Tag Archives: carry on

International Carry-On Size Restrictions


Our existing IT roll aboard which is 22 inches high including wheels and handles. Our new handbag and laptop bag which meet the Lufthansa size requirements, including being only 4 inches deep.

We encountered a new wrinkle in carry-on regulations on our last trip to Morocco on Lufthansa Airlines.  As we walked down the jet way in Casablanca, the line stopped.  There were several people with baby strollers and wheel chairs ahead of us, so I just figured we were backed up while these items were gate checked.

When we finally got to the choke point, there were two Lufthansa employees surrounded by a sea of carry-on bags all with checked baggage tags on them.  I walked past with my small roll aboard and overstuffed Rick Steve’s Day bag backpack, but my husband was stopped.  He had our second roll aboard and his Rick Steve’s Day bag.  All of our tickets had the words “One carry-on bag” printed on them.

They told my husband that he had to check his roll aboard bag, and pointed at me and my carry-on and backpack.  My husband said fine, “You can gate check this”, but these were not being gate checked, they were being checked through to the baggage claim.  I reminded him that if he was going to check his roll aboard he needed to remove his laptop.

At this point one of the agents let us go ahead, although the second agent appeared annoyed with this decision.  I was completely confused.  Don’t we get “one carry-on AND one personal item.”  I knew that Lufthansa limits the weight of carry-on luggage, so we had ensured that our roll aboard bags were within the size and weight limits (8 kg (17.6 lbs)).

When I got home I looked up Lufthansa’s website and their carry-on restrictions.  Indeed our roll aboards were within the size and weight limits.  I believe the problem was with our “one personal item”.  According to Lufthansa’s web site:  “Also allowed in the cabin: another item of carry-on baggage (max. 30 x 40 x 10 cm, e.g. handbag, laptop bag), one baby carrier per child or a child’s car seat or a foldable pushchair/buggy (may have to be transported in the cargo hold) and wheelchairs/orthopaedic aids (e.g. walking aids).”  I believe that our Rick Steve’s backpacks exceeded the size limits of 11.8 in x 15.7 in x 3.9 in.  Both of our Rick Steve’s bags fit fine under the seat in front of us in Economy, even though the space was limited by the newly installed electric outlet boxes under the seats.

I had also thought that when you fly internationally the flight with the longest distance takes precedence on luggage limits.  This would have put us under United’s limits.  Turns out that the longest flight only applies to checked baggage, not carry-on.

We will be flying on Lufthansa again in 2016, this time in Business class which Lufthansa allows you two pieces of larger carry-on luggage, plus the small item.  To be on the safe side I have bought myself a new handbag and my husband a new laptop bag that both meet the “Also allowed in cabin” size restrictions.

I think this all has to do with a new fare structure implemented by Lufthansa for flights after October 1, 2015, but I am only guessing at this point.  This new fare structure allows a lower fare for people with little or no baggage. http://www.lufthansa.com/online/portal/lh/us/informationservice/flightinfo?nodeid=1723952809&l=en


Random Thoughts on Carry-Ons

OK I admit I am a total failure at travelling with just a carry-on. I can do it for a weekend, but not for an extended trip. That said I do ALWAYS have a carry-on in tow.

Do You Need a Carry-On in Addition to your Checked Bags?

I recently had a friend tell me that he had been advised that airlines no longer lose luggage, so there was no need for a carry-on in addition to your checked luggage. While airlines may not lose your luggage, it often gets misdirected or way laid.

On our recent trip to Croatia, six people in our group were missing checked luggage when we headed out on our bus. The bags had not made connections en route and took from two to four days to catch up with our moving target.

We just yesterday returned from a trip to Washington, DC. Our flight home to California had one stop in Denver. Our bags were checked through to California. Our flight was delayed in DC by weather and by the time we landed in Denver our ongoing flight had already departed. We were rebooked for a flight the next day. Since our bags were checked through, we could not retrieve them. We spent the night in Denver at a hotel with our carry-on luggage.

So my response to the need for carry-on luggage is a resounding YES. I always pack a change of underwear for two days, pajamas, a lightweight down jacket or sweater, my computer, camera, medications and charging wires for my electronics in my carry on.

How Much Does Your Carry-On Weigh?

I have a luggage scale and I always weight my checked bags before we leave for the airport. I take it with me so I can weight my bags on the return trip also. It never occurred to me to weight my carry-on. This proved to be a problem our 3.5 month trip to Australia and New Zealand. Both Air New Zealand and Qantas have a STRICT carry-on limit of 7 kg/15 pounds. They weighed our carry-on bags and forced us to check them if they were overweight. In some cases there was a gate agent prior to security with a scale, in another instance the bags were weighed as we boarded the aircraft. I found that once I put my computer in my carry-on bag it was overweight. Fortunately, I also travel with a Rick Steve’s Day Pack. I began putting my laptop in my day bag until we had boarded the plane and then shifted it back to my carry-on.

So next time you travel, check your airlines baggage restrictions for dimensions AND weight limits for carry-on luggage.