How Do You Measure Luggage? Here’s How

By James Smith
how do you measure luggage
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So often before going out and traveling it’s good to measure your luggage to make sure it fits the criteria the airlines set. So if you’re wondering how do you measure luggage here’s how.

First, take a measuring tape and measure the height from the case, from top to bottom including the wheels, exterior pockets and handles (everything that sticks out needs to be included). Note it down and then to measure the width of the luggage put the luggage face down on the floor, and then measure across the back surface side edge to side edge. And finally, place the luggage standing up on the wheels and measure the side edge to edge. Note everything down in your phone or on a piece of paper to remember it.

Worth noting again is to remember to include wheels, exterior pockets and handles(collapsed) or otherwise you’ll be charged extra. Some years ago you didn’t have to include the wheels and handles but now it’s much more common that you need to do that to avoid extra fees.

Try to measure the luggage when it’s packed and full because it might expand a little when it’s fully packed versus when it’s empty and might add an inch you never know, better safe than sorry.

Also when measuring the depth pay attention that sometimes the luggage may be widest at the bottom.

You can use a ruler for measuring but it might be hard since it doesn’t latch on to the suitcase and may give inaccurate dimensions so just get a measuring tape like this one works good.

And finally, you can also weigh in with a luggage scale to get the correct weight(capacity).

Do you include wheels when measuring luggage?

Yes, when measuring some airlines ask you to include the wheels and the handle (while collapsed), it needs to easily fit in the cage that they have at the airport. Any part that sticks out from the luggage needs to be included as well.

Why do you need to measure your luggage?

To avoid the extra-fee that you get if you have to big of luggage. Since more weight equals more cost for the airline they have limits on how much luggage you can bring unless you pay the extra-fee then you have more luggage.

Checked luggage might not have size limits luggage unless it’s big luggage and weights a lot but when you have carry-on luggage there are definitely some limits on size because it needs to fit on the cabin above your seat in the plane.

On your airline’s website you can find the specific dimension allowed for your luggage to make sure but generally, the size limit is 22 x 14 x 9 inches / 56 x 36 x 23 centimeters (including handles and wheels) according to American airlines and must fit the cage at the airport.

So if your carry-on bag doesn’t fit does fit in the overhead bin cabin or under the seat in front of you they have unfortunately have to be checked. So after you have measured make sure to double check your airline’s requirements.

A side-note also if you’re carrying any big musical instruments, for example, they go under the carry-on item as well and must have the same requirements as above, must fit the overhead bin cabin.

When do you need to measure your luggage?

Before you board the plane and check in. So it’s recommended to measure if before going to the airport or maybe the day before, it can be stressful to measure it while at the airport.

How strict are the airlines with the dimensions

How strict they are it varies a lot sometimes they barely care but it might depend on how empty the flight is if it’s not a lot of people it maybe doesn’t matter as much as if there were a full plane and they need to be under the weight limit.

Some are very strict and may ask you to put the luggage inside the cage frame to see if it fits.

It’s more about the weight of the bag than the size I would imagine.

But the bottom line it’s better to be safe than sorry and just measure it to make sure you’re under the limit and then go to the airport without having to worry if you’re gonna get hit by an extra fee and needs to get the luggage checked. And it sucks if you get there and you realize it’s too big and you have to re-pack the luggage as some have to do.

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Hi, I'm James Smith, I love traveling and always looking to optimize the traveling life to make it as comfortable and stress-free as possible. I especially love to nerd out about choosing the right luggage.

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