Travel Tips, Reviews, & Giveaways, TravelTuesday Q&A

#TravelTuesday Q&A: Concerns About Carry On Luggage

Carry On Luggage

Q:  Hi Playground!  I’m taking the kids to Orlando for Memorial Day weekend and I want us each to take a carry-on bag.  I’m concerned both about the cost of checking bags for a family of four and also of waiting for our bags after a late arriving flight in Orlando. We’re flying United, which has a carry on luggage size limit of 22″ x 14″ x 9″, but every bag I’ve looked at online and in person has measured larger than this, despite being labeled as 20″ or 21″ bags. Will these still be okay? Thanks in advance for your thoughts! ~ Jennifer

A: Hi Jennifer! I hear you on not wanting to spend the money (that would be $100 each way for your family!) and deal with the hassles of waiting for the baggage carousel (although Orlando is usually better than Newark, which is the worst!)

I wouldn’t worry about the size of the suitcase if you have bought one that says it meets the airlines requirement for carry on. If you’ve bought a bag that’s labeled, as you have, with the correct measurements, it should fit fine. You’re measuring the suitcase with a ruler, which is giving you a higher number since you may be including external hardware. Gate agents will never actually measure a bag with a ruler the way you are, and although they have the right to try and make you cram it into those weird metal measuring brackets next to the gate, a bag with the measurements you’re giving me will fit fine.

I, would, however, try and use a soft-sided carry-on which would give you a little wiggle room in the overhead since you can smoosh it if you have to (same goes for squeezing it into the measuring device near the gate). Also, don’t forget the TSA’s 3-1-1 liquid rule for your carry on toiletries.

Side note when traveling with kids and carry ons: Remember to think light bags, and light loads. Make sure the kids are capable of pulling their suitcases and at least one of you can lift the bag over your head.

Happy travels!

Have a family travel question? Email Melissa at

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