Smaller cabin bags to be required by airlines

Daily Mail — Air transport chiefs want a new standard size for bags in overhead lockers which is smaller than that offered by many major airlines.

The one-size-fits-all plan was unveiled at the annual conference of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) in Miami.

With cabin-bag rules varying dramatically, IATA says it wants to end arguments at check-in desks as passengers who have travelled trouble-free with one carrier are suddenly told their carry-on bag is too big for their next flight.

Under the new guidelines, decided in consultation with Boeing and Airbus, carry-on bags should be no more than 21.5in tall, 13.5in wide and 7.5in deep (55cm x 35cm x 20cm).

This is smaller than the maximum allowance permitted by airlines such as British Airways, easyJet, Ryanair and Virgin Atlantic.

However, several international airlines, including Emirates, Qatar and Lufthansa, have indicated to IATA that they will sign up to the guidelines, with others expected to follow in the coming months.

Luggage manufacturers are being given the measurements to tailor future products to the proposed specifications. It could lead to many passengers having to buy new cabin bags because their old ones are too big.

IATA spokesman Tom Windmuller conceded the new specifications might annoy some travellers, but he insisted the existing differences in hand luggage allowances were a ‘nuisance for everyone’.

Windmuller said: ‘It is not only passengers that are suffering from not knowing which size of bag they have. You have all seen the fights at gates over whether a passenger can bring a bag on or not. The development of an agreed optimal cabin bag size will bring common sense and order to the problem of differing sizes for carry-on bags.’

IATA had been in touch with its 260 member airlines and most were expected to sign up to the new guidelines, he said. However, easyJet and Ryanair are not members.

Airlines which have expressed an interest in signing on to the standard include Brazil’s Azul, Germany’s Lufthansa, Emirates, Avianca, Qatar Airways, Cathay Pacific Airways, China Eastern, China Southern and Caribbean Airlines.

IATA expects others to join in coming months, around the same time bags become available in stores.

‘I haven’t come across an airline yet that said this is a terrible idea,’ said Windmuller. The program is voluntary, and airlines can refuse bags if they suddenly change a flight to a smaller aircraft.

No US or British airlines have yet signed on, but IATA expects more carriers to do so.


‘Once again, the airlines find a way to make their problem the passenger’s problem – and an expensive problem at that,’ said travel industry consultant Henry Harteveldt.

The lack of overhead space is due to airlines cramming too many seats on planes and charging passengers to check their suitcases, he said.

Bags with new labels, designating them as ‘Cabin OK,’ are expected to be in stores by the end of the year.

An EasyJet spokesman told MailOnline: ‘This is a smaller bag than we currently allow on board, but there is no doubt that an overall standard across all airlines would help customers.

‘We will be assessing it with a range of other cabin initiatives to ensure we deliver the best possible experience for our customers.’