Earlier this week in Miami, IATA held its Annual General Meeting where member airlines gathered to discuss the industry at large.

As part of these sessions, a proposal has been adopted to redefine what the proper dimensions should be for a carry-on.    The result?  a new ‘preferred’ dimension for a carry-on piece of luggage of 21.5 x 13.5 x 7.5 inches.  According to my abacus, this will result in Carry-On trolleys becoming 20% smaller that what is currently in place.

In comparison, Lufthansa’s current carry-on policy allows for a 21.6 x 15.75 x 9 inch piece of luggage to be brought into the cabin of their aircraft.


No.    The new guideline passed by IATA is not law but simply a direction and guideline going forward for airlines and luggage manufacturers.   The idea behind the new dimensions suggest that a slightly smaller carry-on will enable more passengers to bring their carry-ons aboard instead of being forced to ‘gate check’ them; especially on aircraft that seat 120 or more passengers.

However, the new guideline suggests that bags compliant with the new dimensions will be given priority as far as being allowed on board.   How will this be enforced?  I don’t know and I don’t think enforcement is likely or quite honestly, possible.

So before you start panicking that your $700 Rimowa is no longer welcomed aboard, fear not.   The new policy simply means that future generations of carry-on luggage may be a little bit smaller.   OK, a LOT smaller.    IATA has already gone as far as merchandising the new change by creating a ‘Cabin OK’ logo on luggage that meet the new measurement criteria.

Thus far seven airlines have signed on to the concept including Lufthansa, Emirates, Air China, Qatar, Avianca, Azul, Cathay Pacific and China Southern.  No US based carrier has agreed to the new policy as yet.