Prepare to Replace Your Favorite Carry-On Bag

How light can you pack? New size requirements proposed by the airline industry would shrink the space allowed for your bag.

You, and millions of other travelers, may need to buy new carry-on luggage.

An airline industry group, the International Air Transport Association has proposed new size requirements for carry-on bags. It’s a move to accommodate more bags in overhead bins (and maybe avoid the boarding traffic jam as passengers attempt to squeeze their overstuffed carry-ons into already crowded bins).

Theoretically the new size requirement would guarantee that all passengers on planes with 120 seats or more could store a carry-on bag, IATA said.

“The development of an agreed optimal cabin bag size will bring common sense and order to the problem of differing sizes for carry-on bags,” said Tom Windmuller, IATA’s senior vice president for Airport, Passenger, Cargo and Security, in a statement. “We know the current situation can be frustrating for passengers. This work will help to iron out inconsistencies and lead to an improved passenger experience.”

The sizing guidelines – 21.5 inches tall by 13.5 inches wide by 7.5 inches deep – are 21 percent smaller than the carry-on bags currently allowed on American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines, The Washington Post reports.

Although eight major international airlines, including Air China, Avianca, Azul, Cathay Pacific, China Southern, Emirates, Lufthansa and Qatar, have agreed to adopt the IATA’s new size requirements, they’re non-binding, so airlines can ignore them or adjust them at their discretion.

The IATA is working with manufacturers to make bags that fit the new parameters. The bags would be labeled with an “IATA Cabin OK” logo. The Post said:

The idea is to set a standard size that consumers can be confident will be allowed on most major airlines. “If you’ve got a Cabin OK bag … you can fit it in. And it’ll be someone else’s bag that has to go in the hold, not yours,” [Chris] Goater [IATA spokesman] said.

It sounds like this initiative could streamline the boarding process and help ensure that all passengers are able to fit their bags in the overhead bin. Excluding the money you might need to spend on a new carry-on bag, it seems like a win-win for airlines and travelers.

What do you think of the proposed size for carry-on baggage? Share your comments below.

Stacy Johnson

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