What Is The Best Suitcase Size For International Travel?

Last Updated on November 24, 2021

In the US the most common size limit for checked luggage is 62 linear inches. Only Allegiant stands out by allowing your checked baggage to be 80 linear inches.

Linear inches are calculated by summing the length, width, and height of your suitcase.

But the United States is one of the few remaining countries in the world to use imperial inches.

The rest of the planet uses the metric system and measures their luggage using centimetres.

So what is international luggage size? How big can your suitcase be for international travel?

International Checked Baggage Size Restrictions

The good news is that there is a great deal of consensus among international airlines about what size a checked suitcase should be.

Most international airlines around the world allow a checked suitcase that can be 158 linear cm.

And guess how many inches there are in 158 cm?

That’s right! 158 linear cms is equal to 62 linear inches. Most international airlines use the same checked suitcase size limit as airlines in the US!

The news gets even better…

In the cases where a foreign airline has a different checked baggage size limit the allowance is almost always more generous.

So occasionally an international airline will allow a checked bag larger than 62 linear inches.

For example the checked luggage size limit for British Airways is 90 x 70 x 43 cm. That’s 203 linear cm in total and closer to the Allegiant limit of 80 linear inches.

Only Emirates has a smaller checked bag size limit. They only allow a checked bag that can be 150 cm or 59 linear inches.

So if you are headed to Dubai then get the measuring tape out and measure your checked luggage.

If you are going anywhere else then don’t worry too much about international luggage size restrictions for checked bags.

International airlines also make size exceptions when you want to check in sporting equipment like golf clubs but you’ll need to check with your airline for specific details.

International Luggage Weight Restrictions

In the US the weight limit for a checked bag is almost always 50 lbs. Only Spirit and Allegiant break the trend by having a 40 lb weight limit for hold luggage.

International luggage weight restrictions are very similar to back home.

Most international airlines also have a 50 pounds weight limit they only difference is they call it 23 kg.

There are a few airlines that buck the trends so it’s always a good idea to check with the specific airline you are flying with and to pack a luggage scale so that you can make sure you don’t get hit with fines for being overweight.

Most of the time if the weight limit is different from 23 kg it will be greater. Though some low cost budget airlines ask that you fly with lighter checked bags.

How Many Checked Bags Can You Take On An International Flight?

The number of checked bags that you will be able to take very much depends on your ticket class and which airline you are flying with.

There is no substitute for checking the baggage policies of the airline you are flying on.

As a general rule, full service legacy airlines might allow you free checked bags on international flights but low-cost budget airlines will always charge a fee.

If you need to bring more luggage and are flying economy then it’s usually a better idea to bring carry-on luggage and checked luggage.

And don’t forget that the personal item size can be larger than just a purse. You can bring quite a chunky duffel bag and put it under the seat in front of you and it will give you a lot of extra packing space.

International Carry-On Baggage Size

There is nowhere near the same level of worldwide consensus about the size of hand luggage.

I’ve written a post elsewhere about international carry-on size.

The short answer is that a bag that is 21 x 14 x 8 inches will work with a great number of international airlines as a carry-on suitcase. It won’t fly free for every flight, budget airlines like Ryanair or Easyjet in europe will charge you a small fee, but it’s a great start.

You’ll have noticed this site is called Traveling Light. I’m a great advocate of ditching your checked luggage and flying carry-on only.

Your international vacation will be a lot less stressful if you are not worried about losing a checked suitcase and lugging around a big heavy bag.

Remember, no checked luggage = No lugging.

You’ll also save money on checked bag fees. You might be able to bring a checked bag for free on an international flight but if you need to take short-haul flights once you are on a different continent then you’ll end up paying through the nose.

All in all, a small suitcase stowed in the overhead compartment will be much easier to manage, and you’ll be less at risk of losing it or incurring damage.

The Bottom Line

The checked suitcase that you already own will probably be a great size for international travel.

Double check what size it is if you are flying with Emirates.

Carry-on only is cheaper and less stressful if you can manage it.

Your US sized carry-on suitcase might not be a great fit for international travel and you should consider swapping it for something slightly smaller.

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