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Airlines Changing Restrictions For Carry-On Luggage

By Kate Merrill, WBZ-TV
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Kate Merrill is an Emmy award winning journalist for WBZ-TV News and...
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BOSTON (CBS) – If your summer vacation plans include a flight, be warned, some airlines are making changes and if you are not careful, you could end up missing your plane.

Full summer flights usually lead to a frantic rush for passengers to find space in the overhead bins for their carry-on luggage. “I hate it when people have big bags,” one passenger told us as she was about to board a flight to Las Vegas. “It definitely gets crazy,” she added.

Three of the major airlines are trying to alleviate that craziness by cracking down on the size of carry-on bags they will allow on flights. “It used to be 45 total linear inches,” explained George Hobica, founder of Airfarewatchdog.com. “Now it’s a strict 22 by 14 by 9-inch requirement,” he said.

A seasoned traveler, even Hobica found himself tripped up by this change on a recent flight from New York to Boston. He was asked to put his carry-on into a metal sizer and it was just one inch too big. “I had to go back to check-in. There was a long line and I almost missed my flight,” Hobica said.

JetBlue and Southwest are a bit more generous with the size of the bags they will allow in the overhead bins, but if you are booked on American, Delta or United, you could run into trouble even it’s a bag you have used before. “I’ve almost missed my flight because I’ve had to do that before and it’s not consistent with every airport,” said one woman traveling home to Milwaukee from Boston.

According to Hobica, airports vary on how they enforce the rules. “It might not be strict going out from Logan, but coming back from another airport, you might get caught,” he warned.

The bottom line is to be prepared. It can’t hurt to double check with your airline to find out specific carry-on size restrictions. You should also remember that carry-on bags with a front pocket can expand and might not fit in the sizer if it is filled to capacity. Also, leave plenty of extra time just in case you get sent back to the check-in line.

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