Travel Planning Tools

Airline Luggage Regulations

RTG Travel Tools: What are the luggage rules?

This answer is a moving target!  Regulations and fees change often and vary significantly. Check the rules of the airline you’re flying EVERY time you fly.  Some airlines now charge even for one carry-on bag (like our last Frontier flight Denver to Miami, so it’s not even just puddle jumpers!) while some allow a carry-on and a personal bag, although of various weight limits. Some charge varying fees for one or two checked bags while others, like IcelandAir and Southwest let you check 2 bags free! Yay!

One important thing to remember is to pack according to the strictest rules when you’re using multiple carriers within one trip.

For example: Does your purse/personal bag weigh more than 5 lbs.?  Mine sure can, especially if I’m carrying the camera, laptop, and an extra lipstick. Our connecting flight to Tahiti had a 5 lb. limit, so even though we could have a carry-on and personal bag on our initial American Airlines flight, we had to pack for Tahiti Air or risk fines. On our flights they didn’t enforce it, but they have the right to.

Current carry-on baggage size regulations, including handles and wheels:

  • Domestic travel within USA:  22″ x 14″ x 9″ totaling no more than 45″.  (56cm x 36cm x 23cm) 115cm
  • International travel:  20″ or 21″ x 14″ x 9″ totaling no more than 43″.

[singlepic id=1189 w=400 h=400 float=none]Even these guidelines changed for some airlines in 2014 and caught travelers by surprise! Some adhere to the 14″ width regardless of whether a shorter, wider bag falls within 45″.

Sheila said: I needed a new carry-on designed for easy access to a laptop and small enough for international travel. After FAR too much research I found the Victorinox Avolve 20″ Spinner.  I’ll review it here soon. So far I’m really liking the quality and access.  eBags has a very useful search tool that let me hone the criteria, narrow the selection and see multiple views of each bag.

Victorinox Avolve 2.0 20″ Spinner Grey – Victorinox Small Rolling Luggage

Victorinox Avolve 2.0 20

Carry-on liquids

You know the carry-on liquids  rules, but it’s easy to forget, especially when you’re repacking to return home. Remember that bottle of sunscreen you tossed in your purse on your last day at the beach?


Airlines make more than 3 Billion dollars each year! Some of that is fair; just don’t get surprised by over-sized, overweight or unexpected fees. Not a fun way to begin your trip.

On an awesome note! We registered for TSA PreCheck earlier this year and that has been fabulous!  Before we registered I was randomly selected on two flights in a row and realized what a difference it makes getting through security: not having to take your shoes off, remove liquids, unpack electronics, etc. So, the next time I didn’t get randomly selected I was hooked. It’s not a guaranteed shortcut; it’s not honored by every airline or every airport, plus TSA always has the right to run us through the normal lines, but when it works it’s AWESOME! Applying for the Global (GOES) version for customes before going to Thailand. Crossing fingers. Update: We’re Global approved!

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