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What Is Oversized Luggage?

Airlines may charge to store luggage in the cargo hold of a plane.
Rules defining oversize luggage vary by airline.
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  • Last Modified Date: 27 August 2014
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Oversized luggage is luggage that does not fit within the maximum allowable dimensions set forth by a transportation provider. The term most often refers to baggage checked for air travel, but can also apply to air travel carry-on bags and to luggage transported by bus, train, or ship. Some transportation providers strictly forbid passengers to carry oversized luggage, while others will allow it upon payment of an additional fee.

At one time, baggage size restrictions were almost universal, at least for air travel. Over time, that has become less so. While common standards do exist, each airline sets its own policies as to what constitutes oversized luggage and sets policies and fees regarding the ability of customers to check or carry such bags.

Airlines might also have different restrictions based on geography and on specific flights. The maximum allowable dimensions and oversized luggage fees may be different in one country than in another as well. Such luggage could be banned entirely on some flights and merely incur an additional fee on others.

In air travel, the maximum allowable dimensions on luggage are usually determined by the size of the aircraft. This is especially true of carry-on luggage, as the size of overhead bins can vary dramatically based on the model of the aircraft. In some cases, restrictions might also be based on local policies and governmental restrictions.

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Baggage size restrictions also vary significantly for ground and sea transporters, such as trains and cruise ships. As with airlines, these companies typically base restrictions around the size of the equipment in which passengers ride. Like airlines, such companies might disallow oversized luggage or assess a baggage fee.

The designation "oversized" typically refers to the actual outer dimension of the luggage rather than its weight. Bags that weigh more than the maximum allowable weight are generally designated "overweight." The outside dimensions are often determined by measuring the bag’s length, width, and depth and adding those three numbers together. Carriers might also stipulate that no one side be longer than a specified length.

Airports and train depots often provide displays that contain a frame or box into which carry-on bags must fit in order to be allowed. This gives passengers an easy way to see if their items are within the required dimensions. Luggage that does not fit usually must be checked. While luggage typically refers to suitcases, trunks and other such travel-specific bags, cases, or equipment can be considered "luggage" and be subject to size restrictions. This includes musical equipment, strollers, wheelchairs, and anything else that is checked or carried on.

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bear78
Post 3

It's been a few years since I flew so I'm not sure what things are like right now. I remember several years ago though, I was flying in a small plane and my carry-on was too large for the overhead compartment. There were actually many people who were in the same situation. So what the airline personnel did was they collected all of the oversized carry-ons and sent it under the plane. And they actually did this as we were boarding the plane.

So I think it depends on the airline how they deal with this issue. I don't think most airline personnel will expect a passenger to throw away their baggage and find something smaller on the spot. So they will probably try to find a way to work around the problem.

ysmina
Post 2

@bluedolphin-- Is oversized luggage even a problem for luggage that is checked in? I thought that this limitation only exists for carry-ons because an oversized carry-on won't fit the overhead compartments in planes. So they have those boxes at the airport where people can insert their carry-on luggage to make sure that it's not too large.

So if you are checking your luggage in, you probably don't have to worry about it being too big. But do watch out for the weight as there are restrictions on that. They can charge you a hefty fee if it's too heavy.

bluedolphin
Post 1

Okay so if I go to the airport with an oversized luggage, will they make an exception or will they just say that I can't check it in? Does anyone know?

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