The Dilemma Of Airline Baggage: Checked vs. Carry-On

January 22, 2014

The predicament air passengers face today is how to get the things they need to their destination. In the past, the answer was to check bags at check-in counters and forget them. Today, many airlines have resorted to charging passengers for every checked bag.

On most commercial airlines, passengers are allowed one carry-on bag and one personal item, like a brief case, large purse or backpack that fits underneath the seat in front of them. On Air Canada, requirements for a carry-on bag are that it must not be larger than 21.5 inches by 15.5 inches, by 9 inches in width, and it must not weigh more than 22 pounds. This is standard no matter what airline passengers choose.

Personal articles taken on Air Canada flights must be no larger than 17 inches by 13 inches, by 6 inches in width. Also on Air Canada, if a bag needs to be checked, charges range from $22 per bag up to $113 per bag. When fees are higher on certain flights, passengers may be allowed one free checked bag with the second one being charged at the high rate.

High Rates Discourage Passengers From Checking Bags

High rates for checking bags have definitely made an impact on passengers. Travellers have seen relatively low ticket prices rise quickly into the unaffordable range simply by the need to pay for checked luggage. This has spurred many passengers into action.

The way they choose to deal with unaffordable rates for checking luggage is to try to take everything including the kitchen sink on the plane with them as a carry-on bag. This has created a new kind of competition for every inch of available overhead compartment space. The problem is, overhead cabin space is limited with a lot more people vying for it.

If an airline offers early boarding, normally for a fee of $10 to $12, it’s smart to pay the extra to make sure you will get on the plane before other passengers. This gives you a better chance of finding space for your bag. On Air Canada, however, early boarding is called priority boarding and is only available to exclusive passengers. Those who have paid more for first-class tickets and members of Elite groups or Star Alliance Gold Members get priority boarding. Others, however, must take their chances.

Packing Carry-On Bags So Everything Fits

Being able to get everything a person needs for their trip into a carry-on bag has become a huge challenge. Space is so limited in bags that people are forced to make tough decisions about what to pack. When packing for a week or more, this becomes even more challenging.

One smart way to approach it is to pack multiple purpose clothing. Short sleeved t-shirts can be worn alone or as an under-layer in colder weather. Shoes must be limited to one or two pairs at most. Those who choose to put everything into a carry-on bag should also realize that at some point during the trip, they will probably need to do laundry. When packing, it’s advised to roll clothing when possible to create more room in the suitcase. Rolling will also help clothing to be less wrinkled on arrival.

Deciding what to bring on a trip has always been challenging. Today it’s more of a quandary than ever before, with new airline charges due to airlines trying to squeeze every penny they can out of passengers. The main rule to follow is that less is best when packing.