Choosing A Luggage Size Doesn't Have to be Complicated

While luggage comes in various shapes and sizes, choosing one can certainly prove to be a tedious task. Whether you’re looking for a new carry on, checked piece, or even oversize, the right luggage size for you isn’t always clear. But it doesn’t have to be that way. To make your luggage quest just a tad easier, here’s a comprehensive guide to suitcase sizes that will help simplify your search.

These are the Different Suitcase Sizes You Can Choose From

Wheeled Totes

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At an even smaller size than a normal sized carry-on, a wheeled tote’s dimensions are usually similar to a back-pack. They work great if you’re traveling light, and will most likely always be allowed to be hand carried on any international or domestic flight.

18”-20” Average Carry-on Suitcases

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The most common carry-on size, 18”-20” range, is generally the standard for international flights. While still compact, most offer space for several outfits, room for toiletries, and if you pack efficiently, a pair of shoes. A small carry-on proves to be one the most popular and most commonly used of all suitcase sizes.

21″-22” Medium Carry-on Suitcases

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This dimension is the most common carry-on luggage size. It is also the easiest to find when shopping as it’s the most popular size for air travel. While you’ll be able to use this as a carry-on on domestic flights, you might not be able to when flying internationally. While they already offer plenty of space to bring a week’s worth of clothing, most have expansion capabilities, making it an excellent addition to smaller suitcase sizes.

23”-24” Small Checked Piece

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Stepping up from carry-on to checked, the 23”-24” range offers travelers who pack light an excellent option. While they are small compared to a large check-in bag size, they can be roomy enough to accommodate for a short trip. Most even include a fold out suiter which makes space for 2 to 3 suits or dresses.

25” – 27” Medium Checked Piece

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The most common of all check-in suitcase sizes would be the medium range, at 25”-27”.  With enough space to comfortably fit a week’s worth of garments, shoes and a range of toiletries, these are ideal for most travelers.

28”-32” Large Checked Piece

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The largest proportion (before entering the oversize range) is from 28”-32”. These suitcase sizes are ideal for traveling families as well as those who take long trips. Consequently, you may find it hard to completely fill one of these if you’re only planning a shorter trip. Be careful, as these are easy to go over 50 lbs. when full. Also, the airlines are strict to enforce sizes no bigger than 62” linear inches, so be cautious when packing.


What Size Suitcase to Buy? Here’s How to Decide:

1) Convenience

One of the most important things to keep in mind when determining a suitcase’s size is how convenient it will or won’t be. Say that your height is on the shorter side of the scale. Wheeling around a massive suitcase might be a bit tedious. Therefore, you a smaller bag might make a better option. Make sure and consider what suits your needs and what will help make your journey simpler.

2) Reason for Travel

Similar to convenience, it’s important to keep in mind your reason for traveling. Say you’re a businessman who constantly travels from city to city several times a month. Your trips are only a day or two at a time, so traveling with a large suitcase wouldn't make sense. A large carry-on might do the trick, or a small check-in with a suiter might make a good alternative. Perhaps your situation is the opposite. If you’re traveling to the Bahamas with a light load, but plan to bring back lots of seashells, a large piece might suit best.

3) Mode of Transportation

This one is quite easy to overlook. Many times, the type of transportation that you utilize can have a big impact on what size of luggage you should get. For example, if you’re traveling on the Trans-Siberian railroad in a coach, the size of your bag most likely won’t matter. However, if you’re traveling through Asia in a small car, you won’t want all of your precious trunk space taken up by one bag. The most common medium of long-distance travel is by airplane, so of course, check their requirements and guidelines.

4) Packing Light or Heavy

For families and over-packers alike, keep this one in mind. If you know beforehand that you struggle to pack light, you’ve got nothing to lose by choosing a larger sized suitcase. As the old saying goes, “Better safe than sorry.” I’m sure most people would rather have extra space in a bag returning from a trip than have to leave belongings behind. Many large suitcases are made with the family in mind and are purposed to help cut down the number of bags being taken along. Whatever size family you have, larger suitcase sizes might be just right to fit all the extra things you may end up needing.

Luggage Regulations for Each Airport

In terms of checked pieces, most airlines allow one checked piece, and one carry-on as well as a personal item (purse, briefcase, etc.). I can’t stress enough how important it is to not exceed the 50 pound limit for checked, as most carriers are strict. If you don’t want to pay their steep fees for overweight, you may have to leave behind belongings. When it comes to the size of your bag, you’ll be fine as long as it doesn’t extend past 62” linear inches.

With all airlines varying in their regulations regarding carry-ons, here is a breakdown of allowances of suitcase sizes for most common airlines.





22 x 14 x 9

22 lbs.

Air Canada

21.5 x 15.5 x 9

22 lbs.

Air France

21.7 x 13.8 x 9.9

22 lbs.

Air New Zealand

46.5 total linear

15 lbs.

AirTran Airways

24 x 16 x 10

Alaska Airlines

24 x 17 x 10


21.7 x 13.8 x 9.9

17.6 lbs.

All Nippon Airways

22 x 16 x 10

22 lbs.

American Airlines

22 x 14 x 9

Delta Airlines

22 x 14 x 9

El Al

21.2 x 17.7 x 9.8

15.4 lbs.

Frontier Airlines

24 x 16 x 10

35 lbs.

Hawaiian Airlines

22 x 14 x 9

25 lbs.


21.5 x 13.5 x 7.5


21.6 x 15.7 x 7.8

Japan Airlines

22 x 16 x 10

22 lbs.

JetBlue Airways

22 x 14 x 9


21.5 x 13.5 x 10

26 lbs.

Korean Air

21.6 x 15.7 x 7.8

25 lbs.


21.6 x 15.7 x 9

17 lbs.

Philippine Airlines

45 total linear

15 lbs.

Qantas Airways

45 total linear

15 lbs.

Saudi Arabian Airlines

45 total linear

19.8 lbs.

Scandinavian Airlines

22 x 16 x 9

18 lbs.

Singapore Airlines

45 total linear

15 lbs.

Southwest Airlines

24 x 16 x 10

Spirit Airlines

22 x 18 x 10

Sun Country Airlines

24 x 16 x 11

35 lbs.

Thai Airways

22 x 18 x 10

15 lbs.

United Airlines

22 x 14 x 9

Virgin America

24 x 16 x 10

Virgin Atlantic

22 x 14 x 9

22 lbs.

How to Measure Your Luggage Dimensions:

To avoid booking a flight and show up with the wrong suitcase, it’s important that you measure your luggage dimensions first.

Step 1:

Sit the suitcase upright and run a measuring tape along the length of the bag vertically.

Step 2:

Just to be safe, fully pack your bag and measure its width to see how wide it is when full.

Step 3:

Next, measure the height, but make sure to start from the wheels and extend past the zipper to not fall short any inches.

Step 4:

To come up with your final measurement, add all the dimensions together. For example, if the suitcase is 17 inches long, 5 inches tall and 7 inches wide, your total is 29 inches.

Step 5:

Finally, weigh your luggage and make sure that it doesn’t exceed the limit either.

The Perfect Size Made Simple

All in all, assorted suitcase sizes exist to meet the needs of our various lifestyles. Be sure to consider convenience and what works best for you, all while keeping in mind your biggest needs.

What's your favorite suitcase size? Share with us in the comments section below!

Related Article: Best Checked Luggage Pieces (Plus How to Choose Yours)