Flying can be an uncomfortable experience for even the most frequent of flyers, so you might be wondering if you can bring a pillow on a plane.
According to TSA regulations, you can bring a pillow on a plane in both your carry on and checked bags.
However, it’s important to know if a pillow will count as a personal item or not; if the type of pillow matters; if pillows will be handed out by an airline; if they are hygienic or not, and more.
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Domestic vs. International Flights
Whether you’re flying domestically within the USA or internationally, you will have no problem bringing a pillow on a plane in both your carry on and checked bags.
Most airlines will provide passengers with a free pillow on long-haul international flights, though these are usually thin and really aren’t that comfortable.
Does a Pillow Count as a Personal Item?
To see if a pillow counts as a personal item or carry on, let’s see what the policy of some of the most popular airlines in the USA is.
- American Airlines: American Airlines consider a pillow to be a personal item.
- Delta: Delta also consider a pillow to be a personal item.
- Frontier: Frontier state that a pillow will count as a personal item.
- Southwest: Southwest consider a pillow to be a personal item.
- Spirit: Spirit consider a pillow to be a personal item.
- United: United consider a pillow to be a personal item.
As you can see, every airline considers a pillow to be a personal item if it does not fit inside your carry on bag.
The Type of Pillow You Bring Can Matter
The type of pillow you bring on a plane can matter.
If you want to bring a small travel neck pillow with you on a plane, it won’t count as a personal item or as a carry on.
If the pillow is small enough to fit under the seat in front of you on a plane, it will count as your personal item.
If the pillow is larger and does not fit in your bag, it will be counted as a carry on.
You Can’t Bring All Pillows on a Plane
Generally, airlines consider a personal item to measure 18″ x 14″ x 8″.
So if you are unable to place the pillow in your carry on bag, or it exceeds these dimensions, it will count as part of your carry on allowance.
As a general rule, any personal item you want to bring on a plane should fit under the seat in front of you.
So you should be fine to bring most pillows on a plane, though won’t be able to bring a standard body pillow, as they are too large.
Airlines Might Charge for Pillows
Airlines won’t charge you for a pillow on long-haul, international flights. They will hand them out for free.
However, for short-haul flights, many airlines will charge you if you want a pillow.
JetBlue, for example, charge passengers $6 for a pillow.
Airline Pillows Are Pretty Unhygienic
Airline pillows are generally unhygienic, so you should bring and use your own if you can.
This is because even though an airline may wash their pillows every day, they will be re-folded and re-used throughout the day.
It is only passengers on the first flight who will get to enjoy a freshly washed pillow.
Airline Blankets Are Even More Unhygienic
You can bring a blanket on a plane in both your carry on and checked bags.
Just like with pillows, if the blanket does not fit inside your carry on bag, it will be considered a carry on item if it is larger than 18″ x 14″ x 8″ (maximum personal item size restrictions)
Again, on long-haul, international flights, you will receive a complimentary blanket, though on short-haul flights you may have to pay.
According to a report in The Wall Street Journal, blankets are actually even more unhygienic than pillows.
The report found that most airlines actually only cleaned their blankets every 5-30 days.
Ella Dunham, a Freelance Travel Journalist and Marketing Manager, boasts an impressive career spanning eight years in the travel and tourism sectors.
Honored as one of "30 Under 30" by TTG Media (the world’s very first weekly travel trade newspaper), a "Tour Operator Travel Guru" and "Legend Award" winner, Ella is also a Fellow of the Institute of Travel, a Member of the Association of Women Travel Executives, has completed over 250 travel modules, and hosts travel-focused segments on national radio shows where she provides insights on travel regulations and destinations.
Ella has visited over 40 countries (with 10 more planned this year).