More Airline Carry-On Insanity

Yesterday a United Airlines passenger got into a heated argument with United employees over the size of her carry-on. Here is the story and video.

Why this is newsworthy is that the bag fit in United’s own sizer at the gate and United employees wanted to force her to check it, until a more level-headed United employee intervened and let her carry it on. This is yet another story about United treating a passenger like crap, but it is much more than that.

Most travelers assume (wrongly) that there is one size rule for all airline carry-ons. The reality is that each airline sets their own rules. For example, the most common carry-on size rule among U.S. airlines is 22x14x9 inches plus a small bag like  a purse or backpack, but some airlines allow larger bags and some smaller. There is a very handy link on our website showing the rules for all airlines, it’s at

Airlines outside of the USA are often much more strict and some only allow very small carry-ons, which is why you should always check with your airline before you fly.  One particularly annoying example is Air Canada which limits the bag height to 21.5 inches and often rejects bags that are 22 inches tall. Think about this for a second. The most common carry-on size rule in largest air travel market in the world (USA) is 22″ tall but the largest airline in our northern neighbor country thinks it’s OK to ban carry-ons that are 1/2 inch above their arbitrary and dumb size rule. WAKE UP AIR CANADA AND CHANGE YOUR STUPID RULE!

But that’s only part of the story. As the United video highlights, any employee at any airline can deny anything from being brought on the plane. They don’t even need a reason, maybe they don’t like your face or they are having a bad day. So always be nice to the airline employees at the gate or they can make your trip miserable. In fact, try to be nice to everyone when you fly, because there is more than enough stress to go around without you adding more. You’ll enjoy your trip a lot more, as will everyone around you.