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14/08/2008 – Is Your Carry-On Bag Legal For ‘International’ Carry-On? Maybe Not
Have you ever looked the dimensions of your roll-aboard bag and wondered exactly what was included in the bags dimensions?
This seems like a redundant question doesn’t it? The company measured the ‘whole bag’ right? Well the answer is ‘not really.’
Many bag manufactures measure the body of the bag, and exclude the wheels from the dimensions. While the overall actual size may be negligible for bags that have ‘inset’ wheels, the linear size difference between ‘bag size’ and ‘bag size + wheels’ for bags that have exterior wheels is quite significant. Often the difference in ‘bag size’ and ‘bag size + wheels’ for bags with exterior wheels more than 1inch (2.54cm).
While 1″(2.54cm) may not seem like a big difference, it can easily be the difference between having your roll-aboard bag be allowed onto the plane with you and a gate agent telling you that you must check it at the gate.
In the U.S. and Canada we have experienced a fairly relaxed carry-on guidelines for our carry-on bags. Airlines in the US and Canada have traditionally measured a bag’s dimensions by the size of the bag, excluding the wheels. This has allowed travelers to bring bags that technically exceed the maximum allowed carry-on sized bag onto their flights. With a change in carry on policies for some US airlines, the most notable being American Airlines, the dimension allowances for carry-on bags is becoming closer to those allowed in many airports in Europe and Asia (as well as Australia/New Zealand).
Outside of the US and Canada carry-on bags are measured by the total linear dimension of a bag, including the wheels. In fact many airlines have rigid baggage templates at not only the check-in counter but also at the departure gate. With a rigid baggage template there is no way to ‘squeeze’ your bag to fit. You can’t fudge or fiddle with the tape measure to show that your bag ‘fits.’ With a template either your bag fits or it does not.
When shopping for a bag you should always measure your bag including the wheels. If you are not purchasing your bag in person you should find out if the bag is not only ‘legal for carry-on’ but also legal for ‘international carry-on’ (that is if you’re buying your bag in the US/Canada). If you have any questions about the bag size you should try and contact the manufacturer to find out if the dimensions of the bag include the wheels.
A great carry-on bag does you no good if you cannot bring it with you on all your flights…and there are few things as frustrating while in transit than being told your carry-on bag must be checked before you board the flight.