Can You Bring a Pillow on a Plane?

While many travelers believe that comfort on a journey is left to chance, seasoned passengers know the secret lies in preparation—particularly when it comes to bringing a pillow on a plane. This travel savvy move can be the difference between arriving at your destination rested or exhausted. The concept of traveling with personal comfort items dates back to the early days of passenger flight when airlines provided minimal amenities. As commercial aviation evolved, so too did the range of onboard services, including the provision of basic pillows and blankets. However, with the turn of the 21st century, many airlines began paring down these complimentary comforts to reduce costs and due to hygiene concerns.

Today, in the era where airlines are increasingly charging for additional conveniences, the importance of knowing what personal items you can bring aboard a plane has never been higher. Pillows, being a quintessential comfort item for many, fall into a category of allowable carry-on items with most airlines. However, the size and type of pillow that can be carried on board, as well as whether it must fit within one’s personal item or carry-on baggage, vary by airline. As a result, passengers often research their particular airline’s policy before packing. The demand for travel comfort has also led to the innovation of specifically designed travel pillows, which aim to provide neck support and improve sleep quality without taking up excessive space. These pillows have transformed from simple inflatables to sophisticated memory foam and ergonomic designs, reflecting the modern traveler’s desire to take control of their in-flight comfort.

can you bring a pillow on a plane

Can You Take a Pillow on a Plane?

When traveling by air, comfort is often a top priority for passengers, especially on long-haul flights. The good news is that you can indeed take a pillow on a plane. Most airlines allow passengers to bring a small, travel-sized pillow in their carry-on luggage or even a larger one as a personal item, provided it fits within the airline’s size restrictions for carry-on baggage. Bringing your own pillow can greatly enhance your comfort during the flight, helping you to relax and possibly get some sleep. Additionally, having your own pillow can be a more hygienic option compared to using pillows provided by the airline. In the following sections, we will delve deeper into the guidelines for taking pillows on planes, including size restrictions, best practices, and tips for ensuring a cozy and restful journey.

Pillow Regulations on USA Domestic Flights

For passengers traveling on domestic flights in the United States, comfort is often a priority, especially on longer flights. Bringing a pillow can greatly enhance travel comfort. Understanding TSA guidelines and airline policies regarding pillows is essential for smooth security screening and boarding.

TSA Guidelines for Travel Pillows

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is responsible for security screening at U.S. airports. Regarding pillows, the TSA does not have strict regulations, allowing passengers to bring travel pillows through security checkpoints.

  • Pillows are typically considered personal items and can be brought on board.
  • TSA officers may need to inspect pillows during security checks.
  • It’s advised to check the TSA website for any updates on carrying pillows through security checkpoints.

Airline Policies on Pillows

Airlines may have different policies when it comes to bringing pillows on board. Passengers should check with their chosen airline for specific rules.

  • Pillows can usually be brought onto the plane as part of carry-on luggage.
  • Some airlines might count a pillow as a personal item or accessory, similar to a handbag or laptop bag.
  • Dimensions and weight restrictions for personal items vary by airline.
  • Larger pillows may need to be compressed or fit within a carry-on bag or personal item.

Consulting the airline’s official website or customer service before departure is recommended for the latest carry-on guidelines.

Types of Pillows Allowed on Planes

There are various types of travel pillows designed to be compact and convenient for air travel.

  • Inflatable pillows are popular as they can be deflated to save space.
  • Memory foam pillows are another preferred option due to their supportive and space-saving features.
  • Microbead pillows offer a lightweight alternative, though they might not compress as well as other types.

Considerations for Comfort and Hygiene

While comfort is important, so is hygiene—especially in light of health concerns during travel.

  • Choosing a pillow with a removable, washable cover ensures cleanliness.
  • Passengers might want to use a pillow protector or pillowcase to keep the pillow clean during the flight.
  • Some travel pillows come with antimicrobial treatments or are made of easy-to-clean materials.

Tips for Packing and Using Pillows on Flights

Packing a pillow for your flight involves balancing convenience with airline regulations.

  • Place the pillow at the top of your carry-on for easy access.
  • If using an inflatable pillow, wait until you are seated to inflate it to avoid blocking the aisle.
  • Be considerate of fellow passengers when using larger pillows.
  • After the flight, store the pillow properly to maintain its shape and cleanliness for future travels.
Pros ✔ Cons ✘
Provides personal comfort during the flight. Takes up extra space which could be limited on a full flight.
Can help you sleep better on long flights. Having to carry it can be cumbersome, especially with other luggage.
Ensures hygiene as it’s your own pillow. Potentially an extra item to keep track of during travel.
No need to rely on airline provided pillows, which might not be available on all flights. May have to be placed in overhead bins if there is not enough room, which limits accessibility.
Serves as a multi-use item (e.g., can be used as lumbar support). Could conflict with airline baggage policies if excessively large.

International Air Transport Association (IATA) Guidelines

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) provides general guidelines for passengers traveling by air. However, when it comes to carrying items such as pillows, IATA does not have specific regulations. Instead, IATA advises passengers to check with individual airlines, as each carrier may have its own policy regarding onboard items. It’s important to consider the size and type of pillow you intend to bring, as it may need to fit within the airline’s carry-on baggage allowances.

  • Check with your specific airline for their carry-on policy.
  • Ensure your pillow fits within the airline’s size dimensions for carry-on luggage.
  • Be aware of any additional fees that may apply if your pillow must be checked due to size restrictions.

For more detailed information, please refer to the IATA passenger guidelines.

Country Specific Regulations

When flying internationally with a pillow, it’s crucial to be aware of the country-specific regulations that may affect what you can bring on board. These regulations can vary widely from one country to another and may influence whether your pillow needs to be checked or can be carried on, as well as any potential security concerns.

United Kingdom

  • There are no specific UK government regulations regarding flying with a pillow.
  • Pillows are generally allowed as part of your carry-on baggage, subject to size restrictions.


  • European regulations typically allow pillows on flights as carry-on items.
  • Size and weight restrictions can vary by country and airline.


  • The Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA) does not list pillows as prohibited items.
  • Pillows can be included in carry-on luggage within size limitations.


  • Pillows are not listed as prohibited items by the Australian Government’s Department of Home Affairs.
  • They can be carried on board, subject to the airline’s baggage policy.

New Zealand

  • Aviation Security Service of New Zealand allows pillows in both carry-on and checked baggage.
  • Size restrictions for carry-on baggage should be observed.


  • Asian countries may have varying regulations, but pillows are generally not prohibited.
  • Check with the specific country’s civil aviation authority for detailed guidelines.


  • The Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore does not specifically mention pillows in its regulations.
  • Passengers are advised to adhere to airline policies regarding carry-on items.

10 Airline-Specific Regulations for Flying with a Pillow

Each airline has its own set of regulations regarding what passengers can bring on board, including pillows. Below are the pillow policies for 10 different international airlines. Always check with the airline before traveling to ensure you have the most current information.

American Airlines

  • Pillows are allowed as a personal item or within carry-on baggage.
  • Must fit under the seat in front of you or in the overhead bin.

Delta Air Lines

  • One pillow is allowed in addition to one personal item.
  • Must comply with carry-on size restrictions.

United Airlines

  • United permits a pillow as part of your carry-on allowance.
  • Size and weight restrictions apply.

Southwest Airlines

  • Pillows can be carried on and do not count towards the carry-on limit.
  • Should not impede emergency exits or aisle access.

British Airways

  • Small pillows are allowed and considered part of your hand luggage.
  • Must fit within the maximum dimensions for carry-on items.


  • Pillows are permitted on board within the free hand baggage allowance.
  • Must be stowed properly during takeoff and landing.

Air Canada

  • Air Canada allows pillows either as a personal item or within carry-on luggage.
  • Subject to standard size restrictions for carry-on items.


  • Pillows are considered part of your carry-on allowance.
  • Must fit in the overhead locker or under the seat in front.

Air France

  • Passengers can bring a pillow as part of their hand luggage.
  • Size limits for carry-on items apply.


  • Emirates allows a reasonable amount of bedding, which includes pillows, for use during the flight.
  • Must not exceed carry-on baggage size dimensions.

Choosing the Right Pillow for Travel

When planning to pack a pillow in your luggage, opt for a travel-sized or inflatable pillow. These are specifically designed to be lightweight and compact, saving valuable space. Convertible travel pillows that serve multiple purposes or can be compressed are an excellent choice. Memory foam pillows that can be rolled up or flattened are also a good option for comfort and space efficiency.

Packing a Pillow in Carry-On Luggage

  • Compress the Pillow: If your pillow can be compressed or deflated, do so according to the manufacturer’s instructions. This will make it easier to fit into your carry-on.
  • Use a Vacuum Bag: For pillows that can be vacuum-sealed, a vacuum storage bag can greatly reduce their size. Roll out the excess air to make the pillow as flat as possible.
  • Attach to the Outside: Some carry-on bags come with attachments or elastic bands that allow you to secure a pillow to the outside, thus preserving internal space.
  • Pack Around the Pillow: If you have a non-compressible pillow, place it in your carry-on first and pack clothes and other items around it. This method uses the pillow as padding and fills up any empty spaces.

taking a pillow through security

Packing a Pillow in Hold Luggage

  • Place in the Center: To avoid the pillow getting squashed by other luggage, place it in the center of your suitcase, surrounded by clothing.
  • Use as Padding: A pillow can be used as extra padding for fragile items in your hold luggage. Wrap breakables with soft clothes and nestle them in the pillow for added protection.
  • Bag It Up: To keep your pillow clean, place it inside a plastic bag or protective cover before packing it. This prevents it from absorbing any smells or getting stained inside your luggage.
  • Distribute Weight Evenly: Ensure that the weight is evenly distributed in your luggage to prevent the pillow from shifting and becoming lumpy. If your pillow is heavy, packing it at the bottom towards the wheels can help with balance.

Additional Tips for Packing Pillows

  • Consider the Destination: If you’re traveling to a hotel or a location that provides pillows, you might save space by using the provided items instead.
  • Hygiene Matters: If you must bring your own pillow due to health reasons, ensure it’s clean before the trip and consider using a hypoallergenic pillow protector.
  • Use Multi-Functional Pillows: Multi-functional pillows, such as those that can serve as neck support during the flight, may provide added value and justify the space they occupy in your luggage.
  • Beware of Air Pressure: If you’re carrying an inflatable pillow, remember that air pressure changes during flights can affect inflation. It’s often best to inflate the pillow after you land.

Comfort Items for Airplane Travel

When traveling by plane, in addition to a pillow, consider bringing a travel blanket for warmth and comfort, especially on longer flights where cabin temperatures can drop. Noise-cancelling headphones or earplugs are also essential for drowning out the engine noise and chatter, allowing for a more peaceful journey. An eye mask can help block out unwanted light, making it easier to sleep. For those who prefer not to lean against the window or use a travel pillow, a neck support travel scarf can provide a discreet way to support your head and neck. Lastly, compression socks are advisable to improve circulation and reduce the risk of deep vein thrombosis (DVT) on long-haul flights. These items, together with a pillow, can significantly enhance your in-flight comfort.

FAQ’s About Can You Bring a Pillow on a Plane?

Traveling can often be a tiring experience, and having a pillow for extra comfort is something many passengers consider. To help travelers understand the rules and best practices surrounding bringing pillows on planes, we have compiled a list of frequently asked questions. These FAQs are designed to address common concerns and provide clarity so you can fly comfortably and with peace of mind.

Can I bring a full-sized pillow on a plane?

Yes, you can typically bring a full-sized pillow on a plane as a part of your carry-on allowance or personal item, though it’s best to check with the specific airline’s policy for any size restrictions.

Are there any restrictions on the type of pillow I can bring?

No, there are generally no restrictions on the type of pillow; however, it should be able to fit within your airline’s carry-on dimensions if it is not a personal item.

Does a pillow count towards my carry-on luggage limit?

It might, depending on the airline. Some airlines allow a pillow in addition to your carry-on and personal item, while others may consider it part of your allowance.

Can I bring a travel neck pillow on the plane?

Yes, travel neck pillows are commonly brought onto planes and are usually small enough to not be a problem with carry-on luggage allowances.

Is it better to bring a pillow or ask the airline for one?

It depends on your preference and the airline’s available amenities. Bringing your own ensures you have one, but some airlines provide pillows, especially on longer flights.

Can I bring a pillow in my checked luggage?

Yes, you can pack a pillow in your checked luggage, but it will take up space and might contribute to a weight overage, potentially incurring additional fees.

Are inflatable pillows a good option for airline travel?

Inflatable pillows are a great option for air travel as they can be deflated to save space and inflated only when needed during the flight.

Will using a pillow on a plane help with jet lag?

While a pillow won’t prevent jet lag, it can help you sleep better on the plane, which is one of the factors in minimizing the effects of jet lag.

Can a pillow be attached to the outside of my carry-on bag?

Many airlines do allow this, but it’s important to check with your airline ahead of time to ensure this does not conflict with their specific carry-on policies.

Are any types of pillows prohibited on planes?

Generally speaking, no types of pillows are prohibited; however, any pillow that might be considered a security risk, like one with built-in electronics, should be checked with the airline beforehand.

Packing It All Up

In conclusion, bringing a pillow on a plane is not only permissible by most airline regulations, but it’s also a common practice among travelers seeking extra comfort during their flight. Pillows can easily be accommodated as carry-on items, often without counting towards your carry-on limit, especially if they are attached to your luggage or can fit within your allowable personal item. The types of pillows one might consider taking on board range from small decorative ones to full-sized options and specialized travel neck pillows, each serving the purpose of enhancing comfort and providing support to help mitigate the discomfort of long flights.

It’s essential to be aware of the size and type of pillow you choose to bring to ensure it complies with airline policies and does not inconvenience other passengers. While airline staff are generally accommodating regarding pillows, space limitations and consideration for the shared environment must be kept in mind. Opting for inflatable travel pillows or those designed for compact travel can make for a smart choice, balancing personal comfort with the practicalities of flying. Ultimately, bringing a pillow on a plane is a feasible travel strategy for those aiming to create a more restful and pleasant flying experience.