Cabin Bag Too Big Penalty part 1

Oversize in the USA

Paying the price when your cabin bag is oversize

By Chris Beasley  23rd May 2019

 Cabinbaggers website is all about making people aware of the restrictions airlines place on what size and weight for carry-on bags brought onto their aircraft. This article, the first of several, investigates the possible penalties that airlines may  impose, if you exceed the allowed limits.

Top billing and one that makes readers chuckle and something that only a handful of people will ever get to pay. The cost of a full seat ticket penalty. This belongs  to Onur Air and the reason why is for when you are carrying gold.

The Turkish airline policy reads “Any passengers carrying gold may carry the same as hand baggage if the gold carried by them is within the limits of the cabin baggage (8 kg and 25x45x56cm); and in the event that the amount of gold exceeds 8 kg, then the relevant passenger should purchase a second seat (extra seat) for the gold.”

Flying in the USA

It amazes me that just about all American airlines place no restriction to the amount of weight that makes up your cabin bag limits. You would think in the age where eking out as much profit is the mantra, that the direct consequence of saving on fuel – which weight does, is something they would be keen on.

For my first article on what happens when exceeding hand luggage limits, I am concentrating on the leading airlines form the USA.

However, when it comes to the levies for exceeding dimensions perhaps the Airlines have hefty penalties for oversized cabin bags. Therefore, I have had a close look at the carry-on baggage rules at the airline’s listed by Cabinbaggers.

American Airlines Carry-on

American Airlines

The airline gives no indication of any penalty or charge into going over limit. They do say the bag may have to be checked in.  Okay so what will you pay for a checked in bag. Well the Charges on Domestic Flights only are for Bag 1 $30, Bag 2 $40, Bag 3 $150 and with Bag 4+ $200. As you can see if you have already got 2  bags booked in and your cabin bag has then got be checked in also, this would mean having to stump up am extra 150 bucks.

Please note different terms apply for special tickets and overseas destination. There are so many different rules around Checked in luggage which American Airlines perhaps could make improvements on their clarity.

American Airlines official wording as on their webpage for carry-on bags reads

  • Shouldn’t exceed 22 x 14 x 9 inches / 56 x 36 x 23 centimeters (including handles and wheels)
  • Must fit in the sizer at the airport

If your items don’t fit in the overhead bin or under the seat, they may need to be checked. There may be additional carry-on bag restrictions at certain airports or on certain airplanes

Delta Carry-on

Delta Airlines

Delta similarly indicate that if your bag is oversize there may be checked baggage fees 

The fees would be $30 each way for the first bag and $40 each way for the second bag. Delta webpage rules for this are as follows.

Shouldn’t exceed 22 x 14 x 9 inches / 56 x 36 x 23 centimeters (including handles and wheels)

  • Must fit in the sizer at the airport

If your items don’t fit in the overhead bin or under the seat, they may need to be checked. There may be additional carry-on bag restrictions at certain airports or on certain airplanes

Southwest Airlines Carry-on

Southwest Airlines

This airline have a very polite message regarding their and do not really give and indication that a charge will be levied. Simply just it the cabin bag will be checked in if it is too big.

Following up to see the checked in charges, which  indicate when a passenger has 2 bags checked in they are free. Above the 2 free bags then the excess charge is $75 per item one-way. As you can see this is a hefty penalty should you be unfortunate to have brought along a lager than allowed carry-on bag to the airport.

Southwest’s webpage reads as follows.

  • Shouldn’t exceed 22 x 14 x 9 inches / 56 x 36 x 23 centimeters (including handles and wheels)
  • Must fit in the sizer at the airport

If your items don’t fit in the overhead bin or under the seat, they may need to be checked. There may be additional carry-on bag restrictions at certain airports or on certain airplanes

United Airlines Carry-on

United Airlines

United do make matters a little more interesting. If you have purchased a Basic Economy ticket, this will allow you to bring onboard a full size cabin bag, which with trans_Atlantic flights is free. Take this on other flights, such as Domestic ones and there is $25 handling charge. Not only that my friend, but your trusty cabin bag  will have to be paid for as Checked in baggage then disappear into the hold of the plane.

This is what United say on their webpage.

Most travelers can bring on board one full-sized carry-on bag plus one personal item free of charge. If you have purchased Basic Economy for a trans-Atlantic flight, you’ll still be allowed both carry-on items. For all other Basic Economy tickets, you will only be allowed one personal item, unless you are a Premier® member or a primary card member using a qualifying MileagePlus credit card. Everyone else who is traveling on a Basic Economy ticket and brings a full-sized carry-on bag to the gate will be required to check their bag and pay the applicable checked bag fee plus a $25 gate handling charge. Payment is by credit card only.

Alaska Airlines

Alaska Airlines

There is no information given on the webpage providing details as to what will happen should  your carry-on bag exceed their specifications. Alaska do say that the bags must fit the allowed dimensions to make the boarding process smooth.

Should your cabin bag have to be checked in due to it being oversize, then it seems the first bag charge is $30 and $40 for the second bag. The third and additional bags are $100 each.

To quote the Alaska webpage.

The carry-on bag size limit for flights has changed to 22” x 14” x 9” – these dimensions include the wheels and handles. Be sure to measure your bag carefully before you fly.

You’ll still be allowed one carry-on bag and one personal item such as a purse, briefcase, or laptop bag. To help make the boarding process as smooth as possible for everyone, make sure that your items are within the size limits described below, so they’ll fit into the overhead bin or under the seat in front of you.

JetBlue carry-on

JetBlue Airways

While JetBlue gives no indication what happens if you do oversize the cabin bag on their website. One has to guess it will be checked in if it does not fit. I have contacted JetBlue via email for clarity regarding this and will update this article when I have an answer.

Making an assumption that the oversized bag will be added as checked in baggage and while the fees do vary based on JetBlue fare options. To give you a guide and using ‘Blue‘fares as an example, you would pay $30 for the first bag and $40 for the second. Then $150 for third and additional checked in bags.

The pertinent information around the carry-on baggage is as follows on the JetBlue webpage

The carry-on bag size limit for flights has changed to 22” x 14” x 9” – these dimensions include the wheels and handles. Be sure to measure your bag carefully before you fly.

You’ll still be allowed one carry-on bag and one personal item such as a purse, briefcase, or laptop bag. To help make the boarding process as smooth as possible for everyone, make sure that your items are within the size limits described below, so they’ll fit into the overhead bin or under the seat in front of you.

In concluding this first article on how you will be treated by airline operators, it is apparent that there is a consensus on this. If it is too big it will not be allowed onboard, whereupon the cabin bag will be treated as a checked-in item of baggage.

Not only are you having to part with the belongings you were hoping to carry near you, some of which you would presumably use on the flight. You will also have the whammy of a financial hit, which is in fact a penalty for making a mistake of not measuring the bag size correctly. Elsewhere I have said we fully understand the airlines point of view, but our sympathy is with you the traveler. 

Hopefully by highlighting the pitfalls you will heed and follow each companies policy. If you are going to be flying with multiple airlines, use our All Airlines Allowances  table to find one that will fit for every journey and Let your bags be with you.