What If My Carry On Is One Inch Too Big?


“Hello. I will be flying out to Europe next week and this is for the first time in my life. I’m just curious about my carry-on luggage. I heard in the news that three major airlines, United Airlines, Delta Airlines, and American Airlines, have reduced the size of the standard carry-on the other year and I will be flying one of these lines. I know they have those metal measurement where they let you drop your carry on to make sure it fits and I’m just afraid my carry-on is slightly too big. What if my carry on is one inch too big?


So I received this question in one of my blog posts, "How to Pack Everything in a Carry-On” and this is what we will try to uncover in today’s article. So if you want to know the answer, then please keep on reading below.

1. Boarding as soon as possible


If you feel like your carry-on is a little bigger than the size limit, try boarding as early as you can since as the space in the overhead bins can run out. This will make sure you will have room for your bag. Though this might not always be possible, it is definitely worth a try. 

2. Check in online

Another option is to check in online and print the boarding pass in advance. In this way, you will be able to avoid the check-in desk and can go straight to security and boarding gate. The check-in desk is where your bag will most likely to be weighed.

3. Only one bag

I also suggest you travel with just one bag. The aim is not to draw attention to yourself and this will make you less noticeable, Most of the time, the airline is more likely to weigh the people’s bags who looked loaded down with luggage. Also, not all airlines allow personal items, especially low-cost airlines, so it would be best to manage without a second bag.

4. Be careful

The best way is to make sure you’ll be able to bring your bag with you on the plane is to be familiar with the airline restrictions. Generally, airlines allow the size of 22 x 14 x 19 inches for carry-on luggage. This already includes all the pockets, handles, and wheels. So make sure you choose luggage that fits with the restrictions of the airlines you will be traveling on. Before you buy a bag, measure it yourself and don’t forget to include the wheels and handle.


Be cautious with expandable pockets on the front of your suitcase, this can also increase the dimensions of your carry-on to the point that it will no longer fit into the overhead bin. As much as possible, don’t use the expandable pockets and when you’re in doubt, test your bag in the sizer device that can mostly be found at the gate before you board or at the ticket counter.

If you are traveling with a duffel bag or a backpack, choose one within the range of 30 to 40 liters. Don't forget to check the dimensions too and be aware at how overpacking this type of bag can quickly expand it over the said measurements.

Anyway, here are some things you can do when you realized your bag has expanded from over packing.

  • Wear it. Wear your thickest clothes and bulky shoes on the plane. If it’s too warm to wear your jacket, you can carry it or just tie it around your waist rather than packing it in your bag. You can also remove your laptop and camera while you are checking in and just put it back in your bag afterward.
  • Fill your pockets. You can fill your pockets with other items. Jacket with lots of pockets or cargo pants would be ideal.
  • Be careful how you pack your bag. Using compression bags or packing cubes are highly recommended to cut the size of your clothes. If you are using a backpack, you can then compress the straps on the outside to make it look smaller.

Worse comes to worst if your carry-on bag will be rejected as you approach the airplane's door just because it's an inch too big, never argue with the flight attendant if you hope to board the plane. Just take out items that are important to you and hand over the bag.

Final Thought

Traveling with just a carry-on might feel a bit restrictive to some, others might even find it difficult to do. But for me, it gives me more freedom not checking my luggage. First of all, it will help you avoid hefty checked bag fees. Then, of course, you don't have to waste time waiting for at the baggage carousel after your flight and you will no longer have to worry about the airlines losing your luggage.

If you just want to travel lighter, packing carry-on only is something you can easily do. If you want, you can check out my post on the best way to pack clothes. This will help you make sure you will never exceed the standard size and weight limit of carry-on luggage.

Well, I hope this article was able to answer your question and have a hassle-free trip. Don't let the size of your bag stop you from traveling with a carry-on. Anyway, if you still have any more questions, please don’t hesitate to drop it in the comment section below. I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.

    Tony Anderson

    My name is Tony and I am sitting on a mountain of experience that I would like to share with you! I’ve been to so many incredible places and done some pretty cool things. So I am hoping that you will find inspiration through my travel experiences to help you get started with your adventure and make travel a priority. I will also be talking about different travel and outdoor gear available in the market today that will make your trip and outdoor experience better.

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