How to Carry On Your Wedding Dress on 5 Major Airlines

Flying with your gown? Keep calm and carry-on.
by Maggie Seaver
photo by rose parmly/unsplash

Between booking a destination venue, choosing the perfect centerpieces and choreographing an epic father-daughter dance, transportation logistics for your dress may have slipped your mind—but don’t panic, you’re far from the first bride to go through this. In general, when deciding between checking or carrying on your wedding dress, choose the latter. You’ll feel much more at ease knowing exactly where it is while in the air, and it’s not worth the stress and aggravation of losing your beautiful dress.  

If you have some extra cash and want to play it really safe, you can always purchase another seat on the plane for your gown. It sounds overly luxurious, but lots of brides do it for peace of mind and wrinkle protection.

Otherwise, you’ll often be able to tote your wedding dress as a carry-on item. To be safe (and to get through security without a hitch), make sure it’s packed to fit safely inside an overhead compartment, as not all airlines provide hanging or closet space. Double-check your airline’s specific carry-on baggage size, weight and packaging requirements so you don’t get surprised with oversize fees, or worse, a possible gate check. Also remember that gate agents and airline staff are there to help you (they’re in the hospitality business after all)—get to your gate early and chat with helpful crew members about how best to stow your precious cargo, like laying it flat above other passengers’ overhead carry-ons to avoid squishing and wrinkling the fabric (you may want to okay this with other passengers as well).

Below are specific tips and policies for carrying your wedding dress onto flights on these five major US airlines.

1. American Airlines

Can you bring your wedding dress as a carry-on?

Yes. Customers are allowed a soft-sided garment bag in lieu of a carry-on bag (get specific dimension and details here). But keep in mind, only some American Airlines aircraft feature closets for hanging garments, and those with the space give priority to passengers with other carry-ons that can’t be stowed overhead (think: wheelchair, walker, bicycle, surfboard).

2. Delta Air Lines

Can you bring your wedding dress as a carry-on?

Absolutely. Delta even designates a section on its website to destination wedding travel tips, where it specifies that brides often carry on their gowns, and, even if they’re flying coach, the crew can usually accommodate them by hanging their dress in a first-class coat closet. Again, it’s important for you to follow baggage size guidelines in case there’s no room for your dress in the inflight wardrobe. But, hey, if the airline actually lets people bring Christmas trees on board, you’re probably set to jet with your (properly packed) strapless A-line.

Another great option? Take advantage of Delta’s recently launched Early Valet program. About 45 minutes prior to boarding, a gate agent will preload your dress to the overhead bin directly above your seat, so no more fretting about cramming it in some opening 12 rows back—or not finding any space at all. Oh, and it’s free! But it’s only available on select routes and vessels, so do your research.

3. JetBlue

Can you bring your wedding dress as a carry-on?

Sure. Unfortunately, JetBlue doesn’t have closets or other hanging space, but your wedding attire can definitely be stored in an overhead compartment. It counts as your personal item or your carry-on (most likely the latter, especially if your gown is particularly voluminous), as long as your garment bag is securely packed and meets all JetBlue baggage requirements. Fun fact: If you end up purchasing a separate seat for your dress, it’s also entitled to a carry-on (seriously!). Be careful, though: Some carry-on items can be checked at the gate due to weight or size issues.

4. Southwest Airlines

Can you bring your wedding dress as a carry-on?

Yep. As with most airlines, you get one carry-on and one personal item. Crew members will typically help accommodate for wedding attire, laying your fragile dress—wrapped in a proper garment bag—carefully in an overhead compartment, either atop other suitcases or in its own space, depending on room. Of course, this applies as long as you adhere to Southwest’s carry-on bag dimensions.

5. United Airlines

Can you bring your wedding dress as a carry-on?

You bet. United Airlines highly recommends you carry on versus check any high-value, fragile or perishable belongings, including “garment bags not designed for travel,” and will accept these specialty items (AKA your packed-up wedding dress) as carry-ons. Gate agents and crew members will be as accommodating as possible with your wedding ensemble, space permitting. See United’s carry-on size restrictions here.

Overall, airlines and their friendly crew members are pretty cool when it comes to wedding dresses—they’re excited for you (it’s your wedding!) and want you to have the smoothest, most stress-free experience possible. When in doubt, call or tweet at your airline (yes, you read that correctly) to get the exact answers you need based on your circumstances. One last thing: You won’t regret bringing a fabric steamer with you or contacting your destination site about steaming options, since you can’t always guarantee a totally wrinkle-free dress upon arrival.

Up Next
The 10 Biggest Wedding Planning Mistakes to Avoid
Wondering if you should send out save-the-dates a little early? Check out our guide first.
by The Knot5 min read