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I have a bag which is less than the max on height and width but 3cm over in depth. In linear terms I am under the total but my airline are not clear if they are quoting in a linear way.

It's Emirates and it's about carry-on bags; they specify 55cm * 38cm * 20cm. My bag is 54 * 35 * 23. It's a soft bag and not packed full. Route is Toronto to Dubai. I did see on their website reference to a rolling bag which if under the linear measurements could go as cabin bag, but that was the only reference to cabin luggage in a linear context

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    who is the airline and what is the route? also, hand luggage or checked? – Kate Gregory Aug 31 at 21:33
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    Can you paste the airline's exact rules? – Nate Eldredge Aug 31 at 21:37
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    Are you hoping to carry the bag in the cabin or to check it into the cargo hold? – phoog Aug 31 at 22:12
  • Its with Emirates and carry on bag; they specify 55cm * 38cm* 20cm. My bag is 54*35*23. Its a soft bag and not packed full. Route is Toronto to Dubai. I did see on their website reference to a rolling bag which if under the linear measurements could go as cabin bag, but that was the only reference to cabin luggage in a linear context. – Grahame Gourlay Sep 1 at 9:05
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    Emirates unfortunately is extremely strict. They are one of the few airlines that enforces limits very tightly... I paid for being less than 1kg over the limit twice with them, despite my scale not showing the same weight as them. – Itai Sep 1 at 15:22
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Each airline has its rules. Given that you specifically compare against the depth than they must have specified a size for each dimension and hence you have to be without that limit. When the linear size is considered, airlines write their rule in terms of linear size.

It is most common to specify a limit per dimension and each dimension must be up to the stated limit. Very few airlines I know of specify in terms of linear size but some do, mostly for personal items, rather than larger ones. So, I suspect your case does not fall within the rules but the only way to verify is to have the airline rules shown.

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  • And it depends also on aircraft. Airlines are much more strict on small aircraft (the one with propeller) – Giacomo Catenazzi Sep 1 at 8:44
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    Having said that it is very rare that cabin baggage sizes are enforced down to the last centimetre. And the worst that is likely to happen is that they gate check your bag. – DJClayworth Sep 8 at 16:06
  • @GiacomoCatenazzi they're also strict with small jets, in my experience. – phoog Sep 8 at 16:16
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To enforce limits on cabin luggage, most airlines use a "sizer". It's a sort of open box in which they ask you to put your bag.

You'll see some examples of such sizers in this answer.

Soft bags with contents that can be squeezed or moved are usually not too much of an issue, as long as you are able to fit the bag in the sizer. Beware that when doing so you should also stay within the height allowed, of course.

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