IATA clarifies “Cabin OK” initiative for hand baggage size


The International Air Transport Association (IATA) issued comments clarifying key elements of its Cabin OK initiative which have been misunderstood in some reporting. The IATA Cabin OK initiative for carry-on bags aims to provide passengers with a greater assurance that their carry-on bags will travel with them in the aircraft cabin, even when the flight is full.

The Cabin OK size guideline, developed by working with airlines and manufacturers, is 55 x 35 x 20 cm (or 21.5” x 13.5” x 7.5″ inches). This size was calculated to make the best use of storage space in the cabin. If fully embraced by passengers, everyone would have a chance to travel with their carry-on bags on board aircraft of 120 seats or larger even when the flight is full.

A number of major international airlines have signaled their interest to join the initiative. They will soon be introducing operational guidelines to give Cabin OK bags priority to stay on board the aircraft when all carry-on bags cannot be accommodated in the cabin.

The Cabin OK guideline is not a maximum size limit. The maximum size of cabin baggage is set individually by each airline. This is not affected by the Cabin OK initiative.

The Cabin OK guideline is smaller than the size set by most airlines as their maximum acceptable for carry-on baggage. Thus, passengers with Cabin OK carry-on baggage can travel with a greater assurance that it will be acceptable across the different airline requirements. And, when travelling on a participating airline there is a further benefit: those bags with a Cabin OK logo will have a priority (determined individually by each airline) for staying in the cabin should its cabin capacity be exceeded and some baggage need to be moved to the hold.

Further detailed clarifications follow:

  • Cabin OK is a guideline, not a standard. Airlines have no plans to restrict carry-on baggage to the Cabin OK dimensions of 55 x 35 x 20 cm (or 21.5” x 13.5” x 7.5″ inches). Most airlines have maximum size limits that are larger than this and that is not impacted by the Cabin OK initiative. Passengers will be able to continue to use carry-on baggage that is larger than the Cabin OK size provided it is within airline maximum size limits.
  • Cabin OK does not replace airline maximum size limitations. These are determined individually by each airline. There are no plans to set an industry standard.
  • Cabin OK is an optimum size, not a maximum size. We use the word “optimum” because the Cabin OK dimensions have been calculated to allow all passengers on board a typical jet aircraft of 120 seats or more to be able to carry-on one piece of baggage in the normally available storage space (storage bins and below seats).
  • Cabin OK will give passengers greater certainty that their carry-on bag will be accepted in the cabin. A typical fully booked narrow-body jet aircraft is not able to accommodate a bag for every passenger on board at maximum size limits. On-time departures suffer as airline staff search for passengers willing to put their bag in the hold. On participating airlines, the Cabin OK logo will indicate to crew and ground staff that these bags should have a high priority to remain the cabin. Consequently, the Cabin OK initiative will speed-up the boarding process and provide passengers using Cabin OK sized carry-on baggage greater assurance that their bag will travel with them in the cabin.
  • The Cabin OK initiative does not require passengers to buy new baggage. The Cabin OK size is smaller in dimensions than the published size maximums of most airlines. Passengers with carry-on bags larger than Cabin OK sized bags will not be obliged to buy new bags. However they will continue to face the same uncertainty that their bags may not be able to be accommodated in the cabin.
  • Cabin OK is not a revenue generating scheme for the airlines. For the vast majority of airlines, the current practice when all baggage complying with maximum size limits cannot fit into the cabin storage is to check this baggage in the aircraft hold free of charge. The Cabin OK initiative will not change this practice.
  • Cabin OK is an identifier to crew and ground staff. Only bags manufactured with Cabin OK logo are part of the program. There is no retro-certification planned for existing bags that comply with the Cabin OK dimension.

Cabin OK is all about providing the customer with greater assurances. If you have a Cabin OK bag, you can be pretty sure that you are within the maximum carry-on limits of airlines around the world. If you are traveling on an airline participating in the program, you will have the best chance that your bag will be with you in the cabin even on a full flight,” said Thomas Windmuller, IATA’s Senior Vice President for Airport, Passenger, Cargo and Security.

For passengers traveling with bags that don’t have the Cabin OK logo, there’s no need to worry. If it was accepted for travel before, it will be acceptable for travel now, but with the same uncertainty that if the flight is full it may eventually have to travel in the hold,” said Windmuller.

Press Release No. 31, 12 June 2015


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.