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National Columnists

Another View: Travelers lose in carry-on downsizing

As if flying weren’t aggravating enough these days – tighter seats, less legroom, slow check-ins – now airlines want to downsize carry-on luggage.

Most domestic carriers charge passengers $25 or more to check a suitcase for every one-way trip, so it’s no wonder the industry wants to divert more luggage to a plane’s hold. Evidently 2014’s record profits weren’t big enough, while airfares were the highest since 2003.

Yet these baggage fees, which inflate the price of a ticket, lead many passengers to drag ever-bigger bags onto the plane and jam them into overhead bins, thereby adding to the time it takes everyone to board.

Major U.S. airlines say carry-on bags must be no more than 22 inches tall, 14 inches wide, and 9 inches deep. The International Air Transport Association proposes the allowance be reduced to 21.5 by 13.5 by 7.5 inches. The numbers don’t look very different, but do the math: It’s 21 percent fewer cubic inches. Some major international carriers – Lufthansa, Air China, Emirates, Qatar and Pacific – say they would use the proposed limits.

If smaller carry-ons will lead to less boarding time and less wrestling in the aisle with bulky suitcases, travelers may not mind the new restrictions. But that presumes that airlines’ gate employees will weed out bags that exceed the limit. At a time of low customer service, that’s a big if.

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