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Carry On Size

I normally use Alaska Airlines for most travel. I intended to pack light and not use checked baggage. I recently purchased a Rick Steves carry on/pack. It appears that it may be too large for Alaska Airlines, 22"x16"x8" vs 22"x14"x9" new AKAir reqt. Should I just check the bag or return the bag and try and find a compliant one?

Posted by
291 posts

If using a slightly oversized carry-on bag when traveling first class, especially internationally, there should not be an issue since the overhead bins are typically larger and less full. When traveling economy, an agent may question the bag size and ask you to check it at the gate if you try to board with an oversized bag.

Posted by
11167 posts

Which bag did you get?

I cannot find an RS bag with the dimensions you reference.

Posted by
6788 posts

Yeah, me neither.

Not sure which bag you bought, but I recently picked up the Rick Steves Rolling Carry-On. It's 21” x 13 1/2” x 9” ("full, but not bursting"). Haven't flown with it yet but I think it'll work easily for Alaska Airlines, and even most European LCC cheapskate airlines. One feature I like is that because half of the bag (the back part, which holds it's shape and gives it strength while rolling) is made from hard plastic, but the front half is soft (like a backpack), so as long as you don't fill it up completely, it could squeeze down a bit to make it on airlines with particularly draconian bag limits. Will be taking this bag on a couple low cost South American airlines in a few weeks.

I often check a bag, too, but I bought this one specifically to fit into the limited carry-on size for European airlines. Of course, every airline is different, so you gotta just pick a size and live with it. I like that this pack is somewhat "squishable" (as long as it's not filled) if/when needed.

FWIW I think that a 22" bag will put you just barely over the limit on many airlines (although many will just shrug and not enforce it....but you can't count on that) - I think 21" maximum is the sweet spot.

Posted by
19092 posts

22"x16"x8" vs 22"x14"x9"

I don't see any luggage on RS that is over 14" wide, and Air Alaska shows their carry-on allowance as 22"x14"x9". 16"x8" and 14"x9" are essentially the same cross-section, so as long as the pack is flexible and not stuffed, both cross-sections should be compliant. Unless your bag is actually 16" wide and that dimension is rigid, you should not have a problem; the bag should deform to fit in a 14"x9" sizer.

Posted by
8130 posts

You're okay with a 22" rolling bag on one of the big legacy air carriers.

But in Europe, the budget air carriers are after a 21" maximum. Hassling 22" bag owners is a revenue producer for them.

Only once with Norwegian Air Shuttle did I have to pay to check a bag. A couple of European gate agents tried to charge me but I argued long enough that they gave up and passed me through. Their Airbus and Boeing jets overhead bins will accept 22" bags though.

Posted by
14955 posts

The problem we have with European air carriers is that they use metric and in the US we don't. So, these carriers will round down their dimensions.

As an example, many people here say the maximum you can take is 21" lengthwise. Not so, in reality, it's 55 cm which is 21.65 inches or about 1/3 inch less than 22 inches. Some airllines might put 21.5 inches, some might put 21 inches. Why...because 21 or 21.5 is easier to comprehend than 21.65.

Of course it depends on the airline as to how much of a stickler they'll be. A discount carrier that makes a lot of money from oversize bag fees will stick to the rules. Others might just let it pass depending on how full the flight might be and the mood they are in.

Which bag did you buy that's 22 x 16 x 8?

Posted by
905 posts

Chip, did you measure the bag? If not stand it up next to a wall and measure the length, width and height. If it is an expandable suitcase make sure you measure it unexpanded. Let us know what you find out.

Posted by
16202 posts

Alaska wants people to put their carryons on edge when placing them in the overhead bins, so that the “width” becomes the height. So an extra 2” might matter—-but I have never seen them measure bags at the gate and there is no “sizer” there. And as others have noted, there does not appear to be a 16” - wide bag in the RS lineup.

What I have seen Alaska do—-and this happened on all 4 flights I flew with them last month——is announce before boarding that the flight is full, and they expect the bins to fill up early. So people in Group D and higher may be forced to gate-check their bags. They ask for volunteers (it moves you up in the boarding sequence if you do volunteer), but if they don’t get enough they will start gate-checking. So keep that in mind when you pack, if you do not have status or other reason to be in boarding group A, B, or C. That means, bring a “personal item” (under seat bag) that can hold your lithium batteries, tablet or laptop, and any medications you do not want to check.

Posted by
237 posts

Alaska wants people to put their carryons on edge when placing them in
the overhead bins, so that the “width” becomes the height.

I noticed this with Southwest in December. During boarding the flight attendants were telling everyone to place their bags in the overhead on their sides.

Also, the gate agents at Houston Hobby were strictly enforcing the 2 bag carry-on rule.

I had an under-seat bag and was carrying a drawstring bag with my trtl pillow in it. I also had a waist-pack that I happened to be wearing cross-body in line to board. All of it fit under the seat on the previous SW flight. But the gate agent at Hobby waited til I got to her to ask me to put my waist-pack in one of the other bags. No problem except that I had double-tied the drawstring bag to the handle of the under-seat bag and it took a minute to untie and put the waist-pack in.

I was going to do this on the plane anyway. Apologies to all those behind me.

On the way back, I put the waist-pack in the drawstring bag ahead of time.

I think expandable bags are the way to go
Different carriers have different restrictions, and different bag sizes.

Posted by
3 posts

To All;
I re-measured the pack and found that my initial measurements were for the unfilled pack which has squashed down to a 16" width. With the pack filled the measurement in question is, indeed a qualifying 14" width. My apologies to the folks at Rick Steves merchandise.