What size is a cabin suitcase: dimensions explained - thebestsuitcase. Co. Uk

What Size Is a Cabin Suitcase: Dimensions Explained

When we travel by air, we are often faced with the challenge of selecting appropriate luggage that complies with airline regulations. Cabin luggage, also known as carry-on or hand luggage, must fit within the size constraints imposed by airlines to ensure it can be safely stowed in overhead compartments or under the seat in front of us. Understanding the size specifications for cabin suitcases is crucial before packing for our trips to avoid any last-minute stress at the airport.

The standard size for a cabin suitcase typically includes dimensions of 56cm in height, 45cm in width, and 25cm in depth, including handles, pockets, and wheels. However, these dimensions are not universal, as each airline may have its own slightly different size requirements for carry-on luggage. It is therefore essential for us to check with our specific airline before flying. A small cabin bag generally refers to an even more compact piece of luggage, which many airlines allow passengers to carry in addition to their main cabin suitcase.

To help us select the correct cabin suitcase size, here are some key points to consider:

  • Check your airline’s carry-on luggage size restrictions, as these may vary.
  • Remember the standard cabin suitcase dimensions: 56cm x 45cm x 25cm.
  • Factor in the weight limit for carry-on luggage—typically between 7kg and 10kg.
  • Consider opting for a small cabin bag if your main luggage is near the size limit.
  • Ensure your cabin luggage has accessible compartments for any liquids or electronics, as these may need to be presented separately during security checks.

General Cabin Suitcase Specifications

When we travel, adhering to the airline’s cabin suitcase specifications is crucial to ensure our luggage is permitted on board. These specifications primarily encompass dimensions and weight limits.


  • Maximum Dimensions: Typically, the maximum dimensions for a cabin suitcase are 56 cm x 45 cm x 25 cm, including handles, pockets, and wheels.
  • Standard Variations: Some airlines may allow slightly different sizes, so it’s important to check with the specific airline before travelling.

Weight Limit

  • Maximum Weight: The standard weight limit for a cabin suitcase is usually around 7 to 10 kilograms.
  • Considerations: Always verify the airline’s maximum weight allowance, as exceeding this limit can result in additional fees or having to check the bag into the hold.

Airlines’ Cabin Suitcase Policies

When planning to fly, it’s essential to be aware of various airline cabin suitcase policies, as they can significantly differ. Understanding these guidelines ensures that our baggage complies with the size limits and avoids any unnecessary fees.

Major Airlines

American Airlines: For carry-on bags, the dimensions must not exceed 56 x 36 x 23 cm. This includes handles and wheels.

  • British Airways: Hand baggage should not be larger than 56 x 45 x 25 cm, including the bag’s parts.
  • Delta Air Lines: Cabin bag size must fit within 56 x 35 x 23 cm.
  • Lufthansa: Carry-on luggage is limited to dimensions of 55 x 40 x 23 cm.
Airline Maximum Cabin Suitcase Size (cm)
Emirates 55 x 38 x 20
United Airlines 55 x 35 x 22
Air France 55 x 35 x 25

Budget Airlines

EasyJet: The maximum cabin bag size is 56 x 45 x 25 cm with no weight limit as long as you can place it in the overhead locker unassisted.

  • Ryanair: Standard cabin bag allowance is 55 x 40 x 20 cm, not exceeding 10 kg.
  • Norwegian: Under their LowFare, a small handbag or laptop bag is allowed with dimensions up to 30 x 20 x 38 cm.
Airline Carry-On Size (cm) Weight Limit
Jet2 56 x 45 x 25 N/A
Spirit Airlines 56 x 46 x 25 N/A
SAS 55 x 40 x 23 8 kg

International vs Domestic

Domestic Carry-On: Most domestic flights within the UK align with the International Air Transport Association (IATA) recommendations, which are 56 x 45 x 25 cm.

  • International Carry-On: For international travel, size may vary. For example, Air China allows carry-on bags up to 55 x 40 x 20 cm, whereas Turkish Airlines allows 55 x 40 x 23 cm.
Airline Domestic Size (cm) International Size (cm)
Air Canada 55 x 40 x 23 55 x 40 x 23
Air New Zealand 55 x 40 x 23 55 x 40 x 23
Alaska Airlines 56 x 45 x 25 56 x 45 x 25

In summary, while sizes tend to be fairly standard across airlines, especially the major carriers, it is prudent to always check specific airline policies before travel, as exceptions and variations do occur.

Packing and Security Guidelines

When packing a cabin suitcase, we need to be aware of luggage restrictions and prohibited items to ensure our baggage meets airline and security standards.

Luggage Restrictions

  • Size and Weight: Cabin suitcases must generally adhere to airline specifications. For example, Wizz Air allows a maximum dimension of 40x30x20 cm for under the seat cabin baggage, while TUI Airways permits up to 55x40x20 cm.
  • Lithium Batteries: Spare lithium batteries are restricted to carry-on bags only. They must be protected from short circuits.

Prohibited Items

  • Liquids: We’re allowed a single, transparent, resealable plastic bag of liquids in containers of no more than 100ml each, within a total limit of 1 litre.
  • Firearms and Weapons: All firearms are strictly prohibited in cabin luggage.
  • Sharp Objects: Objects with sharp edges or points capable of being used to cause serious injury are not permitted.
  • Explosives: Any explosive or incendiary substances are strictly banned from all luggage types.

When packing personal items like a laptop bag or briefcase, it’s worth noting that many airlines, including JetBlue and Southwest Airlines, allow one smaller item without additional luggage fees. Frontier Airlines and Hawaiian Airlines also typically do not charge for personal items that fit under the seat in front of us. Remember to always check specific airline policies regarding baggage fees for any larger checked bags.

Selecting the Right Cabin Suitcase

When flying, we often prefer to take a cabin suitcase that meets airline size restrictions yet still comfortably holds our essentials. In choosing the right option, we seek a balance between size, functionality, and durability.

Features to Consider

  • Size: Most airlines accept cabin baggage up to 56cm x 45cm x 25cm, including handles and wheels.
  • Weight: A lightweight option allows us to maximise our packing allowance. Look for suitcases under 2.5 kg.
  • Material: Durable materials like polycarbonate or high-denier fabric provide longevity.
  • Handles: A telescopic handle that adjusts to different heights is crucial for comfort and manoeuvrability.
  • Wheels: A four-wheeled suitcase, also known as a spinner, offers 360-degree movement for ease through busy airports.
  • Compartments: Organised sections for electronics, documents, and clothes help to keep items secure and accessible.

Example: The Travelpro Maxlite 5 is a top contender for the best carry-on luggage due to its lightweight and durable construction.

Luggage Brands

  • Samsonite: Renowned for their robust, innovative luggage.
  • Travelpro: Offers practicality with the traveller-friendly Maxlite series.
  • Antler: A UK brand known for stylish and sturdy designs.
  • American Tourister: Provides colourful and cost-effective travel solutions.

It is wise for us to research specific airline restrictions before making a purchase, even though these brands are generally compliant with standard cabin luggage dimensions.

Additional Considerations for Travellers

When selecting a cabin suitcase, we must consider the distinct requirements of family and business travel. Each has unique considerations that influence the choice of luggage.

Family Travel

For family holidays, coordinating luggage is crucial. We suggest:

  • Opting for lightweight carry-on luggage to avoid fatigue and manageability issues.

    Age Group Recommended Cabin Suitcase Size
    Toddlers Small backpacks or ride-on suitcases
    Children 50x40x20 cm to allow for toys and snacks
    Adults Standard cabin size (up to 56x45x25 cm)
  • Planning ahead to ensure all family members have their own cabin suitcase if appropriate, and are aware of weight restrictions.

  • Checking the airline’s luggage size chart before departure to prevent issues at the gate.

  • Including entertainment and essentials in an easily accessible pocket or compartment for convenience.

Business Travel

For the business traveller, efficiency is paramount. We recommend:

  • A cabin suitcase that fits the overhead locker for ease of access. Typically, this means adhering to the common size guideline of up to 56x45x25 cm, though we should always verify with our specific airline’s size limits beforehand.

    Airline Permitted Cabin Suitcase Dimensions
    Airline A Up to 55x40x20 cm
    Airline B Up to 56x45x25 cm
  • Utilising suitcases that are both practical and professional, typically those with a sleek design and solid construction.

  • Packing intelligently to account for the possibility of checking in our bag if overhead locker space runs out.

  • Considering a suitcase with a dedicated compartment for a laptop or documents to keep our boarding pass and work materials accessible.

By keeping these needs in mind, we can ensure that our cabin luggage choice serves us well, whether we’re travelling with family or for business.