Can You Bring a Pillow on a Plane? What You Need to Know to Travel Comfortably

Whether it’s for the holidays or a business meeting, millions of people around the world travel by plane. While air travel is all about comfort, this coziness is tested when you’re taking an overnight flight. This is when having essentials like comfortable clothes and the best eye masks for sleeping become all-important. Another vital item you’ll need for long-haul flights is a good pillow to make the journey easier on you, but can you bring a pillow on a plane?

To avoid any hassle with flight security, it helps to know well beforehand what their stance is with sleep products and personal items like pillows.

To that end, a basic knowledge of airline luggage regulation rules is necessary. We’ll be giving a concise breakdown of what’s what when it comes to maximizing your comfort on long-haul flights.

Can You Bring a Pillow on a Plane?

According to the TSA, you’ll most likely be able to bring a pillow with you on your flight. However, whether or not you can bring these particular personal items on board is dependent on a few variables, the most important of which is the airline you’re flying with.

What this means is that airlines will have different rules on the types of pillows you can or can’t bring on board. What’s more, in the interest of ensuring that the airline seats are comfortable for everyone, additional carry-on bag restrictions are put in place.

Space on a flight has become a premium commodity as airlines try to move more people at once. This is most obvious when you look at how cramped economy seats are today. 

can you bring a pillow on a plane?

Sometimes, passengers will be provided with a travel pillow and airline blankets for the duration of their entire flight. However, as this results in an additional cost for the airlines, this perk has become quite rare. You now get airline pillows only if you particularly request for them and in many cases, at an extra cost.

Due to how important sleep products can be for keeping discomfort levels low during travel, it always helps to confirm the specific carry-on baggage policies of the airline you want to fly with.

What to Know About Carry-On and Personal Item Rules

The permittance of a standard pillow on a plane by any airline is subject to controversy for a reason.

Unlike books, coats and different types of travel pillows, full-sized pillows typically won’t fit in your backpack or travel bag. As such, if you want to bring a full-size pillow on board for that 8 to 10-hour flight, you may have to make it your one allotted personal item, especially considering how much certain kinds of pillows weigh.

While there’s a relatively standard measurement for what’s considered a carry-on, how these guidelines are interpreted is often subject to the discretion of the airline.

Airlines may:

  • Require you to put your bag in a premeasured container to confirm it meets their guidelines
  • Simply eyeball it to gauge the size of the item
  • Have strict standards and guides that you must follow for carry-on bags

The issue with taking full-sized pillows on the plane is their large size. Even though these are basically like your in-flight socks or electric blankets in terms of utility, many low-cost airlines will take exception to you carrying them on.

While pillows are easily compressible or foldable, if they don’t fit in carry-on bags completely, you may need to forfeit another personal item to bring them on board. However, you can bring these and other additional items with you if you don’t mind the additional cost that you’d be charged.

What to Expect When Bringing a Pillow on a Plane

When bringing these particular items on board, the worst thing that’ll happen is you’ll get slammed with an extra fee by the airline. 

That being said, when it comes to lugging a full-size pillow around on international flights, the airline might not be your only concern. Other passengers may not be so tolerant of your pillow choice, so be prepared for that and keep other people’s space in mind.

Beyond this, though, there are some things you need to keep in mind when bringing a pillow with you on your flight. We’ll discuss these in the following sections.

Size and Storage In-Flight

Just like your average airplane blanket, airline pillows could be a lot thicker. The thickness your bed pillow affords you will make those airline seats more accommodating of deep sleep. That said, a thick and heavy pillow can also pose a real problem.

Unless you have a window seat, you’d need to be careful to make sure your standard pillow doesn’t bother those around you. What’s more, if your overhead compartment is full, the only place you’ll be able to store these types of pillows when not in use is on your lap.


Bed pillows on airplanes also raise the issue of hygiene. By bringing such a personal item into such a public space, you run the risk of exposing your pillow to germs and other unwanted nasties provided by public transportation.

The Best Bed Pillow Alternatives

Can you bring a pillow on a plane? Yes, but it can be a hassle. This is one reason why many people are considering other, more convenient options in the place of their bed or body pillows.

While your conventional compact travel pillow is great, these types of pillows still have a long way to go where overall comfort is concerned. That being said, there are a few types better suited for minimizing discomfort during travel. 

Below are some of the best types of travel pillows worth checking out for air travel.

The Adjustable Bamboo Pillow

can you bring a pillow on a plane?

These compressible pillows give your frame the support it needs to prevent neck pain. These offer a memory foam pillow that melds to fit your needs.

What makes these so great is that they can also double as your compact travel pillow. You can empty the contents of the pillow into a bag and put it back when you’re home.

These give you all the comfort of a bed pillow on the go!

The Soft Pillow

can you bring a pillow on a plane?

 Specially designed to be more portable without sacrificing comfort, these are the pillows for you if you absolutely must carry a full-sized pillow with you on your flight.

Unlike with your standard pillow, these are made to roll and compress easily so you can tuck them away at will.

The Compressible Camping Pillow

can you bring a pillow on a plane?

 These camping pillows are made to give you all the comfort of a good bed pillow minus the size and weight.

What’s more, you have an array of options to choose from here as these offer compressible pillows and inflatable pillows, as well! In many cases, you even get a specialized storage pouch with these.

Bottom Line

Can you bring a pillow on a plane? For the most part, yes you can, but be prepared for a bit of a hassle if you opt for a large pillow. Still, comfort and proper rest on long-haul flights are very important.

So, if you still want to travel with your bed pillow, by all means, do so! However, if you’d like to find an equally comfortable travel pillow, then our recommendations might be just what you need.

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