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Carry on madness


This is not directed at travel to Cuba but since that’s just about the only board that active here, I thought I would mention this to possibly help someone.

I’m planning a trip to Italy in a few weeks and was looking into a carry-on with straps that would be a backback when walking around. Last time I took the one I owned to Cuba, it was rejected at YYZ as being oversize by half an inch. After checking multiple airline sites, it seems that almost every airline has a different max. size for carry-ons. They range from 19" to 22" Transat even has different sizes depending upon whether you travel to Europe or Caribbean!!!

I’m going on Transat on the last of their charter flights to Venice but coming back on 2 different airlines, probably from Crete. It gets complicated to find a carry-on that is small enough to suit all.

While shopping at Sears yesterday, I was measuring carry-ons when the sales lady came up to me and said that I should just use their metal carry-on sizing cage because it was ‘regulation airline size’. Whoops, it was 22", clearly way larger than most airlines allow. Another store told me that carry-ons were based on weight, not size. Really??? I left, not wanting another argument.

Add to that the label on most bags state the size but when you actually measure it, many are 2 inches larger than what is stated!! So much for ordering on-line.

So, now I completely understand when someone complains that they were allowed to use their carry-on for the last flight, but now it is rejected at the gate.

You would think this simple thing could be regulated across all airlines.


I have a carry on bag that is advertised as such, but does not make the size requirements as it has wheels and I discovered it will not fit under the seat…my preferred location for storing carry ons. Consequently, I will not be taking it on vacation again. I managed the one trip because I was going Club Class, otherwise I think it might have been an issue.

I find a “squishable” duffel bag works best for me, but then you don’t have the functionality of a backpack.


No matter where you are travelling to, part of the stress of travel is worry about luggage restrictions! To add to the confusion, air lines don’t use standard sizing but have their own max sizes and weights & quantities for carry ons. You really have to check the carry on and checked luggage requirements for the airline you are travelling on and any that you may transfer to during your trip.
I have taken a tape measure to all our bags and jotted down the exact measurements of each which I keep in our travel wallet with the tickets.
Air Canada and West Jet have the same restrictions and are more generous than the charters.

The following are all based on Economy bookings:
Air Canada: All destinations
Allowance: 1 standard bag + 1 personal item
Standard item: 23x40x55 cm (9”x15.5”x21.5”) wheels & handles included
Max weight: 10 kg (22 lbs)
Personal article: 16x33x43cm (6”x13”x17”) max weight: 10kg (22lbs)
Total max weight in carry ons = 20 kg (44 lbs)

West Jet: All destinations
Allowance: 2 items per person
Item 1: 23x40x55 cm (9”x15.5”x21.5”) wheels & handles included
Max weight: 10 kg (22 lbs)
Item 2: 16x33x43cm (6”x13”x17”) max weight: 10kg (22lbs)
Total max weight in carry ons = 20 kg (44 lbs)

For both of the above, I think the max weight, pp, in carry ons is quite generous.

Charter airlines carry ons are smaller in size
Air Transat
1 bag + camera bag, laptop, purse
Size: 23x40x51cm (9”x16”x20”) wheels & handles included
Max weight: 10kg (22lbs)

1 standard article
Max size: 23x40x51cm (9”x16”x20”) wheels & handles included
Max Weight: 5 kg (11 lbs)

After all is said and done, and my pre flight angst of getting the bags just right, we’ve never had our carry ons measured or weighed or seen anyone else put through this. I’m curious how many have been put to the test…well, other than Dax :wink:


hand up We have been questioned about our carry-on twice, each time by Air Transat. The first time I was standing with my husband, my carry-on bag slung over my shoulder. A guy (perhaps a supervisor) who standing by the ticket taker at the check-in asked to weigh my bag. Gladly obliged, knowing I was under. I was. The second time, the ticket taker (would like to use another word for her, but won’t) questioned the size of our carry-on. I knew it was the right size and I was ready to argue this out. She was not a nice person at all…my husband relented too quickly in my opinion. There was some stuff I had to pull out of the bag. Not a happy camper at either my husband or HER. We walked away, me seething at both of them, my husband caught sight of the carry on ‘test’ rack and said to me “That would of fit in there”. There could of been a murder in the airport that day. lol


Sunwing is ruthless about carry-ons! At least they are in Toronto - they weigh everything and will nail you for even half a kg over.

I have one of those Heys luggage scales, which is extremely accurate. It was well worth the money and since getting it I have not been dinged for any overweight. Since it weighs to the 10th, I can have a 4.9kg carry-on.

As an aside, I ran into a ‘problem’ one year when they tried telling me that my “purse”, which is styled like a really small back pack was not a purse! Hell, it is half the size of many of those so-called purses that people carry. So now I use my beach bag as my “purse”; the funny part is that is is bigger than the bag I originally used. But, I guess it all depends on one’s description/perception of what is a “purse”. :slight_smile: (PS - I don’t own a “real purse”)


;D ;D…great visual picture!

Did your “hands up” happen at Toronto airport since I see you live in the Niagara region?
It would be interesting to see which airports/airlines are the worst offenders.

Our “hands down” occurrences were with Air Transat but through Vancouver.


It amazes me that airlines keep telling us that they are ‘struggling’ in difficult times but I can’t think of any industry that has created more bad sentiment with their customers than airlines. I would sooner encounter a used car dealer than some of the staff that work for airlines. Yes, I’ve had many encounters with good staff but why are there so many ‘nasties’ that work for airlines and why do they have such archaic rules? Just by comparison, I bought 4 new tires this morning and was happy, if not thrilled with the service and price. That’s gotta hurt.

Rant over - I need a holiday away from this :wink:

BTW, planning a 2 week trip to Italy makes going to Cuba a real joy, however it’s on my ‘bucket list’ and Italian wine & food are so much better than the buffet in Cuba (also a bit pricier).

Forgot to mention - in case anyone is interested. Transat is selling their one way fare to Italy/Germany/etc for $84. pp which is $299. incl taxes. It’s the end of their summer package season and the planes going over are mostly empty but full on the return. I wrangled a deal on my United Reward miles to get return tickets before the ‘no expiry date’ Reward Miles expire in 2013. Funny how they can change the rules once you pile up the miles.


Yes it did happen Toronto Pearson airport.

Ever since that last time I measure my carry-on, write the dimension on masking tape and have it stuck on the side of my carry-on.

I always check what is allowed according to the airline we are flying. Dimensions and weight.

Some airlines have gotten wise and there is a size limit to the purse you can take on. Unreal.

When going away for two weeks - to a resort that is secluded - you need to take extra knowing if you forgot something, you can’t get it that easily. Makes it more difficult to pack.


Yes, most give max measurements for purses. I just bought a new LUG purse with the straps for wearing it like a backpack. It fits the size criteria but, after Hollydog’s comments, I’ll make sure it’s hanging off my arm when we check in to avoid any issues. Glad you pointed that out, Hollydog :stuck_out_tongue: Like Bebbie, we go for 2 weeks to an isolated resort so I pack with care. This coming trip involves a connector flight so, call me paranoid but, I plan to pack more clothes in one of the carryons just in case our checked luggage doesn’t end up on the our flight to Varadero :stuck_out_tongue: The extra weight with Air Canada carry on will come in handy.


Along this thread,
Has the rest. for large bags been changedc for checked luggage.
I am aqsking about the goalie hockey bag that we take to Cuba that we carry our boogie boards in. Last year we had no trouble but I was wondering if it had changed from 18 months ago.


I think most hockey duffle bags are over the size limit. In past years, we’ve used a couple and gotten away with it. This Spring I bought new luggage duffle bags to replace them and they confirm to the size limits. I was always worried with the hockey bags that we would get taken to task over them being over sized.
I just found this web site that supplies luggage regs. for many airlines:


Just click on the airline you are interested in and it will give all the baggage information.


This is the one we used on Air Canada this year:
On sale now for $10
Holds as much as the weight limits. We packed beach towels, snorkel stuff and kids clothes, etc and no trouble at all. Folded it up and brought it back in a checked bag.


Yeah, the hockey duffle bags were were using were bigger and wheeled and not all that light, either. That’s why I changed to new duffle bags, still wheeled, but much lighter :slight_smile:


All of our luggage including carry-ons are “duffles” and most are bought at Bentley for a pretty reasonable price. You can put so much more into them without worrying about the weight and even though ours have no wheels, we just throw them into the carts at the airports and so have no problem moving them around.