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I made a carry-on baggage sizing box.

It is difficult to accurately measure carry-on bags to make sure that they fit the baggage sizing boxes at the airport, what with soft sides, wheels, handles and outside pockets. Also, the sizes advertised may or may not be accurate. To make sure my bag would fit before I get to the airport, I made my own sizing box.
I used two cardboard bankers boxes that I got from an office supply store. These are the kind that are sold flat and you put them together. They can be used for file folders. Here is an example. Others could be used, of course. The cheapest ones would be fine. The exterior size is 12" x 15" x 10". The interior is about 1/4" less.
I cut one long side of each, and put them together, making one box that has an interior length of 22". You can use binder clips or tape to hold them together. You can make one that is 20" long by cutting the bottom pieces of the boxes and fitting them closer together.
The interior width is 14 3/4". This dimension is the least important for actually fitting into the overhead bin, but may be a little too wide if your bag is actually measured, depending on the airline. I cut the top of the box down to 9 inches, and I also marked a line on the inside at 8". The lid depth is a little more than an inch, so it can be placed upside down inside the box to check the 8" dimension. (That's the dimension that I have the most trouble with.)
To make your own box you will need to check the dimensions that your airline requires.
As of January, 2016, Delta and United dimensions are 22" x 14" x 9", and their sizing boxes are 23" x 14" x 10". IcelandAir is 55 cm x 40 cm x 20 cm, which is about 21.65" x 15.75" x 7.87".
It may be possible to find boxes that more closely fit your desired dimensions.

Posted by
19151 posts

22" x 14" x 9" is more than enough volume. Get a bag that size or smaller and don't try to stuff it and you won't need a sizing box. Your box doesn't count; only theirs does.

Posted by
7397 posts

If you're worried about over-packing per the dimensions, place your suitcase against a wall and measure the two dimensions - depth & height. I wouldn't imagine that the width would change unless you're using a gym bag type design.

Posted by
33128 posts

Boy are they stingey about disclosing prices on that website, Frank II.

Any idea how much these boxes cost?

Posted by
15554 posts

I bought one years ago....not every store had one and you can't get them online. I think it was less than $10. I had to go to four different stores but that was 3-4 years ago.

Unfortunately, mine got destroyed when moving. It's just a cardboard box that you put together.

Posted by
18527 posts

Ruth, excellent idea thank you. More important I appreciate you caring about the rules. Every trip it is the people with the oversized carryon that make getting on and off the plane miserable. Don't forget to check weight too. I actually had Virgin Air check our carryon once. Mine was under a few pounds but my companion was over so the made us swap between the two bags instead of accepting the average. I leave for Europe in 2 weeks and hope you are in line in font of me.

Posted by
27 posts

Thank you, Frank II. I did not know that those were available.

Thank you, James E. I do keep track of the weight. I may be considered a fanatic about this, but I have a database that includes the weights of everything I ever pack. I use it as a checklist for each trip, as well as an inventory while I am on the trip. I can total the weight by interior bag (like a packing cube), category (like clothes or toiletries), or the whole suitcase or daybag, for instance. It is on my smartphone and on my computer.

Posted by
2531 posts

Have any of you strict carry-on-ers tried this bag from North Face called the Recon?
Or something similar -- it says 31 liters?
I spotted it being used by an IT guy the other day, and it looked intriguing,
but I'm wondering if it only makes sense if you put a high priority on the laptop.
Fabric keeps the weight down, and design looks less like luggage and more like commuter bag.

Posted by
15554 posts

It's a backpack measuring 21 x 13.75 x 8 and weighs 2 lbs 10 oz.

It's meant to be more of a daybag/light hiking bag than a travel bag. I can think of a few convertible travel bags about the same size, smaller weight and equal price. And they were meant to be travel bags.

Posted by
19151 posts

At 2lb 10.7oz, the Recon bag is a little heavy for a 31 liter carryon, but at 1900 ci, I like it (but won't get it). It has cinch straps, a sternum strap and a waist belt, which is good, but not opening like a book, IMO, is fatal.

The outside dimensions, if a rectangular-solid would be over 2300 ci., so the taper and pockets cost you some volume.

Incidently, the UPS Store box has carryon outside dimensions, so the inside dimensions, particularly the ends, where the cardboard is folded double, will be smaller than regulation, but that is good. Makes sure your bag will fit the sizer.