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Bill would standardize rules for carry-on bags

Currently the US airlines set their own guidelines governing the size of carry-on luggage, and those rules vary greatly. Currently the US airlines set their own guidelines governing the size of carry-on luggage, and those rules vary greatly. (Daniel Acker/Bloomberg News)
June 20, 2009
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Earlier this week, US Representative Dan Lipinski introduced a plan that would standardize the size of allowable carry-on bags.

The Illinois Democrat’s bill would require the Transportation Security Administration to set up templates on luggage conveyor belts that would block pieces larger than 22 inches x 18 inches x 10 inches. Pieces that exceed the limit would have to be checked in.

Currently the airlines set their own guidelines, and those rules vary greatly. American Airlines, Delta Airlines, and United Airlines require bags to be no larger than 45 linear inches - height plus width plus depth. Airtran sets the limit at 55 total inches. Virgin America allows 50 inches. Southwest and JetBlue’s Embraer jets allow 24 inches x 16 inches x 10 inches (on its Airbus planes, JetBlue sets a generous 26 x 18 x 12 standard).

The rules exclude child-safety seats and devices to assist disabled passengers.

A spokesman for Lipinski says the congressman is concerned about clarity and fairness. With most airlines now charging for checked bags, increasing numbers of passengers are trying to carry their luggage aboard, according to Nathaniel Zimmer, a Lipinski spokesman.

The bottom line for travelers is that it appears that many pieces that currently would be allowed probably would not fit the proposed requirement.

Paul Makishima