Carry-on no longer means carry it all

November 20, 1994|By Los Angeles Times

Attention, air travelers who hog overhead luggage space: This could be the winter of your discontent.

In its efforts to compete with Southwest Airlines and its no-frills service, the Shuttle by United service has been streamlining boarding procedures and strictly limiting the size and amount of baggage that travelers can carry aboard. USAir did the same about a year ago. Continental Airlines, though its shuttle service is focused in the eastern United States, may tighten enforcement on non-shuttle service as well.

In most cases, the carry-on limits are the same as they have been for years; they have just never been strongly enforced. Now, as you arrive at the airport, the first sign of the new carry-on squeeze probably will be a metal-framed "sizing box," designed to accommodate allowable carry-on items only. The second sign could be a cursing infrequent flier, who until now has been getting away with flagrant violations of airline limits. A third sign could be the satisfied smiles of travelers who have played by the rules for years, and suffered for it.

There is still cause for concern among rule-abiding passengers, though, because there is no industry standard on carry-on limits.

Everyone's dimension limits seem to be just a little different. If you are facing a flight on an unfamiliar airline and you're hoping to carry baggage aboard, call to ask the maximum dimensions and the number of carry-on items allowed.

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