Please sign in to post.

Noob Question- Icelandic Air Carry On Strict Rules?

My family is taking a trip this June via Iceland Air, stopping in Iceland for a day before going on to London. We really want to avoid checking baggage and hoped to do carry-on plus personal item only. The thing I am worried about is that our carry-ons are barely larger than what Iceland Air's website says is allowed. For example, their website says 21.6 x 15.7 x 7.8 inches (converted from metric). Our bags are (according to the manufacturer) 23.6x 14.6 x 8.7inches.

We don't want to wind up at the gate and have them say that there is a problem and then charge us five separate bag fees. Would you roll the dice on this or would you just do two large checked bags instead?

Posted by
1979 posts

I would not chance it. I’ve had carryon luggage sized and weighed before on Lufthansa. At the gate, an agent wandered around the waiting area and randomly sized and weighed carryon bags. They see hundreds of bags a day and can easily spot those that are over the limit. It’s an expensive roll of the dice.

Posted by
7564 posts

It would be a dice roll on this. I flew this airline 4 times pre-covid. Two of the times everyone boarding was required to place their bag in the sizer before boarding. The other two times, no one had to use the sizer. I am not sure what made the difference except how strict the crew at the departure point was.

That said, unless you have an extremely rigid or overpacked bag, a small difference of a few inches might not be that big of a deal. I think you should always fly assuming an airline will enforce its rules so you won't be surprised when they do.

Posted by
18864 posts

I would advise you not to try it. You could get away with it; in my experience, they don't always check, but if they do, you have no defense.

Of course, the width, 14.6 vs 15.7 is no problem. You might get away with the 8.7 thickness vs the 7.8 inch limit, particularly is your bag is not completely stuffed. However, the length, 2 inches (that's more than "barely") over the official limit is not likely to pass. That would be particularly true with solid framed wheeled bags, including handles. The length allowance of those bags could be predicated by the available space in the overhead compartment. If the length of the bag prevents it from fitting in the overhead compartment front to back (crosswise in the cabin), and it is rigid so can't be compressed, then the bag has to go sideways in the compartment, using more space that other people's bags should use.

21.6" is a common length limit for carry-on bags internationally, and even in the US, 22" is commonly the limit, so why did you buy what are essentially 24" bags? I really hate to tell someone to check bags (I never do myself), but in this case, short of buying new regulation carry-on bags, I guess that's what you will have to do.

Posted by
24903 posts

That's a large size difference, and you can't trust the manufacturer's measurements, either. A lot of them exclude wheels and handles from their measurements; the airlines do not. I think it's quite unlikely a 23.6" bag (even if it really is 23.6") will fit crosswise in the overhead bin. And I think the chances are very low that gate personnel will overlook a party of five, all of whom have bags substantially larger than the carry-on limit.

Posted by
10326 posts

Our bags are (according to the manufacturer) 23.6x 14.6 x 8.7inches.

Have you measured the bags? Have you used them as carry on in the past? Any problems?

If your bags are 2-3 inches taller than what everyone else at the gate has, yours will, as the saying goes, 'stick out like a sore thumb' and likely draw unwanted attention.

Posted by
471 posts

I'd look for new bags. By the time you did baggage fees, you'd end up in about the same place dollarwise. Personally, I think one of the best travel lessons you can teach a kid is to pack and schlep their own baggage. A good piece of functional luggage will last them for a loooong time. If you check two pieces, guess who is going to be carrying them... I love my rolling backpack which is 20x14x7 with the wheels. Plenty of room for a weekend or weeks away. It is good for carrying on. It's would work for a kid, too.

However, I've flown four domestic trips since April. On the majority of those flights, the plane has run out of carry-on space well before it was fully boarded. Subsequent bags were checked for free. Maybe international flights are better but I'm not counting on it.

Posted by
4017 posts

Below is a quote straight from the Icelandair website under International flights. Note the carry-on weight limit. If your bag is bigger than their limit it may also be heavier than you think it is. Here's the link for all the baggage allowance permutations by ticket class:

Carry-on baggage
Your carry-on bag must fit in the overhead compartment.

Maximum dimensions (including handles and wheels): 21.6 x 15.7 x 7.8 inches (55 x 40 x 20 cm).

Maximum weight: 22 lbs (10 kg).

Personal item
You may bring on board 1 small personal item such as a handbag, backpack, or laptop bag that must fit under the seat in front of you.

Maximum dimensions: 15.7 x 11.8 x 5.9 inches (40 x 30 x 15 cm).

Here's a recent Travel & Leisure article on flying Icelandair:

This quote from Tripadvisor reviewer Alicia M. caught my eye: "Note to all travelers — read the emails before the flights, measure your luggage, and weigh it. This didn't seem to be as big of an issue in other countries, but many people were getting bags pulled and charged to check them in the U.S. This is incredibly expensive, so pay attention to the requirements."

As others have said, I wouldn't chance it. I also wouldn't check 2 big(ger?) bags that you'll have to manage on your own in London and wherever else you're going.

You'll find alternate ways to pack for trips of any length and any combination of locations on this website here under Travel Tips: Packing Light:

And you'll find lots of discussions about those alternatives on the Packing Forum here:

Posted by
24903 posts

I bet your bags weigh 7 or 8 lb. empty, maybe more, so there's no way they'll be under a 22-lb. weight limit when packed.

Posted by
13841 posts

There is a way around it.

On my last flight on Icelandair from JFK-KEF they were checking everyone's carry on at the gate except those in Saga class.

Posted by
1487 posts

In our experience, Iceland Air is very strict about size and weight. We fly out of Seattle, and at least here, they have always checked every bag. Coming home, they are not quite as strict, but still much more than most airlines.

Your bags are significantly larger than allowed and I would bet that they would be checked with no option to carryon.

Posted by
27 posts

Just came back from a trip to Iceland via Icelandair and they had those size cages at the gates to measure to see if your carry-on baggage would fit in the overhead cabin spaces. I saw several people get turned away/forced to check their bags minutes before they were going to close the gate from boarding! Save yourself the worry and get smaller bags or check them ahead of time.

Posted by
227 posts

For what it is worth, the Icelandair web site states "Passengers have the option to check in approved carry-on baggage at no additional cost; please ask at the airport check-in desk or at the gate." On the web page where I saw this, only the weight limit is noted. If you are willing to check the bags and if they don't exceed 22 pounds, you might be able to find out in advance from the airline if they would let you check them for free given their dimensions. But I agree with the suggestion to measure.

Posted by
4 posts

Icelandair is very serious about their size limitations. I've used the same carry on bag for 25 years traveling to Mexico, Israel, Europe, etc. via United, American, Delta, Southwest, Hawaiian airlines and others. They all excepted my carry on bag, but not Icelandair. At the last minute, they took my bag and said it had to be checked. I was surprised and disappointed, but the BIG disappointed came as we were in the air, and I realized that my swimsuit for soaking in the Blue Lagoon (during a partial-day layover) was inside my suitcase! Meanwhile, my suitcase was on its way to London.