Adoption & Effective Use

New Limits for Carry-On Luggage; Just Enforce Weight Limits Instead

George writes about a recent incident at JFK where his standard carry-on luggage was rejected as being “too large” under new “FAA regulations” …

Just before actually getting to the TSA agent’s podium, a red-jacketed person (who I believe was hired by American Airlines as a subcontractor but not an actual employee) insisted that I put my suitcase in a bag sizer. Keep in mind that I was flying in business class, and that I’ve taken this same 21-inch four-wheeled suitcase all around the world on almost every major airline and quite a few not-so-major ones.

To make a long story short, it was rejected as “too big.” What I didn’t realize, because it’s never been an issue before, is that American (as well as Delta and United) has updated their carry-on bag policies, including a 14-inch maximum width, and my Rimowa is 15 inches wide, as are many carry-ons. Even though it’s an inch shorter than the 22-inch length limit, and an inch below the official 9-inch depth limit, back to check-in, I went. And the line was so long, I almost missed my flight. I was then told that this is a new “FAA regulation,” a questionable claim given that not all airlines have the same allowances.

These new size limits are recent. In fact, United made the change on March 2, 2014. Its previous policy was that no dimension could be over 22 inches and the total overall dimensions no more than 45 inches. So these very specific measurements really change the game, and will be causing a lot of headaches — and heartaches when people learn they will have to leave their favorite, and in some cases, very expensive, bags in the closet.

I think this is grossly unfair, especially when the current rules have been in place for a long time, and people have purchased bags to suit. I suggest the better way of handling this problem is just to enforce weight limits for carry-on luggage, limits which we the traveling public have agreed to abide by, and yet most people don’t. In my travels throughout the US, I always see people struggling with large and heavy carry-on items, and the crew don’t do anything about it. Don’t change the luggage rules people – just enforce the ones you already have.