Transportation & Logistics

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New Recommendation Would Downsize Carry-On Dimensions

10 Jun, 2015

By: Mary Helen Sprecher

Those who have been cramming everything into a regulation carry-on bag in order to avoid baggage fees may have to make another purchase: a smaller bag.

The International Air Travel Association (IATA) has put out a recommendation that carry-on bags be made even smaller, in order to save room in the overhead compartment.

According to an article in CNN, IATA is advising that bags suitable for carry-on be no larger than 21.5 x 13.5 x 7.5 inches.

Nine major international airlines will soon introduce the guideline into their operations, said Philly.com. Chris Goater, a spokesman for the transport association, said they are: Avianca, Azul, Caribbean Airlines, Cathay Pacific, China Eastern, China Southern, Emirates, Lufthansa and Qatar.

To date, no North American carriers have accepted the guidelines.

As it stands, carriers set their own carry-on guidelines; an interesting side-by-side comparison is found here.

IATA, which represents carriers that make up around 80% of air traffic, says it is working with manufacturers to produce suitcases that fit its new specifications. Those cases will display a "Cabin OK" logo. They are expected to be in stores by the end of the year.

Flying with one of the carriers who has signed up doesn't mean you have to downsize, but a sleeker case will boost your chances of getting overhead bin space on a full flight, since the airlines will prioritize bags that fit the size recommendations over bigger cases.

The baggage fees, of course, are the villains of the piece. Despite the fact that plenty of people fly with regulation-sized carry-ons, those boarding the plane later tend to find all the bin space taken by other flyers who also want to avoid bag fees. As a result, they are offered free baggage check. (Of course, there are plenty of passengers who have figured out how to game the system and will carry their bags to the gate, knowing bin space will fill and they will be offered free bag check.)

For sports industry travel, the new carry-on size may be a moot point, since athletes who are carrying equipment, or even several changes of performance clothing, generally need more space than a carry-on bin allows.

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