We are leaving for Europe at the end of September, and even though this will be our third trip with carry-on luggage, it will be our first time with air travel between two foreign cities. We fly Air Berlin (through their partnership with American) from LAX to Dusseldorf and after clearing customs catch another AB flight from Dusseldorf to Munich. We're on trains the rest of the time, and fly home on Air Tahiti Nui from Paris.
We flew from LA to New Orleans in May on American and although we were flying coach we were going through the First Class security line because my husband is a Gold AAdvantage member. We couldn't figure out why the agent guarding the escalator up to the First Class line was eying my 8 year old Rick Steves bag and touching it to see if it was "squishy". He didn't say a word and let us pass. Several weeks after our return we saw the article indicating that American (and I think United and Delta) had changed their size specifications for carry-on luggage and we figured that that was the issue.
We are in a tizzy trying to decide if we need to replace the older RS bag. We replaced my husband's old no-name brand roll-aboard in January and his new RS bag is approx. 2.5" shorter than my bag. The new bag conforms to American's new rules, as well as to Air Berlin's (21.5ish x 16ish x 8ish--Rick's bag is actually only 14" wide). Fitting the items we take with us into either bag has never been an issue, but weight is always tricky. I did a trial packing in the new suitcase this morning and was at approx. 15.5 pounds with clothes and shoes and room to spare, so by the time I add some other odds and ends I'll probably be up close to the 8kg/17.64 pounds allowed.
It would be nice to not have to pay another $170 or so for a new RS suitcase when we have a perfectly good one. We are thinking we might even go ahead and budget for 1 checked bag on the German leg of our trip (would be free on the initial flight and might even be able to stay in the cabin with us if LAX is a bit "lax" with the rules) and then not worry particularly how heavy that bag is (hubby is loathe to rip Rick's books apart to lessen the weight). Gives us a bit more flexibility knowing up front one bag will be over sized, over weight and checked. On the other hand, we fly American several times each year and it looks like we are going to need a shell out for new bag anyway if they are going to enforce new carry-on rules.
The other reason I'm having a mild freakout is that we've always used Rick's medium sized backpack as my husband's personal item and never even thought twice about it and have never been questioned about it. But it turns out it is larger than the almost 16 x almost 12 x almost 4 inches allowed for an Air Berlin personal item. And the tote I use (and into which I stuff my purse) is fine length and width, but at 9 " wide it also doesn't conform. Nor does the very classy large black "purse" I've used to stuff my purse, books, toiletries into on occasion -- it meets the 4" back to front, but is 2" wider and taller. So I guess at this point we are resigned to using Rick's Day Pack as my husbands personal item, and I've found an almost flat canvass tote amongst the junk in our closet that I'll use to stuff my purse and toiletries into.
We both have fairly new Scottvests and this will be our first trip to Europe with them. We'll wear them and stuff pockets with books, scarves & gloves, but I've also been eying the Stuffa Vests online wondering if we should get one of those to stuff things like underwear and pj's into. I'm so glad I have a two month head start on the luggage freakout so by the time we're actually needing to get stuff packed I'll have mellowed out a bit. Hate that we had a system that worked for us and now, one way or another, it's going to cost us money to conform to the new rules!
Does anyone have experience on Air Berlin, or with taking Rick's older bags onto a European airline?