FAA Carry on Baggage Restrictions

Statistics have proven that a very small percentage of luggage is damaged during air travel. You can minimize the amount of damage that occurs to your luggage and personal belongings by following some common sense guidelines.

  • Buy the most durable luggage you can afford
  • Learn the restrictions of the airlines you use most frequently.
  • Pack intelligently
  • Know the airline’s policy about damaged luggage
  • Report damage immediately!

The formula used to find the maximum size carry-on bag for most airlines is as follows:

Maximum carry-on size = 45 Linear Inches. Or, Length (in inches) + Width (in inches) + Depth (in inches) = 45 Inches

suitcase size guide

Anything larger than this final overall dimension should be checked. This means you should be aware of your suitcase’s overall dimensions and, if it is an expandable bag, the total extended max size too. The following FAA tips may also be helpful to remember…

  • No oversize packages or luggage can be stowed onboard
  • Pack less to carry-on. Stow only your essentials (such as prescriptions, personal hygiene products, passport and other documentation) and valuable items, such as jewelry and cameras in your carry-on bag
  • Plan to check more of your baggage and carry-on less
  • Check with your airline before packing to determine it’s carry-on guidelines regarding number of items you may carry-on and the max size of those items
  • In certain situations, the airline may require most or even all of your bags to be checked, so be prepared to do so
  • Carry-on items which may fall from overhead bins can injure you or other passengers during flight or in the event of an emergency evacuation
  • Stow heavy items under the seat in front of you, not overhead
  • Don’t stack items in the overhead storage bin
  • If an emergency evacuation is necessary, leave your carry-on items on the plane. Retrieving your personal items may impede the safe evacuation of passengers
  • Remember, be safety conscious when stowing your carry-on items

To reduce the likelihood of damage to your luggage, follow these guidelines sponsored by the Luggage and Leather Goods Manufacturers of America, American Luggage Dealers Association, National Luggage Dealers Association, and International Luggage Repair Association.

  • Only check luggage that is sturdy enough to withstand airline baggage handling systems
  • Never check a bag that doesn’t completely close. If you need a luggage strap or bungee cord to keep the bag closed, it probably won’t survive the trip.
  • Never check a bag that has broken components, such as wheels, handles, zippers, latches and locks
  • Never check a bag that is meant to be carried on. Most briefcases, tote bags, plastic garment covers, and items received through retail promotions are not designed to be checked luggage
  • Don’t overpack. Overpacking puts a strain on zippers, seams, frames and hinges
  • Clearly label your luggage with your name, current address and phone number
  • Check your bag carefully in the luggage claims area before departing the airport
  • Consider replacing old or worn luggage. Luggage that is several years old may not be able to withstand today’s automated baggage handling systems