As every seasoned traveler knows, the FAA allows all airline passengers to bring onboard one carry on bag and one personal item (sometimes for a fee). In a surefire effort to make things super confusing for everyone, the size and weight parameters are not uniform across the board. There are numerous airline carry on size restrictions, and not knowing the rules could mean checked bag fees, depending on your airline. Below are the max carry on baggage size dimensions for several major airlines.
Carry On Luggage Size Restrictions 2020
The table above was created using up-to-date 2019 data from each respective airline. However, we highly recommend that you double check with your airline’s website just in case anything does change.
Carry On Luggage FAQ:
What is linear measurement for luggage? The maximum number of all 3 dimensions added up (Ex: 24” x 16” x 10” = 50 linear inches). Some airlines list their max carry on dimensions as linear instead of the usual three dimensions.
Do the carry on dimensions include the handles/wheels? Yes. When airlines say your bag can’t be longer than 22”, they mean literally end-to-end. That includes handles, wheels, and anything else that is part of the bag.
How can I weigh my bag pre-flight? There are special scales made for weighing luggage accurately. Try to anticipate the return flight and if your bag may get heavier with souvenirs or other items.
Can I weigh my luggage with a bathroom scale? Sure, as long as it’s accurate, weigh yourself first to check the scales accuracy. Be aware that a Wall Street Journal report found that 8% of airline baggage scales in New York were inaccurate. So add a couple of pounds to your total to account for any airport inaccuracies.
Should I check a bag? Not if you don’t have to.Remember, it’s impossible to lose a bag that you carry on, but it is possible that an airline can lose a checked bag, which could be a headache to try and get reconnected with in some cases. If you are told at the gate that there isn’t any more room in the overhead and your bag must be checked, don’t worry, because it’s pretty much a guarantee that your bag will be on your flight, meaning it can’t go missing. Also your bag will be one of the first bags coming through the baggage claim.
International vs Domestic Carry on Size Difference
International sized luggage are smaller, typically 20” long, while continental carry on sizes are 21-22” long. This is because international airlines tend to have stricter carry on luggage regulations. Many of the best luggage brands offer carry on luggage in both continental and international sizes.
How do I buy a bag that will fit, guaranteed? Here are two things to consider:
- A 20” international carry on will fit in any overhead compartment. You should have similar luck with a 21-22”, but some international airlines may have smaller compartments. So especially if you’re a frequent overseas traveler, go with a 20” bag if size is a concern.
- A bag with a soft, fabric exterior will have more flexibility than a hard-shell carry on, which could give you some extra room.