The Carry-On Luggage Conundrum

BlogHer Original Post

...perhaps it’s not surprising that in a letter faxed to travel agents last Friday, Continental Airlines announced a “downsize for carry-ons. ”What does this mean exactly? It means instead of 51 linear inches - the previous size limit, passengers can only bring bags on board that are a total 45 linear inches - 9″ by 14″ by 22″ (height by width by length).--Tripso

Maybe you squeaked through Thanksgiving travels without getting stuck by luggage rules, but don't expect the airlines to look the other way when everyone is loaded with extra packages and presents. Airlines are cracking down on what they see as "oversized" carry-on bags.

American Airlines, planning to "provide the best customer service possible and to consider the needs of all passengers" has put additional restrictions in place between Nov. 29th and January 10 for certain routes - there's more information here. (I can pass on editorializing about how this is hardly the best customer service possible, right?)

Note that carry-on sizes are different between airlines - you may find yourself getting on board with no problem but being required to check your bag for a connecting flight. I can't say this often enough, check your airline's website for up to date regulations about baggage before you fly! And you folks that travel heavy, keep in mind that most ticket prices don't show you the cost of checking luggage up front, so calculate that in your budget when you're shopping for the best fare. (Tip from an airline PR contact. He told me that if they included luggage fees, they might not end up in the top results for best prices.)

If you should be very unlucky and find yourself forced to try and squeeze your carry-on into an unforgiving luggage template by the gate, even one extra inch - if your bag is already at the maximum - will be enough to mean it doesn't fit and you have to check the bag.--The Travel Insider

A carry-on bag, a good one, makes a great gift for the traveler in your life. But don't just buy the first "regulation" sized bag you see. Check out a few different airlines sites or baggage regulations charts, then buy the smallest, that's right, the smallest, sized regulation bag you find. Some airlines will take a 51" bag, but what are you going to do when you're flying an airlines that only takes a 45" bag. And measure before you buy - don't be fooled by the published dimensions, which may be capacity, or interior space, or who knows what.

I know, I know, you're saying "I have NEEDS!" be it toys for the kids you're flying with, or medical supplies, or maybe you're just a product junkie. Always, always, always, check with your airlines (all of them, not just one) and the TSA to find out what whimsical things they have in mind for you on the day before you fly. Always. You may end up paying the fee and checking your bag because it's the best thing for you. But you won't be surprised.

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