Carry-On Sizes and Regulations – A carry-on Guide
What is a Carry-on?
By definition, a carry-on bag is “small or compact enough to be carried aboard and stowed on an airplane, train, or bus by a passenger”.
Most people who know the word carry-on or have used a carry-on typically use them by way of airplane for 2-4 day trips. A carry-on bag is typically one that you carry onto the plane and store in the overhead bin. All airlines and planes have different requirements and restrictions as to what sizes are allowed, what the maximum weight allowed it as well as what can be carried in the bag. Domestic airplanes typically provide a larger size to be allowed in comparison to international airplanes (we’ll get more into that later).
Finding the perfect carry-on bag with the right carry-on Sizes and Regulations can be quite the hurdle.
In the past, airlines used to measure the size of the luggage you were bringing from the bottom to the top of the bag. This measurement never included the added height of wheels and handles, this made purchasing a bag easy.
However, in recent times, airlines have changed over their overall measuring procedures to now measure the bag from the ground to the top of the bag. This shift in the procedure as well as all airlines having different size restrictions has turned the world of luggage upside down and has changed how many companies design and brand their bags
When looking for a Carry-On, there are 3 Criteria you must look for.
1. The weight of the Bag.
The weight restrictions changes from airline to airline.
2. Size of the Carry-On
The Size of the Carry-Ons is listed on a chart below.
3. Style of the Bag
Choose Between a two-wheeler or a four-wheel, hardside or softside. among other factors.
Carry-On Luggage Airline Regulations
Recently, airlines have become much stricter enforcing their carry-on luggage size requirements. Previously, airlines measured the size of the actual bag (not including the wheels). Now, airlines are measuring from the floor to the top of the bag, including the wheels and handle, effectively tightening the restrictions and rendering older carry-ons too large.
Today, most domestic airlines in the United States allow carry-ons up to 22” by 14” by 9,” for a total of 45” linear inches. Many international flights have even tighter restrictions allowing bags sized only 42” linear inches or smaller. These dimensions do not apply to all airlines.
Some airlines have dimensions slightly larger, or slightly smaller, so it is extremely important to check with the airline before using a bag as a carry-on.
Below we have provided a breakdown of most major airlines and their carry-on restrictions.
Although we update this periodically, please be sure to check with the airlines for their most up to date restrictions and fees.
Carry on Issues
Losing luggage is no way to start or end a trip.
Fortunately for the modern traveller, the amount of mishandled bags has been steadily declining. North America has seen a four-point drop in mishandled bags since 2007. For every thousand passengers, 7.05 bags were mistreated. This success is a result of the billions of dollars spent on creating new technology to more properly handle luggage.
New Bag Technologies
- Bag scanner
- RFID bag tags
- Faster claim belts
- Luggage Tracking
There have also been strides made in personal bag tracking, where you can accurately locate your luggage.
These trackers are connected to the internet to view real-time information about the status of your bag. Also, some airlines even allow customers to track their luggage like a parcel, throughout the journey from their websites or mobile app. So next time you book a trip you can feel relief in knowing that measures have been taken to get you and your bags to the same destination at the same time.
One of the new and exciting features that you’ve most likely seen in recent years is the popularity of what is known as “spinner” bags. These bags have 4 wheels as opposed to 2 and have the ability to spin 360 degrees while being rolled around. This eliminates having to drag your bag behind you and keeps the strain off your arm. This is especially helpful for people with back and issues walking. However, since the airlines measure the bags now from the ground up, a 21″ spinner may not be 21″ tall after all.
Most companies when measuring their bags measure the interior packing space. When a bag with 4 wheels lists it is 20″ x 13″ x 9.5″, this measurement in most cases does not include the wheels and handle. To include the wheels and handle, these dimensions might end up being 21.5″ x 13″ x 9.5″. The issue that some people have is that the bag they bought doesn’t list the larger size with the wheels, so they end up having to check the bag or pay an oversize fee. While this issue isn’t frequent with 2 wheel bags, some bag designs end up being taller with the wheels and handle as well. It’s always important to find out the size of the bag from the ground up.