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Do I need new suitcases?

London, United...
Level Contributor
92 posts
5 reviews
Do I need new suitcases?

We are flying a combination of international flights and domestic US flights. We have never flown US domestic flights before.

Our 2 suitcases are within the check-in size for our international flights. However, I noticed the United Airlines check-in baggage size limit is less generous at 157cm total dimensions. I have measured our bags and if I include every bits that stick out (such as handles and wheels), my suitcases are over the limit by 2-3cm.

Do I need to buy new suitcases as I don't want to pay $200 oversized bags fees?

Thank you for your help.

San Diego
Destination Expert
for San Diego
Level Contributor
55,001 posts
65 reviews
1. Re: Do I need new suitcases?


It is quite unusual for the USA airline to have a smaller size limit than international flight.

United's total limit is 158cm. not 157 as you have written.

The weight should be not more than 50lbs.

IF your domestic flight is on the same ticket and right after your international flight then the international rules usually apply. With whom are you flying to the USA?

IF you are off by 1cm I doubt if anyone will notice. I don't fly with large luggage so I have never dealt with this issue myself.

Level Contributor
288 posts
146 reviews
2. Re: Do I need new suitcases?

In January on our return to the UK from San Diego with BA we went SD to LAX with SkyWest. This was all on a BA ticket. I checked both my bags in before my husband and both were about 54 lbs. I had no problem.

My husband arrived at the airport 15 minutes later and his two cases were 52 lbs. The check in lady, who was different to mine,made us take things out of the case to make it dead on 50 lbs. She also tried to charge him for the cases even though they were included in the ticket. These two women were working alongside each other and had totally different attitudes.

One of my cases was very large and there was no problem with the size. I think the weight would maybe be more of a problem for hold baggage than a couple of cms but that's just my experience.

Kent, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
7,288 posts
102 reviews
3. Re: Do I need new suitcases?

gosh -were your cases full of cement ??-- I can travel for a month with just one suitcase weighing 25 lbs

London, United...
Level Contributor
92 posts
5 reviews
4. Re: Do I need new suitcases?

Riff M, we are flying Virgin Atlantics into the US. Then flying United Airlines for domestic flight. They are separate tickets.

Yes I noticed the united website says 158cm but when I logged into my booking to check fees for check-in baggage, it says 157cm.

One suitcase is literally only over by a couple of cm but I don't want to be stung with a $100 oversized baggage fee.

Liverpool, UK
Level Contributor
16,686 posts
24 reviews
5. Re: Do I need new suitcases?

"flying Virgin Atlantics into the US. Then flying United Airlines for domestic flight. They are separate tickets."

On separate tickets you'll pay for baggage, around $25 for the first bag is the norm, and in my experience as long as you are within the weight limit they are not going to even notice a bag that's over by 1 or 2 cm.

I've yet to see a check in agent get out a tape measure.

Victoria, Canada
Destination Expert
for Regina
Level Contributor
3,699 posts
92 reviews
6. Re: Do I need new suitcases?

Correct they weigh the suitcases all the time, but as above I have yet to see them measure a checked bag... carry-ons are a different matter.

Portland, Oregon
Destination Expert
for Air Travel
Level Contributor
24,706 posts
6 reviews
7. Re: Do I need new suitcases?

United does not have sizers for checked baggage, and I've never seen them measured. The checked baggage size limit is 62 linear inches, which translates to 157.5 linear cm (height + width + depth). If you're over by 2-3 linear cm (1 linear inch) they are not going to worry. They do weigh checked bags though and can be strict.

Carry ons are measured and the rules are being strictly enforced - tripadvisor.co.uk/ShowTopic-g1-i10702-k70015…

Level Contributor
14,491 posts
16 reviews
8. Re: Do I need new suitcases?

I did have my checked baggage measured once, but it was at least 10-15 years ago and on Northwest. Of course, in recent years, I've only flown with bags well under the size (and weight) limit. My bags are always weighed. Several years ago I had to move things from one bag to the other due to one being overweight. (Tip- move books, shoes, and toiletries first.) I think that was before they started charging for checked baggage, though, so also a long time ago.

Personally, I'd get a bag that's under the limit, but I'm paranoid. I'd rather spend $100 on a new suitcase than on oversize baggage fees.

Edited: 7:28 pm, March 15, 2014
London, United...
Level Contributor
92 posts
5 reviews
9. Re: Do I need new suitcases?

Thanks for all the comments, I think I will play it safe and use smaller bags. Just have to travel light and control my shopping while in the US!

Zihuatanejo, Mexico
Destination Expert
for Ixtapa, Zihuatanejo, Cabo San Lucas
Level Contributor
9,947 posts
6 reviews
10. Re: Do I need new suitcases?

There is a checked suitcase sizer at the TSA bag check in the Minneapolis (MSP) airport. They called me over to make sure that my suit case was not too fat...I had to unzip the suitcase...and put my shoes that were in an outside pocket...inside the suitcase...which flattened it down just the right amount. So the airlines are checking.

It didn't matter which airline I was flying...as it was the TSA that was doing the measuring of all checked bags from all airlines. Just a warning...