Before purchasing luggage, you need to have a firm idea of what you want to use it for. If you only travel occasionally and almost never bring a lot of things with you, it doesn’t make sense to invest in a huge set that will almost certainly never be used. On the other hand, if you do travel often but only ever take a carryon, you’re going to have to know what size luggage to get for overhead compartment accommodations.
There is plenty to consider, and the size of the piece of luggage will tell you where it can go on the plane.
Under the Seat
Small bags, usually no larger than a small backpack or a moderately sized purse, will fit under the seat in front of you. Most planes only allow one carryon per person, but that doesn’t include a purse (or small bag of personal belongings for men.) Some sets come with a smaller bag that looks like it’s about the size of a purse and can be used for charging cables, passports, boarding passes, wallets and more.
If you’re thinking about taking something to fit under the seat, remember it has to be fairly small and no bigger than a lady’s large handbag.
If you’re planning to take your belongings on to the plane in a rolling suitcase or duffle bag, you’ll have to make sure it fits the parameters of the overhead compartment. Bags that fit into an overhead can still hold a fair amount of clothing, and a lot of people find don’t need to check a bag if they’re only traveling for a few days.
Most overhead compartments hold bags up to 21 inches in size. Any larger than that, and a nice flight attendant is going to come over and tell you the bag has to be checked – and you may have to pay for it. Make sure to measure your case well before you take it on a plane, and check the allowed carry-on dimensions of the airline you’re using.
Don’t just rely on the manufacturer specs, and make sure your measurements include the wheels and any fixed handles that stick out of the bag. If you don’t include those, your carryon could still end up in baggage land!
Also, when you’re trying to measure correctly, you need to take into account the size of the bag when it’s expanded. Some bags fit fine when in compact mode, but will be too large once the expansion is zipped out.
In general (but depending on the airline), anything over 21 inches is going to end up in the baggage area of a plane. If you need to bring that much stuff be prepared to check it, and you’ll see it at baggage claim once you arrive (hopefully).
Checked baggage is also divided up into categories based on size. While anything bigger than 21 inches has to go into baggage, bags that total more than 63 inches in height, width and depth are considered oversized and will cost you extra.
What if your bag ends up more than 80 inches in total? A lot of airlines won’t even accept it to be checked. That baby will have to be shipped through private means!
Know Your Size
The charges associated with checking bags are easily high enough to convince most people to pack light or, at the very least, stuff everything into the smallest bag possible. There may be times when you can’t avoid using a larger suitcase. Just make sure you check with your airline before you travel, and AFTER you’ve measured!