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Carry-On Bag Size Limit?  
User currently offlineIlyushin96M From United States of America, joined Sep 1999, 2609 posts, RR: 11
Posted (15 years 8 months 1 week 20 hours ago) and read 14310 times:

A few years back, I purchased one of those wheeled carry-on bags with the pop-up handle, thinking my days of checked luggage were over, or would be very few. The bag is of the size and type used by airline crews for travel. However, I flew ATA in May and was informed that they no longer allow passengers to take those sized bags onboard, that they must be checked.

Is it my imagination, or are the boxes that say "All carry-on luggage must fit within this box" getting smaller and smaller? I've also heard that airlines are learning to HATE these specially-designed carry-on bags. Can anyone who works as an F/A or otherwise confirm this? And what is the appropriate size for a carry-on?



19 replies: All unread, jump to last
User currently offlinePacific From Hong Kong, joined Mar 2000, 1126 posts, RR: 0
Reply 1, posted (15 years 8 months 1 week 15 hours ago) and read 14248 times:

The limit is getting smaller at HKG too. I hate it but if it's for safety, it can't be helped.

User currently offlineL1011 From United States of America, joined May 1999, 1727 posts, RR: 8
Reply 2, posted (15 years 8 months 1 week 14 hours ago) and read 14242 times:

My carry-on bag fits fine in US domestic airline sizer bins, but when I connected with Qantas, the same bag wouldn't fit in theirs, and they made me check it. They said that the 737s have smaller overhead bins, and my bag wouldn't fit. It fit fine in the overhead bin in the Delta 737-200 on which I started my trip. So not all airlines have the same specifications for carry-ons.

Bob Bradley
Richmond, VA

Fly Eastern's Golden Falcon DC-7B
User currently offlineApioca From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 3, posted (15 years 8 months 1 week 4 hours ago) and read 14215 times:

I can not for the life of me understand why people need to bring their entire wardrope on a flight.
Why put their own conveniec over that of others - not to mention the safety aspect.

Try to notice how little people use the carry-on bags on flight.

Limit carry-on to 1 piece regardsless of it being laptop camera diaperbag or what ever.

Luggage goes in the luggagehold passengers go in cabin!

User currently offlineIlyushin96M From United States of America, joined Sep 1999, 2609 posts, RR: 11
Reply 4, posted (15 years 8 months 1 week ago) and read 14204 times:

Have you ever had your luggage lost, and been without anything to wear? Have you ever stood in line at the baggage check-in for over an hour waiting for other passengers with 5 suitcases each to check it all? Do you ever grow tired of waiting for your luggage to be brought out at the baggage claim after you've arrived somewhere?

When I take my carry-on, it's so I can be on and off the plane and in and out of the airport in as little time as possible. And the bag I use is designed to fit in an overhead compartment, not some behemoth of a duffel bag I try to stuff as much as possible into and then be inconsiderate and take up an entire overhead bin.

It completely escapes me how people can take 5 suitcases with them anywhere, let alone if they're traveling for less than three weeks. These very people are the reason I despise checking baggage and avoid it whenever possible. I don't want to have to wait in line behind them if I've only got one bag.

I took a trip to Russia last year for three weeks, and had just two pieces of luggage - the said carry-on, and a suitcase which was half full, mostly with gifts for friends. The suitcase I brought mostly because I planned on taking things back with me - personal belongings left behind in a transcontinental move. On my next trip abroad, I am sure everything I need will fit into my carry-on as it always has.

User currently offlineTriStar From Belgium, joined Oct 1999, 848 posts, RR: 1
Reply 5, posted (15 years 8 months 1 week ago) and read 14202 times:

Ilyushin96M does have a point. As a F/A, I personally have little or no trouble with those wheeled carry-on bags (hereafter conveniently referred to as trolleys). Fact being they fit in more recent overhead bins with either the wheels or the handle to the front. As opposed to the length of the trolley being aligned with the length of the aircraft, if you know what I mean.

This is generally not the case in B737 originals, which makes it a burden to have them on board if the flight is full. Which may explain your situation with Qantas, L1011. Maybe the flight was fully booked. Generally speaking, in order to give all passengers a chance to take (valuable) personal belongings along in the cabin and stow them in the overhead bins, large bags will occasionally be carried in the cargo hold.

While I understand your reasoning with trying to carry everything with you, I hope the same understanding can be found on your side when you're on a full flight. Flight attendants are not baggage handlers. Unfortunately, many a passenger will mistake us for just that and go as far as leaving their luggage in the aisle during boarding if they cannot immediately find a place to put it away. If anyone expects me to stow away their luggage while displaying such behaviour, they will be able to pick it up when leaving the aircraft, or along with their suitcases at baggage claim. (Needless to say I'm referring to passengers who are perfectly able to stow their own baggage - not disabled, elderly,...)
The bag will be sent as "delivery at aircraft". It depends on the services rendered by the airport at destination whether the bag is brought up to the exit of the aircraft, or whether it is taken along with all other luggage.

With regard to the size of these trolleys; what is most frustrating is when the bags are about one centimeter too high (wheels-to-handle) to fit in even the larger overhead bins currently available. It's hard to check on the accuracy of the size when purchasing the trolley, I'm sure. Nevertheless, it's frustrating to have to turn those big mommas around lengthwise again.

I hope this answers some of your questions.

Best regards,


User currently offlineZRH From Switzerland, joined Nov 1999, 5601 posts, RR: 32
Reply 6, posted (15 years 8 months 1 week ago) and read 14193 times:

Apioca is right. There are a lot of indecent people who try to take their whole household into the cabin. Airlines try to stop this. If anybody only took one piece there would be no probleme with these wheeled carry-on bags.

User currently offlineIlyushin96M From United States of America, joined Sep 1999, 2609 posts, RR: 11
Reply 7, posted (15 years 8 months 6 days 23 hours ago) and read 14187 times:

Good info you supplied. Thanks! FYI, I am always willing to check my bag at the aircraft door if the F/As say there isn't room. This has happened on more than one occasion, and I think that cooperation is essential. I can't stand unruly, inconsiderate people; my parents raised me not to be selfish. And the F/As are always amazingly quick when this situation has arisen - my bag has been tagged and whisked away and I've not had to worry about receiving it. So far.  

I'm thinking of getting a smaller carry-on because the one I have now is a bit large for what I carry in it. Plus it's looking a bit the worse for wear. I'll have to ask at the luggage shop which ones will stow more readily in overhead bins, as the one I've got usually has to go in sideways.

Thanks again!


User currently offlineGreeneyes53787 From United States of America, joined Aug 2000, 844 posts, RR: 0
Reply 8, posted (15 years 8 months 6 days 22 hours ago) and read 14185 times:

I think it is time to see a better baggage handling system. I am in two worlds here. I don't carry on any baggage anymore. I wish others didn't either. However, the incidences of lost or damaged luggage are too many. When a passenger changes planes several times en route somewhere the chances of the bags not being on the turnstyle are fairly high.

For wide bodied planes there should be isles with overheads and isles without. Those without should get to exit faster than those with carry-on stuff.

Each person has a legitimate complaint.


User currently offlineBcl From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 9, posted (15 years 8 months 6 days 22 hours ago) and read 14171 times:

I agree with Greeneyes53787 in that the airlines need ( and must) improve their baggage delivery service. All too often, I spend too much valauble time waiting at the baggage carousel for my bags to appear - and if they do appear, then I consider myself to be lucky. With many airlines, even flying business or first does not necessarily guarantee a quicky delivery of the bags.

User currently offlinePa121 From United Kingdom, joined May 1999, 98 posts, RR: 0
Reply 10, posted (15 years 8 months 6 days 20 hours ago) and read 14160 times:

There is another point to be taken into consideration that is weight: if the flight is full, the carry on usually goes in the cargo if it is over 8kg (European flights). This is a drastic measure, if you consider that the trolley itself is around 3/4 Kg and just a couple of things will make it over the limit (regardless of the size).

Smaller aircrafts is even worse, I have been asked to place in the cargo my only handluggage (BTW a Lufthansa pilot case bought over the internet...) with just a laptop and a few documents inside: in the BA EMB 145 there was litterally no space to store it! (and I was in Club....)

User currently offlinePhilB From Ireland, joined May 1999, 2915 posts, RR: 12
Reply 11, posted (15 years 8 months 6 days 18 hours ago) and read 14154 times:

The major problem here is the baggage check-in and delivery systems.

Starting with the basic FACT that in survivable runway accidents and severe turbulence people have been killed, maimed and seriously injured by supposed "carry on" bags which should have been in the hold (BTW size means NOTHING. Its the weight that counts, is restricted per bin by the airframe mfg, and eventually hurts or kills people).

There is no law about how much baggage people can take on an aircraft. If folks want to pay excessive airline rates for overweight checked bags, that's great revenue for the airline.

I understand Ilyushin's point of travelling light, I've done it myself.

Its amazing, however, how many folk have a "trolley" that not only delays boarding and disembarkation whilst they wrestle it into and out of the overhead bin, putting surrounding pax in jeopardy of being soiled by the wheels, caught by a loose strap or injured as the trolley slips in the owner's hands, but then have other luggage because you see them at the baggage carousel waiting for their larger piece(s).

In effect, they've cheated the airline and helped to keep up fares, keep down wages and dividends and generally done the industry and themselves a dis-service.

I've been deprived of my baggage twice in recent years, both at the end of long sectors (once in Singapore, and just this last month at the end of a 28 hour trip back from the western USA).

As I say, its baggage delivery that's at fault. Having had the privilege of organising some of the major baggage handling conferences of the 1990s, I can say the following:

The main problem is the human element. Whatever barcode readers, fast track delivery systems and baggage container systems there are, a human being has to:

1. make out the tag

2. load the aircraft

3. unload the aircraft

4. put the bags on the conveyor to the carousel

This system induces errors, delays, theft and damage.

Until the non travelling human being is removed from the system the only way forward is for passengers to carry their own bags on and off the aircraft, place them in the baggage store and then climb the stairs and take their seats.

Strangely, this works very well, has great benefits with regard to security and it is not difficult to design an aircraft to facilitate this - even the Soviet bureaucracy could design and build the IL86. Its just a pity that the airports in the West had invested so much in jetways. Perhaps a thought for the A3XX....?

User currently offlineGreeneyes53787 From United States of America, joined Aug 2000, 844 posts, RR: 0
Reply 12, posted (15 years 8 months 6 days 17 hours ago) and read 14145 times:

Jetways are nice--for nonaircraft enthusiasts. But I, personally, like to get close on the outside of an airplane before I climb in. However, in bad weather I like jetways.


User currently offlineRyeFly From United States of America, joined Jun 2000, 1403 posts, RR: 0
Reply 13, posted (15 years 8 months 6 days 17 hours ago) and read 14146 times:

Recently I flew Continental from RDU-EWR and EWR-RDU and on every flight the flight attended came on the PA and said "Due to a new policy at Continental no luggage with wheels are allowed in the overhead compartment. It must be under the seat in front of you. We will be happy check the luggage if there is no available room under your seat." I know there cracking down on carry on's but isn't that a little extreame? A lot of people (not me) have that type of luggage these days and have no idea when buying them that they will be banned from the overhead bins. To give you an idea, about 10 bags on each flight were removed to be checked and these were not sold out flights. Since this was my last flight (about 3 weeks ago) is it only Continental that is not allowing wheels in the overheads or are all airlines changing over to this new policy?

User currently offlineAKelley728 From United States of America, joined Dec 1999, 2201 posts, RR: 5
Reply 14, posted (15 years 8 months 6 days 16 hours ago) and read 14141 times:


Umm, I have been on six Continental segments in the past month and never did they mention any kind of policy such as you stated.

In fact, Continental prides itself on offering the most amount of carry-on overhead space in the industry. In fact, they have sued airlines (United) because those airlines used baggage 'sizers' at security checkpoints.

Now, most airlines (including Continental) restrict the placement of fold-up wheeled dollys or carriages that some people use when bringing luggage on board. It's these 'luggage wheels' that airlines require you place under the seat in front of you, and not in the overheads.

Last, I just called Continental and the only restrictions that they place is on size and weight of the carry-ons. Wheels don't matter. Your standard 22" rollaboard that is sold nowadays (usually has inline 'skate' wheels) is no problem.

Are you sure they weren't talking about the wheeled luggage carts?

User currently offlineBa4521 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 15, posted (15 years 8 months 6 days 15 hours ago) and read 14136 times:

Come on ...
does lugage get lost THAT often? doesn't anyone have insurance anymore?
This is all about trying to save 5 minutes at checkout (which probably doesn't make any difference on an INTERNATIONAL flight anyway)
If it needs wheels it should be in the cargo hold, not the over head bin, The over head bins are designed to carry what passengers might need during the flight, not what they are scared might get lost...I support the airlines in trying to reduce the amount of cabin baggage.
SAFETY should be paramount.


User currently offlineRyeFly From United States of America, joined Jun 2000, 1403 posts, RR: 0
Reply 16, posted (15 years 8 months 6 days 15 hours ago) and read 14136 times:

Thats what the Flight attendent said. I thought it was strange myself, but seeing as it was the first time I flew Continental I didn't think much of it. I am certain she said it was a new policy because aftwards a passenger got back up and was trying to get their bag out of the overhead and the flight attendent near by thought he was putting it in. She said to the guy no luggage with wheels please, and the guy said sharply back to her I know I am trying to take it out. She appoligized and he fit the bag under his seat. This bag was just the usual blue bag with little wheels at the bottom and a handle that lifted from the top.

User currently offlineNorthStarDC4M From Canada, joined Apr 2000, 3192 posts, RR: 34
Reply 17, posted (15 years 8 months 6 days 15 hours ago) and read 14131 times:

heres the easy way to deal with this: rip out the overhead racks all together!

thats right, no more overhead stroage... you want your bag in the cabin, stick it under the seat.
Whats that? too much inpact on legroom? fine.... CHECK IT!

Oh and BTW. IMHO, it seems to be on US airlines this pops up more than anyone else...
I have NEVER seen a TV box in the cabin on Canadian, let me say. Or SIX duffels to one guy on Virgin! (ive seen both on one flight of AA, granted it was from MIA but still) other wierd things ive seen: someone trying to hit a wheelchair in the overhead, F/As helping a familly of 4 stow TWENTY EIGHT bags/boxes in the overhead, one biz type with 5 bags as carry on (2 suitcases, a document case, a HUGE laptop and a attache case). A woman carrying on an entire beauty salon (i mean entire here... right down to the hot wax hair remover and a perfume FACTORY it smelled like...   ) and all in the US (FYI the woman w/attached beauty salon was on a COMAIR CRJ no less   thankfully they didnt let her board and she didnt get on the plane... the rest all did however... i wonder if this is the same woman who was charged with assault after donkey kicking a kid in the seat in front on an AA flight? )
Granted those were all over 2 years ago but ive still seen some WEIRD stuff going across the tarmac since then...
IMHO, one bag is a good limit, all you should need in the cabin is reading materials and medications anyways... so maybe add a change of clothes to that, and some "other" entertainment, and/or working materials...one bag, trolley, garment... whatever, and yes it should fit in the racks.., or here even better if the bag wont fit under the seat even with the overhead, it should be checked. No underseat fit, no carry-on... sounds good to me...
Oh and dont give me any stuff about underseat being less safe....
the FAA, JAA, NTSB, CTSB, and several private studies have all concluded that under-seat is SAFER than overhead ESPECIALLY when the overhead is near or over capacity.

Well i thinks thats enough of my views  

Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.
User currently offlineHypermike From United States of America, joined Dec 1999, 1001 posts, RR: 5
Reply 18, posted (15 years 8 months 5 days 22 hours ago) and read 14120 times:

I try to be a good passenger.

I take my carry-on, which is a small duffle carrying my medication, camera, my toiletry bag, and an extra pair of socks and underwear. I also try to wear something on the plane that I could wear the next day if my luggage were lost.

My laptop also gets carried on, because I can't check it. The smaller of these two bags, usually the duffle, goes under the seat in front of me. I never put more than one item overhead.

Why can't others do this?

User currently offlineN863DA From United States of America, joined Sep 2004, 48 posts, RR: 5
Reply 19, posted (15 years 8 months 5 days 21 hours ago) and read 14111 times:

OK y'all fine. You travel on an ATL-inbound transatlantic on the early bank - (1pm - 4pm) with an onward connection, and then tell me you don't mind having baggage.

When I need to take anything either side of the atlantic, I take a 'Wheely-bag'. (Same as F/As) When I don't need anything special I just take one rucksack. But for what it's worth, if you're 6'2 sitting in coach (I'm not, I'm just saying) you need all the space you can get underneath the seat in front to put your feet! To hell with the carry-ons. And if you're sitting in the bulkhead row (DL-GM) you have to put your things up top.

I don't mind gate-checking bags - but on international flights, you can't do that. That's why I don't check my baggage. I usually don't have any to worry about, but anyways.... y'all who say 'Thou shalt not travel with carry-ons' need to take a trip to ATL once in a while. You might make it to your connection (or not if you started on ASA) but your luggage rarely does. - and it's even worse at DEN.


N 8 6 3 D A

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