I know lots of my clients and friends love to travel, so this post is for you! Now, more than ever, the size of your bag does matter. Airlines not only charge for checking bags these days, some even charge for carry-ons. So it makes sense that if you’re going to carry your bag with you on your flight, you want the bag that fits the most stuff possible yet still fits in the airline’s overhead carry-on.
To further complicate matters, The International Air Transport Association has put out a recommendation that carry-on bag sizes be reduced to 21.5 x 13.5 x 7.5 inches to create more space for passengers to store luggage (see below graph).
Currently, airlines set their own carry-on limits but the recommendation, if adopted, could lead many major carriers to reduce their carry-on bag size limits. It’s unclear whether that would really happen or not, though, so for now we’re going to talk about the best carry-on bags that will fit in most airlines’ overhead compartments. Whether you like soft-side or hard-sided luggage, black or something a bit more colorful, there’s something for everyone on this list at various price points:
This bag seems to be the choice of airline professionals all over the U.S., and is used by many commercial pilots and flight attendants.
- 360 spinner wheels
- Lightweight; approx. 7.2 lbs
- Built-in protective skid guards, corner guards and crash-guard wheel housings
A best-seller on Amazon; it’s stylish and features 100 percent polycarbonate construction with sharp molded details.
- Comes in many colors
- Dimensions: 20 x 13.5 x 9 inches
- Ultra lightweight: approx. 6.4 lbs
- TSA approved combination lock
If you’re a Samsonite fan, you should also consider the Samsonite Omni PC Hardside Spinner 20
At $625, this is definitely the priciest option, but frequent travelers swear by Tumi and the durability of their patented, fxt ballistic nylon.
- Comes only in black
- 1 x 14 x 9.1 inches
- Tumi’s patented closure system significantly reduces the risk of damage to the zipper. The Omega zipper puller is designed to break away from the bag if it becomes caught.
- Telescoping handle is made from aircraft-grade aluminum, making it lightweight and extremely sturdy.
Travel + Leisure declared this bag as its 2014 Design Award Winner for Best Luggage. It’s super stylish, constructed of break-resistant 100% pure Bayer polycarbonate and meets most global carry-on regulations including IATA. Comes in red, black or white.
- 7″ x 16.3″ x 9.3″
- Integrated Travel Sentry Approved lock
- Swiss Tracker Bag Tracking Program will reunite you with your bag anywhere in the world should it ever be lost – for free
- Front zippered, quick-access door with organizational panel offers on-the-go access to the things needed most while traveling such as up to a 15.6” / 39 cm laptop, tablet, smartphone, passport, tickets and more
Top rated by both industry experts and frequent travelers, this soft-sided bag offers an unlimited warranty that covers problems with the bag as long as you own it. It comes in both black and crimson red.
- 5 x 14 inches x 9.3 inches
- One of the best features about this bag is the built-in garment carrier for storing suits and dresses, which eliminates the need for a garment bag!
- Outside, detachable cargo net is ideal for storing cargo net is an ideal option for storing magazines, newspapers, etc. that you frequently use during your trip. It clips off easily when you store your bag in the overhead compartment.
- Outside handle. Some people dislike this feature, but it does allow for a flat packing surface inside the bag.
*Note: prices on Amazon fluctuate so the price may not be the same now as it was when this article was written.