A global airline association said yesterday that it was scrapping its recommendation to reduce the size of carry-on bags for air travelers after an "intense" response. The International Air Transport Association, a Montreal-headquartered trade group whose members represent nearly 85% of total air traffic, said it's canceling its proposal after "significant concerns" were raised in North America. The group recommended last week that airlines require carry-on bags to be 20% smaller than what major US carriers currently permit, saying that would allow more space so more passengers could fit items in overhead bins. Two US senators criticized the idea, saying it would require passengers to pay more and buy new luggage. A top US airline group that includes the world's three largest air carriers—American, Delta, and United—also formally came out against the proposal.
The current maximum carry-on size, depending on the airline, ranges from a length of 22 to 24 inches, a width of about 14 to 18 inches, and a depth of 9 to 16 inches. The airline group suggested standardizing the permitted carry-on size to 21.5 by 13.5 inches and a depth of 7.5 inches. The IATA insisted that was merely a recommendation, not a requirement, as each airline decides the maximum size of carry-on luggage on its own. Many international airlines already agreed to the proposal, including Air China, Emirates, and Lufthansa. But in a statement Tuesday, Delta Air Lines said, "Delta has no plans to reduce the size allowance for carry-on bags, and we are concerned IATA called for a change without input from airlines." An IATA exec acknowledged the pushback, saying, "This is clearly an issue that is close to the heart of travelers. We need to get it right." (Read more airlines stories.)