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IATA halts plan to bring in standard sizes for carry-on luggage.

Keep calm and carry on that big carry-on.

That’s the latest message from the global airlines group that has backed down on plans to bring in standard sizes to ensure carry-on luggage was smaller.

The International Air Transport Association, which represents 250 of the world’s airlines, said Wednesday that it was halting the rollout of the new initiative known as Cabin OK, amid growing opposition from North American airlines and passengers.

“Our focus is on providing travellers with an option that would lead to a simplified and better experience,” said Tom Windmuller, IATA’s senior vice-president in a news release. “This is clearly an issue that is close to the heart of travellers. We need to get it right.”

The initiative, which was voluntary only, called for limiting cabin luggage to 55 cm by 35 cm by 20 cm, or 21.5 inches by 13.5 inches by 7.5 inches.

Those dimensions would have been smaller than what is permitted on Canadian carriers like Air Canada, WestJet Airlines and Porter Airlines.

None of the Canadian carriers said they would consider shrinking their carry-on allowances.

However, some of the world’s biggest carriers were on board with the proposed changes including Lufthansa, Cathay Pacific and Emirates. IATA said the smaller allowance would ensure all passengers on a plane with more than 120 seats could bring along their carry-on – given that overhead bins are jammed today.


The new carry-on bag initiative was trumpeted at the end of IATA’s annual meeting last Tuesday in Miami, but the industry group quickly issued a news release last Friday, to emphasize these were merely guidelines, and not standards.

But on Wednesday, IATA put the idea on hold altogether, saying it was launching a “comprehensive reassessment” to consult with program participants, other airlines and key stakeholders.