Can you bring a blanket on the plane? And other hand luggage considerations for air travel

Believe it or not, one of the most commonly requested personal items on a long flight is a blanket. Depending on the aircraft type, and if you find yourself on a long flight, you can actually get quite chilly before arriving at your final destination. Whenever I board an overnight flight, I always feel the need to quickly hunt around for one of those airline blankets to quickly shove into my hand luggage for later on in the long flight.

Do airlines give out free blankets anymore?

Cabin crew sometimes stash airplane blankets in the overhead bin (you know, the kind in the thin plastic bag). However, free blankets are becoming less common in today’s age of budget airlines, especially on domestic flights.

Let’s face it, the majority of us travel in economy class, where the luxury of free blankets is increasingly a thing of the past. You might get lucky and score airline blankets from the overhead bin. Better yet, the cabin crew from some airline companies leave free blankets on your seat in a plastic bag.

Free blankets in economy class are thin and sometimes don’t even cover your entire body. The last thing you want on a long flight is to get cold. On an overnight flight, the air conditioning gets especially chilly, and the typical airline blanket just doesn’t cut it. This got me thinking, why not bring my own blanket?

Can you bring your own blanket through airport security?

Getting past security is often a big hurdle. Especially if you’re traveling in economy class and don’t have access to the priority line. The last thing you want is a hold up at airport security because your carry-on items won’t be cleared by transportation security administration (or the equivalent to tsa officers in the country you’re departing from). Good news, airport security will have no objection to your personal blanket; the tsa website says nothing about a regular blanket being banned from carry-on luggage.

Should you store your own blanket in your carry-on luggage?

Keep in mind that most airlines limit you to one or two carry-on items, and one personal item. The following items are examples of personal items: small backpack, garment bag, laptop bag, smaller bag, camera bag, diaper bag, purse. If your own blanket doesn’t take up much space and can fit inside your personal item, flight attendants and tsa officers at the security checkpoint won’t count it toward your carry-on allowance.

Does my blanket have to be in my carry-on luggage?

If you don’t have much space in your personal item (small backpack, laptop bag, etc.), a better choice might be putting your own blanket inside your larger carry-on items (garment bag, duffel bag, roller suitcase, etc.). If you’re avoiding the checked bag fee, there’s a good chance that your carry-on items are full. Not to worry, you could always make a fashion statement by wearing your blanket past security.

If you’ve managed to get your own blanket past the security checkpoint and through your departure gate, you’re home free! You can definitely use it without worry at any point in your long flight. As long as you’ve stowed your carry-on items away, cabin crew won’t be too concerned about the different rules and how they apply to your hand luggage. Flight attendants are more concerned about safety and making sure the plane leaves the departure gate and arrives on time to its final destination.

Other common FAQs about carry-on items and bringing your own blanket

Should I bring my own blanket if I’m traveling with a small child?

For some parents, baby’s first flight can be a scary experience. Especially if it’s a long flight, or an overnight flight. Since getting airline blankets is never guaranteed, the last thing you want is to be without your own blanket. At the same time, you need to be realistic, traveling with a small child often means many carry-on items, if you can’t manage just one more thing, you can always take a chance and hope for airline blankets.

Can I bring my own blanket on Spirit Airlines, Southwest Airlines, or other budget airlines?

Yes you can, but be careful you don’t accidentally make it count as your personal item. Each of these budget airlines provides additional information on its official website, but basically, make sure it’s stored within your allowable carry-on items. One thing’s for sure though, budget airlines do not pass out free blankets. 

Can I bring my own blanket on an american airlines flight, or other full service airline?

Whether you’re traveling with American, delta airlines, united airlines, or other full service airline, the short answer is yes. While budget airlines will sell blankets for a fee, the full service carriers usually offer free blankets, it’s just not guaranteed you’ll get one. As always, make sure it fits within your carry-on items so that it doesn’t count as a separate personal item.

Can I bring my own blanket in my checked baggage?

As with carry-on items, checked baggage has weight limits. Some travelers don’t need their own blanket until they reach their final destination (maybe you’re traveling in business class or first class where they provide nothing short of the perfect blanket for your lie-flat bed). In this case, it might be a better choice to put your regular blanket in your checked baggage. You can even pack an electric blanket in your checked luggage.

Can I bring a weighted blanket in my carry-on luggage?

In short, yes, you can. Like with a regular blanket, you can bring along your weighted blanket as long as it can be packed in your carry-on items. You’ll need to be careful, as some airline companies strictly enforce weight limits for hand luggage. Be sure to weigh your carry-on items with your weighted blanket before leaving to the airport.

Do airlines wash their free blankets?

You’d think that airplane blankets that come wrapped in a plastic bag have been washed. This isn’t always the case, some airline blankets are simply folded after use and wrapped in thin plastic, to be placed back in the overhead bin. A report by wall street journal showed that most airplane blankets are washed between every 5 and 30 days. Maybe the better choice is to avoid those free blankets, even if you do find one in the overhead bin!

Are there free blankets on long-haul international flights?

It is definitely more common to see free blankets on long-haul international flights than on domestic flights. Prior to boarding, flight attendants will often put a plastic bag on every economy class seat containing a typical airline blanket. Most airline companies offer free blankets that are pretty thin, so don’t expect a perfect blanket by any stretch of the imagination.

Does business class on long-haul international flights really offer the perfect blanket?

Different airline companies offer different amenities as part of their business product. Some airlines like united airlines, air canada, lufthansa, and qatar airways provide offer plush bedding, even pillow tops and down comforters, on long-haul international flights. To the average person, the price of a business class ticket is just too high.

If you’re ever lucky enough to opt for a business class seat on an overnight flight, you are guaranteed to arrive at your final destination in much better condition. Not only will you get a proper sleep, but the meal service is better, and baggage allowance is greater. The extra charge might just be worth it, especially on wide-body aircraft type offering lie-flat seats.

Conclusion

Air travel is exciting, but it can also be stressful. Airline companies, their cabin crew, and airport security staff all work together to get you safely to your final destination. In order to make air travel efficient, they need to enforce different rules. Carry-on luggage rules and restrictions are amongst these, and so it’s important for travelers to be aware of what is allowed and what’s not when it comes to carry-on items. Thankfully, you are generally safe to bring along your own blanket, as long as it doesn’t take up too much space or make you exceed your carry-on allowance.

Make sure to look at some of my other travel hacks, packing tips, and destination suggestions here at wandermileage.com. Check back soon to read about the 42 most important carry-on items that you must pack for long-haul international flights.

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