All Carry-On Luggage Are Not Created Equally

It’s no secret travelers get creative when packing to avoid excess baggage fees.  But, are they as scrupulous when it comes to the very suitcase they’re packing?  While domestically, airlines rarely, if ever, enforce their luggage policies; internationally, airlines strictly enforce them.  Even personal items (purses, tech cases, etc.) are not immune to restrictions.  When boarding, passengers have had to demonstrate that carry-ons meet measurement requirements by putting their suitcase in the metal, baggage sizer (conveniently located next to the agent scanning our tickets).  If it fits, you’re waved on to take your seat.  If it doesn’t, some poor annoyed sap is directed to the counter to have his bag “checked” and assessed the necessary fee(s).  (Checked baggage is a whole different ball game.)  At the counter, the annoyed individual pleads the following, “NO!  That’s not right (motioning to the sizer).  This suitcase specifically noted that it’s a carry-on; that’s why I bought it…”  I’ve witnessed this scene, though I’ve never been one of the many nameless victims.  My bag always fits in the sizer and this is how yours can too. 

Most suitcases are being labeled as “Carry-On Compliant” and this couldn’t be further from the truth.  The illustration demonstrates carry-on requirements as follows:  22” x 14” x 9”.  Don’t confuse the outer dimensions with the interior.  Believe it or not, this happens often.  Exterior dimensions are what matters.  Most importantly, MEASURE!  Take the stated proportions on the luggage tag with a grain of salt.  They may or may not include wheels, rails, handles, and the like in the given allowance.  That’s right folks, wheels and handles must not exceed the 22” x 14” x 9” dimensions. 

Beware of exterior pockets/compartments and expandable luggage.  They may appear to be attractive features in theory, but in reality can catch you up.  On a trip they get mindlessly filled with souvenirs or other purchases.  At the airport, you realize that the same bag you flew in with no longer fits the sizer, resulting in a barrage of “Oh $#!*” and other niceties at the thought of additional charges.  Lastly, if  it’s a soft sided suitcase, for Pete’s sake, don’t overstuff it! ~ Capricorn Vacations

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Illustration courtesy of American Airlines