Carry-on Weight Limits??  Say It Isn't So!!!

Updated: Dec 28, 2019



I returned to the US from overseas this past weekend, the last weekend before Christmas.  I expected it to be a travel nightmare: airplanes bulging at the seams, airports crammed with zig-zagging lines of impatient travelers with tantrumming toddlers...y'know, the usual.  However, to my great relief, such things did not materialize, and even the one-hour drive home on the interstate had lighter-than-usual interstate traffic for a Saturday, much less the last travel, and last shopping Saturday before the big holiday.  So if you need to travel for Christmas go now!!!

I was able to take a two-week vacay with only a carry-on bag, which I checked (because some airlines still have free checked bags; and because 'vacation' means "I'm not luggin' if I don't have to").  It helped that I only needed a few pieces of warm-weather clothing; however, as this week's title indicates, carry-on bag weight limits may take the unsuspecting traveller by surprise if said traveller is in the habit of avoiding checked bag fees by cramming all their possessions into the overhead bin.

Weight limits for carry-on bags are a real thing that are generally unheard of in the US; it's the international or overseas airlines that enforce weight limits of in-cabin luggage - both the personal item that goes under the seat, and the luggage that goes in the overhead bin. Domestic airlines rarely enforce these restrictions, focusing instead on size limits.  In addition, US airports are not equipped to monitor weight at the gate.  On international flights, weight is a real consideration, one that impacts what you can and can’t carry onboard. Most of the time, airlines that limit the weight of carry-ons will ask you to weigh your bag as you check in, but sometimes, you’re left to your own devices until boarding, at which point the mistake can co$t you.

Step one then, is to look up your airline's weight restrictions; I have seen varying weight restrictions for carry-on luggage from 17 to 25 pounds (keep in mind that most of the time the measurement you see online is in kilograms!). Next step: weigh your carry-on, once packed.  There are ultra-light wheeled carry-ons on the market, so it might be worth investing in one to help lighten your load. Step three - make sure your personal item also falls within its weight limit. If you simply can't make the weight work, prepare to check the bag, or eliminate the carry-on completely and opt for a larger suitcase which you'll have to check anyway, but which will have a higher weight allowance. Paying for that checked bag allows you to avoid paying EXTRA for being overweight (I'm still talking luggage here), and is likely to be worth it for saving your money, and your peace of mind.

'til next week.

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