Please sign in to post.

21" Rolling carry-on bags are too small

My wife and I just received two 21" expandable rolling carry-on bags that we bought earlier this week from Rick Steves website. I was really taken aback at how small they are compared to our other Rick Steves rolling 21" carry on bags we bought and have used for at least 12 years. In fact the new 21" expandable bag fits inside my older 21" rolling carry on bag. My quick impression is the new ones are not as large nor as well made as the other 21" RS bags we bought in 2008.

I will be sending these back for a refund.

Posted by
1156 posts

Are they 21”? Then they are the correct size.

Many of the older bags didn’t include the wheels in the measurement. With airlines cracking down on bag size your new bag may be the way to go!

Posted by
703 posts

Cindy is right on. Measure the bags and you will likely find that the old ones were not 21 inches by airline standards. A lot of manufacturers did and still do not include the wheels. A lot depends on how sticky the gate people are and that varies airline to airline and gate.

Posted by
4849 posts

The other two dimensions are important too. Lots of airlines have reduced the max dimensions (and weight allowed) since 2008. There is no such thing as a universally approved carryon size, so the honest description of something as "carryon size" is no guarantee that they'll fit.

Posted by
3314 posts

Could you give us specifics of what you meant from this sentence?

“My quick impression is the new ones are not... as well made as the other 21" RS bags we bought in 2008.”

Posted by
17613 posts

I bought my first carry-on bag in 2000, from Rick. Back then the standard for most US airlines was 22"x14"x9". It's still the limit on the big three, United, American, and Delta. I don't think it's been reduced. Some cut-rate airlines, like Frontier, actually have larger "carry-on size limits if you pay for the bag. If you don't pay for a carry-on, you can only take on a personal item, which is smaller than the traditional carry-on size.

In the case of European airlines, I can remember it being 55x40x20 (21.6" x 15.75" x 7.88") years ago on Lufthansa and many others. Today most European airlines have increased the thickness from 20 cm to 23 cm (9.05"), so that most bags from the US will fit. However, 55 cm (21.6") has always been a little shorter than the US 22", and many US manufacturers use every mm (.0374") of it for wheels and handles (they often exceed the limit), so US length bags probably don't fit European size limits. British Air lists their length limits as 56 cm, which is 47/1000" over 22", so unless the US bag is cheating on the length, it should fit BA standards.

So, except for cut-rate US airlines, I don't think the size limits have been reduced. If anything, they've been increased a little by European airlines.

However, some airlines have been enforcing the limits more strictly recently so, for people who have been getting away with exceeding the limits, it might seem like they have been reduced.

Posted by
8485 posts

In 2008, if I remember correctly, the RS carry-on was 22 inches, not 21. The width and depth should be the same.

It was done so the bag would confirm to the tighter European carry on rules.

Depending on the airline you're flying, your older bag may not fit in the sizer.

Posted by
3210 posts

Besides the overall dimensions (including wheels and handles) and empty weight, I think checking the volume of the bag being considered is important.

Sometimes it's listed in cubic inches and sometimes in liters. Expandable bags usually are too fat to carry-on when they are expanded and they have to be checked.

The bag I think you got says its volume is 2430 cubic inches (2970 expanded). In liters that's 39.8 (or 48.6). Pretty big, but its 6.5 pound empty weight would be a deal breaker for me.

I learned that it's easier to pack my Eagle Creek carry-on bags by expanding them first. If I cinch the contents down, zip the main zipper and then the expansion one, the bag goes down to its unexpanded depth. Neither of these bags has been tagged by the gate police as too large to carry on, so far.

My 22x14x9 (expandable to 11) carry-on is 41 L not expanded. I used it for 6 weeks in the UK in 2016. Two extra T-shirts made me have to expand and check it on the trip home from London. I also used it for 5 weeks in Italy in 2017. No expansion was needed for that trip home from Milan. It weighs 5.5 pounds empty.

My 20.25x14x8 (expandable to 9) international carry-on is 36 L not expanded. It weighs 4.5 pounds empty. I used it for 5 weeks in Portugal and Spain last summer. No expansion was needed for the trip home from Amsterdam either.

You could measure the actual exterior and interior of the older bag to see if it is indeed carry-on size. I remember a few years back someone on the forum saying they'd measured their RS carry-on rolling bag and discovered that the wheels and handle had not been included in the overall measurements.

No matter who makes the bag or sells it, there seems to be a tendency to forget the difference between the overall dimensions and the packing area ones. That's why taking a measuring tape along is a good idea if you're shopping in person for luggage. And having free return options for online purchases is always a good thing.

Posted by
2290 posts

Delta sent my husband a carryon for being a million miler and Delta partner Air France made him check it. If you're going to fly a European carrier, you need to pay close attention to total length and weight. It is not unusual for them to weigh your carryon to make sure it does not exceed 8kg.

Travel luggage has certainly changed. Some luggage companies use lighter-weight fabrics to help with newer weight restrictions. Some use cheaper materials for the sake of profits. Some are using blusign "recycled" materials.

I agree that RS luggage is different than 10 years ago. However, RS luggage can still be a good choice and value - especially during Black Friday - Cyber Monday.
Measure the luggage yourself and check your airline's requirements. Use Packing Cubes! Packing cubes, to me, are nearly essential with modern luggage restrictions.

Posted by
5537 posts

I keep having to get my old Rick Steve’s 22” carry on repaired since I can’t find a replacement for it. The cloth gets ripped frequently.
I am considering buying AWAY luggage.

Posted by
17613 posts

For 11 trips to Europe (24 weeks) plus many shorter domestic trips, I've sequentially used three bags since 2000. Non has had wheels, and none has ever been checked. I like to fly Lufthansa, and their weight limit is 8 kg (17.6 #), so empty weight is an issue for me. Because I don't over-pack my bag, and without the rigid wheel/handle structure, the actual length is unimportant. It easily squishes to fit in a 55 cm sizer.

My first carry-on bag was an RS convertible, right at the size limit and about 2½ #. As I learned to travel lighter, the RS bag became too large for the contents and, only partially filled, sagged a little. So I went to the OPEC bag, which was a little smaller than regulation and only 1¾ #. As I made more trips, I learned to carry even less, and eventually, the OPEC bag was too big. I finally got an eTech 2.0 Weekender Jr., which, sadly, isn't made anymore. It weighs a little more, 2½ #, but it has cinch straps to tighten the load, so I no longer have to fight a floppy, "too big" bag. (I thought of using the OPEC bag and filling the extra space with bubble-wrap, but I wasn't sure how security would take that!)

Before getting the Weekender Jr., I took everything that I took on one trip and put it in a box with known length and width and measured the depth. The total volume was about 1400 in³ (content weight was just under 10 #). That's about the volume of an Appenzell bag, which I have, and I thought of using it for my trips to Europe, but I don't like the way it opens (at the top instead of like a book).

One comment: I've never had a "carried-on" bag damaged, but then the fact that I handle it myself means that I can control how it is handled,and avoid damage.

Posted by
36 posts

Suki, I highly recommend the Away suitcase. I have yet to find someone disappointed with theres.

Posted by
1156 posts

Travel luggage has certainly changed. Some luggage companies use lighter-weight fabrics to help with newer weight restrictions. Some use cheaper materials for the sake of profits. Some are using blusign "recycled" materials.

This is an important point!

Many materials have changed. Super thin sil-nylon is just as strong as the older, heavier, thicker cordura nylon. Yet many go for the older material because it “feels” bomb proof.

Many times manufacturers will substitute plastic for metal because it is lighter.

In short, there are a lot of trade offs to consider.

One thing - you don’t need the super beefy luggage if you’re not going to check it. I would argue that you can get away with a lighter bag material than with a check through bag.

The big question - how do you plan to travel?

Posted by
3115 posts

The RS rolling 21” carryon bag dimensions are 21" x 14" x 9" (including wheels) according to the
Product Details on the bag description page — https://store.ricksteves.com/shop/p/rolling-carry-on

When YOU measured the 21” carryon bags you received, what were the exact dimensions?

How much smaller were they? Please let us know the specific measurements of the 2 bags you bought. Thanks.

Posted by
30 posts

jbryceland, I agree with you about the new 21" rolling carry-on bags. Last fall, we purchased a new bag to replace my husband's 10 year old Rick Steve's bag. We were very surprised how small the new bag is compared to our old ones, but then realized carry-on rules have changed in 10 years. We always check a bag each, so we repaired his trusty, well used rolling bag and left the new one at home.

Posted by
7109 posts

“In 2008, if I remember correctly, the RS carry-on was 22 inches, not 21. The width and depth should be the same.

Depending on the airline you're flying, your older bag may not fit in the sizer.“

What Frank II said is exactly what i was thinking. I had the same bag you say you bought in 2008 - and it was 22”. I liked it.
Used it for 8 yrs. But it would not fit in the sizer for Norwegian Air, which is the airline i fly, if i used it now.

I bought the new RS rolling carry-on - 21” as you said - and used it this Sept/Oct. I do not like it. It actually holds a lot of stuff because it is very expandable, but when very full it falls over too easily. I would return it if i could.

I also have a 24” Ultra-Light Travelpro spinner and i love it. They come in many sizes, including 21”-22” (can’t remember which).

Posted by
2290 posts

I bought the smaller Ultralight TravelPro Carryon for a flight on Air France. I really like it and it has the separate front pouch for a jacket. I considered the Away, but it's too heavy, even without the battery.

Posted by
23245 posts

I find this thread interesting.

I have a question for those users of the Away (especially cala) which has been mentioned a couple of times. What battery? Why would luggage have a battery?

Posted by
7538 posts

Nigel, some luggage now comes with a battery so one can charge their electronic devices while traveling.

Posted by
23245 posts

Interesting. I carry a battery pack but it goes anywhere, especially in my backpack. I'd never have thought of attaching it to a suitcase....

Posted by
7538 posts

The batteries in luggage are removable. You can't check a bag with a battery. I have a phone case for my iPhone that has an extra battery. It will recharge my phone 150%. I only use it for traveling, as it is slightly bulkier and heavier than my normal case.

Posted by
2388 posts

I agree. A battery attached to one's suitcase is rather superfluous. A battery in the overhead bin is no help to me. My battery is small and is in my purse or personal item, traveling or at home. I find a hard sided bag to be problematic...or the thought of one, because my bag is not always that full heading out so why be stuck with extra, non-squishable space?

On the subject at hand: originally I purchased a RS 22" bag...what he was selling over 10 years ago. I was so disappointed to find out RS distorted the measurements like most sellers. He did not include the wheels, which essentially made the bag almost 24" and not a carryon, then or now, for my airline, BA. The 21" bag measurements are more accurate, which I purchased in 2014. The measurement is barely over 21" and weighs just a little over 5 lbs...so I'm surprised everyone says 6.5 lbs, but perhaps those are the newer ones. My husband tends to use the old bag, internationally, especially if he brings his trekking poles as they won't fit in the smaller RS bag. My RS bag still looks like new, even though I check it on 85% of my flights. Actually, the older bag looks almost as new as well... Long lasting bags really interfer with the bag addict in me. Sigh.

PS. I don't have a problem with this bag tipping as I put the heavier items near the wheels of the bag, which is how I pack any wheeled bag to avoid tipping over. YMMV

I wonder if suitcases with chargers/batteries are a fire hazard and as such, if they are allowed in overhead bins?

Poor RS - he can't please all OCD luggage concerned travelers. The luggage industry was much easier 20 years ago before restrictions and heavy airport traffic (travelers).

Posted by
17613 posts

@Sun-baked: the battery is definitely a fire hazard in checked luggage (planes have crashed because LI batteries carried in the hold caught fire) and has to be removed before checking. It is considered less of a fire hazard when in the overhead bin, but, depending on the airline, you still might be required to remove it when carrying on.

Watch this video https://www.consumerreports.org/video/view/travel/4624131504001/finding-carry-on-luggage-that-fits-overhead/. Consumer reports tested 11 bags from major sellers and 9 were bigger than advertised, and many (all 9?) didn't even fit in airline sizers.

I noticed, at the beginning of the video, where a person is trying to force a bag into the overhead bin, the two bags, at least one wheeled, in the bin to his right are both in the bin sideways, probably because they exceed the length measurement and don't fit in the bin long dimension across the cabin.

As an example of what Consumer Reports found, the Away "Bigger" Carry-on, although advertised as a "carry-on", is ¾" bigger in all three dimensions than most airline limits. Although Away say,

designed to fit in the overhead bin of most major airlines,

what they don't say is that is exceeds the carry-on limit in all three directions for most airlines. Better plan on checking this "carry-on" bag.

Lee,
Definitely a play on words. "Most" "major". Likely, domestic - not international. Companies design bags for folks like one of my friends who insists on carrying her entire closet and bathroom contents for a 4 day car trip.

Posted by
4 posts

I am so excited to find this thread, as I just now also made the same super-unpleasant discovery as the OP. I've had my Rick Steves Rolling Carry-On since 2011, travel frequently to far-flung places international and domestic, and have NEVER had a carry-on size issue with it, with any airline. It performed admirably these 8 years until last week when the wheels split, rendering it completely unusable for rolling. I purchased a new Rick Steves Rolling Carry-On, but imagine my surprise, dismay, and super-sadness when I received it to find that the 2019 Rick Steves Rolling Carry-On is MUCH, much smaller and has MUCH, much less capacity (I tested with as many sweaters as I could stuff in the old and new one).

I presume there may be good reasons why the size was reduced, but the new smaller capacity absolutely will not work for me sadly. I'll need to return it and buy some other brand :-(

I looked at Away but they appear to only have hardcase which I don't want. I don't want to take a chance on luggage I haven't seen in person (especially now after this unfortunate incident with the RS piece), so I'll probably visit REI and our local sporting goods / camping store, Sports Basement.

Posted by
5443 posts

I wonder if suitcases with chargers/batteries are a fire hazard and as such, if they are allowed in overhead bins?

Actually carrying lithium batteries in the overhead is safer than the cargo hold because the cabin crew has a better chance of extinguishing the battery if the battery can be reached inflight. That said, there is a size limit to lithium batteries.

https://www.faa.gov/hazmat/packsafe/more_info/?hazmat=7

Spare (uninstalled) lithium ion and lithium metal batteries must be
carried in carry-on baggage only. When a carry-on bag is checked at
the gate or at planeside, all spare lithium batteries must be removed
from the bag and kept with the passenger in the aircraft cabin. The
battery terminals must be protected from short circuit.

Size limits: Lithium metal (non-rechargeable) batteries are limited to
2 grams of lithium per battery. Lithium ion (rechargeable) batteries
are limited to a rating of 100 watt hours (Wh) per battery. These
limits allow for nearly all types of lithium batteries used by the
average person in their electronic devices. With airline approval,
passengers may also carry up to two spare larger lithium ion batteries
(101-160 watt hours). This size covers the larger after-market
extended-life laptop computer batteries and some larger batteries used
in professional audio/visual equipment.

Posted by
8485 posts

Why would luggage have a battery?

Many travelers use backup batteries for their devices. Bags that come with batteries are called smart bags. I have the Away carry on that comes with a dual USB port 10,000 maH battery. It pops out of its holder--accessible from outside the bag--in about one second. I thought it was a gimmick at first but I used to carry a backup battery anyway. Now it has its own easily accessible place.

I wonder if suitcases with chargers/batteries are a fire hazard and as such, if they are allowed in overhead bins?

I have been traveling with my bag for over 16 months on numerous airlines and the only one that asks me to remove the battery from the bag going in the overhead is Delta. One small airline didn't even bother to ask when I had to check it.

As long as a bag can fit the carry on rules of at least one airline, the bag's manufacturer can call it a carry on.

Posted by
5443 posts

https://www.tsa.gov/travel/security-screening/whatcanibring/items/lithium-batteries-more-100-watt-hours

Lithium batteries with more than 100 watt hours

Carry On Bags: Yes (Special Instructions)

Checked Bags: No

Lithium batteries with more than 100 watt hours may be allowed in
carry-on bags with airline approval, but are limited to two spare
batteries per passenger. Loose lithium batteries are prohibited in
checked bags. For more information, see the FAA regulations on
batteries.

Posted by
17613 posts

I agree with Continental,

Please let us know the specific measurements of the 2 bags you bought.

I don't believe anyone on this forum has followed carry-on limits more closely than I have, and I have not noticed a decrease in size allowances. I think anyone who believes that has a misconception due to airlines enforcing the limits more closely. You might have brought a bag on for years that exceeded the limits, and now that won't let you carry it on, but the limits were always there, they are just enforcing them, finally.

FYI, I just pulled out my ca. 2000 RS Convertible Carry-on and carefully measured the size, seam to seam, of each panel. The back is definitely 21" (not 22") long and 13½" to 14" wide, and the side panels are about 8½" wide. There is a pocket on the front that could extend the thickness to over 8½", maybe 9". There are handles, but they are not thick; maybe the ½" less than regulation accounts for how far the hangle sticks out. So I'd say that the bag was not significantly over 21" x 14" x 9". So ;unless the new bags are actually under the limits, the bags have not gotten smaller.

That was a non-wheeled backpack style bag, not a roll-aboard.

Posted by
5 posts

I'm the OP. Thanks for all the comments and it seems we strayed into the land of battery pack luggage which I have no interest in. Let me say upfront that I fly Delta 99% of the time and the dimensions of my older RS rolling bag meet their current requirements. Should I find myself in future with a situation that requires I check my bag then so be it. We bought these newer RS roll on bags simply because we were long time RS customers and light packers and thought we could use some newer bags. As I mentioned, when I took the bag out of the box it was immediately apparent to us that these new roll on bags where much smaller than our other RS bags. In fact, the new bag fit completely inside my older bag with room to spare.

With that being said, I measured the new bag per several requests and I referred to the "How to measure Luggage tutorial on wikiHow (www.wikihow.com/Measure-Luggage) to accomplish same. This is what I got...length (top to bottom) 20"; width (side to side) 13"; depth 7 3/4". I also measured the outside dimensions of the boxes each bag was shipped in. The box measured...Length 21 3/8"; width 14; depth 8.

After looking at various other web sites for luggage and reading several sites that addressed luggage size and how the metrics differ dramatically across manufactures, we have concluded for us the only way to buy bags in the future is to do so in person. I called Rick Steves' store this morning to find out what I needed to do to return the two bags we bought. I was very surprised to find that we must cover the cost of shipping to return the bags to Edmonds, WA. I took them to the local UPS store and was quoted $68 for sending the bags back from Tucson, AZ to Edmonds, WA. While it won't break the bank, it has made me very unlikely to purchase future items from Rick Steves company.

Posted by
3115 posts

I called Rick Steves' store this morning to find out what I needed to
do to return the two bags we bought. I was very surprised to find that
we must cover the cost of shipping to return the bags to Edmonds, WA.
I took them to the local UPS store and was quoted $68 for sending the
bags back from Tucson, AZ to Edmonds, WA. While it won't break the
bank, it has made me very unlikely to purchase future items from Rick
Steves company.

OUCH....That is HARSH. Thank you for the heads up about your experience.

Posted by
7109 posts

I agree that’s harsh and i definitely won’t be buying from RS ever again.

Posted by
4 posts

Yes, I was also advised today that I need to pay return shipping for the smaller Rolling Carry On. This leaves a very bad taste in my mouth, since I was buying the same thing it was only reasonable for me to expect that the size would be the same (or very very close). The 2019 Rolling Carry On has much less capacity.

I will be emailing them back, asking them to pay shipping for the above reason.

Posted by
17613 posts

I have a lot of problems with this, but the first is that IF the product was not as advertised, the store should be taking it back at their cost and refunding your money, in full. If not I would contact your states consumer protection office.

You need, however, to be able to defend your measurements. I'm not sure how much I respect the website you referenced. In method one, step 3, they tell you to measure the bag before you pack it. At the very next step they tell you to measure it after you pack it. With a soft bag, like I use, you would get very different measurements depending on whether the bag was packed and how full. That's why I measured the actual dimensions of the panels. Measured empty, my bag would be about 1" thick. Filled with what I take, it wold be about 5 inches thick. But those are not the actual bag measurements.

On the other hand, with a more rigid, rolling suitcase, the back does not collapse if partially filled. As long as the sides are not bulging, you would probably get about the same measurement, unpacked or packed.

I suspect that Rick does not know that the bags being sent out are not to the specified size, and I'll bet he would want to know that they are not. It's a supplier problem. His supplier probably sends him the bags packed and the store sends them out without opening them. And I think he would take the bag back at his expense.

However, despite the issue with Rick's bags, most airlines have not been reducing carry-on size limits.

Posted by
7109 posts

buck, as i said above, paying for returns means i won’t buy from RS ever again, but... you were not “buying the same thing.” Your previous bag was 22” and this one is 21” with the wheels included in that 21” measurement. When i bought the one you just bought i knew it was smaller than the 22” which i also had. You need a better argument imo.

Posted by
8485 posts

Your bag measuring may be wrong. You need to measure including the wheels and handles. Not just the bag itself. Rick's posted measurements include them.

Nowhere on his website does he offer free returns if you don't like the bags. If you assumed the new bag was the same size as your old bag because they have the same name, that's not the store's fault.

If you think the measurements stated are wrong, let them know. They will measure a similar bag. I know because I found an error on their posted measurements of another bag. They measured a different one and agreed with me. They paid to have my bag returned.

Posted by
911 posts

I measured my Rolling Carry-on for someone who pm’d me awhile back. It measured 21x14x9 empty so the advertised measurements are correct. I bought this bag in almost three years ago.
I have an old non-RS 22” suitcase that measures 22” without handle or wheels which measures just shy of 23” with wheels and handle so is not carry-on compliant. And yes I’d be able to put the RS bag inside the old one.

Posted by
16568 posts

It's usually cheaper to use the US Postal Service than UPS, etc. You might save $20 or even more (that is a wild guess on my part--no guarantee). These days, shipping costs are often based on size as well as weight, so the cost of shipping even a lightweight, empty suitcase will probably be substantial. This is why I don't pay too much attention to whether a bag is guaranteed: I don't want to have to pay a lot of money to send it back in for repair.

Posted by
150 posts

I own the current RS rolling carryon, purchased specifically because of the 21" length, because I wanted to use it as a carryon for a trip to Europe on Norwegian. It passed muster on both ends of the trip, and I've since used it on numerous flights. It's been very durable, and the expansion feature makes it pretty useful on car trips as well.

I also recently tried the Ravenna roller, which has similar dimensions, and am quite happy with it so far.

The key here is to match the bag with the airline's rules. This can be tricky with the varying regulations among European carriers, but aside from the budget US airlines like Frontier and Sprint, most "carryon" luggage is fine on domestic carriers. I'm also noticing that some luggage manufacturers and retailers are now specifying dimensions with handle and wheels, a welcome improvement.

I don't really notice that much of a difference between a 21" bag versus a 22" in terms of how much I pack. And knowing that a 21" bag will cut it for both American and a lot of European carriers is a plus.

Posted by
16568 posts

I gather from posts above that the current bag is a true 21" bag (including handle and wheels ) whereas the old bag actually measures almost 23". That would make a substantial difference in packing capacity.

I'm unclear on the wheel situation. If the old bag has 2 wheels and the new one is a spinner, I suspect that would mean an even greater difference in capacity.

Posted by
17613 posts

I gather from posts above that the current bag is a true 21" bag (including handle and wheels )
whereas the old bag actually measures almost 23".

I don't know how you could gather that the current bag is a true 21" (21"x14"x9") when, in his post of 12/16 he describes how he measured it. He might still have measured it without wheels and handle (although the link says to include them), but he says the width was 13" and the depth was 7¾", and those are significantly less than the advertised dimensions.

I might have questioned whether the dimensions were inside or outside dimensions (the dimensions he reported are consistent with the inside dimensions of a regulation rolling bag), but the 14" outside dimensions of the box (which must wall thickness) leads me to believe that the bag could not have been 13" wide and is indeed under the advertised dimensions.

However, I suspect that a 12 yo rolling bag would have been bigger than the limit then and now.

BTW, I once built a 3 walled 21"x14"x9" frame just to make sure my bag would fit the size limits.

Posted by
631 posts

Hi everyone,

There is a lot being said here and we wanted the chance to clarify.

1) We will be reaching out to this customer directly to find a better solution as clearly this customer is unsatisfied. No one wants that.

2) This customer's measurements are not wrong. However, there are many points of clarification with regard to this bag as we stand by the listed carry-on dimensions of 21” x 14” x 9”.

  • The length is 20 inches without the wheels. It is 21 inches with the wheels.
  • The width, measured from the exterior edges of the bag is 14 inches. I can provide photos for anyone who'd like to email me directly. If we find that somehow this customer's bags have a significantly smaller exterior width than our stated dimensions, this product may be considered defective, and this is ultimately determined on a case by case basis.
  • The depth reported as under 8" is accurate but not the whole story with a soft-front bag. When packed, the bag depth is 9" (actually more if you really jam stuff in there).

3) With regard to comparisons to the previous bag owned by the customer...

  • We did change the size of the bag in 2012 to fit newer airline requirements. You can find airlines that allow for larger dimensions, but after the industry widely changed carry-on policies with BA in particular requiring our bags to be checked (and the resultant complaints), we updated our carry-on size to the largest size possible for our European-traveling customer base.
  • We also used newer materials to significantly reduce the weight of the bag. We now use a material that is thinner, lighter, and just as strong. Plus, the softer front design reduced structural weight.
  • In an era of stricter carry-on requirements and enforcement, the length of the bag must now include the wheels.
  • Because of the contoured back shell and unstructured front, the bag does look much smaller. Once it’s packed, it's a different story.
  • The total change in volume (when packed!) between the old and new bag is 100 cu in or about the size of a laptop computer.

4) With regard to the shock involved with returning the bags

  • We typically don't charge for return shipping in the case of a defective product.
  • Bags are large items and really do cost that much to ship. We'd have to significantly increase luggage prices if we accepted free shipping on returns for such large items.
  • Our return policy is outlined here: https://www.ricksteves.com/travel-help/shop-online-faq
Posted by
7109 posts

Just the fact that i’d have to pay to return a bag i don’t like means i won’t buy from RS again. The good news is, there are other great bags out there that cost less (UtraLight Travelpro) that you can buy from Macy’s (just one example) and return, in person, for free.

Posted by
17613 posts

see horsewoofie's post from earlier today.

I saw it. She measured a bag bought three years ago and it measured 21"x14"x9". But the OP says his bag, bought a couple of months ago, measured 20"x13"x7¾". Is it possible that they are both right?

Look, I'm not trying to take sides here, but there must be a rational answer. Rick's business doesn't make any bags; they resell bags they buy from bag manufacturers (just like eBags does). Has the manufacturer been delivering undersized bags to Rick's store? Or have the OP's measurements been completely accurate? If, for instance, a handle sticks out beyond the 14" width, it has to be included in the width, and if that little handle keeps the bag from fitting into the sizing frame, then the airline is entirely justified in rejecting it as a carry-on. Did the OP really measure the full dimensions?

you can buy from Macy’s ... and return, in person, for free.

Yes, in person. But if you don't live near a Macy's (or any other "example"), will they pay for you to ship it back?

Posted by
3314 posts

Another option with a similar style is the Eddie Bauer Expedition Drop Bottom Rolling Duffel - Medium. It’s 21 x 14 x 10”, but the 10” dimension is a soft front so it will squish down depending on how much is packed in it. I have never had mine even close to 10” in that dimension. I’ve used my blue one for several years and really like it. Right now it’s on sale for $99, and there lots of Eddie Bauer stores to see it in person.

Posted by
7109 posts

Lee - i said Macy’s is just one example.
You left that part out of your quote.

Lee,
It's possible that RS resized his bags to meet small plane, European carriers requirements.
Also, RS sells a Ravenna Mini-bag that is very small.
Jean,
The Eddie Bauer luggage sale is tempting! I trust Eddie Bauer products in general. I think the EB bag is part of the Travex collection, if I am not mistaken.

Posted by
150 posts

I have that Eddie Bauer rolling duffel as well. Good bag, easily fits in the overhead if you don't overpack. And EB has frequent sales, so it's very affordable.

Posted by
2388 posts

Why not pack up one of the bags you bought from RS to determine if they really are too small for you? We have both and using the new one works just as well unless we take trekking poles.

Posted by
139 posts

My husband and I just returned from two weeks in Austria and Germany, visiting the Christmas markets and sightseeing on our own, using a rail pass. We both carried the Ravenna bag. I have used it on a earlier trip and found it to be sufficient for our light packing. On the recent winter trip, it was quite sufficient for the bulkier items we needed. My husband was quite skeptical when he first started to pack but quickly found he could fit everything needed. We opened the zipper underneath the zippered mesh panel and used it. We also carried the revenue backpacks which also proved to be perfect, despite our initial reaction that they were two small. I would recommend that the front zippered pockets be gusseted more as they are not really usable as they re now. Too Flat!! Since we were traveling by train and generally walking to our hotels, these bags proved to be easily manageable.

Posted by
3 posts

The new rules need to be taken seriously when traveling through Europe. My older carry-on bag was fine for many years but I was stopped this year by British Airways and forced to check my bag at the gate. They almost made me go back and check it at the ticket counter/bag check in. This was at Heathrow and we were a LONG way from the baggage check in and I'm sure I woudn't have had time to get there and back as they were already boarding the plane. My bag was not overly large or overly stuffed, but just a few inches larger than the new rules allowed. They "gate checked" it right there, but first I had to upack my computer and other things I didn't trust to be checked. This is after my husband had the same thing happen to him a few years ago; Aegean Air stopped him and made him check his bag at the gate and charged him $100 because his carry on didn't quite fit the new rules. We had a very tight timeline on the following connecting flight and almost missed our flight waiting for the (late) checked bag. So I'm taking this new 21" size limit seriously these days and have purchased a new bag that fits the European/British Airways guidelines. The issue is that they are really small for someone who is traveling for a month, especially if you're doing a trip that includes different weather, like my trip where it was cold in Stockholm but warm in Greece. Still trying to figure out how to make the new smaller ones work for a long haul. By the way, on both flights where we were stopped other passengers got away with bags that were clearly as large or larger than ours, so it's kind of crapshoot.

Posted by
150 posts

As has been stated frequently, much depends on the airline personnel with whom one is dealing. No matter what, you need to stay within the airline's limits, and it gets more complicated if you're traveling on more than one carrier in a single trip. If so, you choose luggage that fits the more restrictive limit.

As for the RS rolling bag, I've used it on two European airlines so far, and it passed muster on both as a carryon. I can understand the OP's assertion about the size, and was at first thinking it was too small to be of use for a two week trip--until I actually packed it. The bag is deceptive as to its capacity and actually holds a lot. As a comparison, my "international size" Travelpro two-wheeler doesn't have nearly the packing space of the RS due to a too-thick inner lining. Great for a long weekend, but no way I'd use it for an extended trip unless I went extreme Marie Kondo minimalist, which I don't want to do.

The RS roller has been very durable on both domestic and international trips, and I just bought a Ravenna rolling bag as a semi-hard side alternative. So far, so good.

Posted by
1156 posts

I can understand the OP's assertion about the size, and was at first thinking it was too small to be of use for a two week trip--until I actually packed it

And this is where I’m wondering. I have the RS rolling backpack which is 20x14x7. It is significantly smaller than the roller. Yet I am able to pack it for a 3 week long trip in Midwest winter (-20 F). That included working on the farm, going to church, and bringing several small Christmas presents. Disclosure: I had to mail my presents back but that was because someone decided to give me a monster sized scented hand lotion (not TSA compliant).

My point is that the rolling bag is plenty big enough for almost all trips.

Posted by
7109 posts

RS rolling carry-on holds a lot. Mine was packed to the extreme coming back from Paris this Oct. i was shocked how much i could fit in there. But as i said upthread, packed to the max, it fell over very easily. It also would need to be checked if packed to capacity because it wouldn't fit in any airline’s sizer for carry-ons.

Posted by
4 posts

We go to Europe about twice a year. We have been using the RS rolling backpack suitcases for the past 10-15 years. Mine has lost the zipper for the top outside pouch, but they are in amazingly good shape for the number of miles they have traveled. We also have matching RS day packs - the old ones that are essentially shapeless.

The one thing I would really like to have is a day pack with a cross strap on the back that could slip over the handle of the rolling bag. My wife uses a walker, so I have to manage two bags, the walker, and two day packs through major airports. Our strategy is to arrange a wheelchair for her and have her hold one of the day packs. I put the other rolling bag on my back and handle the walker and the other day pack. If I could attach the day pack to the rolling bag I would not have to backpack it.

Posted by
16568 posts

johannaj, a seamstress (perhaps at a dry cleaner) might be willing to add a strap for you.

Posted by
2290 posts

I returned a Max-Lite carryon that did not meet the Air France requirement(my fault). I bought it from Amazon and I don't remember how much it cost to return but I think it was less than $20-or maybe even cost nothing.

Posted by
70 posts

I love the RS rolling bags! We have two of the ones from 2007 and one of the more recent ones. I just took one of the older ones to Europe again the other week. It has taken a beating and no issues at all, very durable! I have never had an airline question the size and make me check it, except Iceland Air, which is because their carryon size limit is very small. My husband has checked the bag numerous times when he has traveled for work, so it has been through a lot with the baggage handling system. Anyway, I have not actually packed side by side the two versions, but the newer one does appear smaller, but maybe that is because it is more rounded? I may need to pack both with the same things and see what I find. In the meantime, our older ones are great for big trips!

Posted by
911 posts

Above post with flight booking link reported as spam. I wouldn’t click on the link if I were you.