• IATA: The answer is making carry-on bags smaller

    SuperJet International photo

    Sure, this overhead bin looks nice and empty right now, but no passengers had been in this plane yet when this was taken. (SuperJet International photo)

    Shortly after we posted that Delta Airlines will test a service where it puts travelers’ carry-on bags on the airplane for them, the International Air Transport Association added its own contribution to the discussion about how to turn planes around more quickly.

    On Tuesday, IATA announced it was putting forth a new standard size for carry-on bags, and unsurprisingly, it’s smaller than what most North American carriers currently are willing to accept.

    (Editor’s note: On June 17, the IATA reversed its position after opposition from U.S.-based airlines and others.)

    The recommended size is 21.5 inches tall (or long), by 13.5 inches wide, by 7.5 inches deep, or 55 x 35 x 20 cm.

    That’s slightly smaller than the standard size for Delta, American and Virgin Atlantic (22 x 14 x 9), significantly narrower than the dimensions allowed by British Airways (22 x 18 x 10) and smaller than Southwest Airlines (24 x 16 x 10) in all three dimensions.

    packing tipsWith smaller space, you’ll need these tips: How to maximize space in your carry-on luggage.

    “This is a program that is designed to make things easier for everybody, first and foremost, for the passenger,” said Tom Windmuller, an IATA executive. “The passenger will know that if he or she buys this bag, they’ll be able to take it on board a growing number of airlines. They don’t need to be concerned about the size of the bag and whether your airline next week or next month will accept it.”

    As with yesterday’s story, let’s not dwell on the reason why more travelers are carrying roller bags onto the airplane.

    While no North American-based airlines have signed on to accept these new carry-on bag dimensions, Air China, Avianca, Azul, Cathay Pacific, China Southern, Emirates, Lufthansa and Qatar have all done so. Windmuller said, “we’re confident that over the next several months we’ll get a number of major airlines coming on board.”

    IATA says major baggage manufacturers have signed on to create new products in line with these new sizes, and such bags would bear a logo saying it is “Cabin OK” from IATA. Of course, that doesn’t mean it will fit on a regional jet (or anything smaller than 120 seats), or that every bag will automatically be able to fit in every cabin, but it could be one more piece of the puzzle to making the boarding process go more smoothly.

    It’s just that Delta’s Early Valet service is free. Buying a new bag is decidedly not so.