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By Patricia Doherty/Travel + Leisure
December 12, 2017

If you’re like most airline travelers, you keep busy during flights: working, reading, catching up on your favorite T.V. series — although sometimes you might just take a nap.

No matter how you choose to spend your time, with underseat carry-on luggage, you can keep everything you need — your electronics, headphones, chargers, books, games, sweaters, and snacks — conveniently and securely nearby.

The best small carry-on bags will fit under the seats in most aircraft, although sizes and configurations vary. You can even pack for a short trip in these underseat bags or carry that well-advised emergency change of clothes without taking up space in the overhead bin. The flight attendants will love you.

The bags we have listed here are well within the average airline’s underseat area (about 17 x 11 x 20 inches) and have been selected for their versatility, looks, and durability at various price points. The convenience and comfort of having your important items nearby will be worth the sacrifice of a little legroom.

Travelpro Platinum Magna 2 Spinner Tote

Courtesy of eBags

In black or olive nylon, this versatile bag has an open packing compartment for clothing, a padded laptop or tablet sleeve, and exterior zipper pockets for easy access to your in-flight essentials. Dual spinner wheels, a contoured handle, and leather top and side grips make handling so easy you’ll think the bag is empty.

To buy: , $238

Samsonite Mightlight 2 Softside Wheeled Boarding Bag

Courtesy of eBags

This lightweight nylon bag has a large main compartment, a convenient organizer with zippered sections, and a large exterior zippered pocket. Available in grape, blue, and black, it’s a compact and practical bag.

To buy:, $135

Briggs & Riley Rolling Cabin Bag

Courtesy of eBags

The outsider handle on this bag provides an inner compartment with more capacity and a flat surface for packing. Interior pockets, larger exterior zippered sections, a padded tablet area, and end pockets keep belongings organized. Available in black or olive nylon, this bag is both attractive and durable.

To buy:, $349

Delsey Quilted Rolling Underseat Tote

Courtesy of Amazon

This stylish polyester bag has a roomy main compartment with interior pockets for small items. A padded section for tablets or e-readers and easy access front pocket keep contents accessible. It’s easy to handle with inline wheels, and it can be slipped over the handle of a larger bag as well.

To buy:, $90

Travelon 18-inch Wheeled Underseat Bag

Courtesy of Amazon

In black, red, blue, purple, or teal ballistic polyester, this attractive carry-on bag is practical too, with a roomy main compartment and a padded pocket for an iPad or tablet. Mesh and open-top pockets of various sizes keep your belongings in order, and a water bottle side pocket folds flat when it’s not needed.

To buy:, $67

Lipault Plume Business 17-inch Spinner Tote

Courtesy of eBags

Weighing in at just under five pounds, Lipault’s water-resistant nylon tote is as stylish as it is easy to use. There’s enough room for a 15-inch computer and the front pocket’s organization components make it easy to keep track of all of your smaller essentials. It also comes equipped with detachable backpack straps so you can carry it easily in case you happen to have to sprint through the terminal to make that tight connection.

To buy:, $229

Longchamp Le Pliage Backpack

Courtesy of Nordstrom

If you prefer a carry-on backpack to something with wheels, this Longchamp style is a classic. Choose your favorite from twelve colors and don’t leave home without this convenient bag that folds flat and tucks away until you need more space. In durable water-resistant nylon with leather trim, this backpack has adjustable straps and an interior pocket.

To buy:, $125

Steve Madden Wheeled Underseat Bag

Courtesy of Amazon

With an array of colors and patterns to choose from, you’ll be able to find one you love with this practical, attractive bag. Front, interior, and side pockets along with an open inner compartment provide lots of space. Plus, the telescopic handle tucks away when you want to use the carry straps.

To buy:, $80

Tumi Durban Expandable Duffel Bag

Courtesy of Tumi

This bag, with adjustable shoulder strap, has an exterior zip pocket and two smartphone pockets. In black, with leather trim and protective feet, it’s attractive and durable. It’s expandable and with the “add a bag” feature, it will conveniently attach to the handle of a larger suitcase for easy handling.

To buy:, $445

eBags Kalya Rolling Tote

Courtesy of eBags

This lightweight nylon bag has a place for everything you want in your underseat carry-on bag, with large interior packing compartment, double outside pocket with accessory sections, a smartphone pocket, side zipper pockets, and a water bottle holder. Its retractable handle stows away, and its add-a-bag sleeve attaches to a larger bag for easy transport.

To buy:, $130

Baggallini Rolling 17-inch Tote

Courtesy of Amazon

This attractive bag has three compartments: one for clothes, one for cosmetics, and space for a laptop computer in the center. There’s a zippered pocket on the outside and a sleeve to slip it over a larger bag for convenient handling. The pull handle tucks away when not needed. In red, charcoal, or striped crinkle nylon, this bag is practical as well as good looking.

To buy:, $178

Eagle Creek Expanse Wheeled Tote Carry-on

Courtesy of Eagle Creek

Treaded wheels and heavy-duty housing add durability to this wheeled tote, and its padded tablet sleeve and accessory sections make it easy to stay organized. In gray, blue, or red polyester, it has an open inner compartment for clothing and zippered pockets for smaller items.

To buy:, $149

Ciao Convertible Expandable Underseat Luggage

Courtesy of Amazon

This clever lightweight nylon bag is well within most airlines’ underseat dimensions, and it expands nearly 50 percent to offer more packing capacity, still within carry-on limits. With inline skate wheels, it rolls easily, and the retractable handle tucks away in its own compartment when not needed. Lots of interior space with front and side zipper pockets keeps contents organized.

To buy:, $70

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