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NY Times "clears up" baggage size

Thanks airlines!

In June the International Air Transport Association (IATA), which represents members of the airline industry, put forth industrywide guidelines for cabin baggage on aircraft with 120 or more seats.

The new preferred bag size, the group said, would be 21.5 by 13.5 by 7.5 inches, smaller than the common 22-by-14 by-9-inch bags many passengers have. So much for that generously sized bag you were thinking of buying for your European adventure. A number of major international airlines expressed interest in the initiative, including the German carrier Lufthansa. Soon travelers would be able to buy these smaller carry-on bags, which would come with an “IATA Cabin OK” logo, recognizable by the airline staff during the boarding process. And wouldn’t you know it, the association said it would not make Cabin OK logo tags available to travelers with bags that already meet the guidelines. Consumers would have to shell out for new bags if they want the Cabin OK designation.

Buying the bags would be voluntary, the association said. But passengers who choose not to get the new luggage could face uncertainty as to whether their bag would remain onboard a participating airline if the overhead bins were full. That’s because OK Cabin bags would theoretically be given priority to stay onboard in the event that not all carry-on bags could be accommodated. I say theoretically because, ultimately, the airline would still have the right to check any bag. In other words, there would be no absolute guarantees for anyone. Individual participating airlines could choose to implement the guidelines however they see fit, including allowing some larger bags on board.

Days after the initiative was announced, however, the association said it was halting the roll out “in light of concerns expressed, primarily in North America.” Still, you would be wise not to rush out and buy one of the roomier rollaboard bags on sale in the United States right now. Flights are fuller than ever and overhead space remains at a premium. If the Cabin OK program or some newfangled version of it resumes, you could get stuck with a bag that doesn’t fit in.

Posted by
7898 posts

The airlines just need to allow the bags through--vs. bringing out the Measuring Tape Police looking for 1/2".

After all, it's going to be a big, big hassle for them to move those bags to the belly of the airplane.

Posted by
56 posts

If you use the Convertible Carry On you should be fine. The dimensions are slightly larger than the new standards, but only marginally. I'm on my second bag (they are durable...but after ten years, it was time for a new one). Rick doesn't need me to make a sales pitch for his products, but the bag will survive the assault and battery of travel (although I still keep it off the floor in the w.c.). Roller bags are a lot easier on your back, but the wrap-around waist strap relieves some of the stress...and I like having both hands free. Also, pack some of your heavier items at the top to keep the weight up higher. There are lots of good travel bags out there. The Convertible Carry On is a simple but tough option...and will work even with the push to make carry-on options smaller.

Posted by
14150 posts

Let me point out that the article has the measurments wrong by rounding to the nearest half inch.

IATA proposed dimensions of 55cm x 35 cm x 20 cm. Yes, their proposal was in centimeters. That turns out to be 21.65" x 13.8" x 7.87". Not much different than North American standards.

North American airlines are against the measure because it might tick off their best customers--the business frequent flier. All it would take would be one airline to go against the measure and allow the old rules, and every other North American airline would follow.

If airlines would just enforce the rules they have now, we wouldn't need any "new" programs.

By the way, the airlines that initially signed on had fairly restrictive cabin baggage rules to begin with.

About soft sided bags....and this goes on and on but nobody seems to get it.

As an example, RS' convertible bag measures 21 x 14 x 9. Or does it? Unless you pack it to the max, those measurements are not true. Any empty bag molds itself whatever space it is put in. That's why a 22" soft sided bag could, in reality, fit into a 20" sizer.

Posted by
15477 posts

It's not a big hassle to stow the luggage. They take it from you at the gate. The plane is right there and they're loading all the checked bags anyway. All they have to do is open a door, carry it down a flight of stairs and walk across a few meters to the open side of the plane. It would seem easier than stowing the baby strollers, which require special handling on arrival. The bags just go with the rest of the luggage to the carousel.

Posted by
11613 posts

I usually can retrieve gate-checked luggage at the plane, not at the carousel. Usually = I almost never have to check a bag.

Posted by
5255 posts

Retrieving at the gate on arrival is more for the 'regional' services with small planes. Checking at the gate on bigger aircraft in general puts it in with the other hold baggage.

Posted by
4076 posts

the part I liked best is, even if your existing bag will meet the new regs, you can't get a tag certifying it. Only new bags will get the tag.

Gee, I wonder who came up with that plan.

And apologies to Nigel if I didn't see the other posting (in a different forum).