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Luggage Measurement Guide

Published July 20, 2010 | Updated June 12, 2015

Airlines have strict restrictions on luggage sizes, so it's important to know if you are choosing something that is the right size for your trip. Make sure you know the size of luggage you are looking at before you purchase anything. Use these tips to make sure you understand the sizing of the bags you are considering.

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  • Get All the Dimensions

    Luggage manufacturers often define and separate luggage sizes by just one measurement, usually the height or length; so a bag described as a 31-inch upright is 31 inches high. Regular upright bags without wheels are measured from the retracted handle to the flat bottom or to the bottom edge of any standing pegs. An online retailer should have additional measurements for width and depth listed on the product page for each piece of luggage they sell. The actual storage compartment will be slightly smaller than the inches listed.

  • Know Your Airline's Limitations

    The airline size restrictions cite the sum of a bag's height, width, and depth measurements. The maximum carry-on size is usually 45 inches, and the maximum checked-bag size is usually 62 inches. Be sure to check on the website of the airline you are traveling with before you choose luggage for your flight.

  • Remember the Wheels

    If you are looking at rolling luggage, check the size of the wheels. Wheeled luggage is measured from the bottom of the wheels to the top of the retracted handle. A luggage bag without wheels could have the same storage capacity and still be listed as an inch or so shorter than a wheeled luggage bag just because the wheels take up some extra space.

  • Consider the Material

    If you are trying to gauge the thickness of the actual bag, try to think about the general thickness of certain types of fabric on luggage. Leather luggage will often have a similar thickness, while different types of lightweight luggage will usually be fairly thin. The storage space inside a suitcase can vary, even between suitcases with the same listed dimensions.

  • Check the Extras

    Many bags come with an extension which will make the storage space deeper and that can be zipped or unzipped depending on how much space you need. This is a good feature if you plan on having the same luggage for a while; however, the extended space adds an inch or two to your overall luggage dimensions.