How To Measure Luggage for Air Travel? (5 Simple Steps)

Planning a trip can be stressful, and as airlines become more strict about luggage size requirements, knowing how to measure luggage dimensions can save you a lot of time and headache.

Luckily, in this article, I’ll take you through a few simple steps you can take so that measuring luggage is much more accurate and time-efficient.

Here’s how to measure carry-on luggage and checked bags:

  1. Measure the length.
  2. Measure the width. 
  3. Measure the depth. 
  4. Measure the wheels.
  5. Weigh your luggage.


Calculating the length and other luggage measurements requires a bit of preparation. So let’s look at the process for both carry-on and checked luggage. 

But, before determining luggage size (length, width, and height), the first thing you’ll need to do is visit the airline’s website to check luggage allowances for carry-on and checked luggage. Airlines tend to change their exact dimensions from time to time, so checking their company’s website before a flight is always crucial to avoid additional fees.

Also, you should fill your suitcase with the items you’ll bring on the plane because your carry-on bag or checked bag may expand when packed. 

Therefore, filling your packs beforehand is a must if you want to measure luggage correctly. Additionally, the last step includes weighing your carry-on bag or checked bag, which would be pointless if your bag was empty.

5 Steps to Measure Luggage

1. Measure the Length of Your Luggage

Now, it’s time to measure your luggage. In this case, the best tool to use is a tape measure, so make sure to get your hands on one before you start measuring your carry-on bags or checked bags. 

Measuring the length of most carry-on luggage, like a laptop bag, diaper bag, or carry-on suitcase, means calculating the distance between the top and the bottom. So, make sure to extend the handle as much as possible, then measure from the handle’s tip to the ground in a straight line. 

This method will give you the most accurate result, as this is how airlines measure your suitcase.

However, for horizontal-shaped bags, like duffle bags, you need to measure from left to right to find the length. 

If you still haven’t bought your suitcase, you should take the measuring tape in store with you to ensure you get the right baggage size for your needs. Doing so can save you a lot of time buying and returning wrong-size options.

Finally, after measuring the suitcase’s length, you should note the measurement. So, go ahead and write the number down because you may need to find the volume of your bag in linear inches. 

There will be more on linear inches later. 

2. Measure the Width of Your Luggage

Measuring the width of your bag means calculating the distance from left to right. You’ll need to place the bag right in front of you during this process for the most accurate reading, and don’t forget to include any pockets or additional elements that stick out of the sides.

If you’re using trucking bags, you will need to calculate the width from top to bottom. 

Additionally, if you have a tapered suitcase model, always measure at the widest point. Otherwise, your bag might not fit in the airport’s luggage sizer. 

Lastly, remember that measuring tape is best for accurate measurements. 

3. Measure the Depth of Your Luggage

To measure depth, you’ll want to calculate the distance between the bag’s front and back. Plus, if your suitcase has any pocket or expandable components, make sure to open them up fully before measuring for the most accurate results.

Also, you’ll want to measure the suitcase in the biggest form it can get, as you don’t know what procedures or regulations airlines have when it comes to measuring luggage. You don’t want to be surprised with a last-minute fee because your bag has exceeded its sizing restrictions.

4. Measure the Wheels of Your Luggage

Measuring the wheels of your luggage is crucial, as many luggage manufacturers choose not to include them when advertising luggage sizes.

However, most airline carriers are careful to make the most accurate calculations when it comes to your luggage’s size, so the wheels count. Therefore, those few centimeters could cost you tens or hundreds of dollars in extra fees.

If the uneven suitcase shape prevents you from getting an accurate measurement, you can place your bag against a wall, lift its handle, take note of its highest point, and then measure that length with a tape measure. 

5. Weigh Your Luggage

After measuring all your suitcase’s dimensions and calculating its carton size in linear inches, all that’s left to do is weigh your bag with the items you want to bring on your trip inside to ensure it doesn’t exceed weight restrictions.

If you have a scale at home, the process is pretty straightforward. If the scale you have isn’t big enough to support the base of the suitcase, all you need to do is get on it once while holding the luggage and another time by yourself. 

The difference will tell you the bag’s weight.

However, if you don’t have a luggage scale at home, you might have to pay a small fee at a local postal office to have it weighed. Alternatively, if you’re not too worried about exceeding the limit, you can always choose to weigh it in the airport before boarding your flight.

Measuring Linear Inches

You may need to have your bag’s capacity measured by its linear dimensions. Otherwise, your bag might exceed the size limit, and you’ll have to pay an extra fee. 

To measure your luggage’s size in linear inches, take all three measurements (length, width, and height) and add them together. The number you get is your bag’s size in linear inches. 

Common Luggage Size Restrictions

For many airports, the weight limit for checked baggage is 50 pounds (22.6 kg). Meanwhile, the maximum luggage weight for carry-ons can be anywhere from 15-40 pounds (6.8-18.1 kg). 

Also, the size limits for checked baggage at most airlines are 62 linear inches or 27 x 21 x 14 inches (68 x 53 x 35 cm). The carry-on size is often 22 x 14 x 9 inches (55 x 35 x 22 cm), which counts for both cabin bags and your personal item. 

These carton sizes and weight limits for hand baggage and personal items ensure they can fit in the overhead bin. For other bags, the limit ensures that the pack can fit in the storage space inside the plane. 

Key Takeaways

Whether flying internationally or domestically, measuring your luggage for air travel is a simple but crucial process to avoid any possible unpleasant surprises at the airport. By following a few simple steps, you can quickly and accurately measure your suitcase at home.