Carrying on luggage is not as easy as it used to be. Today, many opt for carrying on because it is often more convenient and sometimes a cheaper option (as opposed to paying the fees of checking your bag and having to wait at baggage claim). To adapt to this increase in carry-on luggage, the airline industry has become stricter about bag size and the types of items you can and cannot carry-on with you.
By visiting airline websites, you can easily find the regulation size for carry-ons. But although it may say one size online, when you are at the gate and are asked to put your bag on their “sizer,” you may be surprised to find that it doesn’t fit. While the luggage industry understands one idea of what size a carry-on should be; the airlines sometimes practice another. In an article from the Wall Street Journal: “Travelpro and other luggage makers say the luggage industry practice in the U.S. is to size bags by the dimensions of the packing area without counting wheels and handles … But airlines count wheels and handles.”
There are also some inconsistencies from airline to airline. What each one classifies as a carry-on bag can vart in size, making it difficult for travelers. “United’s sizer is actually larger than those of Delta, American, and other airlines with 22-inch limits. … Last year when it began strictly enforcing carry-on size limits, United decided to build in an inch of forgiveness. American, Delta, British Airways and others have sizers at exactly 22 inches, not 23,” reported the Wall Street Journal article.
It can be nerve wracking being at the back of the line when boarding a flight, because you can’t be sure there will be enough space overhead to fit your bag. “As airlines have installed more seats into jets over the past few years, more passengers now compete for the same overhead bin space,” the article continues. Now, with less room to fit the bags on the plane, and stricter policies on what qualify as a “legal” sized bag, it may not be worth the hassle of it all. It may, in fact, be worth the extra price to check your bag or buy a new, smaller bag to make for stress free travel.