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Airline group proposes smaller carry-on bags

The carry-on standard size is smaller than the limits imposed by most major U.S. carrier

Get ready to buy a slimmer carry-on bag.

To address the problem of size limits that vary by airline, a trade group for the world's airlines has come up with a standard size for luggage that passengers are allowed to bring on board planes.

But passengers may not be happy about the new guidelines because the size limits proposed by the International Air Transport Assn. are slightly smaller than the standards imposed by most U.S. carriers, including Delta, United, American and Southwest Airlines.

At a meeting in Miami on Tuesday, IATA announced a proposed standard carry-on size of 21.5 x 13.5 x 7.5 inches. Delta Air Lines, American Airlines and United Airlines, for example, limit carry-on bags to no bigger than 22 x 14 x 9 inches.

Southwest limits carry-on bags to not bigger than 24 x 16 x 10 inches.

IATA officials say imposing smaller bag limits will ensure that everyone on a plane can fit their carry-on luggage into the overhead bins.

"This is a program that is designed to make things easier for everyone," said Tom Windmuller, IATA's senior vice president for airport, passenger, cargo and security.

For now, the carry-on standard is only a guideline for the world's carriers. Windmuller said about 30 to 40 airlines has expressed interest in accepting the IATA standard, with about a dozen foreign carriers, including Emirates, Lufthansa and Qatar, already agreeing to accept the guidelines. 

"This should bring a degree of standardization to the industry and make it easier for everyone concerned," he said.

IATA is also working with luggage manufacturers to produce carry-on bags that meet the size limits and include a logo, showing that the bag meets the IATA guidelines.

"We are confident that over the next several months we will get a number of major airlines coming on board," Windmuller said.

To read more about travel, tourism and the airline industry, follow me on Twitter at @hugomartin.

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