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Air Canada says no to smaller, standardized carry-on bags

Will your carry-on bag be allowed on a Canadian flight?
Will your carry-on bag be allowed on a Canadian flight?. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Mark Blinch

Air Canada is saying no to a new push for even smaller carry-on bags.

The International Air Transport Association, the trade association for the world’s airlines, is suggesting airlines around the world change their rules to make one internationally-recognized size for carry-on bags, thus alleviating any problems when switching between flights or carriers.

But the new suggestion would also make carry-ons markedly smaller. A carry-on bag on a Westjet flight can be a maximum of 53 cm x 23 cm x 38 cm (21 in. x 9 in. x 15 in.) while a carry-on on an Air Canada flight can be 23 cm x 40 cm x 55 cm (9 in x 15.5 in x 21.5 in). IATA’s new non-binding guideline would shrink those limits to 55 cm x34 cm x 19 cm (21 x 14 x 8 inches).

READ MORE: Air Canada begins clamp down on carry-on baggage

The new suggested size is slightly smaller than what some carriers like American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines currently allow. And nine airlines will soon adopt the standard including Avianca, Azul, Caribbean Airlines, Cathay Pacific, China Eastern, China Southern, Emirates, Lufthansa, and Qatar Airways.

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But Air Canada isn’t willing to further shrink the size of allowable carry-ons.  Nor have any US airlines.

“Air Canada has no plans to change its carry-on baggage allowances or dimensions as we are satisfied with the current dimensions,” an Air Canada spokesperson said in a statement.

“Nonetheless, we support the general concept of harmonizing carry-on requirements across the industry as it would make it easier for customers, particularly those connecting between different airlines.”

WestJet did not respond to requests by deadline. Porter Airlines is not an IATA member and said in a statement that they won’t be considering the recommendations.

Transport Canada rules allow passengers to carry on two unchecked items.

READ MORE: Airlines ring up bigger profits from baggage fees, lower fuel price

Airlines, especially in Canada, have been criticized of late for limiting and actually enforcing rules surrounding the size of carry-on bags.  Passengers at Pearson International Airport in Toronto have recently had to make sure their bag qualifies as a carry-on before proceeding to security. If not, they have to go back and check their bags.

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Some analysts see the new push towards a standardized – but smaller – size, as another cash grab.

“Once again, the airlines find a way to make their problem the passenger’s problem – and an expensive problem at that,” said travel industry consultant Henry Harteveldt. He said the lack of space forcing stricter carry-on rules comes from airlines trying to cram as many people as possible onto a plane.

  • With files from The Associated Press

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