If an influential airline trade association gets their way, flying coach could soon become an even more miserable experience. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) wants to shrink the size of carry-on bags by 21%, which would require hundreds of millions of travelers worldwide to purchase new luggage, slow down boarding time on airplanes, and make paying luggage fees almost mandatory for anything longer than a day trip. According to the trade association, shrinking the bags “will make the best use of cabin storage space.”
Air China, Avianca, Azul, Cathay Pacific, China Southern, Emirates, Lufthansa, and Qatar airlines have all signed on to the new voluntary carry-on guidelines, which would only allow luggage that is 21.5 inches tall, 13.5 inches wide, and 7.5 inches deep to be bought on board. Currently, most major airlines permit luggage that is 22 inches tall, 14 inches wide, and 9 inches deep. The changes sound small, but in reality they comprise a considerable cut in carry-on size.
In a statement, IATA senior vice president for airport, passenger, cargo, and security Tom Windmuller said that “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.”
This is just the latest indignity airplane travelers have had to put up with in recent years. According to The Wall Street Journal’s Jon Ostrower and Daniel Michaels, major airlines and airplane manufacturers are aggressively shrinking economy-fare seats in order to fit more passengers to increase revenue, and the days of free food on domestic flights ended long ago.
Although the IATA’s new guidelines are voluntary, the trade association says several major luggage manufacturers are developing new, smaller carry-on bags that adhere to the guidelines, and bags will be stamped with an “IATA Cabin OK” logo.