Luggage carry on size: Find the allowance size for every airline!

An association of airlines, the International Air Transport Association (IATA), recommends a maximum size for the carry-on dimensions of a sum of length, width and height of 115 cm.

Alternatively, the IATA also suggests a maximum size of 56 cm × 45 cm × 25 cm.

However, virtually no airline keeps to this specific luggage carry on size.

With a maximum size of 55 cm × 40 cm × 20 cm, the carry-on bag fits for just about all airlines.

Castors and handles are included in the hand luggage dimensions.

The maximum weight is mostly between 5 kg and 12 kg, depending on the airline.

Luggage carry on size airlines table

Luggage scale – a useful tool

In order to be sure that your own luggage complies with the guidelines of the airline, you can weigh the luggage with a luggage scale. The latest digital luggage scales are small and handy. Therefore you can even take them on the trip.

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Luggage carry on size

The maximum hand baggage allowance of most airlines must not exceed a certain size.

The reason for this is that the hand baggage in the compartment must have clearance above the seat because it is there stowed during flight.

If you still looking for a suitable trolley for carry on, here the three bestsellers on Amazon are listed.

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Carry on rules

A carry on may weigh no more than a certain weight.

If the baggage is too heavy, airlines can charge extra money in case of too heavy baggage.

Although it is rarely the case that airlines control the weight of hand luggage, it is recommended nevertheless the carry on before check-in at the counter to weigh the trolley.

For additional laptop bag, there is no weight restriction on most airlines.

Why are there guidelines for dimensions and weight?

In recent years, the establishment of low-cost airlines has started to take cabin baggage dimensions and the weight of the cabin luggage more seriously.

The reason for this is: The lower the weight of the aircraft, the less fuel is consumed, the more money an airline can save for each flight and eventually the more profit the airline can make.

Therefore airlines who advertise cheap prices try to fly with as little luggage and kerosene on board as possible.

Because both are heavy in bulk and cause more fuel to be consumed. And this is becoming more expensive since the crude oil that is required for production is a fossil and thus continuously runs out of the commodity.

In order to save as much as possible and thus to make the highest profits, the aircraft may be light weighted.

For this reason, there are guidelines for travel and hand luggage for passengers. Anyone with a larger or heavy luggage has to pay additional fees.

Now you can decide as a passenger whether you want to fly with a conventional carrier such as »Lufthansa« or with a low-cost airline like Lufthansa subsidiary »Germanwings«.

A Lufthansa ticket innately costs more but also more weight and larger dimensions for carry on is allowed.

With Germanwings you pay a lower ticket price but less luggage is accepted and it is determined that any additions have to be paid.

Someone who only flies for a short trip and will not take a lot of luggage is normally better off at the low-cost airlines.

Who goes on a long journey and wants to travel with more luggage or value on service, will get away with more conventional airlines.

Of course, there are premium, first class or business class tickets where it is permitted to take fundamentally more luggage with you, but these are also much more expensive.

Carry on comparison

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Hand Luggage restrictions

Some airlines were known for years to notoriously look out for hand luggage that violated their regulations in order to charge additional fees. 

On the internet there exist numerous stories where air travellers had to pay high fees additionally with those airlines because their hand baggage was a few centimetres too long or slightly too heavy.

But since late 2013 process of rethinking started at most airlines.

After their image has been severely affected by this approach and other not customer oriented practices, most low-cost airlines launched a campaign to improve customer service.

Since then, there have been no systematic checks on hand luggage anymore that aim to charge additional fees for minor infringements.

Checking in the hand luggage: No uniform procedure

Nowadays, there is no uniform approach at most airlines when checking cabin baggage.

When flying with them it is important to know that there is no uniform approach if the hand luggage gets checked.

The reason for this is that the luggage check-in and the boarding are often carried out by airport staff or even external service providers.

Only if an airline is strongly represented at an airport – e.g Lufthansa at the airport in Munich – the acceptance of the luggage and the boarding is done by their own employees.

Like everywhere else, the staff at the airport is responsible for check-in and boarding. They are also taking their job differently accurate. Some people have to pay additional fees for only exceeding two or three centimetres but others see things more casual.

This is why experience reports occur in which users report how exactly their hand luggage was checked.

Cabin baggage check: At the check-in or at the gate

There are two places at the airport where the size and weight of the carry-on can be checked.

First at the check-in desk when you leave your luggage. In some cases, the size and the dimensions of the luggage are also getting checked.

The second place is after the safety check at the gate when boarding.

If you are only flying with hand luggage and you have no baggage to check-in, then your cabin luggage can only be checked at the gate.

As a rule, the size and weight of the luggage will be more strictly checked during baggage check-in than during boarding at the gate. 

The reason for this is that the staff just has more time to. Furthermore, all check-ins are equipped with scales with which the hand luggage can easily be checked without much additional effort.

Due to the tight clocking of flights – especially with low-cost airlines – the time pressure is particularly large.

At most airports there are no scales at the gates, so the weight of the luggage cannot be checked during boarding.

It is therefore unlikely that boarding will be subject to minor violations of hand luggage regulations. This is especially true for slight overshoots in weight.

If at all, the outer dimensions are usually checked during boarding.

Only when it is clearly visible at first sight that the luggage bag is larger or heavier than permitted, it is likely that the employees are also looking more closely.

Even if there is little probability of boarding because of minor overshoots, you should be aware that you are only 100% safe if you are 100% compliant.

Handles and rollers count as hand luggage measurements

Regularly, the question comes up whether the wheels and handles of trolleys are counted to the hand luggage dimensions.

Yes, the handles and rollers count to the size of your hand luggage.

According to the regulations, rollers or handles of a trolley must not protrude from the metal frame in the event of a check which is used to check the dimensions of the hand luggage.

The manufacturer’s information is unimportant.

For every suitcase, backpack or other pieces of luggage, the dealer usually specifies the outer dimensions in the product description.

Many use this information as a benchmark to determine if a piece of luggage meets the requirements of Flybe for the hand luggage.

However, this only makes limited sense. In the event of a hand luggage check, the luggage piece must fit in a metal basket with the airlines defined dimensions.

Luggage items with flexible outer shells normally depend on how fully packed they are. If you pack a backpack or a bag only half full, they easily can be compressed to the permitted dimensions.

Backpacks are less strictly controlled than trolleys.

Backpacks are not handled as accurate as trolleys since they can be compressed easily due to their flexible cover.

In addition, the airport staff probably assumes that backpacks will not weigh more than allowed as you permanently have to wear them on your back during the journey.

Hand luggage regulations have their purpose!

On some flights, you have to put your hand luggage under the seat because all the hand luggage compartments are full.
Even if hand luggage regulations are often not so strictly controlled, one should not understand this as a license to take much more with you than allowed.
In particular, the size limitations of the hand luggage have their meaning.

The space in the hand luggage compartments in the aeroplane is limited.

The compartments in an aircraft can normally accommodate up to 90 large hand luggage pieces. However, in an aircraft, they can fly up to 189 passengers.

Nevertheless, the space in the hand luggage compartments can become scarce if a part of the passengers take significantly too large hand baggage into the aeroplane.

Something like that is annoying for the other passengers and for the ship personnel because the space in the aircraft cabin is particularly narrow.

Therefore, one should not exceed the requirements for cabin baggage not only because of the imminent additional charges but also as fairness to the other passengers and the crew.

Hand luggage too big or heavy? Recommendations for action!

Clear overshooting of the permitted dimensions for the hand luggage at Flybe should be avoided. Therefore some recommendations for action are always helpful.

1. Advice: Read the hand luggage regulations

Much stress can be avoided by checking out hand baggage rules carefully before booking.

2. Advice: Do not buy a new suitcase for a few centimetres too much

If your hand luggage is only some centimetres too large you normally do not have buy a new carry-on.

Nowadays, the risk of paying extra fees is just too small to justify the cost of a new cabin trolley. The same applies to bags.

Although hand luggage doesn’t to cost a fortune.

3. Advice: Avoid clear violations of hand baggage regulations

Clear breaches of the rules should be avoided.

In case you do, prepare yourself probably having booked your hand luggage for an additional fee and some unpleasant discussions. Sooner or later this will happen if you regularly violate regulations.

In addition, it should be remembered that other passengers and crew members are adversely affected by the fact that passengers might take much cabin baggage with them.

4. Advice: Pay attention to the dimensions when purchasing

If you buy a new hand luggage suitcase you should watch out for the right measurements of the suitcase.

Don’t rely on the dealer information since these are partially inaccurate. Therefore you should verify those at home in any case you buy. If necessary send it back and order another.

This applies in particular to hard cases.

5. Rather go early to the airport

At the security check-in at the airport, you should expect waiting times.
Especially with it is recommended to schedule a time buffer and to arrive a little earlier at the airport.

If the carry-on is actually checked and marked as too big or heavy, then you still have time to fix the problem somehow.

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Last update on 2021-04-11 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API