wallet, and keys?” asks Zack. This feature is crucial for many travelers both in flight and at the destination. However, if you’re prone to over-packing, keep in mind that pockets on the outside take away from space on the inside and plan accordingly. “I look for luggage that has no outer pocket because that takes away from the inner storage,” says Cohen.

Quality Control

Check to make sure the zipper matches the bag if you are choosing a soft bag. “If it is, this is a good sign of quality and that it’s not cheaply made,” says Zack. “It’s also good to check if your items are well kept. If they tend to poke out the fabric too much, this means your bag is cheaply made and could tear easily if packed too tightly.”Eryn Donaldson, professional organizer, adds that there are key methods to ensure durability in luggage. BeforeThe hard way. “Looking at things as small as zippers and the fabric quality are important. Look for quality handles and pockets,”She said. “Check the zippers to see if they run smoothly. If it hits a few snags or is difficult to close, this is a definite red flag!”

Weight

“Check out the weight of the bag when empty,” says Donaldson. “If the bag feels a bit heavy while empty, it will certainly be heavy once you put your items in it!”The PEOPLE-Tested winners weigh between 1.6 and 6.4 pounds. And while that may not seem like a big range, the measure of a heavy bag is a personal decision, so carry new luggage around a bit while it’s empty first. If you are unsure about how cumbersome your bag will be once packed, choose something lighter.

People / Conor Ralph


How we tested underseat luggage

Our testers independently measured the dimensions of each piece of luggage to confirm that it meets the average airline’s under-seat dimensions of 16” L x 14” W x 9” H. Next, they packed each piece of luggage for a two-day trip, noting how the items fit and if there was any extra room. Each bag was put through a maneuverability course on a lab floor, to simulate the experience of weaving through airport traffic. The luggage was placed in a standard-sized under-seat space. The tester then sat behind the bag in a chair for 12 inches, noting how easy it was to slide into the space. Finally, each piece of luggage was rated by testers on the following attributes: capacity. designFunctionality, maneuverability, and a combination of both. After scoring each bag in these categories, the testers discovered the retail price and then rated the luggage’s value.

Frequently Asked Question

  • What size luggage can fit under an airplane seat?

    At PEOPLE Tested, we used the average dimensions for an underseat compartment: 16” L x 14” W x 9”. Although there is a lot of variation between airlines, this average was a good guide. Some cases may be slightly larger than others, or you might have to squeeze soft-sided luggage.

  • Should I choose hard-sided luggage over a softer bag

    “Hard shell luggage is my preference for a carry-on bag because it ensures that you don’t overfill your bag,” says pro organizer Janelle Cohen. If you’re prone to over-packing, or if you need to fit your new underseat luggage under the seat (and not be forced to use the overhead compartment or checking your bag), this is a good option.

  • Is underseat luggage considered personal?

    Yes. If you’ve got an underseat bag or suitcase that fits under the seat in front of you, you can generally also carry-on a suitcase that fits in the overhead compartment, provided that your particular airline and ticket allows one carry-on and one personal item.

  • Can an underseat bag, or suitcase, fit my laptop?

    To find out if a laptop fits in the luggage and what size it can hold, read the specifications. This varies from one brand to the next. You might also consider buying a laptop with a laptop sleeves, such as the Calpak Hue Mini Carry-OnFor example,

  • Are underseat bags compatible with budget airlines that have less space?

    In general, yes, but check the airline’s website for exact dimensions and follow our tester’s advice on specific models regarding overpacking and how each piece fit in our testing.

What is People Tested?

To help you find the best products for your lifestyle, we created the PEOPLE TESTED seal of approval. Our unique methodology allows us to test products in three laboratories across the country as well as with our network home testers to determine effectiveness, durability, ease-of-use, and more. We rate and recommend products based on the results.

But we don’t stop there: We also regularly re-review the categories in which we’ve awarded the PEOPLE Tested seal of approval — because the best product of today might not be the best of tomorrow. Companies can, of course, apply for the PEOPLE Tested seal of approval. NeverBuy our recommendation: Their products should earn it, right and square.

In short, PEOPLE Tested provides recommendations you can trust — every day, every purchase.

Want more product recommendations See all of our PEOPLE Tested content.


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