How new carry-on luggage guidelines could cost you money

Airlines industry groups are pushing for a new uniform size for carry-on luggage. (Contributed photo/International Air Transport Association)

Leada Gore | lgore@al.comBy Leada Gore |
on June 11, 2015 at 9:46 AM, updated June 11, 2015 at 10:38 AM on

For frequent travelers, there’s nothing better than being able to pack everything into a carry-on suitcase and skip the baggage line at the end of a flight. It could soon get a little harder to do that, however.

Let’s talk about that:

Carry-on luggage rules could be changing? Why?

The International Air Transport Association hasannounced new recommendations for what it calls “optimal” carry-on size. The reason is simple: airlines want more space in their overhead bins (and are able to charge fees for additional checked luggage.) IATA said a uniform size will also allow travelers to be able to carry-on luggage across air carriers without worrying about individual regulations.

What are the new proposals?

The IATA suggestion is for an “optimal” carry-on bag of no larger than 21.5 inches tall by 13.5 inches wide by 7.5 inches deep. That’s smaller than the maximum bag size currently allowed by many airlines, with major carriers currently limiting bags to 22 inches by 13 inches by 9 inches.

In other words…

IATA said the change would allow everyone in a plane of 120 seats or larger to check their luggage.

So what will this mean to me?

We will have to wait and see if individual airlines will adopt the rules, but it’s likely some change is on the way. If the changes are implemented, it means travelers will be forced to use smaller carry-on luggage or pay checked bag fees, usually about $25 per suitcase.

Where we are now…

Nine airlines – all international ones – have signed onto the new guidelines. No U.S. carriers have agreed to join the initiative yet, though the IATA said it expects them to do so soon. If you want to get a jump on things, you can start looking for baggage with the words “IATA Cabin OK,” meaning the bag meets the new guidelines. Those bags are expected to hit retailers later this year.

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