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Travelpro® puts Carry-on Luggage to the Test

different size luggage

When shopping for new carry-on luggage, be sure the suitcase or bag you choose is the right size to be stored in the overhead bin or fit under the seat on your flight. Most domestic and international airlines have baggage sizers at the airport, but you don’t want to arrive at the airport with your carry-on suitcase packed just right only to find out that your bag is the wrong size and will have to be checked. That’s why we go the extra mile to test our luggage with real-world sizer bins.

Some travellers swear by travelling with a carry-on, and it can be ultra-convenient. But some luggage makers produce bags labelled “carry-on luggage” that may not actually meet the carry-on size limitations issued by certain airlines. Don’t risk being unpleasantly surprised. Make sure your bag won’t exceed the airline’s size limits for carry-on baggage by purchasing the correct size.

At Travelpro®, we know that the right luggage can make a huge difference in the quality of your trip. We take great care to design products that enhance your travels, and this includes testing our carry-on luggage and bags in the real-world sizes of domestic and international airlines– the same sizer bins found at airports worldwide.

We make it easy and stress-free for you to shop for a bag that won’t exceed size limits for in-cabin luggage by indicating which products have been Sizer Bin Tested under FEATURES on our product pages. We also include detailed information on the dimensions of each of our carry-on bags as well as our checked luggage.

What Exactly is Carry-on Luggage?

Carry-on luggage can include suitcases, duffels and garments bags stored in the overhead bin on an airplane as well as smaller bags that can fit under the airplane seat in front of you.

When airlines refer to your “carry-on bag,” they are likely referring to smaller suitcases, duffel bags and weekenders that will fit in the overhead bin space, whereas “personal items,” in airline industry terminology, are bags small enough to fit under the seat, like travel totes and purses, laptop bags, diaper bags and briefcases or backpacks.Different carry-ons featuring spinner, backpack, duffel and underseat bag
The most popular types of carry-on suitcases are spinners and Rollaboard® bags. The exact dimensions of these bags vary, but all commercial airlines that allow carry-on luggage publish their size restrictions online. If you are unsure whether your bag qualifies, check the airline’s website for specifics.

Carry on Luggage Size Matters

Standard, domestic, carry-on luggage size is currently limited to around 22 inches tall, 9 inches deep and 14 inches wide, though a few airlines allow bags up to 24 inches tall and 16 inches wide to be carried on. If flying international, plan to pack tighter or check your bag. Published carry-on size limits for international airlines currently land between 22 and 15.7 inches tall, with differing widths and depths. Below is a handy list of the size restrictions for many domestic and international airlines.

These are the most current size limitations published at the time of this article. Please check with your airline to confirm prior to your trip.

Carry-on Luggage Sizes: US Airlines

Allegiant Air 22 x 14 x 9 --
Alaska Airlines 22 x 14 x 9 --
American Airlines 22 x 14 x 9 --
Delta Airlines 22 x 14 x 9 --
Frontier Airlines 24 x 6 x 10 35
Hawaiian Airlines 45 total linear 25
IcelandAir 15.7 x 11.8 x 5.9 22
Japan Airlines 22 x 16 x 10 --
JetBlue Airways 22 x 14 x 9 --
Southwest Airlines 24 x 16 x 10 --
Spirit Airlines 22 x 18 x 10 --
Sun County Airlines 24 x 16 x 11 35
United Airlines 22 x 14 x 9 --

Carry-on Luggage Sizes: International Airlines

AeroMexico 21.5 x 15.7 x 10 22
Air Canada 21.5 x 15.7 x 9 --
Air France 46.5 total linear 26
Air New Zealand 22 x 14 x 9 15
Alitalia 21.7 x 13.8 x 9.9 17.6
All Nippon Airways 22 x 16 x 10 22
El Al Airlines 22 x 17.7 x 9.8 17.6
Iceland Air 15.7 x 11.8 x 5.9 22
Japan Airlines 22 x 16 x 10 22
KLM 21.5 x 13.5 x 10 26
Korean Air 21.7 x 15.7 x 7.9 25
Lufthansa 21.7 x 15.7 x 9 17.6
Norwegian Air 21.7 x 15.7 x 9 22
Philippine Airlines 22 x 14 x 9 15
Qantas Airways 22 x 14 x 9 15
Saudi Arabian Airlines 62 total linear 15.4
Scandinavian Airlines 21.7 x 15.7 x 9 17.6
Singapore Airlines 45.3 total linear 15.4
Thai Airways 22 x 18 x 10 15
Virgin Atlantic 22 x 14 x 9 22

You can also find baggage sizers at the airport. Baggage sizers are essentially “cubbies” built to the airline’s carry-on size restrictions. Because these sizer bins and requirements vary by airline, you can usually find them near the airline’s ticket counter and at the gate.

If your bag fits in the cubby, it will fly as a carry-on, assuming there is still available overhead bin space by the time you board. If you get all the way to the gate–or on the plane–and your bag won’t fit, flight attendants will take it from you to have it stowed in the cargo hold with the checked luggage, and you will have to retrieve it at baggage claim, like all other checked bags.

When measuring your bag’s height, be sure to include the wheels and the handle, but don’t forget about the depth. Your carry-on luggage needs to fit within all size limits.

Travelpro® makes expandable luggage that gives you the option to increase the bag’s packing capacity when needed, which can be super helpful when you do a bit of shopping on your trip. Just don’t pack your suitcase until it bulges, and avoid cramming too much in the front pockets if your bag has them. Overpacking risks making your bag too fat to fit in the overhead bin.

TIP: Hard shell luggage doesn’t stretch like softsided bags, so if you are worried about the girth of your bag or you tend to overstuff your luggage, a hardsided carry-on may be a better choice for you than a softsided carry-on suitcase that is made from flexible fabric.

Carry on Luggage Weight

While all domestic airlines have weight limits for checked luggage, most don’t publish weight restrictions for carry-on bags. International airlines do post weight limits ranging from 15 to 26 lbs., but it’s highly unlikely that your carry-on will be weighed. Just be sure that you can lift it over your head to place it in the overhead bin unassisted.

For safety reasons, airlines operating smaller aircraft, like commuter planes, do adhere to strict weight limits for baggage you bring onboard. In fact, many of these planes don’t have overhead bins at all, so smaller personal items are all you can bring onboard. Everything else will be stowed as checked luggage.

When you are carrying on and toting bags through endless terminals or city streets, choose lighter-weight luggage to avoid being weighed down by your bag. Travelpro® makes several styles of lightweight luggage that are just as durable as heavier bags. Our Maxlite® 5 Expandable Carry-on Spinner, for example, weighs a mere 5.4 lbs., so you can pack what you need and still keep it light. Read more about, lightweight, highly-durable luggage here.

Image of a suitcase on a scale showcasing how lightweight it is

What (Not) to Pack in Your Carry-On

After choosing the right size carry-on luggage, it will soon be time to get packing. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) regulates what is and is not allowed in your carry-on and checked luggage.

To get through security at the airport, toiletries and other liquids–including food and drinks–must be in containers no larger than 3.4 ounces, and you must be able to fit them all in a clear, quart-size zip-top bag. (Once you’ve passed security, you can purchase any size beverage or other liquids to take with you onboard.)

Remove the guesswork with our Travelpro®Platinum® Elite 21” Expandable Carry-On Spinner that comes with a TSA-compliant, removable quart-size wet pocket perfect for toiletries and designed to fit perfectly in an easily accessible exterior pocket.

Platinum Elite wet pocket and built in USB portThe Platinum® Elite Carry-on Spinner also comes with a built-in USB port that lets you charge devices on the go using your own backup battery stored and easily accessible in a dedicated external pocket–making the bag FAA compliant and keeping you connected without a hitch.

If you plan to travel with a power bank or lithium-ion batteries of any kind, you must keep them in your carry-on bags or personal items in the cabin of the aircraft. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) prohibits batteries from being stored in checked luggage. Weapons and sharp objects are also prohibited in your carry-on. This includes metal knives, pocket knives, scissors (larger than 4 inches in the US or larger than 6 centimetres in many other countries), straight razors and even sharp metal nail files.

You will also have to check any sports equipment that could also be used as a weapon, think baseball bats, pool cues, bows, arrows and golf clubs, among others. Tools and self-defence items, like pepper spray, are also banned in the cabin, so don’t pack them in your carry-on. You may bring a lighter onboard, but you cannot use it there. E-cigarettes and vape pens are also allowed in your carry-on (not in checked bags, due to their batteries) but may not be used on the plane, and the liquids in the cartridges apply to your liquid allowances.

For more information, you can check out TSA’s comprehensive list, here. If you your item isn’t listed, you can even send a photo of the item or your question to “AskTSA” onFacebook MessengerorTwitter.

For more help finding the perfect bag for you, check out our blogs on Choosing the Right Size Luggage and Hardshell vs. Softside Luggage.

Happy travels!

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