Airline carry-on luggage to get smaller

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) wants to regulate the size of carry-on luggage, in a bid to accommodate all passengers’ bags.

IATA represents 260 airlines, comprising 83% of global air traffic and counts Comair, SAA, SA Airlink, and South African Express Airways as members.

The industry body said it is working with airline members and aircraft manufacturers on an optimum size guideline for carry-on bags which will make the best use of cabin storage space.

“A size of 55 x 35 x 20 cm (or 21.5 x 13.5 x 7.5 inches) means that theoretically everyone should have a chance to store their carry-on bags on board aircraft of 120 seats or larger,” said IATA.

It was only in January that the Airports Company South Africa implemented new hand luggage restrictions.

Locally, SAA policies allow one piece of carry-on luggage not exceeding:

  • Maximum weight – 7kg
  • Maximum size  – 56 x 36 x 23 cm

Kulula.com has the same specs.

This means the new regulations would see local carry-on bags being shrunk.

The body has also created an “IATA Cabin OK” logo to signify to airline staff that a bag meets the agreed size guidelines.

“A number of major international airlines have signaled their interest to join the initiative and will soon be introducing the guidelines into their operations”

“The development of an agreed optimal cabin bag size will bring common sense and order to the problem of differing sizes for carry-on bags. We know the current situation can be frustrating for passengers. This work will help to iron out inconsistencies and lead to an improved passenger experience,” said IATA’s Tom Windmuller.

The new regulations would also mean that luggage manufacturers would need to amend the size of carry-on luggage.

“Several major baggage manufacturers have developed products in line with the optimum size guidelines, and it is expected bags carrying the identifying label will start to reach retail shops later this year,” said IATA.

Recognition of the IATA Cabin OK logo is expected to grow with time as more airlines opt-in to this IATA initiative, it said.

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Airline carry-on luggage to get smaller