Once you have made it past the TSA security checkpoints you might be breathing a sigh of relief. It’s one more hurdle out of the way before boarding your flight. A few minutes before your flight is to begin boarding you decide to make a quick dash to the restroom. And, if the line isn’t too long, you might purchase a bottle of water. By the time you return to your gate, the last section is boarding. No worries. You scoot into line and just as you show your boarding pass the gate attendant sees your bulging carry-on and says, -sorry, we’ll need to check your bag. Wait. What?
Recently, airlines have been asking/requiring more people to check their carry-on bags. While some won’t charge, others will- just as you are about to board the plane. You may have the correct size for a carry-on but if the airline says they are too full and they don’t have room for your bag, there isn’t much you can do.
Does your luggage meet your airline’s size requirement for carry-ons? In addition to specific measurements, it must be able to fit in an overhead bin and not exceed a weight limit. And don’t count on being able to fit very much under the seat in front of you. Also, is a personal item allowed in addition to the carry-on? A final tip here- don’t trust a third-party website or app to have the correct details. Only the airline will have the most current information available if policies change.
Some airlines board by zones. Even if this is the case, try to be towards the start of that zone. Gate attendants can (and will) pull out bags and possibly check them to see if they meet the size requirements.
As previously mentioned, zones are just one-way airlines board passengers. Some board by rows- after those who need assistance and those with priority seating. If you are unsure or didn’t have time to research, ask the attendant. They will be happy to tell you what to expect. You can also find out if the boarding time has changed, and how full the flight is. If the flight is overbooked there is a very good chance bags will need to be checked. Remember, you may have a different airline for a connecting flight so be sure to research each one.
Some airlines will require you to check the bag at your expense. This could mean paying $50 or more for a carry-on. Many will waive the fee but you will still be required to go to baggage pickup. Some smaller airlines will have your bag waiting for you when you land at no charge. Again, know your airline’s process and you won’t be surprised by any changes.
There are some perks to being a member of different airline programs. Research the ones you fly with to find out membership benefits.
For standard coach customers visit carry-on luggage size limit. See their exceptions to baggage charges at exceptions and waivers for our baggage policies.
For standard coach customers visit carry-On baggage. See SkyMiles American Express Cardholders, Medallion status, or active military links for information for those customers.
For Basic Economy passengers and membership status exceptions visit carry-on baggage.