In June, USA Today writer Christopher Elliot wrote about a shrinking problem for frequent flyers: the possibility that major airlines will reduce the maximum size for luggage brought onboard. Here’s the latest, and what smart travelers can do about it.
The aviation trade group called the International Air Transport Association (IATA) attempted to reduce the maximum size for carry-on luggage brought onboard to 21.5 x 13.5 x 7.5 inches, significantly smaller than what’s now allowed on most planes. Called the IATA “Cabin OK” rule, the IATA claimed it would give all flyers an equal chance to store their carry-on bags on a large passenger jet.
But on June 17, after some airlines protested, the IATA said it would “pause” the rollout of its smaller carry-on requirement, but those in the industry who oppose it say the issue is quiet, but not dead.
Pack less, pack smarter
It’s probably only a matter of time before smaller carry-ons become standard regulation, but there are things frequent flyers can do to stave off the stress.
The primary rule for carry-ons is to pack less, and pack smarter to create more space. Roll clothes instead of folding and use nylon straps to cinch down bulging bags. If you’re serious about squeezing more into less space, consider a luggage cube or a compression bag. Using these bags can compress a week’s worth of clothing into a duffle bag.
It isn’t just how you pack, it’s also what you pack. If possible, stay away from heavy fabrics like denim or linen. Instead, pack clothes that are made from light weight fabrics, like silks, light cotton and polyester. If you must bring a bulky suit or favorite pair of jeans, wear them on the plane as your traveling attire.
How to reduce luggage space
Here are more suggestions on how to get the most stuff into a limited space.
Genius Pack’s 22″ Carry On ($218) fits in most overhead bins on domestic flights. It uses “laundry compression technology” which includes a secluded laundry pouch, integrated hanging clothes feature, and even a packing list, to get more into less room.
Measuring just 17.5 x 13.5 x 7 inches, Pathfinder’s checkpoint-friendly wheeled briefcase (around $200 on Amazon) is big enough for a change of clothes, toiletries and laptop computer, but small enough to fit under your seat or in the overhead compartment of any airline that has adopted the IATA standard.
For just $35, Eagle Creek’s Pack-It Cubes can be used to squeeze shirts, dresses and undergarments into a small space. They zip down to half their original size when not being used and are reusable and washable. There’s also a mesh top so it’s breathable and you can see inside.