Airlines Consider Charging for Oversized Carry-on Bags

According to a recent article on MSNBC, major airlines are considering charging for oversized carry-on bags. The idea would be to discourage passengers from bringing bags onto the plane that won’t fit in the overhead bin, with the fee around $25. Alaska Airlines is already doing this. (Pictured: Overpacking, courtesy of the Home Warrior.)

The article makes it seem like customers would freak out if this happened, and would just see this fee as another way for airlines to make a buck any way they can. The airline spokespeople perpetuate this, not wanting to admit considering this fee. But you know what? This is one fee that I can fully get behind.

We’ve all been on flights that were delayed because too many people tried to carry-on, there wasn’t enough space, and gate-checking chaos ensued. A lot of people are bringing bags on board that are perfectly sized for the overhead bins—but a lot of people, either purposely or not, are bringing bags that are way too large to fit. Or bags that take up significantly more than their allotted space. Airlines charge extra for oversize or too heavy checked bags—why wouldn’t they do the same for carry-on?

Comments on the article complained that this would delay boarding even more. And it might, initially. But it would discourage people from trying to bring on too much. Then there are the people who use this as a money saving strategy—bringing on a bag that they know is too big, so that they can gate check and avoid paying checked bag fees. (Don’t even get me started on those people!!) Charging a fee would definitely discourage that practice.

How would the logistics work? I I have no idea. But I’m sure the airlines could figure it out.

Readers, what do you think? Are fees for oversized carry-on bags a good idea?


  1. Logistics wise, it’s really easy. Actually, the CI base at YVR already does this: all carry-ons are asked to be checked at check-in. If bags are overweight, passengers are asked to comply or asked to check-in their bags immediately. Of course, this doesn’t stop all passengers, so a comment is entered into the system. Later at boarding, there is an agent that picks out these passengers, and sees if there are any other overweight carry-ons.

  2. Is this where we are? Supporting more ridiculous bag fees? Remember when checking a bag was free? There is no legitimate justification for charging for any kind of baggage other than extra $$$. If they want people to stop carrying on excessive baggage, I have an idea….stop charging to check. This is coming from a person who never ever checks, and whose carryon always fits in the overhead.

  3. Lower the ridiculous checked bag fees and people will not try to skirt the rules. Before the introduction of mandatory bag fees, only the most obstinate business traveler refused to check their luggage.

  4. First of all, this article seemd hastily written and not using spell check can zing ya (consideringing?).

    This idea is ridiculous. Airlines are becoming more and more unethical. Eventually another crisis will happen to the airline industry, and they will need taxpayer money to help them out. I hope the second time around we aren’t as helpful.

  5. TSA needs to start checking the size of carry-on bags as people enter security lines. If your bag extends beyond the standard carry-on dimensions, you shouldn’t be allowed to bring it through security.

  6. Okay, I guess the writer of the original article was correct! Let me clarify.

    I totally agree with y’all–checked bag fees are dumb. In a perfect world, they would go away and no one would have to pay for checking a bag. But let’s be real–the airlines aren’t going to give this cash cow up. So assuming checked bag fees are here to stay, people are going to continue to carry-on more than in the past.

    Where I have an issue is with people who game the system and purposefully bring on a bag that is too big to fit, knowing that they’ll be able to dodge the checked bag fee. I don’t think it’s fair–other people are playing by the rules, why can’t they?

    Of course, an easy fix would be for ticket agents to simply enforce the bag size regulations on a consistent basis.

    @Tyler–thanks for catching the typo! The funny thing is, I DID spellcheck, and it didn’t catch it. lame.

  7. The Airlines completely missed the boat…

    If they restrict NON-ELITEs to 1 and only 1 “complimentary” carry on item, at least two problems are solved.

    1. The frequent fliers will have overhead space that they certainly deserve.

    2. The “Kettles” will actually pay something closer to what what their transportation is actually worth.

    3. Aircraft will board faster and depart on time.

    I’m not seeing any downside here.

  8. I echo others sentiments that bag fees are ridiculous. However, since they aren’t going away…I think the airlines have it all wrong.

    If they want to streamline and speed up the boarding process they should all allow 1 checked bag for free (can charge for the 2nd and 3rd if need be).

    As for carry-on, each person should be allowed a “personal item” as a carry-on (briefcase, appropriate sized back pack, purse etc.) If you want to bring luggage as a carry-on, THAT’S where they should be charging bag fees.

    By offering 1 free checked bag and charging for carry-on,it promotes checking a bag. May help to speed up the boarding process, as well as help to minimize the anxiety during the boarding process (especially for those with later boarding zones who typically have to gate check their bag because all the overhead space is taken by then) which is part of why once boarding starts there is this mad rush.

    Just a thought.

  9. I always carry on a regulation size bag. It’s ridiculous the bags I see others bring on board. It delays the boarding process for flight crews to deal with stowing these oversized bags. It should be regulated and people should be charged.

  10. As an advocate for one bag travel, this is a fee I can fully support. FWIW, I traveled carry on years before they started charging – I hate lost bags, and all the time spent checking bags in.

    A few points:
    * Alaska Airlines allows 51 linear inches (not 45 like most) for their carry on. So anything oversized must be REALLY big.
    * This is merely enforceing the carry on regulation. Isn’t that what we want? Drop it into the sizer. Either it doesn’t fit or it does.
    * Most of the problems I see boarding are from oversized bags that won’t fit. The owner ends up spending lots of time trying to get “10 pounds of sugar into a 5 pound bag” so do speak, as they try to fit the bag into the overhead space. Then they end up putting the bag in sideways, taking up 3 spaces. I say, GOOD RIDDANCE to these bin hogs.
    * I disagree with one poster that wants no bags but a personal item. A regulation sized carry on bag easily fits into the bin – especially if it is wheel-less and soft sided. These bags are a far cry from the bags the airline is trying to limit.

  11. I also dislike the folks who put their second small bag in the bin instead of the seat in front of them, as well as coats, shopping bags, and other nonsense, as if they own the plane. One item only in the overhead bin please.

  12. I’m always fascinated by the outrage bag fees arouse. A lot of people say ‘bags used to be free,’ but that’s just not the case. Yes, we didn’t have to pay extra for them, but we were all paying for checked bags whether we were checking a bag or not. It was included in the price of our ticket.

    Look at airfares. In constant dollars, airfares are DOWN 15% since 1995. That’s from the Bureau of Transportation Statistics. Meanwhile, fuel has gone up how much?

    And I think it’s a bit outrageous when Antonio says: “There is no legitimate justification for charging for any kind of baggage other than extra $$$.” Bags have weight. The more weight on a plane, the more fuel is needed. Bags require baggage handlers. Baggage handlers generally like a wage.

    Yes, the airlines could do a better job of incentivizing people to check bags (lower cost for pre-buying, special offers, etc.) But let’s also not forget that us consumers basically shop on one criteria: Price. If you’re not the lowest price in the search result, good luck getting chosen. Thus, the airlines had to unbundle so they could lower the price of the fare consumers see on that first page of search results.

    If you really hate paying $25 for a bag, ship it via FedEx or UPS. From Chicago to Miami, a 40lb bag will only cost you $44 and will take 3 days to get there. If you want to ship it overnight, it’s only $295.

  13. I’d be down with Dave M’s idea as I think it would have one other positive side effect: it could help speed up the security lines.

  14. Non-standard bags in the overhead bin are a headache. They delay boarding time, clog up the aisles, and frustrate everyone.

    I think any sort of non-standard bags should have an extra fee.

    I once was on a flight, where someone was going to a wedding ( I don’t know if it was a bride or not) but she refused to pack her dress and very loudly insisted that no one put their bags in the same bin as hers. She basically had one whole overhead bin for a 5 foot long garment bag that was about 3 inches thick. Because of her, several people had to check their carryon bags. The flight attendants refused to do anything about it. If she wanted a whole bin to herself than she should have had to pay extra.

  15. I’m actually baffled that oversize bags are getting carried on. Hah! Funny me, expecting people to follow the rules that are posted EVERYWHERE. Fees for “bending” the rules? Er, yeah?

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