Travel Agents Split on IATA Carry-on Size Initiative

airplaneIn the wake of the International Air Transport Association's (IATA) new initiative aimed at encouraging airlines to tighten restrictions on large carry-on bags, agents are split on what the new rule will mean for travelers. 

Some agents were critical of the move, claiming it was aimed at helping airlines boost revenue from checked bag fees. 

"IATA is wrong," said Jennifer Bradford in a discussion on our Facebook page. "Smaller carry-ons mean more checked bags and higher profits for the airlines. Who is looking out for travelers?"

Other agents argued that the lack of enforcement of existing size requirements was the real issue.

"IATA ought to encourage the airlines to drop the oppressive checked bag fees, and just enforce the carry-on limits that they already have in place," said Joann Smith. "Also, the airlines need to do a better job of not losing checked luggage. Tight seats in coach mean uncomfortable travel for most travelers, and cramming more paying bodies into the cabins means more carry-ons. The airlines are reaping ridiculous profits - enough is enough. That's what I think - make travel a better experience for the travelers."

"The need to enforce the size requirements they have now at the gates and this wouldn't be an issue," agreed Patti Slater.

Other agents, however, welcomed the plan. 

"It's about time!" said Elle Kane. "Some people bring full-size suitcases…taking up space that is meant for other passengers. Should never been allowed in the first place."

"IATA Cabin OK"

Under the new "IATA Cabin OK" initiative, IATA airline members and aircraft manufacturers will agree on an optimum size of 55 x 35 x 20 cm (or 21.5 x 13.5 x 7.5 inches) for carry-on bags. The new size parameter is aimed at making sure every passenger has space in the overhead bin, the IATA said. 

An “IATA Cabin OK” logo to signify to airline staff that a bag meets the agreed size guidelines has been developed. A number of major international airlines have signaled their interest to join the initiative and will soon be introducing the guidelines into their operations, the IATA said.

IATA is working with baggage tracking solutions provider Okoban to manage the approval process of bag manufacturers. Each bag meeting the dimensions of the specifications will carry a special joint label featuring IATA and Okoban, as well as a unique identification code that signals to airline staff that the bag complies with the optimum size guidelines.

Several major baggage manufacturers have developed products in line with the optimum size guidelines, and it is expected bags carrying the identifying label will start to reach retail shops later this year. The IATA said it expects recognition of the new logo to grow with time as more airlines opt in. 

For an FAQ on the new rules, see our previous story on the IATA's announcement