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Ryanair's new policies (in force since November 2018) allow only one "small bag" for passenger (unless he purchases priority or other extras).

However, I'm confused about its sizes. The official statement (here and here) says:

We have increased the size of the free small carry-on bag by over 40% from 35 x 20 x 20cm (14,000 cm³) to 40 x 20 x 25cm (20,000 cm³).

We have almost doubled the size of our small bag sizer from 35 x 20 x 20cm (14,000 cm³) to 42 x 20 x 30 cm (25,200 cm³) to allow carry-on bags that are considerably (25%) larger than our permitted small bag dimensions. (See diagram)

I couldn't find the answer to the simple, obvious question ensuing: can I bring a bag sized 42x20x30cm? Such a bag would fit the sizer but exceed the allowance. Why do they give two maximum sizes? Which one is the actual one? Gosh, seems like they just want to lure customers into making mistakes.

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This is a guess, but I would read this as a "grace" policy. The official limit is 40 x 20 x 25. They have made the sizer a little bit larger than the official limit, so that a bag which actually is exactly 40 x 20 x 25 won't accidentally get rejected due to slight inaccuracies in the construction of the sizer, putting it in crooked, etc. This will also help to reduce the number of arguments with people saying "but I measured it at home", etc.

As a side effect, if your bag actually is slightly larger than 40 x 20 x 25, you will probably get away with it. But it is at your own risk. If it happens not to fit in the sizer, for whatever reason, you'll have no excuse.

An analogy might be a road where the posted speed limit is 100 km/h, but the police only issue tickets when their radar indicates a car is going over 110 km/h. That way, even if their radar guns are a little inaccurate, they can be pretty confident they aren't ticketing innocent drivers, and that those who they ticket really are guilty. It also means that you might be able to speed a little bit and get away with it. But if you choose to drive 108, it's at your own risk; if the radar gun gives your speed as 111, you will get a ticket for exceeding 100 km/h and you will have no excuse.

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I remember the first time I flew Ryanair: They had a baggage sizer at the gate and many passengers were trying to push their non-hardcase, fully stuffed hand luggage suitcases into the sizer. Some managed to squeeze it in, some didn't. All the bags were bulging heavily.

My guess is that this is at least part of the reason for the sizer being bigger than the official size: a non-hardcase bag won't stay rectangular when being filled.

Therefore, I agree with Nate Eldredge: bringing a larger sized bag is at your own risk. If you take a bag sized 42x20x30cm when empty and heavy stuffing brings the last dimension up to 31cm, then you're out of luck. If that happens to your 40x20x25cm-bag, it's 40x20x26cm and will still fit comfortably in the sizer.

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