IATA pauses voluntary plan to shrink the size of permitted carry-on luggage

MONTREAL – A global airline association is rethinking its efforts to shrink the size of carry-on luggage permitted on planes.

The International Air Transportation Association says it is pausing the rollout of its Cabin OK initiative over concerns that have been expressed mainly in North America.

IATA says interest has been “intense” but there has been confusion and concerns raised in the media and by key stakeholders.

New York Senator Chuck Schumer has criticized the effort, saying that while airlines are making record profits the change would add a further financial burden on travellers who already pay extra for checked baggage, leg room, head phones and other services.

“This is clearly an issue that is close to the heart of travellers. We need to get it right,” IATA senior vice-president Tom Windmuller said in announcing a “comprehensive reassessment.”

The voluntary initiative, launched June 9, was designed to bring “common sense and order” to the problem of differing bag sizes by giving passengers greater assurance their carry-on would be allowed in aircraft cabins wherever they fly.

Under the program, smaller bags measuring 55 x 35 x 20 cm (21.5 x 13.5 x 7.5 inches) would receive a “Cabin OK” tag.

IATA insisted the guideline was not meant to set an industry standard as each airline decides the maximum size of carry-on luggage.

While IATA says many carriers welcomed the initiative, some like Air Canada (TSX:AC) and WestJet (TSX:WJA), said they would not be reducing carry-on size to conform to the new standard.

Air Canada allows carry-on luggage that is no larger than 21.5 x 15.5 x 9 inches. WestJet limits are slightly smaller at 21 x 15 x 9 inches.

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