Blog Home / Gear Reviews / 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

Red Oxx Carry-on Bags Fit the Bag Size Checker

Red Oxx Carry-on Bags Fit the Bag Size Checker

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 18x14x8?

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 Bag?

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 a ticket.

These dimensions are specific to budget airlines like Spirit, Frontier, and Jet Blue. They fly 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 other crash pad, 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, and 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. They make it easy to organize your clothes, extra cords, and other things.

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

RECOMMENDED BACKPACK STYLE CARRY-ON BAGS:

ROADSTER MINI RUCK RUCKSACK

Red Oxx Roadster Mini Ruck Rucksack measurements

Three best features:

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

SKY TRAIN BACKPACK CONVERSION CARRY-ON

Red Oxx SkyTrain Carry-on Backpack measurements

Three best features:

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

K-12 KAT PACK BACKPACK

Red Oxx K-12 Kat Pack School Backpack measurements

Three best features:

  • Rectangular shaped main compartment holds more.
  • Clam-shell style main compartment opening.
  • Soft backpack with a Ballistic Nylon bottom.

LIL HOMBRE COMPRESSION BACKPACK-DUFFEL

Red Oxx Lil Hombre Compression Carry-on Backpack measurements

Three best features:

  • Three large main compartments.
  • Easily converts from shoulder or side carry to 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 compartment. They’re a classic and reliable style of lightweight 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 to the Long Hauler Comfort Carry Strap, a neoprene-padded style strap 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 Tube, 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, choosing a soft-sided bag gives you the benefit of flexibility within these popular airline dimensions.

RECOMMENDED DUFFEL STYLE CARRY-ON BAGS:

EXTRA SMALL AVIATOR KIT BAG

Red Oxx Extra Small Aviator Kit Bag measurements

Three best features:

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

MICRO MANAGER TABLET TOTE

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.

GATOR EDC 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.

SAFARI-BEANOS PR4 DUFFEL

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 toiletries, 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.

Be sure to sign up for our Red Oxx Field Report email Newsletter to stay up to date about events such as Oxx Fest, new gear, Special Edition seasonal colors, Red Eye Collective limited edition prototype bags, helpful packing videos, fun travel stories, and more.