Guide to Luggage Size
Trying to figure out which luggage is the right size for your needs? Below, we lay out what you need to know about luggage sizing, airline size limits, carry-on vs. checked bags, what fits in an overhead bin or under the seat onboard the plane and more–all to help you determine which suitcase or companion luggage is the best size for you.
Luggage, like shoes, should fit well. You’ll be traveling distances and depending on it to carry what you need wherever you are going. But shopping for new luggage today isn’t as simple as picking a large or small suitcase.
For traveling light, there are compact travel totes, weekenders, and carry on bags. Check-in luggage also comes in a variety of styles and shapes, including suitcases of various sizes with hard shells or softsides –some expandable, some not. Maybe a duffle bag that rolls is better for your needs, or a garment bag… There is so much to consider even before you get to the rainbow of available colors.
The right luggage can save hassle, time and plenty of money. Start by knowing what size you need, then move on to finding what you want.
Frequently asked questions we get from travelers on how to choose the right luggage size:
What is the biggest suitcase size can I carry on?
Which luggage size is right for a weekend or 3-day trip?
What is the size and weight limit for checked baggage?
How many carry on bags can I bring?
How much fits in medium- or large-size checked bags?
Are size limits different internationally or for different airlines?
Is there a baggage fee for certain bags and not for others?
These are all great questions that we will answer along with other important information to help you choose the right luggage size and style for you.
To start, let’s establish what defines suitcase size–and how to measure yours.
Airlines publish size limits for both carry-on and checked baggage, but these size limits can vary depending on the carrier, the route and whether you fly coach, business or first class. If that isn’t complicated enough, some airlines list the measurements for carry on baggage in inches by height, width and depth–for example, “22 x 14 x 9”, while others combine the three measurements to arrive at a single dimension–which in this case is 45 total linear inches.
To measure your bag, place it upright with the wheels (if it has them) on the bottom and the extension handle on top, but don’t extend it. Measure from the bottom of the wheels up to the tallest part, which is likely to be the handle. This is the bag’s height and, with carry-ons, the most critical measurement to look for before you start packing.
Second, measure the width from side to side at the widest point, which is probably the back of the suitcase, if it is softsided. Hard shell bags are generally more symmetrical and the width doesn’t vary from bottom to top.
Last, check your bag’s depth. The depth of your suitcase, like its height, is especially important with carry-on luggage if you are flying, because it will have to fit into the overhead bin of the plane. Note some of our softside bags have a 9.5" depth.
To get the accurate depth of your suitcase, lay it flat on its back and measure from the back to the front without expanding the bag. This measurement can significantly change when your bag is packed, especially if you have a softside bag and are prone to over stuffing your luggage.
Carry-Ons and Personal Items
Carry-on luggage is sized to fit in the overhead bins on an airplane and fits in most car trunks with ease as well. The most common type of carry-on bags are rolling suitcases, but they can also be duffel bags, garment bags and other types of luggage that fit within an airline’s carry-on size restrictions. It is worth noting that softside carry ons stretch and compress better than hard shell suitcases, making them a bit easier to squeeze into overhead compartments, when they push the size limits.
Carry-on bags are ideal for short- to medium-length trips when you don’t need to pack a ton. Check out our handy chart below to see what fits in a carry-on. Purses, totes and small backpacks are considered “personal items,” in airline terms. Personal items that fit under the seat on an airplane don’t count toward your carry-on allowance.
Carry-on Luggage Size Limits
Published dims for most major domestic airlines are 22 x 14 x 9 but most sizer bins have roughly an inch play in all directions. We have models that meet the published dims precisely as well as models that are a little larger for additional capacity while still fitting in the sizer bin and overhead bins of course. Some regional carriers shrink size limits or only allow personal items that fit under the seat. For peace of mind, please check your airline’s website to confirm before your trip. If carrying on, be careful not to overpack your suitcase until it bulges. If you do, it may not fit in the overhead bin and you will have to give it up to flight attendants who will tag it and send it off to be stowed with the rest of the checked luggage. Some international airlines post smaller carry-on size limits than domestic airlines. Always check with your airline for the most current rules.
At Travelpro®, we test our carry-on luggage in the same sizer bins found at airports worldwide, making it easy for you to find a bag that doesn’t exceed carry on size limits. Find detailed information on the dimensions of all our luggage on the individual product pages.
Benefits of Carry-On Luggage
There are plenty of reasons some travelers swear by carry-on luggage as “the only way to go”:
Carrying on can help you avoid baggage fees. With few exceptions, checked baggage fees are commonplace today, while most–but not all–major airlines allow one free carry-on bag that fits in the overhead compartment. Personal items fly free but must fit under the seat in front of you on the airplane. While standard carry-on luggage is too large to fit under the seat, Travelpro® makes underseat luggage that packs plenty while remaining compact. The size limits of personal items vary by airline. Check with your carrier prior to flying.
Saving time is another reason travelers carry on instead of checking luggage. Having your baggage onboard means you won’t have to corral around the baggage carousel waiting to collect your suitcase… or hoping it made it.
Being in constant possession of your bag, reduces the risk of loss or theft. Layovers increase the chances for your bag to get lost or sent to the wrong place, which can unnerve even the most seasoned traveler.
There is generally no weight limit for carry-on bags and the airline will probably not weigh your in-cabin luggage. But you need to be able to lift it to place it in the overhead compartment unassisted.
On the Flip Side
Traveling light can be great, but being restricted to a carry-on is no fun if you can’t bring what you need. Sure, you can wear a pair of jeans a few times, and you probably don’t require four pairs of shoes for a three-day jaunt. Still, packing everything you need in a carry-on for a week or longer trip may not be ideal, unless you plan to do laundry or buy necessities at your destination.
Check in luggage is anything you are taking but not carrying into the cabin with you–from golf clubs to a cardboard box. Sports equipment and instruments that don’t meet carry-on size restrictions all qualify as checked luggage. As such, these items will be placed in the cargo hold and inaccessible to you during flight.
Items that are prohibited from being in the cabin must also be in your checked luggage, including lithium batteries, liquids over 3.4 ounces, weapons and anything that could be used as a weapon, like baseball bats, metal knives, box cutters and even pocket knives.
Checked Baggage Size and Weight Limits
Most domestic airlines publish checked baggage size limits as a single dimension: 62 linear inches total. International airlines vary slightly, but the 62-inch rule is the most common standard worldwide. Bags larger than 62 linear inches can still fly, but they may be subject to additional fees. Usually with large bags, weight when packed is the bigger issue. Calculate the size of your check-in luggage the same way you did your carry-on, and then add the numbers together to arrive at the dimension.
The weight of your checked bag is important. The standard weight limit for checked baggage on domestic airplanes is 50 pounds per bag. Budget carriers Allegiant and Spirit Airlines shrink this allowance to 40 pounds, while international airlines, Norwegian Air and Korean Air give you a whopping 70-pound allowance per checked bag.
Checked Baggage Fees
Checked baggage fees cost passengers over $5 billion last year. Most US-based airlines charge for checked baggage, except Southwest Airlines that allows up to two free checked bags per passenger. Baggage fees average around $30 per bag per segment, depending on the airline. You’ll be charged per direction, regardless of whether you fly nonstop or have a connection.
Baggage Fee Exceptions
Many airlines waive checked bag fees for travelers flying Business or First Class, active duty military personnel and those who have elite status with the airline. Checking baggage that exceeds the standard weight limit adds overweight fees, and if your bag weighs over 100 pounds, it probably won’t fly. Airlines cap their weight allowances, even for overweight baggage.Whether your bags fly free or cost extra, they are still limited to the 62-linear inch size limit.
Choosing the Right Size Checked Bags
You can check in any size luggage, but the most common checked bags are larger than typical 22” x 14” carry-on bags. The most popular size check-in luggage is 25- to 29-inches tall and various widths.
Medium-sized check-in luggage measures 25-26” tall and around 18” wide.* One medium-sized suitcase will generally hold what you need for a week-long getaway. (See our sizing chart for more detail.)
Large check-in luggage is great for longer trips, lots of gear or multiple people. Large suitcases, including trunks and large duffel bags, measure 26” and taller*, giving you loads of packing space. Mind the rules though! Large bags make it easy to exceed weight and size limits.
*For exact measurements on a particular bag, please refer to the individual product description page.
Tips for Buying Check-in Luggage
Durability is important for any size bag, though checked bags take the most abuse in transport. Travelpro® luggage is engineered for resilience and backed by dependability warranties. The larger the bag, the heavier it can be when packed. Look for luggage that rolls easily on strong wheels with sturdy extension handles that can be used to stack and secure smaller luggage on top.
Check out our handy chart below for luggage sizing by contents and length of trip:
|Length of Trip||Typical Contents||Type of Luggage|
1- 2 Days
Week-long trips and longer
*Number of outfits depends on packing style