Buy New Luggage Or Go W/22-23"?

Hi everyone,

My husband and I both have carry-on luggage that we've used in the US, but I know RS says 20" only is allowed on European flights. We may only have 1 or 2 inter-European flights, DUB-LON and AMS-DUB, but still would rather not have to check in bags.

What are the fees for checked bags like ours on these airlines? If you have to check them at the gate, do they still charge?

We'd rather not have to buy new bags, of course.

Posted by gone
2081 posts


you may want to check with those airlines on those legs. read the fine print. ALso, did you book as one flight or separate?

on my last EJ flight, anything that size was mandatory check in. same with Air Lingus. EJ didnt charge for the 1st one. i dont remember what Air Lingus policy is.

happy trails.

Posted by Laura
Virginia, USA
3347 posts

The sizes allowed and fees for checking vary by airline. They are posted on each carrier's. Check the airline you plan to fly. If you are flying a budget carrier like ryanair, expect the rules to be strictly enforced.

Posted by Chani
Tel Aviv
5842 posts

More than size, check the weight limits on carry-on. On many inter-European flights, the limit is as low as 8 kg. (20 lb.)

Posted by heidi
12 posts

Thanks, I'll be looking into flights soon; I haven't booked our inter-Europe flights yet. If the fees are ~$25 USD or so it would be worth just paying it as opposed to buying new luggage and also having to keep within 20 pounds (!), although I have read all of Rick Steve's reasons for doing so. I'm also looking into ferries, as I'm guessing this is not an issue for them. :).

Posted by Chani
Tel Aviv
5842 posts

I was in a hurry and my math was off. 8 kg = 18 lb Also, if the limit is one carry-on, that means that your camera, purse, etc. all needs to be in that one bag. Usually the charge for checked luggage is a lot more at the airport than beforehand.

Posted by Edgar
Medford, OR, USA
1655 posts

When shopping for carry on bags, take a tape measure and check the real length. Do not depend on the nominal length, especially wheeled luggage.

Length is more critical for roller bags which are rigid, than soft bags. I have a RS classic carry on with a specified nominal length of 21 inches. My wife's RS rolling carry-on has a specified length of 20 inches. On a recent flignt her 20" bag would not fit wheels first and had to be turned parallel to close the overhead door. My 21" soft bag had enough give to fit long dimension in.

Some short hop flights have equipment with shallow overheads. Rigid bags just do not squeeze into these tight compartments. If it doesn't fit, plan on gate checking the bag. That is, be prepared to pull your valuables/essentials before surrendering the bag.

Posted by Eileen
Texan in CA
4204 posts

Heidi, your per-bag charges could be $100 per bag. Yeah...

Choose your airline carefully, and Read The Fine Print!!!

Posted by Jan
Spokane, WA, USA
151 posts

The bigger your bag, the more likely it is that they will not let you carry it on, sometimes at the gate even if it is within legal limits. We just bite the bullet and check our carry-on sized bags, and just have smaller flight bags with all our meds, anything of value (camera, electronics), everything we need for the flight (snacks, eye mask, earplugs, inflatable neck pillow etc.) and what we would need for overnight if our bag doesn't arrive when we do. (toothbrushes, change of underwear, clean shirts). We pack very light, but always seem to have our main bags that weigh 25#s. It isn't that big a deal to wait a few minutes for your bag, especially if you have to go through customs & immigration, when they are really efficient at getting your bags to you. For me, dragging bags through an airport, onto a plane and hoisting it into a baggage compartment for each flight is just not worth it. Next trip, I will check it at our home airport, fly to Seattle, Boston, Frankfurt and Barcelona, and have only a brief visit with our bags in Frankfurt when we are admitted to the EU. That works for us!

Just my two cents worth.


Posted by susan
16 posts

Heidi: We just returned from a RS tour of Sicily. We had no problem with our 21" case on the way over on an Air France flight, but Italia gave us a hard time coming home. The difference was that the flight home was packed so space for bags was limited. If you do take a 21" bag, do not wait until you get to the gate to reaffirm that your bag is ok. Sometimes opinions differ. If the folks at the gate say your bag is too big but there is no time to check your bag, you may have to wait for the next flight.
So yes, read the fine print. Or check the bag. If you travel a lot, buy an inexpensive international sized bag like Rick"s. Have fun on your trip.

Posted by gone
2081 posts


Just an fyi, when i was researching my backpack/bag, i was informed that there are 2 "standards". I chose the smaller size since i figured it would be easer to take the smaller of the 2.

happy trails.