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RS Convertible Carry-On and the new IATA carry-on guidelines

As many of you have seen in the news, the IATA issued new guidelines this week calling for the maximum size of a carry-on bag to be 55 x 35 x 20 cm., which according to the IATA press release converts to 21.5 x 13.5 x 7.5 inches. This rounds down all of the dimensions; an actual conversion comes to 21.65 x 13.78 x 7.87 inches. According to the RS website, the Convertible Carry-On is 21 x 14 x 9 inches, making it somewhat wider and at least an inch deeper than the new guidelines.

We will be flying to Europe early this fall and we don't want our new bags to be deemed too large for carry-on for these flights and others we may take over the next couple of years. We would be interested to hear your thoughts on the likelihood that this would become an issue with this bag. Also, we would like to hear from those who own this particular bag--would you imagine it would be able to be cinched down or otherwise compressed to fit a somewhat smaller sizing box at the gate? Having never seen this bag in person, I don't know how flexible the exterior edges are, that is, whether it has any stiffening framework.

While we would prefer to buy the RS Convertible Carry-On because of its pedigree, if you know of another similar bag that would fully satisfy the new IATA carry on size guidelines, we would like to appreciate hearing about it. We would appreciate quick responses to this message, if possible, since the RS bags are on sale through tomorrow, 6/14.

Thank you,

Posted by
68 posts

We five have been traveling with the RS convertible bags
currently ( on our 3 rd international trip) with them. We have packed any where from 13 lbs to 22 lbs. they collapse and expand easily and are sturdy. Unless you pack yours to the gill, should have no prob with the smaller dimensions. Hope this helps.

Pack lightt, btw. At the end of each travel day, my 13lb bag feels like 23 lbs on my back!

Posted by
19091 posts

I can only speak about the ca. 2000 RS convertible bag that I own, although I think the current convertible carry-on is similar. The bag has no framework. It is totally flexible and squishable. I think it will deform to about any shape.

The question is how full you make it. The 22x14x9 dimiensions give an outside volume of 2772 cu inches. The proposed regs, 55x35x20, or 21.65x13.78x7.87 equals 2348 cu inches, about 15% less than the full size of the bag. 3 pounds of nylon cloth probably occupies about 100 cu inches, so the interior of the bag is probably about 2250 cu inches. As long as you don't try to pack more than that volume of "stuff" your bag should deform to fit the sizers.

I've stopped using my RS Convetible bag but when I did, I was carrying about 1400 cu inches of clothes, etc, and it always fit easily in Lufthansa's 55x40x20 sizer.

Rolling bags, which have a rigid frame, are a different case and probably won't fit in sizers of the proposed size.

Posted by
1 posts

Just went and measured my brand new RS "Rolling Carry-On Bag" (a little different from the bag you're looking at) that i just bought a couple weeks ago (hmm, maybe i should've waited...). But it looks like it'll just barely squeeze down to 7.5 inches deep. It reaches just under 7.5 inches right at the bottom near the wheels where the hard-shell part is the deepest. So i suppose if i don't pack it full, i should be able to squeeze it into the sizer.

Posted by
14939 posts

First, IATA is not a government agency. It can set all the guidelines it wants but it is up to the individual airlines to either follow them or not.

Many airlines have already said they won't comply and will keep their current regs.

But, if you want choices with other bags:

Eagle Creek Adventure Weekender
20" x13" x 8"/ 51 x 33 x 20 cm
2 lbs 9 0z
On sale for $120
(I own this bag and it is one of my favorites)

Eagle Creek Flyte Weekend
20.5 x 14 x 6.5"/ 52 x 36 x 17 cm
2 lbs 10 oz
(If you freak out over 1 cm then you need to chill. This is a new bag that has just come on the market.)

Tom Bihn Aeronaut 30
19.7" x 12.6" x 7.9"/ 52 x 30 x 20cm
2 lbs 14 oz
(Pricey but one of the best made. I also own it.)

All of the above are convertible bags with hideaway backpack straps.

Posted by
2768 posts

I seriously, seriously doubt thee IATA guidelines will be implemented by this fall, so no worries for your upcoming trip. These kind of changes take time, and it's not a requirement anyway. I also doubt they will be implemented at all, but that's more possible. What I predict is that in the next year or two, some of the American carriers may go down to the size more common in Europe. Your bag is more than fine for that.

I have the rolling carry on and it can squish down if not packed full. I'd bet the convertible is the same. But you will need to pack even less. I usually put my toiletry bag in the outside pocket, but it's bulky and makes the bag too deep, for example.

Posted by
14939 posts

So far, only a handful of Asian and South American airlines have signed on. The only European airline to sign on is Lee's beloved Lufthansa so he will be happy.

Most of these airlines already have tight carry-on restrictions.

However, Air Canada, Westjet and American Airlines have all said they will keep their current carry-on limits.

Posted by
19091 posts

Frank II, you can say that again!

Oh, BTW, many European airlines already have a 17.6# (8 kg) weight limit. I've found in the past that I can reach the weight limit before I reach the size limit. So the decrease in the size might be moot for most travelers.

Posted by
5835 posts

A number of internal China regional flights publish 5 kg carry-on bag weight limits, tighter than Lufthansa. But our recent experience using a visual scale is that the 5 kg limit is not enforced.

A second interesting difference is internal China flights required that checked bags be locked. The Chinese security X-ray screen bags behind the check in desks and advises the agent if the bag needs to be opened. In that case you need to go to the check baggage room, open the bag for hand examination before getting a boarding pass.

Posted by
19091 posts

Although I like the idea of airlines decreasing the size of carryons so everyone can use the overhead bins if they want to, I don't think the changes they are proposing will accomplish that goal.

Reducing the length from 22" to 21.5" (or 21.65"): It looks to me like the overhead bins already accept bags that are 22: in length. How are they going to use the extra half an inch realized by this change?

Reducing the height (thickness) from 9" to 7½" (7.87"). This will give an extra 1½" on top of the bag - maybe enough for a folded coat, but not much more.

Reducing the width from 14" to 13.5" (13.78"). Right now, four 14" wide bags just fill a 56" long bin. Reducing this dimension adds a whole 2". What are they going to do with 2"? They'd have to reduce the bag width to 10" to fit in an extra bag. Maybe they plan on shortening the over head bin by 2 inches and taking away another 1 inch of legroom per row.

Maybe they know something they are not telling. Boeing as apparently looking at a bin that is higher (bottom to top), so that 14" bags would fit in on their sides. Then the 7½" dimension would allow 6 bags in a bin over 6 seats, with room to spare.

The only real solution to the carryon space problem is to ban rigid bags. Frank II says the airlines won't do that, but Spirit limits free carryons to 16" x 14" x 12", a size that no one I know of makes, so no one can carry on for free, and people still fly Spirit.

Posted by
7244 posts

Hi Steve,

Here's the suitcase I purchased after a lot of research & measuring actual suitcases in the stores (brought a tape measure since some differ between they advertise & the actual dimensions.)

My Eddie Bauer Travex Expedition Medium Rolling Duffel Bag has actual dimensions of 21.5 X 13.5, and the depth is very flexible depending on how much is packed. I love the rugged zippers on it, the well-thought out design & the color choices (I bought the sapphire color), and that they've designed an interior support, so it can't tip over. I just checked the website; it's not on sale right now but is frequently on sale.

Posted by
14939 posts

Yes, Spirit does charge for carry-ons. But they are looking for the penny conscious traveler as their customers not the business traveler.

Most people only compare fares when buying a ticket and not all the extra charges. Ask someone who paid $10 for a fare but another $90 in extras and they'll still say they only paid $10 for the ticket. It's a psychological thing. That's why discount airfares have hardly risen in the last few years. The airlines make up for it in extras.

Posted by
44 posts

Thanks to all who replied with your experience, perspective, and suggestions. It is very helpful!


Posted by
2 posts

Well I think it's way too small and it will force many people to buy a new carry on bag and this just before the vacation period.
Luckily most American airline companies haven't adopted this yet. For those who are looking for the current limits on most major airlines: Carry-on luggage limits

Posted by
16893 posts

As Lee noted, Rick's Convertible Carry-On is a back pack with no internal frame or shell and cinch straps on both sides can help with compression. On the Rolling Carry-On, the hard shell is just 4" deep at the top, extending to 7" at the bottom around the wheels.