There have been carry-on luggage restrictions in place now for many years. Yet as everyone who travels at all knows, invariably somebody shows up at the gate with the most outrageous carry-on bags expecting to have no problems taking them on board.
In all fairness it is hard to keep up with all the changing rules of what you can take on board, or thru security check-points along with all the size and weight restrictions that now exist. Unless you travel regularly you can easily find some new rule has gone into effect causing last minute hassles with your luggage.
All air carriers have established rules for carry-on luggage, but unfortunately they are all not the same. So what are you supposed to do? Well our recommendation is to go with the lowest common denominator (the most restrictive rules) as a guide. That way you’re going to be safe – until they change the rules.
When you think about it, the limits on carry-on luggage make sense. Overhead and under seat storage space is limited. Depending on the type of aircraft and the particular airlines configuration it can be almost nonexistent. Most regional carriers flying small jets or prop aircraft allow only a briefcase or purse on board. Larger carry-on items must be gate checked. The good news is you don’t have to pay a baggage charge for these items and they usually can be claimed plane side at your destination eliminating the baggage claim hassle.
One of the problems that you often run into is there are many different overhead storage configurations even on the same airline. Unless the airline flies all the same type airplanes like Southwest Airlines which flies all B737 type aircraft, they can have different size overhead storage bins. It’s not uncommon for your bags to fit nicely on one flight and not on another.
We have tried to compile a list of the airline carry-on baggage rules from a number of carriers here in the U.S. We try to keep this updated but it is always best to check with your specific carrier for the latest information if you have any questions. The most common maximum size for a carry-on bag seems to be 22 x 14 x 9 inches or 45 linear inches (L+H+W). Some airlines specify a maximum weight for a carry-on bag and some do not. But then you’re the one that has to lift it into the overhead bin so do your back a favor.
Don’t forget – how you pack your carry-on can also be the difference between what will be allowed or fit in the overhead bins and what won’t. It’s convenient that many bags have expandable compartments on the outside of the bag. But don’t stuff them with every last minute thing you can think of. I’ve done that with all kinds of newspapers and books I’ve picked up at the airport. I get on the plane and the bag will never fit in the overhead bin. Now you’re faced with taking all that stuff out or checking the bag.
Use the handy chart we have provided and simplify your trip through airport security and getting settled on your flight. It doesn’t take much to get your trip off to a good start.