How to Measure a Suitcase for the Airlines

Written by emily manthei
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How to Measure a Suitcase for the Airlines
Make sure to include wheels and handles in your measurements. (valigia sul ponte della nave image by Adriano La Naia from Fotolia.com)

Packing for air travel is getting more and more difficult these days. The convergence of tightened restrictions on carry-on baggage and the advent of some airlines charging fees for checked luggage is giving travellers incentive to pack a lean and mean bag. But how lean is lean enough? And what constitutes staying within the airline's limits? Measuring your suitcase at home can help you avoid unwelcome surprises at the airport.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • Suitcase
  • Yard stick
  • Flat object

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Check your airline's luggage policies for carry on and checked baggage, as they will vary. The Travel Insider, a website dedicated to reliable travel advice, places a "safe maximum" for carry on bags at 45 inches, "in the form of a 22" x 14" x 9" bag." The allowable dimensions of checked luggage will vary by airline, but the weight restrictions usually will be firmly between 18.1 and 22.7kg.

  2. 2

    Pack your suitcase completely before measuring. Filling exterior pockets and expandable pouches can add on extra inches that may take you over the limit.

  3. 3

    Use a yard stick to flatly measure the height, from the bottom of any rolling wheels to the top of a handle or edge. Using a non-pliable measuring device, like a yard stick, will allow you to read the size more accurately without conforming to the contours of your suitcase's edges.

  4. 4

    Measure the width across your suitcase with a yardstick without pressing down on any filled pockets.

  5. 5

    Gauge the depth of the suitcase by placing a flat object on top of the suitcase and placing the yardstick on the ground below the suitcase. Where the yardstick meets the other flat object will be the measurement.

Tips and warnings

  • Do not trust the manufacturer's measurements for your suitcase, since it was probably not filled when they measure it. They also may measure without taking rolling wheels or handles into account.

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