I know that I can use a cardboard box as check-in luggage if it is under the size and weight limits.

But I want know if I can carry-on a cardboard box on a domestic flight within the USA, as this will allow me to carry few extra Kilos.

All the information I got from searching the internet is about the check-in luggage. I'm wondering if anyone has tried it as carry on luggage too (considering it will be under the carry-on bag limits)?

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    If you're concerned that carrying a plain cardboard box isn't allowed, just put it in a large plastic bag and voila, it's a bag.
    – Moyli
    Commented Jun 28, 2016 at 20:19
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    The few times I've tried to use a cardboard box as checked luggage, they made me sign a waiver that the airline wouldn't be responsible for damage.
    – stannius
    Commented Jun 28, 2016 at 23:23
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    How can a cardboard box help you in carrying a few extra kilos ? Commented Jun 29, 2016 at 3:53
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    @happybuddha presumably a cardboard box can be both light and exactly the maximum size without losing anything to rounded corners. Compared to a lightweight non-wheeled cabin bag you'd probably only save around 1kg though. Commented Jun 29, 2016 at 9:21
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    Sorry but this reminded me of an old Jeff Foxworthy joke... "no we got the igloo with the duct tape on it and the 5 piggly wiggly bags right there!" lyricsmode.com/lyrics/j/jeff_foxworthy/… Commented Jun 29, 2016 at 19:34

5 Answers 5


In general, as long as the box meets the size and weight restrictions for carry-on luggage, you can bring it into the cabin.

Luggage restrictions generally do not concern the material from which the luggage is made.


Years ago I did this when I moved to a new country. I wanted to bring my desktop computer, so I measured it to confirm it was within the allowed measurements, and traveled with it wrapped in very soft cardboard.

I did complete my three flights without issues, but it did raise some eyebrows with the employees: at one check-in counter the employee claimed that it was not the right size, but I solved that by showing her that the computer fit perfectly in the measuring basket they had.


I've seen them used, by my family and others, and it's generally not been a problem.

A few points to consider - they're more easily used as (disposable) check in bags, because someone else will be carrying them - for a carry-on, you might want to devise a strap or the like to lift with, as it does get annoying to carry a box (particularly a heavy one, to fit the 'extra kilos') all the way through the airport, since there's fewer ways to carry it securely.

You might consider one of those super-cheap lightweight collapsible duffles as an alternative - we used to have a couple tucked into the outer pocket of the suitcases so if we ended up with something bulky or heavy, we could produce an extra 'bag' and repack on the spot to make everything fit the luggage limits.

Or take Moyli's suggestion, to use a bag to more conveniently carry the box. it's just about what's easier for you.


Be prepared to have the box X-ray'd and to open the box for inspection, other than that, I don't see why not.

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    When does carry-on luggage not get x-ray'd?
    – Belle
    Commented Jun 28, 2016 at 22:23
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    @J.Constantine - when it's too big to fit on the X-ray belt. I saw someone carry on a large musical instrument (cello? viola?) that got a hand inspection because it was too big for the machine. I assume that she bought a separate seat ticket for the instrument, but it was not on my flight.
    – Johnny
    Commented Jun 28, 2016 at 23:28
  • This is about it. Aside from size and weight requirements and restrictions on items e.g. liquids, the main requirement for carry-on luggage is that it can pass through security checks. This means it can ride the conveyor and if necessary can be emptied and refilled. You can put it in a tray for security, so it doesn't need any particular structural integrity or even to be closed at the top. However if it is held shut by tape, then you might have to open it and re-tape it.
    – Stuart F
    Commented Feb 10, 2023 at 15:47

You may or may not have a problem. There are no US laws or regulations about using a box as carry on luggage. TSA shouldn't have a problem* and everything should be fine, as far as rules go.

That being said you have two potential issues that you need to watch for. The airline may have rules against it. Not laws or regulations, but just rules. Most airlines follow the same basic rules, so that travelers don't get confused, but there are some differences. Specially on budget airlines (where they may charge per carry on) or "high end" airlines where they want to discourage larger carry ons. So make sure to check with your airline directly.

*The second problem is going to be "it's unusual". Around holidays and throughout the year people carry boxes with gifts quite a bit, so this shouldn't be a problem, but every time you do something different then the norm, be prepared for someone else to have a problem with it. TSA people might take an extra through look, for example, or have to call their manager or some such. Make sure to leave some extra time for that non-sense.

So to be clear, you should not have a problem at the airport, the airline may have a rule against it, but that would be unusual and it's best to call them to find out.

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