Airlines could shrink carry-on bag size up to 40 percent


(CNNMoney) — It could be time to trade in your suitcase for a slimmer model.

The International Air Transport Association wants airlines to limit cabin bags to 21.5 x 13.5 x 7.5 inches to create more space for passengers to store luggage.

Airlines set their own carry-on limits but the recommendation, if adopted, would trim bag sizes at most major carriers.

No North American carriers have yet accepted the IATA guidance but Emirates, Lufthansa and seven others have.

Southwest Airlines and American Airlines said they don’t have any plans to change carry-on guidelines. Southwest passengers would be among the hardest hit if IATA’s recommendation becomes standard across the industry. They would lose about 40% in bag space.

People flying on Hawaiian, American or Delta Air Lines would need bags roughly 20% smaller.

IATA, which represents carriers that make up around 80% of air traffic, is working with manufacturers to produce suitcases that fit its specifications.

“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 Tom Windmuller, IATA’s Senior Vice President for Airport, Passenger, Cargo and Security.

Those cases will display a “Cabin OK” logo.

Flying with one of the carriers who has signed up doesn’t mean you have to downsize, but a sleeker case will boost your chances of getting overhead locker space on a full flight.

The airlines will prioritize bags that fit the size recommendations over bigger cases.

It may be good news for luggage makers but air travelers won’t be pleased.

They’re already being hit by a growing array of fees, including charges to check bags.

And busy executives won’t want to risk boarding with their luggage only to have it relegated to the hold.

The guidelines come as the airline industry predicts record profits this year, thanks to cheap oil and more efficient use of planes.

IATA raised its 2015 forecast for net profit to $29.3 billion — a jump of nearly 80% on last year. Costs may have fallen but few of those savings are being passed on to passengers.

Here’s a list of the airlines that have so far said they will recognize the “Cabin OK” logo:

  1. Emirates
  2. Lufthansa
  3. Avianca
  4. Qatar Airways
  5. Cathay Pacific
  6. China Eastern
  7. China Southern
  8. Caribbean Airlines
  9. Azul

— Kathryn Vasel contributed to this report

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