Flying on Budget Airlines? How to Get the Most from Your One Free Carry-on

Flying on Budget Airlines? How to Get the Most from Your One Free Carry-on

You’ve got the typical size for a personal item bag ready to take on your next flight. Upon booking that flight, which happens to be Spirit Airline, a "budget airline" come to find out, they say the requirements are for an 18x14x8 bag.

Whether you need a small travel bag, or one specifically within the Spirit Airlines personal item size requirements (so as to avoid extra fees), Red Oxx offers a plethora of travel bags to choose from. So how to choose the best bag to fit the size limits of an 18x14x8 carry-on bag?

If you’re a frequent traveler, it’s smart to carry that one fantastic bag that fits within a variety of "personal item" requirements. Backed by the unwavering rock-solid Red Oxx "No Bull" Lifetime Warranty, trust that it won’t break down, and it’s able to go wherever – on a bus, on a plane, on a train.

    Red Oxx pro-tip: Think strategic with a bag that can serve as a two-in-one. When you pack it a certain way, the bag fits within the 18x14x8 travel bag requirements. When you want a carry-on bag that’s a little bigger, a soft-sided bag will expand as needed.

What’s so Important About an 18x14x8 Personal Item?

For one, as a part of the Spirit Airlines baggage policy, you’ll pay extra for a carry-on bag. Only a personal item, within the designated 18"x14"x8" dimensions, can be included with the basic cost of your ticket.

These dimensions are specific to budget airlines like Spirit, Frontier, and JetBlue. They service smaller planes, so the space that’s underneath a seat for a personal item is more constricted than other airlines.

At most other airlines, the standard dimensions for a personal item are 45 linear inches. If you’re in the ballpark of a soft-sided bag measuring less than 11-inches tall, 17-inches wide, and 18-20-inches long, you’ll be good to go for a typical overnight or weekend flight.

But what if the trip is for three days? Or five days? How are you going to maximize that space for everything packed?

    Red Oxx pro-tip: Choose a soft-sided bag, made out of pliable, but strong fabric; a bag that allows squishing it down to fit a smaller space in a pinch. Be careful of over-packing, since those extra one to two inches of space might be needed to fit your bag under the seat in front.

Consider an 18x14x8 Backpack

One bag travelers are now more than ever selecting a backpack or convertible backpack bag as their go-to option. A soft-sided backpack, without a metal frame, can be easily contorted to cram into any space, whether over-head bin, or under the seat. Featuring multiple compartments to organize clothes, tech, and toiletries, it’s a powerful and versatile style of carry-on bag. Having two shoulder straps also make it easier to carry when it’s packed full.

The best part of having a small backpack is that when you arrive at the AirBnB, hotel, or hostel, after unpacking your clothes and toiletries, use the backpack as a small and versatile tote bag to wear around while playing tourista.

Trekking about on daytime adventures, especially in third world countries, a water bottle is a requirement. Note that most cannot be brought on board unless packed in your bag.

Be certain to bring along a notebook; maybe you’re going to a meeting and you need your laptop, or pack a snack. Red Oxx Packing Cubes are designed to match the compartments of most of our popular travel bags. Packing Cubes in various sizes make it easy to organize your clothes, extra cords, and other travel essentials.

Avoid the dreaded Spirit Airlines carry-on fee with confidence while traveling with a Red Oxx backpack style lightweight carry-on luggage.



MiniRuck measurements simplified

Three best features:

  •     Top loading rucksack with extended main compartment sleeve.
  •     Three large side and front extended pockets.
  •     Flip-over top flap with pocket.


Red Oxx Sky Train Carry-on Backpack measurements: 21"H x 13"W x 9"D

Three best features:

  •     Carry it five different ways.
  •     Clam-shell style main compartment opening.
  •     Easily converts from shoulder carry or a side carry-on bag into backpack style carry.


Red Oxx K-12 Kat Pack School Backpack measurements

Three best features:

  •     Rectangular shaped main compartment holds more belongings.
  •     Clam-shell style main compartment opening for easy access, packing and unpacking.
  •     Comes with a tough Ballistic Nylon bottom.


Red Oxx Lil Hombre Compression Carry-on Backpack measurements

Three best features:

  •     Three large long main compartments.
  •     Easily converts from shoulder carry or side carry into backpack.
  •     Collapsible: exterior compression straps cinch down your load.

Duffel bag or Weekender bag?

The duffel and weekender are two types of carry-on bags that often look alike. Duffel bags tend to have one primary compartment, without many other pockets for organizing things. Red Oxx took this concept one step further and added the pockets to each end to create the Safari Beanos Series.

Whereas weekender bags are made in a similar style but tend to be taller and more "purse-like". Our Aviator Kit Bags are set up like simple duffel bags, featuring four different sizes and a single pocket-less compartment. They’re a classic and reliable style of lightweight clean styled simple travel bag.

So what’s the real difference?

A full-size duffel can frequently be too large as carry-on luggage, though Red Oxx designed our two smaller Safari Beanos versions to be carry-on compatible. Weekender bags tend to be smaller, and more suited to carry-on, they go by many names, such as mini duffel, or overnight bag or in our case, the Extra Small Aviator Kit Bag and it’s slightly larger brother, the popular Small Aviator Kit Bag.

They both don’t have wheels, and you can purchase one of two different straps to carry the bag across your shoulders, and they come with briefcase-style handles, too. The Claw is our standard strap, called thus because of it’s no-slip design.

Or move up in the comfort zone to the Long Hauler Comfort Carry Strap, a neoprene-padded style strap designed with a bit more give that is also guaranteed for life.

Always pack clothes that resist wrinkling, and it helps if they all coordinate to some degree – create more outfits that way, without having to over-pack. For shoes, find one pair that you can wear on the plane, and use for the entire trip. Store your flats, sandals or flip-flops in a Red Oxx Meerkat Packing cube, which helps keep dirt away from your clothes.

While Red Oxx does not (yet) make an exact match for a 18x14x8 duffel bag or a 18x14x8 weekender bag, we do build a Tote that is 15.5H x 15W x7D. This is the Maxium Utitily

choosing a soft-sided bag gives you the benefit of flexibility within these popular airline dimensions.



Red Oxx Extra Small Aviator Kit Bag easurements

Three best features:

  •     Simple one compartment lightweight travel bag.
  •     Folds flat to store in your carry-on.
  •     Can be classified as a personal item.


Red Oxx Micro Manager Table Tote measurements

Three best features:

  •     Can be used as a Spirit Airlines personal item.
  •     Hauls your tablet securely.
  •     Makes a handy everyday carry tote.


Red Oxx Gator EDC Bag measurements

Three best features:

  •     Can be used as a personal item.
  •     Fits your tablet securely.
  •     Makes a handy everyday carry tote.



Red Oxx Safari-Beanos PR4 Duffel Bag measurements

Three best features:

  •     Can be used as a personal item.
  •     14-inch long top loading main compartment.
  •     Easily fits within the 18x14x8 duffle bag dimensions.

Hardside Luggage with Wheels vs. Soft-sided Luggage

Here’s the big question: Is hard or soft luggage better? If you’re trying to make the most of a budget flight by avoiding fees for extra baggage, you’re going to need all the packing room you can get. A soft-sided bag allows the shape of the bag to be molded to fit the space needed – within limits, but you won’t have to worry if the bag is within an inch or two of the recommended dimensions.

Whatever the mode of transportation, whether it’s a plane, train, bus, or car, the size of your wheels will factor in to the total space you need to store your bag, and wheels take away valuable storage space inside the bag.

If all you need to pack is a couple changes of clothes, some travel accessories, a laptop, a writing notepad, chargers, your phone, wallet, and a pen or two, you’ll be amazed at how easily all those things can fit in a soft-side bag. The best part is even if the bag isn’t an exact 18x14x8 bag, it’ll still pass the requirements for a typical budget airline.

Reading next

Simple Bag Locking Tips Video
Red Oxx Sky Train and Mini Boss Command Business Traveler’s Carry-on Cache

Leave a comment

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.