Smaller Carry-On Bag
Credit: Robert Nickelsberg / Getty Images

As if the current state of flying wasn’t bad enough, with hidden costs and reduced leg space, airlines only seem to enhance our level of discomfort. The latest indecency occurred earlier this summer when the three largest carriers in the US — American, Delta, and United — all reduced the size of carry-ons allowed in the overhead space. Frequent flyers who have used the same carry-on luggage for years were now forced to tag their bag after first being subjected to that torturous game of trying to squeeze your carry-on into the aluminum-lined cage.

Is this all a silly ploy to check our bags and increase airline profit? Or perhaps we’re just biding our time before all airlines start charging for carry-on luggage, following in the footsteps of Spirit’s egregious $100 tab. Really, how low can they go? The new dimensions for the Big Three are 22in x 14in x 9in, down an inch in width. It has always been a challenge to squeeze a 22-inch-high bag into the overhead, and now it will be even worse. So go with a 20-inch carry-on, which still gives me enough space to carry clothes for a week. I prefer a 4-wheeled bag like the one offered by TravelPro, which rolls down the airplane aisle effortlessly. Cost for the 20-inch Maxlite Spinner ranges from $100-$120 on Amazon.

The good news is that JetBlue and Southwest are keeping their current dimensions for carry-on luggage, 24in x 16in x 10in. So for those of us who like to use every available inch of carry-on space without paying a premium, there’s always hope.