I happened to see a post by Ed at Pizza In Motion about carry-on bags, and potential of having to gate check. I haven’t experienced this, but since I have a wide-body Briggs and Riley bag, I figured this was worth some further research.
This has been reported before, although any of the other news sources I’ve been able to find don’t meet my “linkable” level. But the fact of the matter is that between twitter and FlyerTalk, there is a discussion about this. United is the primary culprit. But, I’d like to open the aperture a bit.
What airlines are enforcing
The first caveat is that airlines appear to be enforcing specific dimensions. It used to be that airlines enforced maximum linear inches. From a quite search, it looks like United is enforcing a specific dimension maximum. American still enforces 45 inches (length + width + height), however, they do state, that bags cannot be more than 22″ long x 14″ wide x 9″ tall. So they appear to be mid-ling in their enforcement.
Why airlines are enforcing limited carry on sizes
So, I’ll be candid here – unlike other bloggers (that I won’t mention), I don’t have connections with the airlines. I wish I did, it would make it easier to hunt this sort of info down. That said, if I were to offer my thoughts, I would say that for United, I see no reason. For American, I would guess that they are focused on maximizing space, since they are introducing Boeing’s Sky Interior on their 737s.
Personally, I don’t buy it, given the extra space. That said. I will say that when my wife and I flew Qatar’s 787 in March, my wide Briggs and Riley bag did not fit on its side, and had to be laid down (taking up more space). We were in business class, so it didn’t matter a whole lot, but, a data point none-the-less.
Should you be scared about having your bag forcibly gate-checked? I don’t know, but I’d recommend that you be prepared for it. I haven’t had a bag gate checked (excluding regional aircraft), since 2011, when a Continental Gate Agent got over-zealous, and I got onboard only to see 60% of overhead space empty–we actually took off with about 30% of the space empty. But, I’ve gotten over that, and haven’t been forced to gate check since. Perhaps your greatest fear should be an overzealous gate agent, or boarding as zone 4 or 40 (I lose track of how many different zones there are now-a-days) boarding.