Bags Appearing Overweight : Are Women More Likely To Be Stopped?

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28/04/2009 – Bags Appearing Overweight : Are Women More Likely To Be Stopped?

A few months ago I sent out an informal poll to 30 frequent business travellers that I was reminded of today.   This informal poll directly addressed traveling with a ‘legal carry-on’ bag that appeared to be over the size or weight limit.

Often bags can appear oversized or overweight for a variety of reasons. Common reasons include placing a laptop in the outside pocket, not zipping up the side ‘compression zipper,’ using a smaller bag and stuffing it to the gills…of if someone just glances down and thinks your bag may be over-the-limit.

For my own personal research I contacted 15 male frequent business flyers and 15 female frequent business flyers. My question was this:
In the past year of flying has an airline stopped you to check your bag for size or weight at the gate?

Of the 15 males frequent business flyers, only 2 had been questioned about their bag’s size or weight in the past year.  Surprisingly of the 15 women frequent business flyers 13 had been stopped in the past year and questioned about the bag’s size or weight.   Further more, of these 13 women who had been stopped, 10 have been stopped more than once to have the size or weight of their bag checked by an airline.

Each person who responded to the poll verified they were flying with a carry-on bag that was 45-linear inches (115cm) or smaller and that their ‘personal item’ bag was 36-linear inches (91.5cm) or smaller.

With this information in front of me I’d like to find out what causes airline gate agents to stop and check the carry-on baggage of women flyers more often than male flyers.  When I look at baggage they look pretty much the same. Baggage manufacturers know the carry-on limits. Many baggage manufacturers specifically size their bags to meet ‘international carry-on limits,’ so why does a woman’s bag stand out more than a man’s bag?

Have you been stopped with a legal bag and checked for size or weight limits of your bag?  If you have been stopped, has an airline ever shown you the airlines’ written policy on size or weight?

I find it interesting that in the world we live in today that women are still singled out among business travellers.

Have an opinion? If so, let me know!

Happy Flying!


  1. I suspect if you take a poll of all your readers, the female readers would not be surprised at this result while the male readers would be. The world we live in today is not as equal as one would like to think.

  2. It probably has to do with context. On the assumption that women tend to be physically smaller than men, the bag will appear relatively larger on them.

    I believe it’s similar to the experiment about cup and bowl sizes (at a certain size, people will start perceiving them as the other), and how putting soda or soup in them can shift that point where the perception switches.

  3. The same weight and size of bag
    1) looks larger in relationship to the size of the smaller stature person, and
    2) women struggle more with equal weight, simply due to average male strength advantage.

  4. Another thought. Will so much lost luggage more passengers op to carry on. The result is the five finger discount shoppers in baggage are not collecting as much to resell. Ask anyone who has had their bags rifled and valuable inadvertently packed in checked bags turn up missing. No recourse you can’t prove it was there nor where it was stolen. Sure occasionally some get caught on surveillance but they are just the tip of the iceberg. I pack light and tight, no way am I trusting anything to checked baggage. Most of my camera gear goes in a vest which I am wearing.

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