Lipinski's bill would require the TSA 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 must be checked.
This threatens to create a nightmare for travelers. 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 a roomy 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, musical instruments, 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. Besides the lack of standards for bag size, airlines have tended to be lax about enforcing their own rules. This has created a situation where passengers who board first get overhead storage -- and sometime more than their share -- leaving the last travelers to scramble for space of check bags, according to Nathaniel Zimmer, a Lipinski spokesman.
The bottom line for travelers is that it appears that many pieces that currently would be allowed likely will not fit the proposed requirement. Stay tuned.
Bloomberg News photo