The Best Underseat Luggage of 2022, Tested and Reviewed

Ideal companions for quick trips—our favorite is the Calpak Hue Mini Carry-On

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The Best Underseat Luggage of 2022

Tumi / Samsonite

There are multiple reasons to invest in a great underseater. Perhaps you’re traveling with a budget airline that charges an additional fee for space in the overhead compartment, or maybe you’ve already got a carry-on and a checked bag but also like to keep essentials within easy reach at your feet. They’re the ultimate overnight bag and great for quick business trips or weekends away. Size is one of the most important factors to look out for, as is material (soft-sided bags often have more give than their hard-sided cousins). 

To help you find the best underseat luggage, we tested 18 of the most popular options in the TripSavvy lab, scoring each for capacity, design, functionality, maneuverability, and value. We chose winners for categories ranging from Best Roller to Best Tote based on these results, with our overall winner being the Calpak Hue Mini Carry-On Luggage. This underseater stood out for its smart yet flexible construction, clever organization options, and seamless movement. Discover the best of the rest underseat luggage we tested here.

Best Overall: Calpak Hue Mini Carry-On Luggage

4.9
Calpak Hue Mini Carry-On Luggage

Calpak

What We Like
  • Intuitive organization options

  • Excellent maneuverability

  • Professional yet stylish design

What We Don't Like
  • No exterior pockets

With its polycarbonate shell in a range of classic and contemporary colors (from black to moss or pink sand), we loved that the Calpak Hue Mini Carry-On Luggage looks chic and professional without being too conservative. It’s designed to fit beneath most airline seats, and indeed, we found that it fit easily beneath the simulated seat in our laboratory. We also liked that despite its hard shell, it has enough give to squeeze into tighter spaces if necessary.

The suitcase opens clamshell-style to reveal a zippered divider on one side and a large open compartment with compression straps on the other. Organization options are diverse, with multiple zippered pockets on both sides. Our only complaint was a lack of exterior pockets, which would have been a nice extra for keeping essentials handy in flight. Nevertheless, we could easily fit everything on our prescribed packing list and even had some space left over.

Four dual spinner wheels and an extending handle combine to give the suitcase flawlessly smooth and sturdy movement. We found it a breeze to maneuver around our obstacle course, and we believe it would perform just as well in a busy airport. Other features include a TSA-approved lock, an easy-grab bottom handle, and a limited two-year warranty.

Price at time of publication: $165

Dimensions: 16 x 14 x 8 inches | Weight: 6.4 pounds | Capacity: 29 liters

Calpak Hue Mini

TripSavvy / Conor Ralph

Best Value: Kenneth Cole Reaction Chelsea Luggage Expandable Underseater Spinner

4.5
Kenneth Cole Reaction Chelsea Luggage Expandable Underseater Spinner

Amazon

What We Like
  • Fashionable chevron design 

  • Great full-circle maneuverability

  • Reasonable price tag

What We Don't Like
  • Difficult to fit under the seat when full

Designed to fit under the seats of most airlines, we primarily loved the Kenneth Cole Reaction Chelsea Underseat Spinner for its maneuverability. It rolls incredibly smoothly on four wheels and can turn in a complete circle with zero resistance—something that makes it well worth its already reasonable price tag in our book. The fact that it’s a fashion-forward choice with a chevron-quilted polyester twill exterior and gold accent zippers is a bonus. You can order yours in black, navy, or olive.

The underseater also offers impressive storage features. On the outside, there’s an easy-access front compartment with a padded tablet sleeve, small organizer pockets, and a side water bottle holder. The main compartment includes another zippered pocket, elasticated shoe pockets, and compression straps for holding everything neatly in place. We found that we could fit two days’ worth of thick clothes comfortably. However, overstuffing the bag made it difficult to fit under our simulated airline seat.

Price at time of publication: $87

Dimensions: 17 x 13 x 9 inches | Weight: 5.6 pounds | Capacity: Not published

Kenneth Cole Underseat Luggage

TripSavvy / Conor Ralph

Best Splurge: Tumi Oxford Compact Carry-On

4.1
Tumi Oxford Compact Carry-On

Tumi

What We Like
  • Multiple pockets and compartments

  • Flawless movement on two or four wheels

  • Built-in USB charge port

What We Don't Like
  • The exorbitant price tag

At first glance, the TUMI Oxford Compact Carry-On looks similar to the Kenneth Cole Reaction underseater with its smart, dark color choices and gold or silver accent zippers. However, it’ll cost you more than two and a half times the price—a price we found hard to justify. Nevertheless, it’s a good option for those that like to travel in style with one of the best names in the business. The suitcase features lightweight nylon and has several extras, including an integrated USB charge port, a TUMI Tracer, and complimentary monogramming.

It’s also uniquely designed with a separate front and back compartment. The back compartment includes two media pockets, a zippered pocket, and an organizer section for your pens and cards. We liked that the front compartment is accessible from the outside of the bag. There’s also an exterior padded compartment for a 14-inch laptop (although we couldn’t close the zipper when the rest of the bag was packed full). The highlight for us was the bag’s flawless movement on two or four wheels. It also has a sleeve for attaching it to the handle of another suitcase.

Price at time of publication: $625

Dimensions: 16 x 14 x 8 inches | Weight: 6.6 pounds | Capacity: 21 liters

Tumi Underseat Luggage

TripSavvy / Conor Ralph

Best Maneuverability: Samsonite Unisex Adults Carry-on Spinner with USB Port

4.5
Samsonite Unisex Adults Carry-on Spinner with USB Port

Samsonite

What We Like
  • Useful organization pockets

  • Multiple carrying options

  • Choice of attractive colors

What We Don't Like
  • No compression straps

Those looking for smart aesthetics and excellent functionality at a more affordable price point will love the Samsonite Spinner Underseater With USB Port. We felt it was very well-made, from durable polyester in a range of good-looking colors, including purple, ocean, and black. We could fit everything for a two-day trip, and although we would have appreciated compression straps to keep everything in place, we did love the mesh organization pockets and designated laptop and tablet sleeves.

On the outside are two zippered pockets, one with an organization panel for stashing smaller items. There’s also an integrated USB port—a convenient addition to ensure you stay charged in transit. Fitting the bag under the seat was snug but ultimately successful. Above all, we loved this underseater’s superior maneuverability. It has four multidirectional spinner wheels, and we could move around obstacles, push or pull in any direction, and pivot easily. It also has carry handles and a sleeve for connecting it to another suitcase.

Price at time of publication: $115

Dimensions 16.5” x 13.75” x 9” | Weight: 5.6 lbs | Capacity: Not Published

Samsonite Carrier Underseat

TripSavvy / Conor Ralph

Best Roller: Steve Madden Underseat Wheeled Bag

4.2
Steve Madden Underseat Wheeled Bag

Amazon

What We Like
  • Built-in toiletries compartment

  • Stylish vintage aesthetic 

  • Rolls smoothly around obstacles

What We Don't Like
  • Not particularly spacious

If you prefer the slightly retro look and operation of a two-wheeled roller suitcase, the Steve Madden Underseat Wheeled Bag may be for you. It features durable, lightweight fabric with two sturdy wheels and a telescopic, push-button handle. The latter has a contoured grip that makes it comfortable to pull through the airport. We were also impressed with how easily it handled our obstacle course and how light it felt even when packed to capacity. 

Unfortunately, that capacity is somewhat limited. We feel this bag would be better suited to warm destinations, not those requiring packing a large jacket or boots. However, we really loved its storage options, with several pockets and compartments on the exterior and interior. Our favorite was the clear plastic toiletry panel, while the side pockets are handy for a water bottle or umbrella. We also appreciated the underseater’s vintage style. It comes in various colors, from black to purple, all with contrasting accents. 

Price at time of publication: $160

Dimensions: 15 x 14 x 9 inches | Weight: 5 pounds | Capacity: Not published

Steve Madden underseat luggage testing

TripSavvy / Conor Ralph

Best for Business Travel : Nicole Miller Underseat Luggage

4.2
Nicole Miller Underseat Luggage

Walmart

What We Like
  • Eye-catching, feminine design

  • Spacious, accessible interior

  • It fits easily under the seat

What We Don't Like
  • No laptop compartment

Particularly suitable for fashion-conscious businesswomen, the Nicole Miller Underseat Luggage features ultra-light nylon—making it ideal for hassle-free overnight trips. Its pretty, purse-like aesthetic caught our eye from the start, and we like its leather accents and animal-print lining. There are two colors to choose from: navy or silver. With two roller wheels and a pair of plastic feet that enable it to stand up unsupported, it was easy to maneuver around our obstacle course. 

You can also carry it using the top grab handles or use the integrated sleeve to slip it over the handle of your carry-on or checked bag. Downsides? The bag’s trolley system is somewhat flimsy and noisy to extend, and the interior is relatively unstructured (it’s kind of a dump everything in the top and hope for the best scenario). But, we liked the integrated toiletry compartments and the exterior pocket for keeping documents or your passport at the ready. It is also very roomy and fits easily under the seat. 

Price at time of publication: $120

Dimensions: 15 x 14 x 9 inches | Weight: 4 pounds | Capacity: Not published

Nicole Miller Underseat Luggage

TripSavvy / Conor Ralph

Best Tote: Travelpro x Travel + Leisure UnderSeat Tote

4.4
Travelpro x Travel + Leisure UnderSeat Tote

Travelpro

What We Like
  • Multiple carrying styles 

  • Magnetic-closure essentials pocket

  • Classically stylish design

What We Don't Like
  • Hard to justify the expense

The Travelpro x Travel + Leisure UnderSeat Tote features a high-density fabric that’s both beautifully textured and amazingly supple. It’s treated to protect it from stains and abrasions and features genuine leather details that look great against a choice of timeless colors, including blue and grey. We particularly liked that the tote offers three carrying styles. You can use the dual carry handles, the removable, padded shoulder strap, or slip the rear stacking sleeve over the handle of a bigger suitcase.

The tote also features a QuickSlip front pocket with magnetic closure for keeping essentials within instant reach. A zipper on the back provides direct access to a padded sleeve for 15-inch laptops and two interior pockets. Unfortunately, we could not fit everything on our packing list and still find room for a laptop—but, due to its small size, the tote fit easily beneath our simulated airline seat. We did think it was somewhat pricey; however, a limited lifetime warranty may make the investment worthwhile for some.

Price at time of publication: $245

Dimensions: 16.5 x 9.25 x 9 inches | Weight: 2.3 pounds | Capacity: 22 liters

Travelpro and T+L Underseat Luggage

TripSavvy / Conor Ralph

Best Lightweight: Travelpro Maxlite 5 Lightweight Underseat Carry-on Travel Tote Bag

4.3
Travelpro Luggage Maxlite 5 18" Lightweight Carry-on Under Seat Tote Travel

Amazon

What We Like
  • Deceptively spacious interior

  • Multiple comfortable carry options

  • Diverse choice of colors

What We Don't Like
  • It doesn’t fit under smaller airline seats

If you’re looking for a more affordable underseat tote from Travelpro, the Maxlite 5 is an excellent alternative. It features a DuraGuard-coated polyester in colors ranging from practical black to options such as slate green, orchid, or ensign blue that are guaranteed to stand out from the crowd. We love that the tote looks small but is surprisingly spacious. We were able to fit everything on our list, including a laptop, with ease. There are pockets inside and several on the outside, too (although these are relatively small).

Being able to pack a lot has its downsides, though. We were not able to fit this tote beneath our simulated airline seat. However, this would likely not be fine on bigger planes or airlines. The bag is lightweight and comfortable to carry in front or to the side of your body. We also appreciated that it has a detachable, padded strap and a rear stacking strap for connecting it to your suitcase. Like all Travelpro bags, it has a limited lifetime warranty.

Price at time of publication: $80

Dimensions: 18 x 11 x 8 inches | Weight: 1.6 pounds | Capacity: 28 liters

Travelpro Maxlite Underseat Luggage

TripSavvy / Conor Ralph

Other Underseat Luggage We Tested

Samsonite Carrier Underseater: Although we appreciated this bag’s integrated USB port, we felt it was otherwise unremarkable, with few compartments and insufficient space to fit a laptop and clothes.

Briggs & Riley Baseline Cabin Spinner: This bag impressed us with its smooth maneuverability. However, we could not fit it beneath our simulated airline seat and couldn’t justify the high price tag.

Travelpro Maxlite 5 Rolling Underseat Carry-On: This underseater was well made, with plenty of useful compartments. However, we couldn’t fit everything on our list and found the two-wheeled design a little awkward maneuvering.

Samsonite Carrier Underseat Luggage

TripSavvy / Conor Ralph

DELSEY Paris Chatelet Soft Air Luggage Under-Seater: A traditional, simple suitcase that won points for sturdiness, it nevertheless failed to make our list due to its limited features and ungainly two-wheeled maneuverability.

BRIC’S X-Travel Pilot Case: This is an expensive option considering that it only has two wheels. We also felt that despite its quality construction, the organization options were poorly thought out and ultimately confusing.

TPRC 15-Inch Smart Underseat Carry-On Luggage With USB Charging Port: We liked the storage features of this suitcase. However, the zippers were a little rough, it was awkward to turn, and the handle, which felt flimsy, did not lock at different height settings.

Rockland Melrose Upright Wheeled Underseater: This bag shone for its generous capacity and clever compartments. However, inline wheels rather than spinners made it tricky to maneuver, and the handle malfunctioned during testing.

Rockland Underseat Luggage

TripSavvy / Conor Ralph

SWISSGEAR Checklite Underseat Carry-On Suitcase: We found this underseater easy to maneuver and liked how much we were able to fit inside. However, it didn’t fit under the seat, no matter which way we tried to slide it in.

VERAGE Spinner Carry-On Underseat Luggage With USB Port: This suitcase rolled smoothly and had space to spare. We couldn’t fit it under our simulated seat, though; a faulty zipper made us question its overall quality.

Nomad Lane Bento Bag V 3.0: We liked this bag’s generous number of compartments and found it easy to carry around. It was also visually appealing but, unfortunately, a little too overpriced to make it onto our final list.

Underseat luggage testing

TripSavvy / Conor Ralph

How We Tested

First, we measured each bag's length, width, and depth to ensure that it matched the manufacturer’s dimensions. Then, we packed it with items for a two-day trip, taking note of available storage and organization features and whether we fit everything in. Once the bag was packed, we took it through an obstacle course meant to simulate a busy airport or station. Where relevant, we rolled it backward and forward at multiple speeds to test the wheels and handle. Finally, we placed bags into a simulated underseat area to check the fit, how easy they were to get in and out, and how much legroom they left. We scored each bag for capacity, design, functionality, maneuverability, and value based on these tests.

Underseat luggage testing

TripSavvy / Conor Ralph

What to Look For

Weight

There’s no hard and fast rule for how much underseat luggage can weigh. Some airlines base restrictions on linear measurements only. Others impose a weight limit for carry-on luggage—but these vary, as does whether or not the limit includes your underseat bag. However, it makes sense to keep underseaters as light as possible, not only from the airline’s perspective but also to save your arm and shoulder muscles. Choose a lightweight material such as nylon, polyester, or polycarbonate to keep the unpacked weight as low as possible.

Size

To fulfill the purpose of an underseater, your bag needs to be able to fit under the seat. The tricky part is that underseat dimensions vary significantly from airline to airline and even between planes and travel classes. For example, American Airlines policy states that underseat luggage should not exceed 18 x 14 x 8 inches, while United Airlines allows a maximum of 17 x 10 x 9 inches. You could check the regulations of the airline you use most frequently before purchasing or opt for a soft-sided bag that allows some flex as long as it’s not overstuffed.

Capacity

Again, there’s no set rule for the maximum capacity. You need to consider what you would typically pack in your underseater (suits and a laptop? Boots and a winter jacket? T-shirts and toiletries?) and then look for a bag that offers you just the right amount of space. You should be able to pack all your items comfortably: but bigger is definitely not better when it comes to underseaters, since it still needs to fit under the seat to count as a personal item and avoid extra fees. Be aware that filling your bag to capacity could also make it too bulky to fit.

Price

There are underseaters for almost every budget, with examples on this list ranging from under $100 to over $600. The differences between the two ends of the price spectrum are usually material quality (sometimes, spending a bit more on a well-made product will save you money in the long run) and features. It’s up to you which features you feel are worth paying more for, from integrated USB charge ports to padded laptop sleeves. Sometimes you can pay over the odds just for a brand name–again, whether that’s worth it is a personal choice.

Features

Underseat luggage comes in many forms, from simple totes with a shoulder strap and perhaps a pocket or two; to spinners with multidirectional wheels and telescoping handles. Which features to choose depends mainly on personal taste and requirements. However, we feel it's essential to have enough organization options to keep your belongings secure and accessible. And, whether you carry, wheel, or pull your underseater, the transportation method needs to work well. Optional extras range from USB charge ports to TSA locks and monogramming. 

Frequently Asked Questions
  • What luggage fits under airplane seats?

    Suitcases, totes, and backpacks marketed as “underseat” luggage are all designed to fit under most airplane seats. However, size restrictions for this type of luggage vary from airline to airline. Even the type of plane and your travel class can affect the size of the underseat space. As a general rule, though, the average size is around 16 (length) x 14 (width) x 9 (height) inches. To be on the safe side, choose a soft-sided bag with plenty of flex, and be sure not to overpack it.

  • Is underseat luggage considered a personal item?

    Most airlines define personal items as anything that can fit comfortably under the seat in front of you, so yes, underseat luggage does count. The caveat is, of course, that it actually fits—just because a bag says its underseat luggage does not necessarily guarantee that it will fit beneath the seat of the particular plane you’re traveling on. It’s always a good idea to check airline restrictions in advance and measure your packed bag to be sure it complies.

  • How do you care for and clean your luggage?

    Exact guidelines for cleaning underseat luggage vary from brand to brand, so you should always double-check the label. However, using a soft, damp cloth, you can usually spot-clean any superficial stains, dirt, or scuff marks. Some bags also have removable, washable liners. Luggage should always be left to dry naturally, be completely dry before being packed away, and be kept in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight.

Underseat luggage test

TripSavvy / Conor Ralph

Why Trust TripSavvy

As TripSavvy’s Africa Travel expert and a regular contributor of articles covering all topics from adventure travel to traveling with kids, Jessica Macdonald has plenty of experience packing for a trip. She’s traveled to more than 50 countries across six continents—often on budget airlines with limited baggage allowances—knows the value of keeping things light and which attributes are most (and least) desirable in underseat luggage.

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