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Most major airlines on US flights allow a free baggage allowance of three pieces. (Combined checked and carry-on baggage, with usually a maximum of 2 pieces to be used as carry-on pieces).

USA-Country Profile


Carry on baggage must fit under the seat or in an overhead compartment. A good rule of thumb is that the bag should measure no more than 9" x 14" x 22" (total dimensions) and weigh no more than 40 pounds.

A word of caution

Wheeled suitcases with telescoping handles are very popular today particularly in the carry on size. You may be asked to check these pieces, on certain flights, because there may not be enough room on the plane for everyone to bring on this type of baggage. Briefcases and garment bags are usually considered carry-on pieces

Checked baggage should generally not exceed a linear dimension (length x width x height) of 62 inches and a weight of 70 pounds each piece. Additional pieces of checked baggage may have lighter weight and smaller size restrictions.

Airline carry on baggage restrictions

Airline No. of pieces Maximum dimensions
Maximum weight
American Airlines 2 Under seat/Overhead:
23 x 13 x 9 (45-55 linear inches)
America West 2 45 linear inches total for both pieces 70
Continental 2 45 linear inches total for both pieces 70
Delta 2 45 linear inches total for both pieces
Northwest 1 22 x 14 x 9 40
TWA 2 Under seat: 22 x 14 x 950
linear inches
45 each
United Airlines 2 Under seat: 22 x 14x 9
Carry on: 45 linear inches
US Airways 2 Under seat: 24 x 16 x 8
Valets:45 x 23 x 4
Overhead:24 x 16 x 10

Most airlines will allow oversized, overweight or additional baggage for an extra fee, which varies depending on the situation. Certain flights generally have the same size and weight allowances but may cut down on the number of pieces that can be checked.

Airline Baggage Liabilities

These are general guidelines, which most airline carriers abide by. Liability for loss, delay, damage to baggage is limited to $1250 per passenger on domestic US flights. On international flights liability is limited to $9.07 per pound ($20 per kilo) or a maximum liability of $634.90 per piece of checked luggage.
Liability for unchecked baggage is limited to $400.
These limits may be higher if a charge has been paid which specifically values items exceeding these limits. (Certain items may not be allowed this excess valuation)
Please be aware that almost every airline specifically states that they cannot be responsible for any valuable items (e.g. computers, electronic equipment, camera equipment, jewelry, cash, etc..) in checked or carry-on baggage.

Damaged Luggage

When traveling via an Airline it is possible your luggage may be damaged in some way. In the past, generally speaking, airlines have paid for repairs to most types of damage to luggage. Today things are changing and airlines are becoming stricter in enforcing the policies regarding the types of damage they are responsible for.

Things airlines will not cover include: normal wear and tear/minor cuts, scratches, dents, or soiling/loss or damage to parts protruding from the case (e.g. wheels, feet, pull-handles, flaps, pull-straps)/damage resulting from oversized or over-packed bags/manufacturer defects.

Airline personnel are not always uniform in enforcing their baggage damage policies. It is best to check over your baggage upon pickup and make a claim with the airline immediately with regard to any damage you may notice.

Most airlines will not accept damage claims unless they are made within a reasonable time frame (usually within 48 hrs) Airlines have greatly improved upon the ways in which they handle passenger luggage in recent years. The majority of damage occurs with poorly constructed bags, which literally break, tear, and fall apart through normal usage and handling. For many years airlines have been responsible for much of this damage, but recent changes have allowed the airlines, legally, not to accept responsibility for much of this damage.

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