Will your bag fit? Maybe. Maybe not.

This chart greets travelers at boarding gates for international flights at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA).

No doubt, there’s something that looks like this at your airport too.

The chart lists the maximum dimensions – including handles and wheels – of the under-seat and carry-on bags for each airline that flies out of this airport.

And the chart is so busy because the maximum measurement for each airline can be a wee bit different.

Fly on Alaska Airlines, United Airlines, or Virgin Atlantic, and the carry-on bag limit is 22 inches X 14″ inches by 9 inches. Board a Finnair, Lufthansa, or Turkish Airline flight and, according to this chart, your bag must not exceed 22 inches X 16 inches X 9 inches.

What happens if your bag exceeds the maximum size dimensions allowed by your airline?

Often nothing.

But if gate agents for what is sure to be a full flight start measuring bags, or when push comes to shove when there’s no more room in the overhead bins for everyone’s bag, the suitcase that’s an inch or two over the official measurement will likely be the one that gate agents declare needs to be checked.

Often at the passenger’s expense.

Avoid being ‘that person’ by checking your airline’s size restrictions for carry-on bags and measuring yours before you leave home. If your bag just meets the guidelines or, better yet, is a wee bit smaller, jot down your measurements in case you’re challenged.

Tucking a tiny retractable or foldable cloth ruler in your pocket wouldn’t hurt either.

And while you’re at it. Check to see if there are weight restrictions for carry-on bags too.

Have you had a carry-on bag rejected because it was a wee too big? Tell us the story.

(Installation by artist Joel Ross – Room 28)

Thanks for visiting Stuck at the Airport. Subscribe to get daily travel tidbits. And follow me on Twitter at @hbaskas and Instagram.


One thought on “Will your bag fit? Maybe. Maybe not.

  1. Rich McClear says:

    HI Harriet,

    You asked for stories of rejected bags. In Amsterdam, transferring from
    a flight from Nairobi on KLM to Tbilisi on Georgian Airways I got
    nailed. KLM has a weight limit of 12 KG and Georgian 5 KG. They had a
    hand scale at boarding and were weighing every bag. This wasn’t a space
    thing, it was a revenue thing. Almost everyone who was transferring
    from another airline had a bag was heavier than 5 KG. I checked the
    website this morning and find that Georgian now has a carry on weight
    limit of 8 KG.

    On a crowded flight on Star Alliance I came into O’Hare on United from
    Anchorage. United has no weight limit for carry ons Lufthansa has an
    8KG limit. They had a full flight and weighed carry ons. I got
    caught. Actually Lufthansa can be pretty strict depending on the
    airport. I have learned to be very careful when flying Star Alliance.
    Turkish has an 8 KG carry on limit and 4 KG for the “personal item” in

    In Heathrow it was size that got me on a transfer. I was able to
    squeeze my soft sided bag into the measuring holder but the guy said “It
    has to go in easily, you are forceafying it.” I asked for a second
    opinion and that time I was allowed to board.

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