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Carry-on crackdown: United enforces bag size limit


luggage lined up at the baggage claim in an airport
NEW YORK (AP) -- United Airlines is getting tough on passengers with oversized carry-on bags.

The Chicago-based airline has installed new bag-sizers at most airports. It also emailed its frequent fliers, reminding them of its rules on carry-on size. United says there is no change in policy - just a campaign to improve passenger awareness.

Some of United's new sizers are located prior to security checkpoints. As of Saturday, employees contracted by the airline are sending passengers whose bag exceeds the dimensions for carry-ons back to the ticket counter, where they check the bag and pay a $25 fee. Airlines have traditionally asked people with oversized bags to check them at the gate, but waived the $25 fee at that point.

Some travelers are suggesting this is part of a larger attempt by United to collect more fees. The airline says it's simply trying to speed up the boarding process.

The size limits on carry-on bags have been in place for years, but airlines have been inconsistent in enforcing them. Passengers are allowed one carry-on bag to fit in the overhead bin that needs to be 9 inches by 14 inches by 22 inches or smaller. They can also bring along one personal item such as a purse or laptop bag that fits under the seat in front of them.

The process of getting on a plane dramatically changed in 2008 when U.S. airlines started charging $25 to check a suitcase. To avoid the fee, more passengers started bringing their suitcases - many of them overstuffed - into the airplane cabin. Suddenly there wasn't enough room in the overhead bins for everyone's bag.

Although more United passengers may end up paying a $25 fee, having fewer bags on board could also have its benefits.

"I've been whacked more times than I can count by people loaded down with their life's worldly possessions," says Brian Kelly, an industry watcher who writes about flying trends at ThePointsGuy.com.

Join the discussion

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Joyce March 05 2014 at 12:53 PM

What they really need is a "butt" box. If your butt doesn't fit in the box, you have to buy two or more tickets.

Flag Reply +1 rate up
Carol Ensign March 05 2014 at 8:47 AM

it's about time. I am tired of stuffing my purse in a bag so that I can carry my laptop while others, mostly men, stack 2 carryon bags on a cart and consider it carrying a carry on and smaller bag such as a purse or laptop. The second carryon does not fit under the seat so now this person is taking up overhead storage space with not only 2 carryons but the cart they had them strapped to. The airlines should crack down on them. What's good for one should be good for all.

Flag Reply +4 rate up
gregsimmons93 March 05 2014 at 8:51 AM

Good. I got on a flight and the overhead bin over my seat (and rows in front) had a very big duffel bag in it. So 1 bag took up the place of 5 or 6 'normal' size bags. If a flight attendant was handy I would have said this should be checked luggage but where are they when you need them?

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Sue Rous March 05 2014 at 8:52 AM

Good! Finally!! Hopefully the rest will follow United.

Flag Reply +1 rate up
Bert Heyder March 05 2014 at 8:26 AM

Yep, I only carry on with me a Reader's Digest and my ticket. I enjoy watching others trying to recover their overhead stored, crammed in, baggage if they remember where it is!

Flag Reply +2 rate up
Cheryl March 05 2014 at 8:37 AM

Yea! I don't know if these people are actually dunce or just don't care or think they are so very special. I do know they slow the whole process down and annoy the H out of me when I travel. I always wanted to have a megaphone and call people out in line.

Flag Reply +2 rate up
1 reply
thdatlanta Cheryl March 05 2014 at 11:41 AM

That's because you are an unhappy introvert and don't enjoy seeing people maximize the enjoyment of life and all it's resources! Try being patient! It works very well!

Flag Reply 0 rate up
mociambz March 05 2014 at 7:42 AM

now if we could just get the supermarkets cracking down on the selfish clowns that go thru the fast lane with over 15 items in their carts

Flag Reply +3 rate up
iolie45 March 05 2014 at 8:32 AM

Please! Wile I am becoming a big fan of UA, they ARE in fact still allowing oversized carry-ons.
Yes. The size checker is by gate. But in the 4 planes on my RT to the OC. I NEVER saw it used.
And on the two wide body planes I was on it took forever to get people seated. Because of the
difficulty in finding space in the over-heads. ALL because of the majority of luggage I saw being
too big ! Ridiculous! The ONLY carry-on I take is small enough that it will even fit UNDER the
seat in front of me. Even on the small planes where they have single seats! Come on people.
Quit being selfish PIGS with your carry-ons. And AIRLINES start REALLY doing your job in
enforcing it.
I know it is probably a matter of the flight attendant/counter person not wanting to deal with
the obnoxious person they have to that the bag must be checked in. I understand.
Make a rule that is on website that anyone being obnoxious about an oversized bag (Because they don't follow the guide lines to begin with) will NOT be allowed on plane. After all, flight personnel should not be verbally or physically attacked for doing their job. When the would be passenger isn't doing theirs!

Flag Reply +2 rate up
ohringen March 05 2014 at 8:12 AM

About time!

Flag Reply +2 rate up
g999s March 05 2014 at 8:36 AM

GOOD. I hope other airlines do the same. I am so fed-up with jerks that "carry on" more baggage then I check.

Flag Reply +4 rate up
1 reply
The Spanish Jew g999s March 05 2014 at 8:43 AM

if i get smacked by a bag, that's just like punching me in the face with your fist, so i am going to punch back.

Flag Reply +1 rate up
1 reply
Sue Rous The Spanish Jew March 05 2014 at 8:55 AM

I was planning on checking you ''flag as abusive'' but decided you are just a dimwit and leave it in so others can see you and your rage-factor.

Flag 0 rate up
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