This Carry On Bag Fit In The Sizer – But The Sizer Wouldn’t Give It Back

Luggage sizers are the bane of many flyers’ existence. We bring a carry on bag to the gate, and the agent there says it’s too big. But we’ve carried it on the last 20 flights we’ve taken without an issue, we protest! Put it in the sizer, they say.

One passenger did just that. His bag fit in the sizer. He just couldn’t get it out. Technically then it must be ok to bring on board, right? But he can’t – unless he can reclaim it from the evil bag sizer.

Something to consider when choosing a carry on bag is that luggage sizes are usually listed by the dimensions of the packing area, excluding handles and wheels. Airline rules list dimensions inclusive of handles and wheels. So a 22-inch bag may be bigger than 22 inches, and may not fit in a 22-inch airline baggage sizer.

At least US airlines don’t weigh carry-on bags. Many non-US airlines weigh your bag, and the weight limits are (to a US perspective) absurdly low. Sometimes you can avoid the weight check simply by check-in online or at a kiosk and hope no one is policing the gate. My laptop bag is usually so stuffed it wouldn’t qualify for a 7 kilogram (15.4 pound) limit!

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. The overhead bins do have a weight limit however …. this is why bags are weighed in non US countries . Have you ever stopped to think how much weight is above your head the bins and I guarantee you that in the US the weight limit is far exceeded with the amount of carry in you take onboard with you ‍♂️

  2. This happened to me at the SRQ airport in the DL sizer. There was a very small “lip” on the top edge of the sizer, which caught on my carry-on bag when I tried to pull it back out from the sizer. So I sat on bag (while in the sizer) shifted my weight back, dragging/pulling the carry-on with my butt, which allowed the bag to compress enough to pop back up out of the sizer. My bag was not overstuffed–it was more a design conflict with the sizer and the exterior zippers on the carry-on.

  3. I had a similar issue in the airport in Reykjavik, Iceland. I had used this particular carry on many times, but was told it would not fit. I put it in and sat on it to make it fit. I have discovered that not all sizers are the same size, and some are open on the sides and some are closed on all 4 sides.

  4. @CJ I guarantee the limits of those overhead bins are much higher than could ever be an issue from carry-on luggage. They are rated for dynamic loads and have factors of safety included in them (as is the case for everything in aviation engineering). The 7kg limits that many foreign carriers employ are nothing short of money grabs.

  5. My carry ons were just weighed for the first time as I flew Qatar (Qsuites–YAY!). However, what was puzzling to me was this: As a certified (certiable!) Diet Coke addict, I had already discovered QR serves Pepsi products and I was about to be in transit for basically the next 24 hours with their gourmet dine-on-demand menu, so I hightailed it to a vending machine after security and bought a LOT of heavy Diet Cokes (yeah, yeah, I have a problem, I know–but I was also going to a country that didn’t have anything besides Coke Zero, which is not the same). So within 20 minutes after weighing my bags, the weight had changed by several pounds. I’m sure it’s just a guideline for them, but it definitely defeated the purpose in my case as I lugged pounds of Diet Coke to the Middle East.

  6. “Many non-US airlines weigh your bag, and the weight limits are (to a US perspective) absurdly low. ”

    My first experience with weighed carry ons was a JAL flight to Tokyo. The agent asked me to put my carryon on the belt and then very, very politely told me that my bag “exceeds the weight limit” so I would have to check it. I took the bag back, took out my laptop, headphones and pajamas for the flight, then put it back on the belt to check it, but the agent says “A good news: now your bag does not exceed the limit.” So I walked away with the bag and an armful of stuff. Out of respect, I waited until I had turned the corner before putting it all back into the bag.

  7. And then there’s the clothing that is designed to be stuffed with stuff. None of the US or foreign airlines I have flown – Europe, Asia, Oceana, or Africa – have ever weighed my various ScottEvest jackets, vests, coats etc., or I would really have been busted! In fact, I use that apparel as much for having stuff accessible on hikes and bike rides or when sitting in bulkhead seats, or to eliminate need for purse or fanny pack anywhere, as to evade weight limits, but that’s a nice by-product.

  8. The traveling public needs to read Rick Steve’s books and watch his TV shows and learn how to pack.

    Why does everyone have to bring everything with them (including the kitchen sink) ?

    I just don’t get people lugging all their “stuff” with them.

  9. JH: because some of us don’t just travel for a couple weeks. When my husband and I travel to Europe we don’t do so simply as tourists. We move to Europe for 5 weeks or so at a time. We mostly stay in rentals with cooking facilities (ever tried to use the knives provided in these kitchens to actually cut something)? While I would not choose to bring my kitchen sink I would, if possible bring a good frying pan. So far, not so possible. But hope springs eternal.

  10. PS, JH: I do read Rick Steves’ books I find them very informative and helpful. Also, if one is over a “certain age” one might need certain paraphernalia.

  11. Kay: Or under a certain age. At least airlines seem to be quite generous with baby items.
    Both passengers and airlines are trying to walk a tightrope. You don’t want to juggle too much stuff, but you want access to your stuff on the plane, and you don’t want to pay big baggage fees. Airlines want to extract money from checked bags, but incentivizing people to carry it all on slows boarding. To me, it’s a vote in favor of the a la carte model many discount carriers use: if a checked bag is $20 or a carry-on is $20, people have the freedom to choose what’s best for them and the airline still gets their money.

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