How to Measure a Suitcase in Linear Inches

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Airlines have policies as to what size luggage you can take on the plane for free. Sixty-two linear inches is a common checked-bag restriction in the U.S. Forty-five linear inches is a common carry-on bag restriction. Exceeding the measurement can trigger your having to check a bag or having to pay a fee.

Retract the handle fully. Recess the wheels, if possible. You want these figuring into your measurement as little as possible.

Measure the width, height and length of the baggage in inches. Include the wheels and handle in the measurement. Include the bulging sides in the measurement.

Add the three measurements together. The sum is the bag’s measurement in linear inches.

Tips & Warnings

  • Don’t forget that there are also weight restrictions on luggage. Forty pounds and 50 pounds are common limits in the U.S. for carry-on and checked luggage, respectively.
  • Note that the airline may not be restricting carry-on luggage by linear inches, but instead by each of the three dimensions. For example, if it wants external dimensions no larger than 10 by 14 by 24 inches, then a 14-by-14-by-20-inch bag may not be acceptable because one of the three dimension limits was exceeded. This three-limit type of restriction is more common for carry-on luggage than for checked-luggage, because the carry-on luggage has to be stowed under seats or in luggage bins above the seats. Contact your airline if its website is unclear on the policy.

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