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Hand luggage on planes A shrinking allowance

The association says that the new guidelines are not mandatory; airlines are still free to allow whatever size bags on their planes that they want.

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with luck, no one reading this blog has recently splashed out on a fancy new bag to use as hand luggage on a plane. If so, it might be wise to get the tape measure out. IATA, an association of the world’s big airlines, has recommended standardising the size of carry-ons. Readers will no doubt be shocked to learn that the new dimensions are significantly smaller than the big carriers currently allow.

IATA’s new guidelines state that cabin bags should have dimensions of 55cm x 35cm x 19cm. That is a volume of 36,575 cubic centimetres. Even the most stingy of low-cost carriers, such as easyJet, currently have a limit equivalent to 40,000 cubic centimetres (see table below). Some, like Southwest, allow 63,000 cubic centimetres.

The association says that the new guidelines are not mandatory; airlines are still free to allow whatever size bags on their planes that they want. But it doesn’t take a devious mind to imagine that plenty will use it as an excuse to force more people to check luggage into the hold. (“Why have you shrunk my carry-on allowance?” “Just complying with the new industry standards, sir.”) Indeed, some airlines already have, including Lufthansa and Emirates. For Lufthansa, this means it is cutting its luggage allowance by close to 30%.

IATA says it is concerned that overhead storage has become too full. This may be true. Such is the squash above passengers' heads that sometimes those at the back of the embarkation queue are forced to stow their hand luggage in the hold anyway. But could there be another motive here? Last year, according to IATA, American carriers alone made $ 3.5 billion from luggage fees. Surely, only a cynic would suggest that they are keen to encourage more passengers to pay to check-in bags to increase this lucrative source of revenue.

Cabin baggage allowance, selected airlines, cm

 

Height

Width

Depth

Volume

North America

 

 

 

 

American Airlines

56

36

23

46,368

Delta

56

35

23

45,080

Southwest

61

41

25

62,926

United

56

36

23

45,424

Europe

 

 

 

 

Air France

55

40

23

50,600

British Airways

56

45

25

63,000

easyJet

50

40

20

40,000

Lufthansa

55

40

23

50,600

Ryanair

55

40

20

44,000

Others

 

 

 

 

Cathay Pacific

56

36

23

46,368

Emirates

55

38

20

41,800

JAL

55

40

25

55,000

 

 

 

 

 

IATA

55

35

19

36,575

Photo: CEphoto, Uwe Aranas 

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