Poll: Is consistency across airlines worth a smaller carry-on?

The International Air Transport Association, the trade group that represents most of the world’s large airlines, has small victorinoxrecommended new carry-on guidelines be adopted. In theory, this would allow one size of bag to be acceptable across airlines, including in Europe. Sounds great, right? No more worry about whether your bag will pass muster when traveling internationally, no need to have different suitcases for different trips.

But there’s a catch (of course): the recommended size is 21.5”x13.5”x7.5”, vs 22”x14”x9”, the current maximum size for American, Delta, and United. It may not sound like a lot of difference, but according to USA Today it’s equivalent to the size of a shoebox. According to the IATA, the smaller size would allow almost everyone to put their bag in the overhead bins on planes with 120 seats or more. Obviously all of the suitcases we’ve purchased over the years to carry-on would be made obsolete, and we’d have to shell out for new bags. (Even the tiny-looking Victorinox, pictured, wouldn’t fit the new guidelines.)

Here’s the thing. Yes, it would be nice to have more standardized size allowances around the world. But my guess is that if you’re flying in Europe a lot you already have a smaller bag that will also be acceptable in the US. And if you are flying primarily in the US it’s really nice to have that extra shoebox-worth of space. As someone who spends 90% of her time flying domestically, I prefer the space! Not to mention that so many of the issues with overhead bins would be solved if airlines enforced their existing carry-on rules, rather than try to make people bring smaller bags.

Interesting note: an earlier version of the USA Today story said that some of the larger suitcase manufacturers (Samsonite being one, if I recall) had signed on, as well as a couple international airlines. But as of this time, no US-based airlines have said they’ll go along with the new recommendations.

Here is a perspective from Fly & Dine.

Readers, what do you think?

Is it worth it to have a smaller suitcase that you know will be allowed across all airlines, including internationally?

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  1. Coming from Europe, when I got here I was really amused by the amount of luggage that people bring onboard… rather than chaning rules, they should simply enforce the existing ones. Air Canada is doing it, and doing it badly, but customer education does not take that long.

  2. No way! Most Americans don’t fly to Europe. Most people flying in the US are going for 1 – 3 days. When you fly to Europe, it is generally for longer than that. So you’ll bring a larger bag. I fly all the time in the US and have taken the suggestion on this blog to go to the smaller roll-aboard – love it, happy to be traveling with just the necessities. Am now on a 9-day trip to Europe while I could have done it again, I truly don’t want to wear the same things over and over and was happy to check the bag. One size does not need to fit all.

  3. I think the biggest issue with the new measurements is the 7.5 depth. My current carry on is only 20″ tall but the depth is more like 8″ and i think thats modest. Most bags are easily 9″.

  4. I think something needs to be done, whether it is enforcement or new rules, I am tired of waiting for almost every single flight to leave in time because someone is trying to shove “50 pounds of fat into a 5 pound sack”. I know that sounds harsh but having been bonked on the head by an oversize bag poorly placed by some poor clueless traveler, I am (as the kids say) over it.

    Just having completed a month in Australia and New Zealand and carrying just a Longchamps Le Pliage and a Lucas Underseater, I know space can be maximized. Granted I am a minimalist and a bit obsessive about packing light, but I am sure most people can adapt.

    Let me add that a lot of my packing light advice was found on this very blog!

  5. (1) Enforce the rules
    (2) Of course a luggage manufacturer would be in favor of new rules requiring almost everyone to buy a new bag. Very transparent.

  6. I can’t find a bag ANYWHERE that has the 7.5, I mean nowhere. I am going on a trip and with 45 mins between planes, I cannot check anything. This new rule is insane if you can’t find a bag that will work

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