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Several observations:

  1. Nearly all major airlines have reduced the allowed depth for carry on bags to 9 inches (eg. JetBlue, United, Delta).

  2. A huge percentage of carry on luggage I see at the airport is greater than 9 inches deep.

    • For example, I currently travel with a Tumi Alpha 2 bag which is advertised as 9 inches deep but in practice has a depth greater than 9 inches. (And I used to travel with an even larger bag.)
  3. I rarely see carry-on bags greater than 9 inches deep getting stopped by gate agents on A320s, 757s etc...

In general, is it now a problem to get a 9.5 inch deep carry-on bag on JetBlue?

Do the rules tend to be enforced differently on men and women, taller and shorter people?

What motivated this question is that I travel approximately 30,000-50,000 miles a year for many years and have NEVER been questioned on the size of my carry-on luggage. I have NEVER been asked to put my luggage in a luggage gauge.

In contrast, my girlfriend flies far less frequently but has been stopped by JetBlue twice in her last four flights and told to stick her bag in the luggage gauge to measure its size! (This has only happened when she's traveling alone.)

  • The first time was by a JetBlue employee in Boston prior to security (and who appeared to only be stopping unaccompanied females).
  • The other time was by a 30 something male JetBlue gate agent in Boston who took my girlfriend's bag but proceeded to let much larger bags onto the Airbus A320.

My girlfriend's bag is a Victorinox, Werks Traveler 5.0 Global Carry On bag, and is almost the identical size as mine (hers is the blue bag, mine is the black bag):

.

If you measure both bags, they're somewhere between 9 and 10 inches deep and easily fit in the overhead compartment of A320s, B757s.

Clearly anecdote isn't carefully collected, unbiased data, but I'd love to know what other experienced travelers have observed.

Is my experience an outlier / is hers?

My impression is that airlines have made a huge share of carry-on luggage against the rules. How consistently does JetBlue enforce its rules?

  • So, tall men vs solo women? What am I missing? – Johns-305 Jan 2 '17 at 19:43
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    Another factor here: Perspective. The same size bag will look bigger when carried by a smaller person. However, the reality is that an awful lot of carry-ons are oversize and people aren't as likely to get away with that these days. – Loren Pechtel Jan 2 '17 at 20:08
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    I once watched a gate agent require a bunch of people to gate check their bags. What I noticed is they appeared to target likely non-business people. Solo men were not checked. The young couple who looked like they were in their 20s and dressed very casually, yes. – mkennedy Jan 2 '17 at 21:24
  • Does your carry-on have an elite frequent flyer tag? That can be a "look the other way" pass. Do you board with elite passengers? That can be another l.t.o.w. pass. Are your flights less full than her flights? There are a myriad of factors that can come into play. – user13044 Jan 3 '17 at 2:11
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Given the diverse nature of airline staff, I highly doubt there was any 'profiling' going on.

If your GF is a less than frequent traveler, it may have been the case that she's is boarding near the end of the queue, when overhead space is becoming scarce. Was she also encumbered with other items beyond what would fit under the seat such as a coat, large handbag, etc?

Gate Agents tend to be much more hawkish in the winter.

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