Are most aware today of just how many variations of travel pillows there are? Off the top of our heads, many can easily think of the semi-circle neck huggers that are perhaps the most likely of all imagined when discussing travel pillows. There are also small inflatables, cube pillows, tray pillows, and of course, the standard pillow direct from the bed. The question here, however, is not about the variety offered to the market, but whether the inclusion of a pillow deducts from our personal item allowance or not.
To get a firm answer on this, we decided to scour the airline sites in search of the answer to this question, and here is what we found. Starting from the top, the largest air carrier in the United States—American Airlines permits the carry-on of a personal item if it fits beneath the seat in front of you. Dimensions for those under-seat storage areas are 22 x 14 x 9 inches (56 x 36 x 23cm) but can differ slightly depending on some airlines. For example, Spirit Airlines limits the dimensions to 18 x 14 x 8 inches (45 x 35 x 20cm). A good rule of thumb is that if whatever you intend to carry-on can fit into the bag sizer at the airline check-in, it will pass the size test when boarding.
Delta Airlines, the second largest air carrier in the United States sticks to the same information parameters, pointing out that travelers are permitted a personal item, such as a purse, laptop, camera bag, or “1 item of similar or smaller size to those listed.” We find that this is the trend throughout. It appears that the larger airlines have no problem accepting a pillow as a personal item, but to ensure that that we do not give the guidance that all are just as accepting of pillows, we thought that we would search out who does have restrictions against personal items carried onto a plane.
Good news, every source scoured from individual airlines to the Transportation Security Administration has no limits that include anything related to a pillow. It appears that of all things to worry about today, a pillow is the least concerning personal item a person can travel with. The best part about your comfy companion is that you can literally roll it up and reduce the size of it to less than half of its usual mass. This means that it can become an extension of your bag, stuffed inside, or even tucked under your jacket as it hangs over your arm. In short, the question to whether a pillow counts as a personal item or not, the answer is yes. In the absence of guidance in these matters, there is no real ambiguity.
Items wished to be traveled with are going to fall into one of several categories: prohibited, checked, carry-on, or personal item. If the item you have is not restricted from entering the plane and must not be stowed below in the checked baggage, you will be hard pressed to find it discouraged as long as it can fit into the storage area below, should a passenger ever be unlikely advised to stow it.