Frequent flyers know the rules: you’re allowed to carry one personal item and one carry-on piece of luggage onto an airplane. But everyone has missed out on an ingenious hack that takes advantage of the fact that most airlines don’t count a pillow as one of those items. Everyone except one TikTok user.
User @nolimitua, known IRL as Anya Iakovlieva, recently posted a video that reveals one of her travel “hacks,” or tips that make life easier when you’re flying across the country. Basically, because pillows don’t normally count as a personal item or carry-on, you can fill a pillowcase with some of your travel goodies and carry it on your lap. It’s basically a free bag.
You can watch the full clip here, but it’s pretty self-explanatory — and so disgustingly simple that I can’t believe I haven’t thought of it before myself.
Of course, to make the most of the pillow hack, you’ll probably want a zippered pillowcase to prevent your clothes from spilling out at the most inopportune moments. And you’ll probably want to avoid packing it full of anything that could make the TSA think you’re smuggling in contraband goods.
Folks in the comments of Iakovlieva’s TikTok video have been skeptical. One user argued, “they don’t even allow a handbag/purse on some flights, there’s no way a pillow is gonna fly.” A different user noted that she tried the same hack in New York, and they confiscated her pillow.
But pillows are one of those liminal items, like coats or small blankets, that inhabit the gray areas of most airlines’ rules. Because they’re soft items that generally don’t have anything packed inside them, most airlines don’t care if you happen to have a pillow or a coat in your lap — but it’s also totally possible that an airline or TSA could take exception to a pillowcase filled with anything but feathers or stuffing.
It’s one of those “try at your own risk” hacks, but I can’t even express how stoked I am to carry on a pillowcase full of sweaters the next time I visit my husband’s family in Canada so I can save my luggage space for Christmas gifts.