Carry-on baggage guidelines shrink but airline passengers are told there's 'no need to worry'

Cabin OK's smaller guidelines will not stop airlines from setting their own higher limits

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The Independent Travel

Air passengers may rest assured after last week’s announcement that air lines would see carry-on bags shrink, that the new guidelines are only an "optimum" size.

Cabin Ok, a new initiative launched by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) last week, aims to improve the accommodation of carry-on bags suggesting a new, smaller luggage size of 55 cm by 35 cm by 20 cm.

Passengers with the correct size luggage would be issued with an “IATA Cabin OK” logo signifying to airline staff that their bags meet the agreed guidelines and would then be free to board the plane without risk of their bags being put into the cargo hold. 

The new guidelines are significantly smaller than those used currently by airlines. These include easyJet and British Airways which stipulate dimensions of 56cm by 45cm by 25cm, Virgin who allow 56 cm by 36 cm by 23 cm and even Ryanair which restricts passengers to 55 cm by 40 cm by 20 cm. 

After objections from passengers, however, the IATA have issued a clarifying statement saying that the proposed restrictions are not a maximum but an “optimum” size and that airlines will still be allowed to set their own larger limits.

In the statement, Thomas Windmuller, a senior vice president at I.A.T.A, said: “For passengers traveling with bags that don’t have the Cabin OK logo, there’s no need to worry. If it was accepted for travel before, it will be acceptable for travel now, but with the same uncertainty that if the flight is full it may eventually have to travel in the hold.”

Despite this news nine airlines have already agreed to join the scheme including Emirates, Qatar and Lufthans as well as Brazil's Azul, Avianca, Cathay Pacific Airways, China Eastern, China Southern and Caribbean Airlines.

EasyJet may also take part in the scheme saying in a recent statement: “This is a smaller bag than we currently allow on board, but there is no doubt that an overall standard across all airlines would help customers.”

The IATA expects further airlines to join the initiative over the next few months. 

The IATA developed the Cabin OK scheme in an effort to tackle the lack of overhead storage space available to passengers as air traveller numbers increase. The IATA say the guidelines will provide passengers with a greater assurance that their carry-on bags will travel with them in the aircraft cabin, even when the flight is full.

Windmuller said: “If you have a Cabin OK bag, you can be pretty sure that you are within the maximum carry-on limits of airlines around the world. If you are traveling on an airline participating in the program, you will have the best chance that your bag will be with you in the cabin even on a full flight.”