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Domestic vs International Carry-On, Delta and Iberia

I am shopping for a carry on for a trip to Spain, flying Delta and Iberia. Most brands divide them into domestic and international size, with international being slightly smaller. It is my understanding that international size typically applies to flights originating outside US and not to those going from US abroad. Following that logic, I was expecting that Iberia would require something smaller that Delta. I am finding however that Delta's limit is 22" x 14" x 9" (or 56 x 35 x 23 cm) while Iberia's limit is actually higher, 56 X 45 x 25 cm.

I wonder whether this is accurate. Because I need to buy a bag, I want to make sure what I am buying would work. Has anyone had any issues with a 22"-wide bag on either Delta or Iberia?

Posted by
24944 posts

I've never flown Iberia, but I'd trust the size limits you find on the Iberia website.

Are you looking at wheeled bags? If so, it's unfortunately the case that many manufacturers give the measurements of the bag exluding the wheels and handle (if the latter protrudes). The airlines measure the whole thing. If buying through mail order, I'd give the source a call and try to find out exactly how the measuring was done.

Posted by
15 posts

Thanks for the tip, I'll definitely check.
I see a typo in my post. Of course, the bag would be 22"-tall not 22"-wide :)

Posted by
7608 posts

If you are asking for advice for a bag for travel and looking to meet common carry on bag dimension standards whatever you do to save time do not buy it on the internet. The last bag i bought at a store in 2014 with the help of a live sales person, has always met the carry on dimensions on international flights including Delta and some smaller European based so called budget airlines at more less 56 x 45 x 25 cm.

Posted by
4418 posts

I flew Iberia with carry on. They have a generous allowance compared to many other European airlines. My luggage is slightly smaller, as my regular carrier - Air Canada, has a 21.5 inch maximum allowance. I was able to spend 3 weeks in Spain with that roller with my electronics in my purse. I did, however, have laundry access.
So, if wanting a versatile and compliant bag, you might want to take into consideration whether you intend to travel to your nearest neighbour.
The understanding used to be that it had to be compliant for the originating flight, but sometimes 'stuff' happens, and if you are returning on Iberia or some other airline, their rules count. I also got stuck with having to change to another carrier upon check in and their rules meant smaller luggage.

I realize that may go beyond what you are thinking of for now, but the more long term thought might be to go smaller than 22 to comply with more airline regs. I have noticed a reduction in allowable carry on weight in the past 4 years, so would anticipate size reductions as well - even for domestic carriers.
BTW, Iberia is 'just an airline'. I found it similar to many North American flights and not sub-par in any way, but I also was flying within Spain, so a short flight. I have no qualms recommending it - considering international flying in general.

Posted by
7789 posts

Most carry on bags pass without incident, however the height of the bags and the wheels make them longer than 21.6 inches. Catch a disagreeable gate agent and you may have to check the bag.
We carry 21 inch Travelpro swivel wheeled carry ons, and we seldom have any problems being 1 1/2 inches too long. We claim ignorance, however. I long ago swore off checking any luggage unless forced to do so.

Posted by
2679 posts

I’m with David. The bag he is referring to “looks” small as well. You are bound to see folks with much larger bags. If anything, they will get nabbed. But despite the obsession with the fact that the wheels on these spinners actually put them slightly over the size limit, we’ve not had an issue having flown with that TravelPro on many European airlines including the discount carriers who are, by reputation, more fussy. As for the admonition not to buy a bag online-I disagree. There are several vendors who have great sales and stand behind their products. We’ve used one of them for several purchases, had one warranty issue they handled promptly.

Posted by
4418 posts

If you know for certain that the measurements are compliant, then sure, buy online, but the measurements posted are not always true. Looking at and measuring the dimensions in person, allow you to choose wisely. Where you ultimately purchase, is a personal choice. Of course there are always some brands and styles popular enough to trust recommendations, but there is nothing to say that the measurements stay the same year to year. Designers love to offer new styles frequently, so best to check it physically.

Posted by
59 posts

If you're going to take any trips in the future you may want to consider those airlines restrictions too so you dont have to buy another bag later. I know lufthansa is 55 40 23 and you're only allowed 8kg so the weight is more troublesome and buying a super lightweight bag is important.

In this case I would go for the smaller of the size limits which is delta. 22 14 9.

But like I said if you want to be able to use it later I would go even smaller 20-21.
I use a 19" that weighs 4 pounds for a 8kg total when packed with a personal bag just fine but it took some thinking and compression bags do it and only one extra pair of hiking sandals.

No one can tell you if they will be picky about your bag. Be within the rules and don't worry. Which for you sounds like 22 x 14 x 9

Ps I really likes the comment about being rerouted through another carrier with smaller limits. These things happen a lot :)

Posted by
4019 posts

At least my Lipault spinner from France shows the difference between the the body dimensions and the overall dimensions. That's an example of how you might get stuck. If you shop in person, take a measuring device.

What Lipault says:

Cabin luggage that can be taken on board an aircraft with most airlines. Size and weight allowances for cabin luggage vary by airline. If the bag is overstuffed, it may not be accepted by the airlines.
• Weight: 4.9 lbs.

Body Dimensions: 20.6" x 13.2" x 7.9"
Overall Dimensions: 21.6" x 14.9" x 9.4"

Iberia's rules.

Note that Lipault bags are sold by many online vendors. I certainly didn't pay as much as the price listed in the link I provided.

Posted by
1221 posts

Delta generally doesn't care if a carry on is slightly oversized unless it's a regional jet with small and limited bin space, an entirely full flight, or both of the above. The last time I saw the sizer come out with them was at Boston on the getaway day following the marathon in 2014. And they'll typically ask for volunteers to check bags first before doing something mandatory.

While there's no guarantee you won't get a cranky gate agent playing to the letter of the contract of carriage, if you're Sky Priority (Comfort+ economy or whatever they're calling it this year) or Zone 1 (get it with the Amex co-branded credit card) boarding, unless you're on a CRJ 200 regional jet, there really should be no problems.