Several articles have come out lately bemoaning the inconsistent carry-on policies of airlines. Of course, you don’t need to read a news story—most frequent fliers have experienced it first hand and can tell you all about it. I have been on multi-leg flights where my bag is fine on the first flight and then suddenly is “too big” according to the gate agent. And on that same flight I saw a passenger trying to stuff two huge bags into the overhead bins.
The inconsistent application of the rules is certainly frustrating, but the rules themselves are inconsistent. For example, American Airlines says that a bag needs to be under 45 linear inches, but it also says that it must be no bigger than 22x14x9. So if you have a bag that is, say, 26”x9”x12”, even though it’s within the 45” guidelines, they could still make you check it.
So what’s a business traveler to do? One option is to buy a bag that fits perfectly within the 22”x14”x9” guidelines. It’s not a perfect strategy, as final approval still goes through gate agents, but it will give you the best chance of avoiding accusations of oversized bags.
One of the comments on an article I posted on Facebook was that bags that are only 14” wide are few and far between. This surprised me, but when I started researching I found that 15” and even 16” bags were far more common. However, three of my favorite luggage brands make bags that are only 14” wide.
For tips on how to pick the best carry-on, see my Guidelines for Choosing a Rollaboard Suitcase.
Victorinox Werks Dual Caster 20”. This Victorinox bag is basically the suitcase I have (and love) but with spinners and a different handle. It is super light, easy to maneuver, and has a large interior. The Victorinox brand is great because they make high-quality luggage with one of the best warranties in the industry. The dimensions are 20″x13.5″x9″.
Briggs and Riley Verb Fuse 20” Carry-on. Briggs and Riley makes incredible luggage with a lifetime warranty—if the bag is ever damaged or broken, even if it’s by an airline, they will repair or replace. My brother-in-law has a similar bag to this, and I love it. There are ample pockets for you laptop and other items, it rolls beautifully, and will fit a crazy amount of stuff. The dimensions are 22″x14″x9″.
TravelPro Maxlite 4 21 Inch Expandable Spinner. TravelPro makes my list of top luggage brands because their bags are durable, and designed for everyday use. This is the brand that you most often see flight attendants and pilots using. This particular bag is light, solidly constructed, with a pocket for your laptop in the front. The dimensions are 21”x14”x9”. (Also, check out my review of the Travelpro Crew 11 21″ Carryon. Spoiler alert: I LOVE IT.)
Readers, does your carry-on fit within the 22”x14”x9” dimensions?
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