Carry on luggage review, June 2024

Some time ago, I bought a cabin bag in Europe for travel on low cost airlines, it was an IT brand, very light weight. When I later wanted to use it on Jetstar, I checked the measurements and found it was slightly taller than the allowable size for domestic flights in Australia:
Jetstar (HxWxD): 56cm x 36cm x 23cm
Qantas (HxWxD): 56cm x 36cm x 23cm
Virgin (HxWxD): 56cm x 36cm x 23cm

Of the carry on bags tested in the June Choice article:

none of the three recommended bags is compliant with these dimensions (all had at least two dimensions larger than required)s;
of the 14 other bags, only two were compliant with airline requirements, the Kmart Anko and the Antler Brixham.

I have travelled with my bag on Jetstar a couple of times since without being challenged, although the bag was weighed. It fits with room to spare on the A320/1 family and the bigger international aircraft.

Should I be worried about the odd one or two cm non-compliance?

Generally not, which is qualified below.

Jetstar usually has carry on baggage testing frames near boarding gates one can check compliance with their own carry on bags. If it can fit in such frames, baggage complies. If one has a slightly oversized, rigid carry on, it is unlikely to be able to fit into the testing frame - if Jetstar checked such a bag, it may be refused as carry-on. A soft, compressible type bag, even if marginally exceeds the specified dimensions, is likely to he able to be squeezed into the testing frames. The testing frame is used rather than a tape measure.

In all the years of travelling, I (and many other passengers) have only been asked once to use the testing frames to demonstrate compliance. I travel with have a daypack which is less in the x and y dimension, but can be bigger in the z dimension especially if the front pocket is filled. Even when the z dimension is slightly bigger, it will readily squeeze into the frame.

I have always had the impression that if the carry-on bag looks big, they can test using the frames so a passenger can’t argue the point of whether a hag complies or not. The frame gives a indisputable outcome.

For your own interest, it might be worth testing your bag in the frame when you next fly…possibly away from your boarding gate just in case it doesn’t fit. If it can be easily squeezed into the frame, it should be okay.

There are obvious differences between the measurements Choice quoted in the reviews and those provided by retailers.

Looking to the AmericanTourister Curio 2 - 55cm carry on suitcase. At 55 x 35 x 25/28cm it is according to Myer and other retailers compliant with the 115cm total linear dimension limit, a common Aussie airline standard. Not unique to Myer looking at other popular online Australian sellers.

The American Tourister Australian online website
Avoids making a direct claim the product is carry on compliant and only indicates it is a 55cm size product.

Are we missing something in how the industry measures it products or what the airline industry actually measures? The product brands and models Choice reviewed and measured slightly larger include many well known. One answer - IATA - Passenger Baggage Rules.

Luggage manufacturers cater for an international market. Would it be in the best interests of consumers in Australia to pay a premium for different sized luggage? Luggage the International carriers Qantas is competing against accept, codeshare another reason the IATA sizes might be routinely accepted.

Something Choice may like to take further, considering the luggage reviews are highlighting possibly deceptive and misleading conduct in the marketing of these suitcases?
Or is it our Airline Industry that needs to change?

Added note (Edit):

The Choice review said:
External dimensions (H x W x D, cm) View more details.
57 x 41 x 23

I’ve an early version of the American Tourister model mentioned. It has been used frequently with the 2 major Aussie carriers and their offshoots. Domestic and International without issue.

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Carry on luggage size varies between airlines, the IATA is a guide rather than an adopted standard (noting IATA is a industry association and doesn’t operate or build aircraft). The IATA also suggests one checks with airlines allowances. In relation to airlines, this website has standard carry on luggage sizes for major airlines operating in and out of Australia:

It is worth noting that the type of aircraft and seat class can vary carry on carry on allowance for a flight. I am personally aware of different plane types as in the past I regularly flew on Dash 8 aircraft with Qantas, where carry ons limit is smaller due to smaller storage places with the planes. Likewise with other smaller aircraft. Flight class (e.g business or first) can have more generous carry on allowance.

Myer would be correct that the particular luggage size is carry on, but as IATA indicates, one needs to check with individual airlines for their carry on allowance. The bag would meet allowances of some airlines/airliners, but not others.

In relation to codeshare, the allowance will be based on that outlined on the ticket. We have travelled internationally and domestically on the one booking, where carry on allowance is stated for each leg of the flight. We took carry on which met the smallest carry on allowance which in one case was for a ATR-72, similar sized plane to a Dash 8 Q400.

Except Myer did not say it is carry on nor I in reference to the Myer website screen shots. All references were to the physical dimensions. It’s different if one goes to the Tourister Brand’s Aussie website. That site uses carryon to describe the product and uses the 55cm size to describe the product.

I don’t see why we need to defend Myer in this instance. Or the other retailers who provide in the specifications for similar products dimensions which are less than the true size of the luggage.
The self evident point is the dimensions Myer provide for the suit case is that it complies with the Australian Airline requirements for a 115cm case. The dimensions measured by Choice are not the same. The actual case Choice measured is larger than the Australian carriers permit. Either Choice is not representing the size of the case correctly or Myer and others understate the actual suit case size.

While IATA sizing is a recommendation, it appears the majority of the luggage sold in Australia is manufactured to the slightly larger size recommended by IATA. I addd the IATA reference as a possible reason for the majority of items of luggage sold in Australian as meeting carry on requirements, although they are in fact larger per the Choice review assessment.

Should Australian consumers be able to rely on the sizing advertised by an Australian retailer? Yes they should, but apparently they cannot. I’m referring to the physically quoted dimensions. It’s also deceptive when the cases that are catalogued in Australia as 55cm are on OS sites and listed as 22” or 56cm size. The former suggests they comply with Qantas etc. the second says they cannot.

The expert opinion of American Tourister on their 55cm Curio 2 travel suit case. Yes, one should always check. One suspects the industry knows most of the products sold as carry on in Australia do not dimensionally meet our Airlines size requirements. Both the industry and Airlines likely now the truth, and have conveniently accepted a lie that 56cm base sized product is being sold in Australia as 55cm product. There are very few options of hard or rigid framed textile cases that can meet the 55cm class - 115cm total linear size restrictions.

The screen shot from Myer website above says:

Luggage Size: Carry On

Yes it does, I overlooked it. But does that change the fact the dimensions indicated by Myer are not correct for that product? That is according to Choice. It was how the comparison was presented. Any one purchasing the product per Myer would do so expecting both carry on and dimensionally acceptable for Australia.

Choice has done all a favour in its review indicating the variation in sizes.

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Choice states:

We measure suitcases in their standing position. When calculating the height, we include the wheels. We round up our measurements to the next highest cm, so there may be some variations between our calculations and the ones provided by manufacturers.

Myer, or more correctly American Tourister as this will be where the information would have originated, doesn’t specify what their dimensions represent. It is possibly only the walls of the bag and does not include the handles or wheels.

What in Australia, economy, business, first class, larger jet aircraft or smaller regional aircraft, every airline in Australia…?

There isn’t ‘one shoe that fits every foot’. It would be challenging for Choice to specify an allowance as it wouldn’t be representative of every commercial flight in Australia. Do they use the minimum size allowance (such as for Dash 8 or smaller aircraft operators such as a SAAB 340 or Metroliner), the average for all airlines or the maximum allowance for any airline. If they use any of these, it isn’t representative of the allowance for every flight, hence, the recommendation that one should check each flight allowance (as they can change even in the same airline as indicated above).

Even Choice acknowledges different airlines (and aircraft) can have different requirements and recommends in relation to carry on allowances:

Each carrier has its own requirements for carry-on luggage…If in doubt, it’s always a good idea to check with your airline before you depart.

This is sound advice and something I have always done when travelling. We also err on the side of caution and take smaller bags than the allowance affords. One bag the front pocket can extend past the limit if fully filled… not fully filling is an easy solution.

Try travelling to one of those Pacific island countries and watch what passes for carry on luggage!

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