IATA Says Carry-On Initiative Misunderstood

Open Jaw

IATA has issued comments it says are aimed at clarifying key elements of its Cabin OK initiative “which have been misunderstood in some reporting.” The airline organization says its ‘Cabin OK’ initiative for carry-on bags aims to provide passengers with a greater assurance that their carry-on bags will travel with them in the aircraft cabin, even when the flight is full.

The Cabin OK size guideline, developed by working with airlines and manufacturers, is 55 x 35 x 20 cm (or 21.5” x 13.5” x 7.5" inches). IATA says this size was calculated to make the best use of storage space in the cabin.

“If fully embraced by passengers, everyone would have a chance to travel with their carry-on bags on board aircraft of 120 seats or larger even when the flight is full,” a statement says.

Both Air Canada and WestJet have stated they will maintain their current carry-on size requirements, though IATA says “a number of major international airlines have signaled their interest to join the initiative.”

The group says that while these airlines may not mandate the suggested Cabin OK size, “they will soon be introducing operational guidelines to give Cabin OK bags priority to stay on board the aircraft when all carry-on bags cannot be accommodated in the cabin.”

The Cabin OK guideline is not a maximum size limit. The maximum size of cabin baggage is set individually by each airline. This is not affected by the Cabin OK initiative.

The IATA Cabin OK guideline is smaller than the size set by most airlines as their maximum acceptable for carry-on baggage – by as much as 20%.

“Thus, passengers with Cabin OK carry-on baggage can travel with a greater assurance that it will be acceptable across the different airline requirements,” IATA says in a press release.

''Cabin OK is all about providing the customer with greater assurances. If you have a Cabin OK bag, you can be pretty sure that you are within the maximum carry-on limits of airlines around the world. If you are travelling on an airline participating in the program, you will have the best chance that your bag will be with you in the cabin even on a full flight,” said Thomas Windmuller, IATA’s Senior Vice President for Airport, Passenger, Cargo and Security.

“For passengers traveling with bags that don’t have the Cabin OK logo, there’s no need to worry. If it was accepted for travel before, it will be acceptable for travel now, but with the same uncertainty that if the flight is full it may eventually have to travel in the hold,” said Windmuller.

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