Airline Luggage Restrictions
Most airlines allow passengers to travel with one carry-on suitcase, one personal item, and one checked bag. Below is a breakdown of checked luggage restrictions and fees for most airlines.
Recently, airlines have become much stricter enforcing their carry-on luggage size requirements. Previously, airlines measured the size of the actual bag (not including the wheels). Now, airlines are measuring from the floor to the top of the bag, including the wheels and handle, effectively tightening the restrictions and rendering older carry-ons too large.
Today, most domestic airlines in the United States allow carry-ons up to 22” by 14” by 9,” for a total of 45” linear inches. Many international flights have even tighter restrictions allowing bags sized only 42” linear inches or smaller. These dimensions do not apply to all airlines. Some airlines have dimensions slightly larger, or slightly smaller, so it is extremely important to check with the airline before using a bag as a carry-on.
Typically, airlines allow one personal item in addition to the carry-on bag. These personal items are supposed to fit under the seat in front of you. Personal items can be purses, laptop cases, backpacks, and briefcases that fall within their own set of size restrictions that also vary depending on the airline. Generally, 17” by 13” by 9” is the standard maximum for personal items. Again, it is important to check with the airline before assuming that a bag falls under the umbrella of a personal item.
Typically, each passenger is allowed one checked bag for an average $25 fee on most airlines. If you plan to bring more than one, you will accrue additional charges for each extra bag. The maximum size for these bags is typically 62 linear inches (the sum of length, width, and height). The bag can be 28” by 20” by 14,” 29” by 20” by 13,” or some other combination as long as the total sum adds up to 62.” If you check a bag exceeding these dimensions, you will be charged an “over-sized” fee which can be expensive. Therefore, it is best to buy an appropriately sized bag before your trip.
Today, many airlines charge large fees for overweight luggage. Most airlines mandate a 50 pound weight limit for checked baggage. Many will allow you to check a 51- 71 pound bag for a fee ranging from $50-$200 per bag. For bags above 71 pounds it is recommended to check with your airline on their fees and policies. These weight limits are subject to differences depending on the airline, so it is important to check before leaving, and weigh your luggage with a luggage scale at home.
In addition, all checked luggage is subject to inspection by the TSA at the airport. Make sure your lock is TSA-Approved. This will expedite the process at the airport and keep your luggage safe in the process.
What You Need To Know
- The average maximum carry-on size for domestic flights is 45" linear inches. International flights can sometimes be smaller around 42" linear inches.
- It is always recommended you contact your airline for the most up to date information as far as sizing restrictions, what you can carry, what TSA will allow etc.
- Airlines now measure bags from the ground to the top of the bag (including wheels and handles), not the interior packing space.
- All airlines will charge a fee if you go over their maximum sizes or weights. For a list of airlines and what their specific size and weight restrictions are as well as fee's, please go to our baggage fees guide.