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Spirit Airlines - Personal Item Bag and Accessory Recommendations

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    Spirit Airlines - Personal Item Bag and Accessory Recommendations


    I mainly travel for pleasure on Spirit Airlines and am looking for a bag that can be used as my “personal item” and can fit under the seat. Their current size limits for personal item bags are 16x14x12 but on 3/31/16 it’s changing to 17x13x8. I’m a petite female, height is 4’11. I like the Western Flyer and the Tri-Star due to their versatile carrying options. I’m paranoid in crowded airports and prefer to carry a messenger bag for added security but would like to carry it as a backpack when wheeling around my other bags that include a suitcase and a snowboard bag.

    Bag Advice (Western Flyer/Tri-Star)
    Although I think that the Western Flyer would be a better fit for my body size, I’m also considering the Tri-Star in an attempt to eliminate using my suitcase altogether, in which case I’d use the Tri-Star along with my snowboard bag for a 10 day trip. FYI, my snowboard bag is pretty roomy so I don’t foresee having to overstuff the Tri-Star. Has anyone successfully used the Tri-Star on Spirit as their personal item and did it fit under the seat?

    However, if I decide to get the Western Flyer and continue using my suitcase and snowboard bag, I’d like to know how does the dyneema vs. the cordura compare if the bag is underpacked? Does the dyneema hold its shape still or would the cordura be a better fit? I’d mainly be carrying a fairly light load including:

    -Boarding pass
    -Electronics including phone, iPod touch, usb cords, wall charger
    -Sunglasses with case
    -3 or 4 prescription medicine bottles
    -Inflatable travel pillow
    -Jacket or sweater, winter hat, gloves, and scarf
    -Snacks (almonds and granola bars)
    -Small random items: chapstick, lipstick, ear plugs, hair ties, hand sanitizer, pen, etc…

    Accessory Advice (PCSB/Side Effect/Other?)
    Due to my paranoia in crowded airports, I’d like to carry my wallet and prescription medication inside the main interior pockets for added security. I was thinking of using a PCSB and one or two side effect bags to hold this stuff along. I guess I’d just clip the bags to the o-rings so I’d have a hanging pocket but I’m open to other suggestions. 

    For the exterior zipper pockets, what size organizer pouches work best to clip into the o-rings? And what length key straps do you recommend for tethering stuff to the interior and exterior o-rings? Thoughts on the Freudian slip for me – overkill?

    Wow, I’m on option overload so any advice or recommendations to steer me in the best direction would be greatly appreciated. Thanks for your time and help!

    Kind regards,


    Welcome to the forums, @flips712,

    There have been a few previous discussions about carryons with Spirit Airlines, and I'd suggest the Western Flyer is probably the best bag to fit both the new 17"x13"x8" carryon restriction and your height. In fact, @Dandelion posted these pictures in June of the Western Flyer in the current spirit sizer:

    Originally posted by Dandelion View Post
    I didn't fly with Spirit but got curious when I spotted the sizer.

    Western Flyer - full, not stuffed.

    For your height and build, the two most comfortable bags to carry are the Western Flyer (18" x 12" x 7") or the larger (19.7 x 12.6 x 7.9") Aeronaut 30, which some people have tried to use by emptying one of the end pockets. However, the Western Flyer should fit exactly into the new specs.

    If you order the Western Flyer in the 400d Dyneema Option (currently, it's available in Black 400d Dyneema/Wasabi), you'll also be able to add a little weight savings and packing flexibility. I don't think the Dyneema bag loses shape when underpacked, because the structure is maintained by the internal compartment design, and by the exterior piping.

    You've picked some good accessories: the Packing Cube Shoulder Bag can be used in one of front zippered compartments, and the Side Effect is a generally useful bag that can double as a seat pocket bag, especially with the aid of a pair of double carabiner clips ordered from Parts. (Note, these parts are still available, and the swiveling clip design makes them quite useful general attachment accessories, but they won't be able to get more of these when the present supplies run out).




      Thank you moriond for that information. The Aeronaut 30 was also on my list but I think the organization of the Western Flyer may suit me better. I did read some posts previously from other petite members to obtain some insight on what did and did not work for them. It seems that the majority of people highly recommend the Absolute shoulder strap, but I remember reading a petite wearer's review where they found it to be a bit too thick/beefy for their liking. Any thoughts on this?



        I'm on the petite side as well, 5'1" with narrow shoulders. I started off using a mini SOS optech strap, which is a smaller version of the absolute strap (AS). The AS did seem bulky for me, but after using both, I think the AS is better suited to a bigger bag like the WF. I use the smaller strap with the packing cube shoulder bag and daylight brief case. The AS has more padding to distribute the weight better. That said, I always prefer to carry the bag on my back. I didn't even bring it on my last trip with the WF. I have an injured shoulder so carrying a bigger bag on my shoulder for too long can wear on me. One advantage to the WF is the padded poron handle. It makes hand-carry easy with the WF for my small hands.

        Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk


          Thanks Pokilani for your input on the strap. If I get the WF I'll likely get the Absolute strap to go with it. My only concerns with the WF is that it seems more ideal for those carrying clothing in packing cubes and for carrying a laptop, both of which I likely won't be packing in the bag at this time. Correct me if I'm wrong here. Actually I hope some tells me otherwise because I really like this bag but am unsure if it's the best bag for my needs. I know the outside zipper pockets have O-rings inside, but can someone please confirm the number and location of O-rings inside the 2 main large compartments? I really want to use one of the main interior compartments to carry the items that I can't risk getting lost in my checked bag and want to securely stow them in the bag inside a zippered pocket, like a side effect or lead pocket but want to ensure that I'll have the ability to tether it to an O-ring.

          I'm now also considering the S19 or S25 because it of it's organized pockets each with O-rings inside and has webbing loops, which the WF lacks. Essentially I'd like to hook a zippered bag inside the main compartment of whatever bag I get but want it hooked on to both O-rings so it remains stationary. I did see a few posts where people sewed in the webbing loops to the WF, which they did so they could carry a cache, which seemed like a simple modification.

          Although I've seen pics and posts from petite members using both the S19 and S25, my main concern is regarding the the wider placement of the shoulder straps vs earlier versions which were narrower and apparently more comfortable for smaller wearers like myself, 4'11 height, 105 lbs, no bust ::::: How does the newer the newer synapse strap placement compare to that of the WF straps?

          And lastly, what is the largest size 3D and/or organizational pouches that fit inside the outside WF zip pockets? What can be put in the water bottle pocket besides a water bottle? Does this pocket have an O-ring?

          Thanks again for answering all my borderline obsessive compulsive questions. :P




            For O-rings inside the Western Flyer:

            There are 2 inside the front compartment with the divided zippers:

            They are about 3.5" apart, and on the back wall of the compartment, where you can see them underneath the padded handle. In @milpool's picture (above) from his Western Flyer and DLBC - Perfect 1 bag travel combination thread, the right O-ring is hooked to a steel stuff sack, and the left O-ring is flipped up. You can see that they fall to either side of the Dyneema divider with zipper (which is folded to the left, below the flipped up left O-ring).

            Another way to view the spacing of those two O-rings is to look at @taminca's picture from her First Trip with Western Flyer thread:

            She has 2 16" Wasabi key straps tethered to those two O-rings. (Note: she is not using the model with backpack straps, so the rear compartment design is different).

            In the back compartment of the Western Flyer, there is one O-ring against each side. The side with the Annex Clips has one O-ring at the top right, roughly under the position for hooking on a shoulder strap:

            This is the flip side of the center divider wall where there are two O-rings mentioned above. This picture is from @perseffect's Cache with Rails in a Western Flyer? thread.

            On the other side of the back compartment that abuts the backpack straps, there is one O-ring near the top center. Found this in the images on the bottom of the Western Flyer product page:

            Click image for larger version

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            The left side shows the back compartment side opposite the compartment where the backpack straps are stowed, with a black, mini carabiner hooked to the O-ring. The right side shows the other wall of the back compartment of the Western Flyer, with an 8" key strap hooked to the O-ring at the top right, just above the right most Annex Clip, and close to where the shoulder strap would get clipped in at the top of the bag. The key strap overlies a large clear Organizer Pouch in Olive.

            There's also an O-ring with 8" key strap at the right ends of each of the front zippered pockets of the Western Flyer (hooked in just above or below where the zipper ends)

            Somebody else may be able to find (or take) new pictures of all the Western Flyer O-rings on the fly.

            You don't have to use the Western Flyer for carrying a laptop. Further, you have other options for tethering things: for example, if you follow the link I gave to @perseffect's thread, you can remove those two black plastic annex clips, and add two chunky Velcro ties plus a pair of Gatekeeper clips that you buy from Parts to convert that assembly to one that can hold a horizontal cache with rails.

            However, if you're not carrying a laptop, I wouldn't bother doing this. An iPad in a cache can easily be stashed in the backpack strap pocket (my favorite location for on the fly storage), or in one of the front zippered pockets. And you could tether other straps to either the webbing loops (with Annex Clips removed and/or converted with Velcro ties and Gatekeeper clips), or simply close the annex clips around key straps that are tethered to pouches, etc. I also think that the Lead's Pocket is rather large to use for the Western Flyer, and wouldn't secure easily (given that it uses Annex Clips that are set wider apart). I could hack this, but I probably would just use a Side Effect and/or a Packing Cube Shoulder Bag, as both of these are easier to move among other bags.

            By the way, I do travel with a Tri-Star, and like it. (I'm just under 5' 4"), but the extra center pocket adds some weight, relative to the volume of the bag. My impression is that shorter women find both the Western Flyer and Aeronaut 30 more manageable.


            Last edited by moriond; 10-31-2015, 02:09 PM. Reason: found better image for showing back pocket O-rings


              WF O-rings:
              No O-ring in the front curved water bottle pocket
              One O-ring in each of the front horizontal pockets located near the water bottle pocket side of those sections
              Two O-rings in the front main section at the top a couple inches apart on the middle fabric where
              the handle is sewn
              Two O-rings in the back main section at the top, one on the middle fabric with the handle and one on the
              opposite side which is the back fabric of the bag
              No O-ring in the strap compartment, but there's a webbed handle loop inside between the backpack straps

              A 3DOC (clear, mesh or fabric) can fit vertically in the water bottle section with a bit of space above it.
              A Clear Quarter Packing Cube can fit in the top horizontal pocket (full depth pocket going behind the lower pocket), but that
              definitely impinges on the depth of the lower pocket. You'd then only get something flat in the lower pocket. You can fit
              a 3DOC in each horizontal pocket by offsetting them if that makes sense (one in the lower pocket and the other placed
              high in the top pocket).

              I've only had occasion to use the WF twice and I did find the depth of my items in the front main section prevented me from putting much in the two horizontal front pockets. I'd never used packing cubes before so no doubt it takes a bit of practice to find what works well for a particular trip.
              Definitely opt for the Absolute strap...I'm 5'6" and tried it both cross-body and backpack style hoofing it through JFK.
              I understand your point about the WF being suited to packing cubes. It was my first TB purchase and I didn't really look at the A30/45s since I assumed a duffle wasn't really my packing style and that multiple smaller sections would help me be organized. Perhaps some more experienced WF users will chime in about how they maximize the spaces.

              ETA: I was slow to compose my reply and hadn't seen moriond's excellent and speedy post, so excuse my redundancy
              Last edited by threeteez; 10-31-2015, 02:12 PM.


                @moriond and @threeteez, thank you both for that info. The pictures helped immensely to give me a visual. I do better with visuals. It seems like most people are pretty happy with their WF so I know I'll definitely be ordering one. However, now @moriond has me re-visiting the Tri-Star and saw a pic that the bag fits in the Spirit airlines sizer if not overstuffed.

                Any input on the S19 and S25 for airport travel and regarding the comfort of the new strap placement compared to that of the WF? Not sure why but although the WF and S25 have similar storage capacity, the S25 appears so much larger than the WF when loaded IMO. Thanks again for your help!


                  One thing to consider is that the the S25 is 20 inches in height. The Smart Alec might be a good option with a height of 18.5. You can probably still smush it into the bin to meet the guidelines. I find it even more comfortable to carry than the WF. Note: I don't currently own the SA. I had it for a short period and reluctantly returned it. I'm waiting for it to return in a preferred color combo to buy it again.

                  If you don't mind wearing the sternum strap, the S19 will work. However, some folks are fine without them. YMMV. Based on your packing list, the S19 would be a great size, with a lot of built in organization (which is great when you're not a cube fanatic). I've heard other petite folks are fine with the strap placement on the S25, likely due to the length of the bag.

                  I like to use the WF with a large cube in the back compartment for clothing. I'm a die-hard packing cube person though and haven't tried it without.

                  Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk


                    Thanks Pokilani. I recently discovered the magic of packing cubes a few weeks ago and thought to myself, where the heck have these been my whole life. Because my travels consists mainly of 10 day trips from FL to CO for snowboarding, it requires me to check a bag, which typically houses all my clothes with the exception of a few items that I bring in my personal item bag for the plane in case I get cold. I still can't get over how fun these packing cubes are. It's kinda ridiculous.

                    I know the S19 would easily fit under a plane seat and I honestly didn't give the SA too much attention because I got a little scared when people frequently referred to it a a cavernous hole, lol. But for now I'm still leaning towards the WF as it seems to have the majority of features I'm searching for in a bag. Although I wouldn't mind a cute little matching S19 to ensure my WF doesn't get lonely!


                      I did a multi-stage work vacation with a Western Flyer only, had no trouble with it in the sizer


                        Originally posted by flips712 View Post
                        @moriond and @threeteez, thank you both for that info. The pictures helped immensely to give me a visual. I do better with visuals. It seems like most people are pretty happy with their WF so I know I'll definitely be ordering one. However, now @moriond has me re-visiting the Tri-Star and saw a pic that the bag fits in the Spirit airlines sizer if not overstuffed.

                        Any input on the S19 and S25 for airport travel and regarding the comfort of the new strap placement compared to that of the WF? Not sure why but although the WF and S25 have similar storage capacity, the S25 appears so much larger than the WF when loaded IMO. Thanks again for your help!

                        I will add that I have used the tri star maybe 15 times on spirit flights and it always fit, and was never questioned. I also used it recently on a wizz air flight, which has crazy small requirements, perhaps the smallest of any airline, and I was not questioned or asked to use the sizer while others were, which might have been close. The tri star looks small and is not questioned. Spirit is fairly generous by comparison to many euro carriers and the tri stat fits very easily unless it is outrageously, dangerously, overstuffed. Even then it might fit. The tri star fits under all airline seats. It will fit very tightly in overheads on the very small commuter jets. It might not fit the overhead on those small planes if overstuffed.

                        tri star also fits Ryan air very easily. Easyjet as well.

                        My experience is that you will never be asked to use the sizer if you are wearing a normal backpack like a tri star, because it just doesn't look large when worn. It will be difficult to find an airline on earth that doesn't accept the tri star as a personal item. It will, however, rarely weigh more than the 10 kg limit for basic fares and Norwegian, and it wil almost always be over the 5 kg limit on wow air.

                        Board spirit flights with confidence, your tri star won't get you hit with the 100 fee.


                          I just wanted to thank everyone here for their helpful advice. I wanted to update my post in case it may be helpful for any other short individuals. Just to recap, I'm under 5 feet tall and have a torso length around 15 inches. I ordered both the WF and S19. Both fit me very comfortably even when packed completely full. But in the end, the S19 won my heart with it's awesome functional design and organizational compartments. It was very tough to return the WF because there really wasn't anything about the bag that I didn't like.

                          I was initially concerned that the wider strap placement on the newer vs. older S19 would be a problem and result in slippage. However, I'm here to report that the S19 was a perfect fit regardless of whether or not it was filled to full capacity both with and without the chest strap. It's actually the MOST comfortable backpack that I've ever worn. Sometimes I forget I'm even wearing it. I initially bought it to use as my personal item on flights, but find myself using it as my EDC. I wear it to work, to the mall, etc.. Heck, I even do some runway modeling in the office for my co-workers, who think I'm nuts but they just don't understand how spectacular this bag is.

                          I'm actually considering buying the S25. Just wondering how it will fit my small frame. Any input from fellow tiny people?


                            I'm 5'2” and my torso length is about 17". My S19 is far and away my backpack of choice, but on days when I have more stuff, the S25 is good too. It fits me well and carries comfortably, whereas I find the the S19 fits BEAUTIFULLY and is almost unnoticeable on my back. That difference might be at least partly because the S25 usually has a heavier load, though. I sometimes think about trying the Smart Alec but I really like the organization of the Synapses, and also their form factor - they look sleek regardless of how full they are.

                            I have waxed poetic about the S19 to my husband, and he thinks I'm nuts. He just doesn't get it either. When I got the S19, I expected to like it and to use it for a while until The Next Perfect Backpack came along, but then I fell in love with it and 2+ years on, it's still The One Bag for me (except when I need the S25, of course).


                              Hi @flips712,

                              Thanks for reporting back on the Synapse 19. I think I've heard variable responses on the Synapse 25 -- depending on the length of your torso. Almost everyone your height seems to be able to use the Daylight Backpack (which has an outline profile not unlike the Synapse 25). However, you're presumably wanting to use the Synapse for the larger carrying capacity, while preserving the organization of this design (in contrast to the Smart Alec, which also seems to be a comfortable fit for others of your height).

                              My impression is that it's easier to fit the straps of the Synapse 25 on smaller frames than those of the Synapse 19, so if the current Synapse 19 works for you, then I think you'll be able to work with the Synapse 25, too. I just don't know how the you'll find the length of this bag on your torso.

                              By the way, as another Synapse 19 fan, let me point you to the Desert Island TB thread, where you can read how other TB forum members describe the one bag they would choose if stranded on a desert island. (That reminds me, I always carry a Shop Bag in the front right pocket of my Synapse). See the Now I understand Shop Bag love thread for details.


                              Last edited by moriond; 01-20-2016, 11:00 AM.