Alaska Airlines Is Reducing Their Carry-On Baggage Allowance

Filed Under: Alaska
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Alaska Airlines has announced that they’re reducing their carry-on baggage allowance for flights as of June 4, 2018. Here’s how the old and new carry-on baggage allowances compare:

  • Current baggage allowance (through June 3, 2018) — 24″x17″x10″
  • New baggage allowance (as of June 4, 2018) — 22″x14″x9″

As you can see, they’re reducing the dimensions pretty significantly here — the length limit is being reduced by 2″, the height limit by 3″, and the width limit by 1″, for a total reduction of six linear inches. If you’re measuring by volume, that’s a reduction of nearly 35%, which is significant.

Call me crazy, but for once I actually believe an airline when they explain the reason they’re making a negative change:

Why are we changing our carry-on bag size?

Our current carry-on bag size is larger than most other international and domestic airlines allow.

We’re changing our bag size allowance to make sure that your carry-on bag will be accepted aboard all the flights within your itinerary. This will help you avoid carry-on bag size conflicts and make connections with other airlines easier during your future trips.

Best of all, we’ll be able to fit more carry-on bags into the overhead bins.

While there’s no doubt this will allow them to fit more bags into the overhead bins, the point they make is accurate. Many of Alaska Airlines’ passengers are connecting onto flights on their partner airlines. I imagine this has been a genuine point of frustration for many, where Alaska accepted their carry-on, only for their bag to be checked on a connecting flight on another airline.

American, Delta, and United all currently have carry-on limits of 22″x14″x9″, so Alaska is matching the industry standard here. Now the major US carrier with the most generous carry-on allowance is Southwest, which has a limit of 24″x16″x10″.

Alaska’s new carry-on limit should still be sufficient for a vast majority of standard carry-ons, which are right around that size.

For those who do have larger carry-ons, here’s to hoping they don’t suddenly get strict overnight. Keep in mind, however, that both The Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® Card and The Alaska Airlines Visa® Business Card offer a free checked bag on Alaska flights for you and up to six other guests on the same reservation, so that could be a good alternative to worrying about the carry-on limits for Alaska flyers.  In addition, cardholders also receive 20% back on Alaska Airlines inflight purchases, including food, beverages, and wifi, and 50% discounts on Alaska Lounge day passes, bringing down the cost from $50 to a very reasonable $25.  So, if you fly Alaska regularly, these cards could be a good option to save even more.

What do you make of Alaska Airlines’ decision to reduce their carry-on allowance?

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  1. The biggest airline at my local airport (SOU) is FlyBe, and they have an interesting quirk in their hand baggage policy: it must be 55x35x20cm, which is roughly the same as 22″x14″x8″. That one inch doesn’t sound like it would make a lot of difference, but eight inches is surprisingly shallow for a bag, and I am often caught out by this when my carry-on bag is full to bursting. My solution was to buy a much smaller bag

  2. To allow fit more bags in overhead, bring back free checked bags for people who do not have carry on bag. Easy

  3. Call me a cynic, but the “our cabin luggage policy is more generous than what our partners have” feels like an excuse to have a worse cabin luggage policy. What about those who are not connecting to partners? Why should they be worse off than those who do not read baggage requirements on website of airlines they fly with?

  4. Great move. ANYTHING to reduce the amount of behemoth bags the unwashed masses pinball down the aisle – shoulders, knees, elbows and skulls be DAMNED!

  5. I was on an Alaska flight last Friday and several of the bins wouldn’t even close because of the giant bags people tried to stuff into them.

  6. Another airline whose policy disallows a standard international size carryon bag (which are not long or high but are typically 24” wide).

    The good news is that most airlines don’t mind international carryon bags regardless of their policy, but formalizing this is really unfortunate. A shorter bag might be defensible since turning a bag too long to fit wheels in sideways significantly reduces capacity of the bins.

  7. @Nobody in particular:

    The general international carry-on dimensions have been 22″x14″x9″ for quite a while. So they aren’t necessarily punishing anyone or taking anything away; they’re bringing themselves in alignment with the rest of the world. I agree their claim that most of their pax are connecting seems dubious, but that really shouldn’t matter anyway because the US is the one-off in having larger carry-on allowed aboard the plane.

  8. It wont matter….The gate agents dont check anyway…they let people bring in full size duffles, suitcases, boxes, etc….

  9. @ AdamR

    “The general international carry-on dimensions have been 22″x14″x9″ for quite a while. So they aren’t necessarily punishing anyone or taking anything away; they’re bringing themselves in alignment with the rest of the world.”

    The limit on much-hated British Airways is 56cm x 45cm x 25cm (or, for those of you still using old money, 22″ x 18″ x 10″).

    It’s true that some are meaner – Air France is 55cm x 35 x 25 (or 21.7″ x 13.8″ x 9.9″).

    Lucky’s favourite Lufthansa is 55cm x 40 x 23 – although garment bags are allowed to be 57cm x 54 x 15. And you can take on 2 bags in J or F.

    So no, all of “the rest of the world” does not have teeny-tiny bag limits (and, of course, much-hated BA allows you to take on a 2nd smaller bag, too – 30cm x 30 x 15).

  10. It seems if the sizer was on the mouth of the TSA x-ray machine the problem would end there. If it doesn’t fit in the TSA x-ray machine, take it back to the counter and check it. Everyone already dislikes TSA why haven’t the airlines pushed to make them the bad guys in battle for overhead space?

  11. Overhead bin space would not be a problem if airlines gave pax free checked bags in exchange for no overhead bags

  12. @The nice Paul:

    Correct, there are certainly slight variations but they’ve been generally hovering around 22″x14″/15″x9″/10″ for a fair bit. Let me rephrase that the US has been more generous than nearly most of the rest of the industry – especially with that 24″ and 16″ measurement – and this is now bringing them into closer alignment for ease of transition between carriers.

    This is a good reference for anyone that’s looking to know, though you’ll see Alaska hasn’t been updated yet:

  13. @ AdamR

    I love it how you *still* can’t bring yourself to say anything nice about British Airways…!


  14. Southwest has the largest carry on bag allowance but somehow it’s the only airline where they won’t make everyone who does not have priority boarding gate check their bag but that’s none of my business.

  15. When I bought a new carry on bag a few years back, I research all of USA airlines and picked the smallest which is 22″x14″x9″. I am glad I did.

  16. If Alaska agents would enforce their current policy, they’d have more room. They can issue a warning about too large of bags for other airlines without this restriction. This is about making more room. If travelers would stop pushing the limits, it would solve that problem.

  17. I agree with previous comments that the airline agents must enforce the regulations in order to get compliance. If the back at check-in or at the gate doesn’t fit into a measurement container then it should be sent to bag check.

    Additionallly, strict regulations regarding animals on board should be followed. Immunization, certification of service animal. People are abusing “comfort animal”. If you have to pay for a bag then certainly animals should be charged. Animals should not be given more rights than people with allergies.

  18. The “excuse” I got at Portland (PDX) today when I went to check my gate was “we’re changing to match the other carriers.” What they’re actually doing is enforcing something that none of the other carriers are and it’s nothing but a money grab as far as I’m concerned.

    I flew to Portland on Sunday (before the “big change”) on United with the exact same bag that I tried to put on Alaska today and had no problems nor challenges. One leg of that trip was even on a regional sized jet. Today I get to the airport and suddenly it’s no longer a carry-on. Flew to London and Paris last summer with the same bag… problems. All of a sudden Alaska Airlines is the carry-on police and it’s the first, last and only time for me flying them.

    I realize they put their notice on the website but how many of us check the website for an airline once we’ve booked out flights??? Ummmmm…….none I would suspect.

    Just my two cents worth but I think they have ulterior motives for this regardless of what their corporate mouthpieces say.

  19. I have flown on United (domestic and international), Lufthansa, Swiss Air, and Alaska with the same bag, no problem. Until now. My carry-on bag measures 22.5”x 9×14 and will now have to be checked. Ridiculous. All the TravelPro carry-on bags are too big for Alaska. Spent the day looking for a new carry-on = slim pickings.

  20. Unfortunately, the Alaska gate agents are checking the size box, at least at one of the airports I departed from on the dreaded day after their policy went into effect. I was still able to board with my bag, which fit perfectly upright in the overhead, but only because their bag tag printer wasn’t working. This is going to be a major frustration for business travelers on Alaska, because many of the best bags by Briggs and Riley, Rowena, Tumi, etc., are not going to fit that narrow box. I guess we all can just choose another airline when possible. Those others never seem to check the size box.

  21. Can anyone recommend a good bag? It seems each brand I find that says it meets these measurements is at least a half to one inch to big in one of the dimensions.

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