How Badly Will New Hand Luggage Guidelines Mess Up Aussie Travellers?

How Badly Will New Hand Luggage Guidelines Mess Up Aussie Travellers?
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There are new hand luggage guidelines incoming, and that usually means trouble for regular travellers. Here’s what you need to know.

Image from javmorcas

The International Air Transport Association is suggesting a guideline for cabin baggage that would limit sizes for cabin baggage to no greater than 55 by 35 by 20 cm. The idea is that by limiting what you carry on to a set size, travellers will be more easily be able to stow their baggage near them, rather than the mad scrambles that all too often seem to occur when people bring bags of unusual size aboard planes.

So how do the IATA guidelines match up against existing Australian airline rules? The good news if you’ve just bought new luggage and figure it might be disallowed is that Australian guidelines are actually just a touch smaller than the IATA’s combined 110cm sizing, with a typical size of 105cm. As such, if you’re a regular traveller with a bag that no airline staff have complained about, you’re probably already OK.

We’ve noted recently, however, that Australian airlines are starting to get tougher on cabin baggage dimensions and especially weight measures across the board, so it’s always feasible that the IATA push might be another impetus for a further round of downsizing. As always, though, it seems that the rules can be rather arbitrary depending on your flight, your bags and the mood of both check-in and cabin staff.

What happens if you’re travelling on an airline outside Australia? That will depend on whether or not they’re actually following the IATA guidelines, which are ultimately only guidelines, not laws that the airlines will be forced to follow.

The guidelines call for a “Cabin OK’ badge that will quickly indicate to cabin staff that you’re meeting the specifications, but you can’t buy the badge separately if you’ve got luggage that already happens to be compliant. Like any other guideline, it will largely depend on whether or not both airlines and luggage manufacturers actually get on board with the idea.



  • Finally.
    Travelling back from the US last year, I had to take a flight from Chicago to Dallas. You should see the size of bags people take on as cabin luggage. Seriously taking the piss. Because of the stupid way they board people on US Airways, I was one of the last, and of course there was no overhead locker space. My cabin bag is a pilot’s case, so its small, but not quite small enough to go under my seat and have room for my feet.
    The flight attendant was all “Oh, you’ll have to check that bag through to your final destination.”
    “I’m going to Melbourne”
    “Oh yes that’s ok though we can do that”
    “Not with all my valuables, you’re not”
    “Oh ok, uh, we can put it in the crew cupboard”

  • So as I understand this, because of the FEW that do the wrong thing, the MANY have to shrink the size of their luggage.

  • These numbers don’t add up. “no greater than 55 by 35 by 20 cm” “Australian guidelines.. a touch smaller than the IATA’s combined 110cm sizing, with a typical size of 105cm” Are you saying that because the Australian guidelines are smaller than two IATA bags put together you’ll be fine? Because it looks to me like Australina guidelines are almost twice the size, so you’re screwed if they’re adopted.

    • 55+35+20 = 110cm. He’s talking overall dimension rather than just adding the two largest sides.

    • Old: Combined dimensions; length + width + height adding up to no more than 105cm.
      New: 55 by 35 by 20 cm
      The new rule is more total cm but has less flexibility in sizes.

  • It’s a pity that the Pelican 1510 case (a staple of touring technicians sold as robust carry on) is now too big by a few centimeters.
    Since they can cost $450+ when fitted out there’s going to be some pissed off techs on the road.

  • And lot’s of really pissed off photographers and videographers. How the hell do we take cameras interstate or OS?
    Check them? Yeah right and either never see them again or see them in pieces.

  • Don’t forget it includes the wheels! Spinner bags give you less packing space than the old draggers.

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