Genius Hack To Bring An Extra Carry On Onto Your Next Flight

When you need to bring more stuff with you when you travel, and don’t want to pay for a checked bag – or a carry on bag if you’re flying an ultra low cost carrier – you wear all your clothing onto the airplane. Or you turn yourself into a human suitcase by wearing a SCOTTeVEST.

Backpackers for years have stuffed their clothes into pillow cases to make pillows to sleep on. But Anya Iakovlieva takes that efficient packing tip to new heights by using the pillow case as an extra carry on bag. Just stuff all your items inside, instead of using it for a pillow. Her video has been viewed over 17 million times on TikTok. A pillow case with a zipper works best.


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♬ how would they know bad girls club – Chris Gleason

The hack to disguise a carry on bag inside of a shopping bag doesn’t actually work because it misunderstands airline carry on rules. The genius here is that it understands the psychology people bring to the rules.

Now, I’ve seen people more than once who have been told to put their newspaper inside of their bag because otherwise that’s a separate personal item but that’s just an agent in a bad mood. Most passengers on U.S. airlines can bring a full-sized carry on bag and a personal item like a purse or laptop bag. But if you’ve got a book that’s going to be fine, too… and a pillow. You’re just going to rest your head on that, it doesn’t need space underneath the seat or in the overhead bin.

If your pillow is full of heavy items though it really shouldn’t be out during takeoff or landing. In turbulence it actually could be dangerous though of course that’s a long shot. And with single agent boarding no American Airlines agent on a full flight will have time to look closely anyway.

(HT: Paul H.)

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. That was a pretty good idea for sure, another way to carry your items with you. Doesn’t matter an agent is in a bad mood or not she or she shouldn’t take a newspaper as luggage lol!
    Good information Gary.

  2. I mentioned to you a few years ago my idea of creating a fake baby stroller that is really a suitcase, in order to have a free, gate-checked bag.

  3. @Gregory Johnson – you beat me to it – I was going to basically post the same thing. Gary is really reaching for content lately. Since I bet 90-95% of people that read this blog have elite status and don’t worry about checking a bag or need to game the carry on rules it really isn’t applicable (like much of the recent content unfortunately). Also, I have a real issue with Gary posting ways for people to bypass rules and “game” the system. I’m a poker player and there is a name for what this is – angle shooting – and it isn’t a compliment!

  4. @ A99. Elite members often get free checked bags, eliminating the need for carry-ons in many instances. BTW, many items qualify under FAA medical devices. Got neck pain? Get an Rx for that pillow. Hot/cold flashes? Ditto blankey or ice pack. A nice doctors or EMT bag with ‘RUSH: MEDICAL” labels will also exempt most bags from scrutiny after you pass TSA. I actually carry a real EMT bag when I travel. Cant sat how much my emergency kit has saved me over the years… bandages, meds, vitamins, sling, ready ice, antiseptics, abx ointment, antifungals, abd pads.. all can be invaluable when travelling. And it always flies free!

  5. @brent.ferguson a real live EMT bag….. whoah. Does your elite status give you a medic certificate, too? Lol

  6. Seriously, if you can pay for airfare but are too cheap to pay to check a bag you can (1) become a con-artist and try to cheat the system, (2) stay home, (3) ship your items to your destination. I suggest #2, that will allow plenty of time to read the rubbish posted here. Lately the content has the signs of desperation as the column dies. Hopefully sooner than later.

  7. Does anyone remember when you could check 2 bags with no charge? Then it became 1 bag no charge. Now you are charged for every bag you check! This policy only makes sense from the airlines point of view to increase revenues. If it’s a short trip a carry on will do. If it’s a long trip it won’t. Going back to 1 carry on and 1 checked bag would be passenger/consumer friendly
    I’m sure it would sway me as to which airline to fly especially on family vacations. Prior to the pandemic I played the game of which program or credit card covered checked baggage –

  8. Thank you for the tip. It’s helpful for people who don’t have status and have to fly Basic Economy on United…

  9. Crap like this makes me wish they would charge for carryons .. cuz what we ALL need is for more stuff crammed in the overhead….

  10. Another way to get a free checked valet sized bag, is to just wait. They almost always offer in order to save room and time having to check them at the least minute when overhead space is full.

  11. @Stan, unless you mean literally “on your head” when you say “overhead”, I don’t understand your comment.

  12. The zipped pillow case thing to me is only sensible to fit a coat if it’s cold where you are going, as it gives you a pillow to make the flight more comfortable and keeps your coat clean from the dirt and germs of travel. Then when you get to your destination you have a nice clean coat to put on before leaving the airport without fumbling and opening up your suitcase. But other than that, stop trying to cheat the rules. I heard someone say they stuff things under their shirt to disguise being pregnant. That is just sick and stupid. There are all sorts of traveling light and minimal tips out there. Get creative that way. Be classy not obnoxious. And by the way, Delta still does two free checked bags last I checked. And treat your Flight Attendants well. They are really there for your safety. NOT to feed you really.

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