George Hobica is the President of Airfarewatchdog.com. As you can imagine, he travels a lot. But he experienced something last month at New York LaGuardia Airport that had never happened to him before — the airline rejected his carry-on bag.
An American Airlines Inc. representative stopped him in the security checkpoint, telling him that his 15-inch-wide bag exceeded the airline’s 14-inch width limit for carry-ons, Hobica had to go back to the ticket counter to check his bag. He made his flight, but he came away from the experience convinced that something has changed at the airlines — if not the rules, then the enforcement of those rules.
“They’re being persnickety,” Hobica told the Dallas Morning News.
Hobica said that the size restrictions generally haven't changed, “The sizes have been more or less the same, but the policies as far as enforcement have definitely changed.”
A big gripe of recent travelers is inconsistent enforcement of baggage rules. There are specific rules from the Transportation Safety Administration, but each airline also has its own, so be aware before you travel.
For instance, one of the most popular airlines for travel between Denver and Ireland is British Airways. They are fairly generous in their hand luggage allowances. Each passenger may have one cabin bag measuring no more than 56cm x 45cm x 25cm (22in x 18in x 10in) including handles, pockets and wheels, and one personal bag, no larger than 45cm x 36cm x 20cm (18in x 14in x 8in) including handles, pockets and wheels. Maximum weight per bag is up to 23kg (51lbs).
Some international airlines allow only the one cabin bag, though most flights in the United States have allowances similar to the BA rules. This means that you may fly from Denver to Ireland with no trouble, but, depending on your return airline, not be able to retain your "personal item" such as a purse, computer, etc., on your return flight.