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How anal are airlines about luggage dimensions?

San Francisco...
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How anal are airlines about luggage dimensions?

I'm leaving the states for a year for work, and although I already shipped a couple boxes over to the destination country, I still have a bunch of clothes I'd like to cram into my suitcase. I picked up a suitcase that's a tiny bit taller than most (30"); the dimensions listed on the site are 30" x 21" x 13". Meaning it's 64", exceeding the 62" limit. And that's not including the wheels (which United says it doesn't include anyway).

Are airlines (United, specifically) heinously anal about luggage dimensions? I'd hate to pay $100+ just because my damn suitcase was 2" larger (which is incorrect, because the suitcase is wider at the base than at the top).

Also.. Since I want to cram as much into the size/weight restriction as possible, what would be the best type of suitcase to get? Instead of a nylon cloth suitcase, should I get one of those shell suitcases? Any advice/insight is greatly appreciated. Thanks!

Worthing, United...
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15 reviews
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1. Re: How anal are airlines about luggage dimensions?


Not sure where bottoms come into this but airlines can insist that their baggage rules are strictly enforced. You agree to the maximum measurements when you make the reservation and you risk having to travel without your stuff if it in an oversized case.


San Diego
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for San Diego
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2. Re: How anal are airlines about luggage dimensions?

The wheels count! When they give dimensions and say "not including the wheels" that means the wheels are extra not that they don't count!

Here is the info from the United web site about over sized/over weight luggage and charges you may expect. I would think that the weight is even more important than the size but they will notice a suitcase that is larger than normal:


Liverpool, UK
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3. Re: How anal are airlines about luggage dimensions?

Unless you want a nasty surprise when you check in you should always assume that airlines will enforce their size/weight limits.

And airlines do include wheels and handles in the allowed dimensions.

Chicago, Illinois
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13,766 posts
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4. Re: How anal are airlines about luggage dimensions?

I find for checked luggage, if it's close size-wise, they are more concerned with weight. You should expect to have your checked luggage weighed. But if you exceed the limits in either size or weight, you do run the risk of being charged extra. All airlines are getting stricter about this. They get extra revenue for charging for bags that exceed their limits so there's no reason for them to not enforce them.

San Francisco...
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5. Re: How anal are airlines about luggage dimensions?

Thanks all! I think I'll return the suitcase to avoid paying $100. Are hard shell suitcases generally better, since they stay the same size and don't expand with clothing?

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3,069 posts
24 reviews
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6. Re: How anal are airlines about luggage dimensions?

I don't know where you get the idea that wheels don't count. From the United website linked above "Baggage is measured by length + width + height, including wheels and handle"

Mesa, Arizona
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7. Re: How anal are airlines about luggage dimensions?

if you pack a suitcase that size FULL, likely will get hit with OVERWEIGHT and OVERSIZE charges. You'd never get away with $100. probably $200 or more.

Just get rid of that suitcase and buy TWO that fit the dimensions then keep it under the required weight. Cheaper to check a second suitcase. ON your airline, allowances for domestic and international flights COULD be different. Also depending on which class you fly.

8. Re: How anal are airlines about luggage dimensions?

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Brisbane, Australia
Destination Expert
for Brisbane
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9. Re: How anal are airlines about luggage dimensions?

Just on the suitcases ... I don't like soft shell cases, unless they are tightly packed everything just flops around. At least with a hard shell you are pretty sure sharp edges won't damage what's inside.

Canberra, Australia
1 post
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10. Re: How anal are airlines about luggage dimensions?

I often come back with more than I went with. I simply pop into a thrift shop and buy another suitcase for peanuts. My preference is for soft suitcases because you can fit more into them, and they weigh less. I do not mind a grottier, older suitcase because it is less attractive both to thieves, and to customs inspectors. I do not carry contraband, but would rather look at duty free shops rather than sit in a customs office while my luggage is pulled to pieces.