The Big Bag Theory

I spent a bit of time this month writing about IATA’s proposed ‘Cabin OK’ program: introducing it, clearing up misconceptions, and, finally, reporting on its demise, er, “pause.” This is one of two posts today, which review the Cabin OK aftermath. I promise to let the matter drop after that.

In truth, IATA proposing that we carry a bit less with us when we travel, especially in the main cabin, was not a terrible idea. Obviously, any further baggage restrictions were bound to get people upset–but it wasn’t mandatory. In practical terms, we shouldn’t travel with too much baggage and we probably do.

My own standard carry-on (for trips of 2-3 days duration, or for the ‘extras’ I want onboard the cabin when I take longer trips and check a larger bag) is 47 x 38 x 19 cm (approx. 18″ x 15″ x 7.5″). Those measurements include wheels, and a handy utility pocket on the side which makes the bag a little wider but lets me organise all my power outlets and such.

Even with toiletries, my work equipment, and a spare pair of shoes, I usually have space for the little extra I might buy on my trip. More often than I’d like to admit, I find that I’ve packed things I never get around to wearing.

I also travel with a small handbag that holds my valuables and comforts I want to hand in-flight, but I could fit all of them–including the handbag–inside the carry-on bag.

For me, this size carry-on is ideal. I often have to connect on small regional jets or turbo-props and those bins are tiny. Sometimes, I have to tuck my bag under the seat and it’s nicer to have one that fits no matter how small the seat well.

I also won’t travel in the cabin with any bag onboard that I can’t lift onto the overhead bin myself. You’ll sometimes find chivalrous companions, but you can’t expect that will happen, and I don’t. Because I’m a bit short, and not as able to lift heavy objects over my head as I once was, this bag is just right for me.

Sometimes, on my return flight, I’ll buy treats at the terminal to bring home. Those always add bulk to my carry-on luggage. I keep a folding tote in my case to stuff my shopping and my handbag, so I don’t exceed a two personal items limit. I’m ready to have one of those bags checked at the gate when asked.

IATA’s proposed Cabin OK “optimum” dimensions: 55 x 35 x 20 cm or 21.5” x 13.5” x 7.5″ inches weren’t alarming to me personally. I viewed the whole ‘Cabin OK’ thing as an opportunity for IATA, and partner Okoban, to earn revenue by merchandising the ‘Cabin OK’ label–no more.

Perhaps, this is a very European way to travel, which could be why the Geneva-based IATA team didn’t imagine there would be such a backlash to the suggested Cabin OK dimensions. When you travel through any EU airport, you’ll find plenty of people taking bags onboard which are the size of mine, or even smaller. Even more people carry bags quite similar to IATA’s proposed “optimum.” Some of these people have checked luggage too, but not all.

Whatever the case, the problem is now solved. I’m not passing judgment on other passengers’ baggage choices. Each person knows best what they want to carry when they fly, and should be able to use whatever bag they like, if it fits the maximum dimensions stated by the airline.

But I would like to point out that IATA’s response to the ‘Cabin OK’ uproar proves that, when passengers and media get worked-up enough about something, airlines will listen.

Let’s make the most of that in future–and that’s the subject of my second ‘Cabin OK’ post today.

If you’re really fascinated by baggage, you can read more here:

3 thoughts on “The Big Bag Theory

Leave a Reply