Carry-on size restrictions

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Jun 10, 2019
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#1
We are flying overseas in September and have noticed on Air Canada's site that the max dimensions for carry-on bags seem to be just less than the luggage industry standard, e.g. I have a standard mass-produced Samsonite carry-on measuring 23x15x10 that exceeds their 21.5x15.5x9 max. Even my wife's slightly smaller Eagle Creek carry-on misses the mark. Is this another example of the broken relationship between the travel industry and its customers, i.e., is Air Canada trying to force passengers to pay to check standard size bags by setting a max just below? If not, is the gate agent is likely to whip out a tape measure? By the way, we have encountered no problems with our bags on domestic flights and had no problem bringing them onto an Air Italia flight to Rome in June of last year.

Many thanks for any helpful replies.

MikeS
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
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Dec 27, 2014
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#2
It’s not just Air Canada. I just flew on Delta on a regional jet that couldn’t fit a standard carry on on the plane. They require gate checking.

The plane is likely small and the overheads don’t fit a standard carry on. This isn’t unusual when flying outside the US. International flights have smaller carry on allowances.

Get carry ons that fit or you may be forced to gate check. To be safe, if you buy one that fits under your seat, you will probably never have to worry about gate checking.
 
Likes: Nancy
Jun 10, 2019
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#3
It’s not just Air Canada. I just flew on Delta on a regional jet that couldn’t fit a standard carry on on the plane. They require gate checking.

The plane is likely small and the overheads don’t fit a standard carry on. This isn’t unusual when flying outside the US.

Get carry ons that fit or you may be forced to gate check.
Thanks so much, Neil!
 
Apr 27, 2018
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#4
The size 21.5x15.5x9 is called an international wide body and most airlines don't use that size anymore but a few manufacturers like Briggs & Riley still made that size as well as a standard domestic size. It us up to the gate agents to decide to enforce the rule, most of the time you will be fine but there are no guarantees. I would take a tote or a backpack with all your important items just in case you have to check your case.
 
Likes: Neil Maley
Jul 13, 2016
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#7
I sold luggage for years. The issue is that the manufacturers do not count wheels and handles in the total dimensions, while airlines do (which makes sense because you can't take wheels and handles off and they do need to fit in the overhead bin). Years ago, I counseled buyers to get the 20" size, so they would be sure to get the bag in the overhead bin.

In this instance, if you are on a regional, smaller plane, sometimes all hard-sided wheeled bags have to be checked. I had trouble recently with a soft sided bag. It only fit in the bins on one side of the cabin.There was no way any framed, wheeled bag would have fit!

What we are now starting to see outside the US, is weight limitations on carry-ons. My soft-sided bag can easily hold 20-25 lbs, but my airline, EVA, only allows 15 lbs. And they were weighing at the ticket counter/passport check. Many overseas airlines, included the low cost ones like Ryan Air, have restrictive weight limits.
 
Sep 19, 2015
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#8
Consumer reports wrote about the carry one size measurement issue

https://www.consumerreports.org/luggage/When-carry-on-luggage-isnt-carry-on-size/

As Globetrottingal mentioned there is an issue of whether the manufacturer measures the interior of the space or exterior with wheels and handles.

I would no longer risk having a slightly oversized bag; just because no one noticed it before does not mean that others will let it go.

Air Canada seems to have the standard dimensions.
 
Aug 29, 2015
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#9
If you buy a TravelPro you can find one that meets the right size. We finally bought them to use to travel overseas. Southwest lets me bring my larger carry on, but with everyone else, I need the TravelPro.
 
Apr 27, 2018
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#10
Consumer reports wrote about the carry one size measurement issue

https://www.consumerreports.org/luggage/When-carry-on-luggage-isnt-carry-on-size/

As Globetrottingal mentioned there is an issue of whether the manufacturer measures the interior of the space or exterior with wheels and handles.

I would no longer risk having a slightly oversized bag; just because no one noticed it before does not mean that others will let it go.

Air Canada seems to have the standard dimensions.
Standard US dimensions are 22''14''9''. Most suitcases for sale here are those dimensions and if you are looking for something else I highly recommend going to a professional luggage store as most department stores won't be able to help you. International sizes are not standardized so it is truly the wild west when leaving the US. Oh and one more piece of advice, if you book an international airline with a codeshare with a US airline they are supossed to follow the rules of the airline you book.
 
Mar 12, 2019
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#12
I would never risk having to check in my carry-on so I go to the airline’s website and follow its rules. I know the agents are very lenient because the aisles are clogged with passengers taking an inordinate time because the bags are too big and probably overweight, too. When I got to my seat, I found the bin has been taken by a single long box. That was annoying but the beauty of a compliant bag is when that happens, it doesn’t take much to find a space. Navigating the airport is also a lot easier with a small bag instead of one that really should have been checked in.
 
Likes: mmb
Apr 6, 2017
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#14
Really many of the current "carryon bags" are too large due to the wheels. But when you count the wheels then the remaining bag is getting kind of small. I dont know why we cant buy a carry on with removable wheels....and sometimes they do ask you to put it in the bag size checker (ps I was flying on easyjet and they checked the sizes on everything...people would try to force their bags into the checker and when someone pushed and pushed and got it in the rest of the people waiting at the gait would put our a cheer....)

Weighing is mixed--for example I just came back from Mexico and flew on Interjet--they weighed the check in but didnt weigh the carryon

ps to get around the weigh in....buy a fishing vest with plenty of pockets--put everything heavy in it--and then cover yourself in a large jacket and zip up the jacket--once on the plane take it off and but everything back in your carryon.
 
Apr 27, 2018
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#15
Really many of the current "carryon bags" are too large due to the wheels. But when you count the wheels then the remaining bag is getting kind of small. I dont know why we cant buy a carry on with removable wheels....and sometimes they do ask you to put it in the bag size checker (ps I was flying on easyjet and they checked the sizes on everything...people would try to force their bags into the checker and when someone pushed and pushed and got it in the rest of the people waiting at the gait would put our a cheer....)

Weighing is mixed--for example I just came back from Mexico and flew on Interjet--they weighed the check in but didnt weigh the carryon

ps to get around the weigh in....buy a fishing vest with plenty of pockets--put everything heavy in it--and then cover yourself in a large jacket and zip up the jacket--once on the plane take it off and but everything back in your carryon.
Removable wheels--- yeah I can see people on the plane trying to remove the wheels and put them back on (not). A carry-on with 2 wheels (rollerboard) will give you more room then a 4 wheel case and also will have longer life. The issue is most discount stores (like tj maxx or marshalls) won't have them in stock. If you live near a full line luggage store they will be able to help you out and find the best case for you, plus you will get the satisfaction of shopping local.
 
Jul 13, 2016
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#16
Really many of the current "carryon bags" are too large due to the wheels. But when you count the wheels then the remaining bag is getting kind of small. I dont know why we cant buy a carry on with removable wheels....and sometimes they do ask you to put it in the bag size checker (ps I was flying on easyjet and they checked the sizes on everything...people would try to force their bags into the checker and when someone pushed and pushed and got it in the rest of the people waiting at the gait would put our a cheer....)

Weighing is mixed--for example I just came back from Mexico and flew on Interjet--they weighed the check in but didnt weigh the carryon

ps to get around the weigh in....buy a fishing vest with plenty of pockets--put everything heavy in it--and then cover yourself in a large jacket and zip up the jacket--once on the plane take it off and but everything back in your carryon.
The early wheeled bags DID have removable wheels and a leash--the darned bags kept tipping over! The wheels could be removed with a screwdriver to release the mechanism and then they slid off. Then you had to stick these dirty and heavy metal wheels into your tote bag. Nowadays you can't even fly with the screwdriver!
 

jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
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#17
Agree with my colleagues ... you can blather al day about whether wheels count in the size and whether the handle slides all the way in or whether it fits in the bag sizer ... but a zealous gate agent will not argue with you, you will check your carryon, and check it right now. So haunt the discount stores, WalMart, etc for affordable carryons. Or "buy the best", whichever suits you. Know AC's rules and take a tape with you. Best to err on the smaller side. And the weight limits need to be followed as well.
 
Apr 6, 2017
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#18
actually not all have screws holding the wheels--some are riveted. And yes I carry a TSA compliant screw driver and can get those wheels off in a minute if needed. However so far no gate agent has asked me to...
 
Sep 20, 2018
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#19
I fly mostly first class... never a question so far... not cause I am rich...but I refuse to be uncomfortable ona flight that lasts more than a couple hours... I am big dude... and those seats are rock hard in coach... so I havent been asked yet in First...
 

jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
8,061
7,948
113
San Francisco
#20
I fly mostly first class... never a question so far... not cause I am rich...but I refuse to be uncomfortable ona flight that lasts more than a couple hours... I am big dude... and those seats are rock hard in coach... so I havent been asked yet in First...
I'm with you, bignevermo, my legs are as long as a basketball player's. If I couldn't finess points, cash and miles into flying up front, I wouldn't fly. I never have any issues with my carryons (rollaboard, computer bag and a shopping bag with a hat during horse show season) either, but in coach ... the issue is that you just never know. As Steve says, no agent has ever asked him to remove the wheels. But he carries that screwdriver every trip, just in case. Half the problems we see on this forum come about because people "got away" with stuff and didn't know it. Then comes that gate agent who decides to enforce the rules ... it's ugly.