New Airline Carry On Restrictions

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Is the Carry-On Bag About to Become Extinct?

Good Morning America 

By RICK SEANEY3 hours ago

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Is the Carry-On Bag About to Become Extinct?


Is the Carry-On Bag About to Become Extinct? (ABC News)

Anyone who reads my travel advice knows a favorite tip is to use a carry-on bag, no matter where you fly.

I do this myself. No big and clunky checked suitcases for me, not even on 10-day trips to Europe.

There are two very good reasons for this: Carry-on bags are usually free and carry-on bags stay beside you on the plane, so they can’t get lost.

Well, as much as I hate to say it, airlines are making it increasingly difficult to use a carry-on.


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First it was just the ultra-discounters, but now even major carriers are putting new restrictions on cabin baggage for certain fares.


Here are some examples from major U.S. carriers:

Carry-on bags are still free on these airlines’ regular economy class, but the restrictions are on a brand-new class.

American: Its new basic economy class (on sale in February) gives travelers zero access to overhead bins. One carry-on item is allowed but it must fit under a seat and be no bigger than 18 by 14 by 8 inches. The bottom line is if you have a backpack, a laptop and a purse, two of those items will have to be checked and you will pay a fee. Don’t try sneaking an extra item aboard, either. If you get caught at the gate, there’s an extra $25 per item "service fee" in addition to the regular checked bag charge.

United: It’s the same deal on United’s upcoming basic economy (dates to be announced). One small under-the-seat item is allowed, no use of bin space, and an additional $25 per item charge to check items at the gate.


Here are some examples from smaller U.S. carriers:

Most of these discount airline carry-on rules have been in effect for years.

Allegiant: You can bring regular size carry-on bags on board, but you will pay a fee, though that fee is cheaper than the checked bag fee.

Frontier: Carry-ons are allowed on planes but there is a fee, and it’s more expensive than the checked-bag fee.

Spirit: Again, carry-ons are allowed but the fee is more expensive than the checked-bag fee. One nice thing, though is that Spirit does allow an under-the-seat-bag for free and there’s a packing tutorial video on its website.


Here's what passengers can do:

Look at all costs of a ticket before digging out your credit card.

Compare fares: These days, you must compare fares among airlines and then in some cases, compare classes of service on a single carrier. Do a little math and ask yourself if the savings gained by flying basic economy make up for the bag fee, and make up for the inconvenience. If not, move up in class to regular economy.

Try packing a very small bag: If you’re only going away for a weekend, a small backpack or soft-sided duffle could do the trick. If you find you must check a bag, I suggest bringing a bag on board to hold valuables and must-haves you want to keep close like electronics, medications, documents and the like. Toss in a change of underwear and T-shirt, too, just in case that checked bag goes astray.

Fly these airlines: Southwest has free carry-ons and two checked bags for free. Discounters like JetBlue and Virgin America allow free carry-ons and there are others.

Meanwhile, it’ll be interesting to see if luggage manufacturers start giving more thought to designing very small bags for very small places.

Rick Seaney is the CEO of FareCompare, a website that curates the best deals on flights from around the world. Any opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author.

18 Answers

My new carry-on must go in the overhead bin, but the old one fits under the if it becomes an issue I will use the old one and a tiny purse that fits next to it. I of course really wish we lived close enough to drive to a cruise port and therefore eliminate the problem all together.

P.S. Welcome home!

This is why I love southwest. I haven't seen anything come through yet, and hope they don't change anything!

I don't understand why they won't allow access to the overhead bin. They have them. What are they using them for ? Or are those the new child safety pods ?

We've flown several times and found that the overhead bins were already filled when we boarded, so we had to try to find room in a bin close by. Some of the luggage was bigger than what is normally considered as carry on. WestJet insists that passengers carry on bag can fit easily into their measuring device before boarding.

An Alaska Airlines flight attendant told us that when passengers enter the plane with bags that should not have been allowed due to size, they do not help lift the big bag into the bin, nor do they help make room. If the passenger can't do it themselves, the bag has to be rechecked into the luggage compartment, at the guests' expense.

The passenger base has brought this upon themselves by bringing oversized, or several bags on board to try to scam the system by not paying baggage fees. The result was that there is not enough overhead storage for everybody. The airline had to do something to fix the problem. Since making more overhead storage is an impossible solution, the only thing left is to make it unattractive to bring several large bags as carryon.

Generally I try to check as much as possible so I don't have to worry about someone getting my bag from the overhead or taking up my legroom.

Here's a thought, the airlines should enforce their own rules regarding the carry on limits. If it doesn't fit in that pipe structure, don't allow it. But here is one problem. People will roll down their suit bags so they fit in the device, but unroll them on the plane. Maybe they should have a length restriction too. Perhaps, raise the seat height. Our smallest of the set is 22x8x13, and I know that fits into most overhead bins. So knock off 2" from the length and use 20x8x13 as a standard.

I agree with BDRebel. About time the carriers began to crack down on passengers bringing everything but the kitchen sink on board to try and stuff in the overheads. It's dangerous too. Even though passengers are told time and again during an emergency evacuation to leave their hand carries behind, they don't heed those warnings and hold up the evacuation by attempting to get their stuff. Some years ago, there was an fire in the aft restroom, a bad one, passengers were attempting to retrieve their bags while other passengers behind them were burning alive. I don't like the suggestion that I should put anything under the seat in front, particularly if I'm riding in coach. That space is for my feet and legs. Particularly important on a long haul. Of great concern is the risk of blood clots for us seniors, including a potentially deadly condition called deep vein thrombosis. On domestic flights we try for Alaska Airlines, almost always. We get four free check ins with them, even in coach, if not, we pay the extra for check in luggage. So, all we have to hand carry is my day pack with a computer in it and my meds, maybe a book, wife has the same in a small hand carry. I squeeze them together in the overhead so they take up a lot less space than some of these roll on small suitcases do. But then someone will suggest we can place those under the seats in front of us. I have a better suggestion for them then though, put your overstuffed hand carry where the sun don't shine. Anger management needed.

I put my purse and sometimes my carry on bag under the seat in front and then slide them out after we are in the air to use as a bit of a footrest. Seeing the large "carry on" bags that are about the size of my suitcase drive me crazy!mits so inconsiderate of those passengers, but then again, they are only thinking of themselves.

I put my purse and sometimes my carry on bag under the seat in front and then slide them out after we are in the air to use as a bit of a footrest. Seeing the large "carry on" bags that are about the size of my suitcase drive me crazy!mits so inconsiderate of those passengers, but then again, they are only thinking of themselves.

Nevermind. I need new glasses.

Sorry about the typos - tried lurking and posting while working and missed the edit button. I do that a lot. LOL


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