I'm flying from Washington to Florida (and back) in October and I'd really like to avoid baggage fees if possible. Besides fees, I'll be taking the bus to the airport on my initial trip, and I'd really like to keep things simple.
I have a duffle bag which measures 20 long x 11.5 tall x 11.5 wide, which adds up to 43 inches. The website for my flight (US Airlines) says it can be "45 inches (22 x 14 x 9 in)" and I'm just wondering if the distribution of the measurements is very rigid. About 2 inches of the width could possibly be ignored if I left the front pocket empty.
The website also says "Instead of a carry-on bag, you can bring on a soft-sided garment bag up to 51 inches." but I don't know what qualifies as a soft-sided garment bag and I'm a little hesitant to risk it.
Thanks very much for any input!