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Question about international carry ons

I have been looking into getting a rolling carry-on for a trip to Europe (Back can't handle heavy bags that well), and I am getting serious decision fatigue. I was finalizing between three bags, the Travelpro Maxlite 5 Softside, the RS rolling carry-on, and the RS spinner. But I saw the Travelpro width is almost 16 inches which is too wide for some airlines, and the RS carry-on had some people complaining about the lack of structure, the construction, and it tipping over. I was wondering if anyone has any recommendations.

Sorry if this isn't the place, my brain is burnt out from all the planning.

Posted by
569 posts

Just here to say I love my RS rolling carryon. Don't overthink your decision ;)

Posted by
15580 posts

Do you want two wheels or four? What is your budget?

Do you know the size and weight restrictions of the airline(s) you"ll be taking?

If you have a discount store near you like TJ Max, Ross or Marshalls, they usually have a large selection bags. Take a tape measure with you.

To help prevent tipping over, place your heavier items near the bottom of the bag and towards the back.

Posted by
2 posts

Frank II, my budget is around $200, I am more interested in 2 wheels since it's better for rough surfaces.

For airlines, nothing has been finalized, I have been mainly looking at United and American Airlines, but wanted to get something complaint with European carriers (Air France, Icelandair, and Ryanair are a few I have been looking at) in case of an emergency or if I get a better deal with them.

Posted by
15580 posts

There aren't as many 2 wheel bags made anymore compared to 4 wheel bags, Travelpro, Eagle Creek and Rick Steves makes them. Most of the others are not well known brands. Besides my suggestion of the discount stores you can also look at Amazon.

Icelandair and Ryanair have a 20 cm depth limit while Air France and most US airlines are 23 cm. That's over an inch difference.

Posted by
3244 posts

I've used my RS wheeled bag since 2015. It still looks like new in spite of many trips. Mine does not tip over because I pack it with the heaviest items near the wheels, as one should. I really wanted to retire this one because I love buying new bags, but inspite of my newer bag (Eagle Creek) that I studied to death and bought, I always end up taking the RS bag on vacations involving flights/trains, etc. I've even been lending it to my daughter's family in hopes it will get destroyed so I can move on...but, no, it looks like new still. LOL Other things I love about this bag are the size and placement of the outside pockets. To me, they are perfect and work well with my packing system. I also find the structure of the bag good, as it has a firm back which comes around the side of the bags, but the top is squishable, which I find convenient for fitting in small spaces.

Posted by
2874 posts

I love my RS Rolling carry-on. I’ve taken it to Europe three times and on domestic trips. It won’t tip over if you put shoes and heavy items in the wheel end. It’s easy to overpack because the top isn’t rigid. Not a bad thing if you want to check luggage, plus it expands. The pockets on the outside are handy for organization.
I always pack light outbound, struggling to stay under 20lbs, so I can lift the bag into the airline’s and trains’ overheads. From now on, I’m not checking homebound since United delayed my bag last trip. Stress I don’t need.
FYI the rolling carry-on weighs 5lbs out of the box, not 6.5lbs as listed in the travel store. I weighed mine.

Posted by
3879 posts

My favorite thing about my Europe-size carry on: it fits in the "short side" (2-seat side) overhead bins on Delta's B717's. A US-size carry on does not. It's always fun to throw my carry on up in one of the short bins, watch the flight attendant come running to tell me it won't fit on that side, and then demonstrate that the door to the bin does indeed close.

Posted by
3208 posts

My husband bought a new carryon the other day, the brand is Swissgear.
I’ve got one by Hey’s.
They both are pretty good quality.
Each cost about CAN$100 in Winner’s and Marshall’s.
I like TravelPro too, that’s what my biggest suitcase is, and I also have a 23” Samsonite that has held up really well for years.
All good quality brands in my experience

Whatever you do, when choosing a carryon size, be sure to get one no bigger than 21”.
Be sure the measurement includes the wheels!
European airlines can be very picky.

Posted by
332 posts

Travelpro has a 2-wheeled bag in the Maxlite line that meets the measurement requirements. I needed to look hard to find the exact bag and found one last year on sale at Macys for about $125. I’ve also seen them sometimes at Nordstrom Rack, TJ Maxx et al for about the same price. I have a spinner version that is more readily available. My husband prefers the two-wheels and I’ve just become a spinner convert (bad tennis elbow).

And yes, measure for yourself and verify the actual full size of the bag with wheels as the manufacturers play fast and loose with their descriptions.

Posted by
1209 posts

I am a recent Travelpro spinner convert and couldn't be happier! I have two bags, one slightly smaller (for Egypt Air carry-on dimension requirements) and one slightly larger (fits with United and American requirements). I never thought I'd switch from 2 wheels to 4, but these bags handle being pulled on just two wheels, when necessary, very well. They are very well constructed, balance well, and each has a baffle that opens up for more space. I bought each on-line at Macys. They are true to the listed dimensions on-line.

Posted by
2167 posts

I love my RS 2 wheel carryon! I had the older version from, 2007 and then a couple years ago the zipper finally gave out. I bought a new one and love this just as much. I have not had any issues with it at all. I have used it for carryon on numerous times to Europe, and will be using it again in a couple months.

Posted by
14177 posts

I would go with the lightest bag that meets the dimensions you are trying to get to.

I have the RS rolling carry on but moved away from it last year when I needed meet a dimension and weight requirement for an Air France segment. The RS rolling carry on was a bit over 6# but it met the size requirements. I went ahead and got a lighter bag (4.5#) to give myself some grace with packing. In the end they did not even look at the carry-ons when boarding the Air France segment but I'd have stressed myself out if I was over the weight requirements for AF.

So far I've taken the new bag (Osprey Ozone) on 3 trips and I've been able to pack it pretty light. It is not a bag for everyone. It's highly overpriced and has a monopole handle which does not work if you are going to stack a personal item on top. I don't do that so no problem. It also packs a bit weird but I think experience is taking care of this.

In my search last year, I wound up having to finally do a spreadsheet listing all the different weights and characteristics. I do recommend you use the metric measurements when comparing. I found that they were more accurate as the inch measurements had been rounded up or down and were giving me results that were all over the map. I DON'T think in Metric but having the metric measurements worked better for comparisons.

When are you traveling? Is it before Black Friday/ or Cyber Monday? I think there will be good deals then!

I have an old RS rolling suitcase. It works fine. If it tips over, so what. Just don’t stand it up where people are walking and can trip. I like 2 wheels and the two bar extension handle. I avoid “T” bar handles. There are other choices available.

Amazon.com has US Traveler Rio luggage which looks suspiciously a lot like my old RS case, but at a much lower cost. Sometimes, this Rio suitcase is on sale for about $45 - if you have time to watch the prices. Don’t be afraid to use cheap luggage. I have an old Sears case that I bought on clearance that is still going strong despite years of abuse, up and down concrete steps, and at water parks as well as airplane travel.

Posted by
6858 posts

I'm another lover of the TravelPro Maxlite 5 Carry on spinner - I have the domestic size carry on but plan on buying the international size before my Egypt trip in 2025. I have never had a problem with it on cobblestones or rough streets or sidewalks, and I've had mine for years.

The International size should give you the width you are looking for. https://travelpro.com/collections/carry-on-luggage/products/maxlite%C2%AE-5-international-expandable-carry-on-spinner?variant=39949564739682

Posted by
69 posts

I would pick the lightest that fits size requirements. We bought delsey clavel. 5.3lbs. They are $155 right now on amazon.

Zippers can be a bit finicky

I also shopped at sierra trading post locally. They had 2 wheel small suitcases for a reasonable price.

Posted by
18577 posts

I got curious before I bought my last bag and I built a spreadsheet with the max bag sizes of every airline I was likely to fly (Air France, American, British Air, Delta, KLM, Lufthansa, Turkish Air, United, EasyJet, Wizz and Ryan)

Of the 11 airlines I researched there were 5 bag sizes allowed. There is no "International Size" carryon.

However one size, 55 x 35 x 23 (21.65" x 13.77" x 9.05") appears to fit within the maximum size of all but Ryan and Wizz.

Good luck finding a good bag with those dimensions (or slightly smaller).

Then when I got to the Personal Item, there were 6 different size requirements.

Lets not even get into weight limits......

Posted by
352 posts

My husband wanted two wheels so we bought a Travelpro suitcase two years ago. Used it 3-4 times and the foot broke off. We went to their website and saw that there was a parts catalog and that the broken part was listed. We thought we were all set and we contacted them requesting the part but nope. It's "unavailable" but we could have a 20% discount on a new suitcase. I pointed out that they were still selling the identical suitcase so obviously they have access to that part to attach to the new suitcases they're building, but they refused to help me.

Luckily my brother-in-law has a 3D printer and was able to make us a new foot. I would never buy a Travelpro suitcase again.

Posted by
3208 posts

Mr E. ;
If you don’t mind sharing all your hard work making that spreadsheet,
I’m sure a lot of people here would love you forever!
:)

Posted by
4442 posts

I have the Travelpro Maxlite 5 International spinner and the one time I flew a non-US carrier(Air France) it fit the sizer at the gate.

Posted by
6858 posts

Patricia, I'm sorry you had that experience. I'm surprised a bit, though - perhaps there were extenuating circumstances in your case? Generally the warranty should have covered that.

I've had TravelPro bags since the 1990's and I'm on my 3rd one. My first one was a roller bag and I gave to my niece so I could get a spinner back in 2010-ish. Then I gave my daughter my Maxlite 4 spinner so that I could get the Maxlite 5, which is lighter. All 3 are still going strong. TravelPro makes a good bag and there's a reason that they are the primary bags for most airline staff, including Delta. My brother is a Delta pilot, so I do know that's true. He is the one who first told me about them. And I have a sister-in-law (married to another brother) who is a FA for Delta, and also religiously uses TravelPro bags.

Posted by
416 posts

The Travelpro Maxlite 21" carryon says it's really 23" high. Has that ever been a problem?

Posted by
3208 posts

CanAm Cherie:
Yes, that is too big for carryon on European airlines.
That measurement has probably not included the wheels on your case.

Posted by
6858 posts

Cherie, TravelPro gives 2 sets of measurements - one for the case itself, and one w/wheels and handle). The one you are talking about is the 21", which is the domestic version and will fit just about any US plane.

The International bag is smaller: The overall dimensions (which includes wheels and carry handles) is H: 21.75", W: 15.75", D: 7.75". The case dimensions w/out wheels is H: 19", W: 15", D: 7.75".

Posted by
37 posts

I am in the same place as Mr. E. After a lot of research, I've come to the same conclusion. In the US, it's especially hard to find carry-ons that fit the European sizes (which are all different but usually a tad shorter.) I have looked quickly when gotten a chance in Europe. The sizes that they sell are very different there. Samsonite here is not the same as Samsonite there. The best case I have for fitting everywhere is a Victorinox Evolve that is no longer available. What we need is a good international shop to look for luggage. The piece has to be very light weight, as well as the correct size, to allow for weight limits. Hmmm. I might try looking at Amazon UK and have it delivered to my friend in London - who I'll see going through there sometime.

Posted by
15580 posts

For those looking to have luggage, sold in Europe, sent to the US, there aretwo places I suggest looking you check out.

The first is Amazon. They have a global store, and they can send many things sold on other Amazonz around world to the US.

The other is Selfridges in the UK. For about 30 dollars, they can send a piece of luggage to the US and it only takes a few days. And VAT is removed. I've done that.

Posted by
27369 posts

This article that came across my news feed says the EU is going to prohibit airlines from charging a fee for a carry-on bag and will establish a standard minimum size that must be allowed. Unfortunately, the article doesn't indicate what the standardized size will be or when this might happen.

https://www.marca.com/en/lifestyle/world-news/2023/09/23/650f1a95ca4741c81f8b45c1.html

Caveat: I don't know anything about that website or its reliabilty.

Posted by
18577 posts

With government involvement, I suspect the cost of the ticket just went up, and the size of the carryon just went down. A real shame.

@Mr.E above,
You share my thoughts. There’s always going to be “blow back” in the system somewhere to balance off costs. This applies to everything.
Business and systems do best with stability and predictability. Any system that gets changed goes through an adjustment phase.

Posted by
8600 posts

At any time, the luggage industry could police itself and agree with the airlines on standard carryon sizes, and how to measure them. Both in the US and in Europe. None of which matters if the airlines don't consistently enforce their own rules. Gov't intervention is the last resort, unlikely here in the US.

Hey Stan,
I don’t want the government micromanaging luggage. Unfortunately - different planes have different overhead cabin bin sizes and cargo hauls. Also, people pack differently on different routes. People flying to the Great Lakes States in Winter are packing differently than those traveling to an African Safari hunt. So, the ever changing standards need to remain with the airlines.

Posted by
18577 posts

Gov't intervention is the last resort, unlikely here in the US.

Last resort for what? There isn't a problem, only upcoming elections in Europe.

Posted by
8600 posts

Mister É, if a sufficient number of people demand an action, regardless if it's pointless, politicians generally try to pander, I mean accommodate. Not saying I think it's necessary or a good idea, but the fact that it's being discussed and proposed in the EU says there is some support for it.

Sun-baked, all I'm observing is that industries (airlines, luggage sellers) can regulate themselves, or the gov't can be persuaded to step in. Not advocating that either, and not saying diversity in carryon size between airlines is not without reason. But luggage sold as carryon size that aren't, for whatever reason, seems to be a problem for many people.

I hear you Stan. I used to think that bags could be standardized. Then, I realized that bag standardization is not possible, nor desirable. The problem is marketing as you mentioned. Reputable companies like Osprey and Eagle Creek will list proper dimensions. (Floor to Top). Many companies give dimensions that are not workable. Some numbers don’t accommodate bag expansion when packed full.

Getting advice on this site and watching reviews on YouTube can help when online shopping. If shopping in person - carry a tape ruler.

Posted by
18577 posts

But luggage sold as carryon size that aren't, for whatever reason,
seems to be a problem for many people.

I haven't yet seen a bag advertised as carryon size that wasn't acceptable as carryon with at least one airline. Thats the problem, they found a loop hole.

EDITED: Seems to me there is a great market opportunity for RICK STEVES to make a 21.5" x 13.75" x 9" carryon bag. That one would be permitted by the rules of every airline I have checked, with the exception of Wizz and Ryan, and you could overcome that by making it 7.75" expandable to 9".

Posted by
15580 posts

Seems to me there is a great market opportunity for someone who wants to make a 21.5" x 13.75" x 9" carryon bag.

There are plenty of bags that size. They just aren't sold in the U.S. The demand isn't there.

Americans don't want a bag that is 21.5 x 13.75 x 9 when the airlines allow 22 x 14 x 9. If they don't want to check a bag, they want the maximum allowed size bag.

Most Americans who travel stay in the US and if they do travel "internationally" it's to Canada or Mexico.

Posted by
92 posts

Regarding Travelpro, I’ll relate a conversation I had recently with the manager at a luggage store: She said that in the current offerings there is a material quality difference at the different price points for Travelpro: they’ve cheapened the MaxLite line, Crew line is OK, and the Platinum Elite is by far the best “value” and where you can expect replacement parts like wheels to be available for much longer. I think warranty also reflects the manufacture’s expectation.

I have a MaxLite 2 wheeler from years ago and love it, but based on what she said I am not confident that today’s MaxLite is the “same” product. Just something to consider.

Posted by
6858 posts

I had the MaxLite 4, which I gave to my daughter, and it’s still going strong.

I now have the MaxLite 5, which is in great shape so far. i’ve taken it on several international trips, a number of domestic trips, and a few road trips. Plus I usually check my bag so it’s taken more abuse than a carry-on probably would.

3 bags that are about 21” x 13.75” x 9” (very close to these dimensions) are Rick Steve, 2 wheel, rolling carry-on: LLBean Approach medium rolling bag: US Traveler Rio (Amazon.com). Where it gets hard is finding a 20” or 19.5” length bag of 36 - 38 liters or so. The key is to get accurate dimensions (floor to top). All these bags have accurate dimensions. The same is true of reputable companies like Osprey, eagle creek, Eddie Bauer, etc.. YouTube reviews can help prior to online purchasing.

Posted by
15580 posts

When measuring a bag, most people take a tape measure to it. But that's not the best way. Heres what I suggest.....Find a wall. I'm sure you have them in your home. Take the bag, put it on the floor upright if you're measuring the height. Then find a top part of the bag and make a very small pencil mark on your wall. Don't worry, you can erase that. Now, take a tape measure and measure the wall from the floor to the pencil mark. It will be much more precise.

Posted by
18577 posts

Sunbaked, thanks. Liked the LLBean bag. Maybe a tad heavy and the price is a tad high, but .... the other bag .... naaaaa, those pockets are worthless and take storage space.

But for volume, I mostly fly airlines with a 8kg limit and run out of weight before I run out of room.

Mr. E,
There are a couple of things about the Approach bag that makes it a no go for me personally. I have an old RS bag that I still use. Yes, it tends to tip-over. But, I don’t care. I just handle it in a way that I don’t trip others in an airport. I personally would go for the US Traveler Rio. It looks a lot like my old RS case and my old Sears case - both of which are still cruising along.

Posted by
1 posts

I realize this thread has not had a post in a few months, but reading through it I am still having questions about carryon sizes. We are flying Delta to Italy in May 2024 and Delta has a max size of 22"x14"x9", relatively standard. I am looking at the TravelPro Maxlite® 5 International Carry-On Rollaboard or possibly the Spinner version. Also, the TravelPro Crew™ VersaPack™ Global Carry-On Spinner is a possibility. The Maxlite 5 Rollaboard is 21.75"x15.75"x7.75", which all looks good except for the width, which is 1.75" wider than what most airlines seem to allow. The Maxlite 5 spinner version and the Crew VersaPack has dimensions that will work. Has anyone had any issues with the Maxlite 5 Rollaboard dimensions for airlines that have the 22x14x9 maximum? It holds more and is the one I prefer, but we do not want to get into a situation where we have to check it, if possible.

Posted by
6788 posts

I have no personal experience with any of the bags you mention immediately above.

But I have been looking for a new bag that meets the requirements for carry-on dimensions that most European airline impose, so I can relate to your dilemma. As an example, Lufthansa's carry-on limits are 55 cm x 40 cm x 23 cm, or 21.5" x 15.5" x 9", which I think is pretty typical for European airlines and low-cost airlines worldwide (I'll be flying Lufthansa in coach next year, plus some low-cost airlines in South America in February, so staying within the limits is on my mind).

I have been looking at 3 different bags:

  • The Travelpro Maxlite 5
  • The eBags Mother Lode 21" Carry On
  • The Rick Steves Rolling Carry-on

I ended up buying (just a few days ago) 2 of the Rick Steves Rolling Carry-on bags. I'll explain why.

But first, disclaimers aside, I will point out the elephant in the room:

You are aiming to get a bag that fits within a specific airline's documented limits. Nothing wrong with that. But you are leaning towards a bag that clearly does not fit within the limits of your chosen airline - it exceeds those limits by almost 2 inches (as you recognize).

To me, that defeats the whole purpose of what you are trying to do: get within the limits. No? Then you're back in the realm of how lucky or charming you think you are going to be, what kind of mood the gate agents are in when you reach them, hoping to not get caught. If your goal is to have a bag that is within the limits, then get a bag that is within the limits, then there's no need to be lucky.

One important, real-world consideration that i have not seen addressed anywhere here is "squishability". That is, if your bag exceeds the size limits by just a little bit, whether or not it passes muster may (and often does) depend on what the bag is made from: is it hard plastic, does it have an inflexible structure, or is it soft and (at least somewhat) flexible?

We all want bags that are durable, that can handle anything they're subjected to. So "strong, unyielding, built tough" is appealing. But there may be a time when you actually want the opposite of "unyielding."

We have all seen "bag sizers" - some box-like structure at the check-in counter/gate (or both). All carry-ons must fit within the sizer. This eliminates arguments, wishful thinking and subjectivity, and it forces real-world dimensions on us all. If you can get your carry-on in the box, it goes with you. If you can't force it in the sizer box, Plan B happens. There's no room for discussion, your bag gets on the plane or doesn't. Clarity.

Two of the bags I looked at (the Travelpro Maxlite 5, and the eBags Mother Lode Carry On) are made from hard materials that (as best I can tell) will not give, can not be squeezed to any degree that'll make a difference at the sizer box. They are and always will be the exact size they are when you bring them home empty. Full or empty, same size. The sizer box will determine their fate.

But the Rick Steves Rolling Carry-on bag has an interesting (and I think, better) design: the rear of the bag (and some of its internal structure) is hard plastic/metal: unforgiving, strong. But not unyielding: the front half is cloth, like a backpack. Squeezable, squishable.

The depth of the bag when it's packed full is 9". But if it's not filled to bursting with hard objects, the bag can be squished down to a depth of about 7" or so. Keep this bag not-quite-full, and it'll easily squeeze into (and out of) a bag sizer that's even more restrictive. I figure that sooner or later, I'll confront a bag sizer that's under 9" deep, maybe just 7" to 8". If I haven't overpacked, this bag will let me pass muster - without having to rely on me being charming or lucky (though usually I am both).

That's why I just bought two of them. I'll let you know how this works out in February after I take these bags on South American LCCs. 🤞🏻

Posted by
18577 posts

The depth of the bag when it's packed full is 9".

Very possibly true, still often not as many believe if they can force the zipper on a legal size bag they are still okay. Doubtful with a cloth bag.

I use a bag that fits in the 22 x 14 x 9 limit so it legal on all but a few discount airlines. I pack 8kg which is the most common and lowest max weight limit among the airlines. Except for Lufthansa all the heavy stuff goes in a personal item that meets everyone's requirements. The carryon is packed with fabric only and I usually tun out of weight allowance before space. Oh, it's a 5.9 lb hardside and if I pack it to the gills and sit on it to zip it the size remains legal.

One bag and one personal item, always the same luggage (except Luf), one travel style, many carriers... Life is simple.

Posted by
14177 posts

@jtimt2010 - Are all your flights actually on Delta "metal"? Or will some segments be on a partner airline? If they are on the partner/code share airline, it will probably have a smaller dimension and you will have to meet that smaller dimension/weight for carry on.

If you are buying new bags, then go with the smallest dimension for any airline you might fly on.