Uproar Prompts IATA To Suspend Implementation Of New Smaller Carry-On Luggage Sizing

Uproar Prompts IATA To Suspend Implementation Of New Smaller Carry-On Luggage Sizing
365 day 15 – A long weekend away lisaclarke / Flickr CC BY-ND 2.0
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An uproar no less from a U.S. airline lobby group has prompted the International Air Transport Association (IATA) to suspend the implementation of a new mandatory and smaller carry-on luggage sizing rule.


Last week, IATA revealed a new program called “Cabin OK initiative,” which seeks to reduce the size of allowable carry-on luggage. From the previous 56cm x 45cm x 25 cm, the new standard will become 55cm x 35cm x 20cm (21.5 x 13.5 x 7.5 inches). The reduction equates to a downsizing of 39 percent.

IATA, representing the airline industry, said the new regulation meant to reduce confusion since different U.S. airlines have different sizing charts for allowable carry-on luggage. The new sizing limit meant to create a uniform pattern.

However, a report by the Los Angeles Times showed the new proposal is still slightly smaller than bag-size standards imposed by most U.S. carriers, such as Delta Air Lines Inc. (NYSE: DAL), United Airlines (NYSE: UAL), American Airlines (NASDAQ: AAL) and Southwest Airlines Co. (NYSE: LUV).

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The carry-on bag size limit of Southwest is 24 x 16 x 10 inches, while that of Delta, American and United is no bigger than 22 x 14 x 9 inches, the LA Times report adds.

Nicholas E. Calio, CEO of Airlines 4 America, the US airline lobby group, said they reject the recent IATA carry-on size initiative.

“It flies in the face of the actions the U.S. carriers are taking to invest in the customer experience — roughly $1.2 billion a month — including larger overhead bins.” Moreover, he said the group members already have existing guidelines on allowable carry-on luggage. The new IATA rule is “unnecessary.”

Tom Windmuller, Senior Vice President, Airport, Passenger, Cargo and Security in IATA, said last week 30 to 40 airlines have expressed interest to adopt the new bag-size standard. Even major foreign airlines including Emirates, Lufthansa and Qatar reportedly were keen to implement it.

But “we need to get it right. We are pausing the rollout and launching a comprehensive reassessment of the Cabin OK program with plans to further engage program participants, the rest of our members, and other key stakeholders,” he said.