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22/01/2009 – Airline Carry-On Baggage Templates : Does Anyone Measure Them?
Understanding carry-on baggage restrictions can be challenging, especially when you travel with bags that cannot be checked.
Most airlines currently use a semi-universal carry-on size policy, if weight is not a factor. For most major airlines, the carry-on baggage limit is 45-linear inches (114.3cm). This sizing seems simple enough until you find out that the airlines do not use a standard format to arrive at 45-linear inches (114.3cm)
The lack of universal sizing for carry-on baggage becomes more complex when airlines introduce rigid carry-on baggage templates in airports. A rigid template cannot be argued with, either your bag fits in the template, or it does not. These templates also give airline personnel the easy way out when telling you that your bag cannot be used as carry-on.
We all know airlines often do not have universal systems in place, but this problem becomes more of a hassle when transiting from on airline to another, even while flying on a ‘code-share’ or intra-Alliance flight. The best example of this I can give is the difference in carry-on baggage sizing between close airline alliance partners United Airlines and Air Canada.
When flying United Airlines carry-on baggage dimensions are 9 x 14 x 22 in. (23 x 35 x 56 cm)
When flying on Air Canada carry-on baggage dimensions are 9″ x 15.5″ x 21.5″ (23 cm x 40 cm x 55 cm)
You can see that the numbers don’t match up; even mathematically they don’t match up. United Airlines’ carry-on allowance is 45-linear inches, while Air Canada’s carry-on allowance is 46-linear inches, although both airlines state the maximum carry-on size is 45-linear inches. This problem only gets worse when you face having to place your bag in a rigid metal ‘box’ to see if your bag fits.
To make matters worse, the rigid metal templates, rarely match the actual size requirements.
When I place my GuraGear Kiboko backpack in a United Airlines baggage template, the bag slides in without any problems and has plenty of room within the template. When I place the same GuraGear Kiboko backpack in the Air Canada template (which should be 1″ larger than the United template) I have to push and squeeze the bag into the template.
So what can a flyer do to make sure their bag fits all carry-on baggage requirements? You can make sure your bags are all ‘international carry-on compliant.’ An international carry-on compliant bag is 45-linear inches (114 linear centimeters) including the wheels and handle of the bag. I like to make sure my bag is slightly under the legal carry-on size allowance just in case there is a problem with the carry-on baggage template.
Pleading your case to a person can be done; pleading your case to an empty metal box under the disapproving eye of airline personnel is harder.
Below are photos of my GuraGear Kiboko backpack inside the baggage templates for United Airlines, Air Canada and Northwest/KLM. You can see that the bag easily fits in the United and Northwest/KLM templates (both 45-linear inches) and that it is stuck in the Air Canada template (which should be 46 linear inches).