Carry On, My Wayward Whatever

12 Aug

Someone asked me a question about carry on bags the other day.  Strangely enough it was because they wanted to know and not because they like to hear me shoot random facts out my word hole.  So maybe you want to know or maybe you’re killing time waiting for Friday to finally be over so you can get your weekend on.  Either way, let’s boogie.

A carry on bag currently doesn’t have a standard.  And I don’t just mean domestic vs international either.  Carrier to carrier there isn’t a standard about what constitutes a carry on, how big it can be and how much it can weigh.  There are some common attributes so let’s start there before I go into the tailspin I like to call my disclaimer.

This slogan, splashed on posters by the Brits in 1939, makes just as much sense now as it did in 1939. Especially for your luggage.

Most domestic airlines have a requirement of 45 linear inches or less.  To figure out your bag’s linear inches, add the length, height and width.  A really standard way of getting to 45″ is 22″ x 14″ x 9″.  If you’re bag shopping, most manufacturers refer to these standard bags as a 22″ bag.  There are two big caveats with this whole 45″ business.  First off, the manufacturers measuring your bag might not be so good at math.  Most of them measure the inside of your bag.  So they are assuming that the pockets on the outside, the wheels and the frame aren’t included.  That’s just poppycock, people.  It’s not like you bought a bag with those things not to use them but they typically aren’t included when measured by the people selling them.

Another thing to know about the old 45″ rule is that not everyone follows it.  Some go a bit bigger, true.  But most go smaller, especially international carriers.  And if you’re hopping on one of those budget European airlines, sister, you better not have anything approaching 45″ unless you like checking your stuff… and paying more for checking your bag than your ticket cost in the first place.  And for once, I’m not exaggerating.

Always, always, always check with your carrier on the allowable size of carry on.  It is on their website and I remember it use to be on the paper ticket but I haven’t seen one of those in donkey’s years.  Also check with your carrier about allowable weight.  Most airlines aren’t checking this but don’t think for a moment that they aren’t thinking about it.  A serious conversation is being had about weighing passengers with their carry ons to see if any additional charges should be levied.  Fun.  And again, international carriers are much more strict about weight limitations and they will make you check. 

If you have a soft sided piece of luggage then you have a little wiggle room (pun intended, I guess) as far as getting it in the overhead bin.  That only goes so far because if you’ve overpacked the sucker the advantage is gone.  If you’re concerned about a carry on’s weight you can wear some of the extra on board.  Throw your digital camera in your pocket, wear your heaviest clothes and shoes, put your toiletries in your underwear.  As Tim Gunn is known to say, “make it work”. 

I’ll leave you here with two wise sayings from my Momo (mother’s mother in Swedish).  She said when you are traveling not to worry about your hair too much because you’ll never see these people again.  I have, unfortunately, applied this theory to my hair, traveling or not, but it’s still good advice.  The second bit of wisdom is that you should always take what you want but want what you take.  Meaning, if you really need to have a hair dryer the size of your last car then remember that there are drawbacks along with the warm fuzzy feeling of having your own stuff with you.  Just make your decision and be happy with it, basically.  And then come into the kitchen, I’ll make you some leftovers.


One Response to “Carry On, My Wayward Whatever”

  1. LBizzle 2011/08/15 at 10:07 #

    You have no idea how long I’ve been waiting for a British reference. Thanks for satisfying my craving.

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