Carry-on baggage standard makes sense if ALL airlines adhere to it


At this year’s IATA Annual General Meeting, the airline trade association put forward the idea of a ‘stamp of approval’ that would be affixed to bags at the factory. The badge would indicate that the bag met a specific size standard of 21.5 x 13.5 x 7.5 inches. This proposed new standard is 21% smaller by volume than the current US standard set by the “big three” – American, Delta and United. It’s also smaller than standard rollaboards manufactured by Victorinox, Briggs & Riley, Tumi, Rimowa, and TravelPro. This makes it a non-starter with most frequent travelers.

Though the particular dimensions tabled by IATA are curious, the broader idea of having a single carry-on standard for all airlines is a good one, especially considering the vast disparity in allowable bag sizes around the world. It gives travelers transparency and predictability – two things that the airlines are not very good at giving passengers.


But the most important aspect of setting a standard carry-on size is that all IATA member airlines must participate and honor it in order for the standard to be truly effective. So far, the association has indicated that only some major international carriers are on board with the sizing. Air Canada and WestJet have indicated they have no intention of adopting the proposed standard, reports the National Post.

Given past behavior, one could easily see an airline deviate from the standard, requiring even smaller bags, and guaranteeing itself a fat stream of extra baggage fees from passengers who detrimentally relied on IATA’s standard.

After all, as RGN told NBC earlier this month, it is the airlines’ one-two punch of cramming more seats into aircraft and charging for checked baggage that has resulted in less room to accommodate everyone’s carry-on in the first place.

It’s clearly a cynical viewpoint, but airlines haven’t shown themselves to be in the business of making passengers lives any easier, unless it comes with a hefty fee.