How to pick the perfect carry-on luggage

The vacation countdown is almost here, and it’s time to get packing. Before you leave for your trip, it’s always smarter to plan and conduct a bit of research to avoid any inconvenience at the gate — especially with a carry-on.

With all the trouble right now with lost luggage, many of us will think CARRY ON!!

A major frustration in shopping for a carry-on is that most do not fit the size restrictions, and they are either too small or slightly oversized (sometimes by as little as half an inch).

I went shopping at my favourite place, all my travel purses, bags, carry-on and suitcase came from Canada Luggage Depot.

Which carry-on should I buy, soft or hard!! The clerk told me ….the hard case has less space inside, due to the four wheels sticking outside the suitcase. It will get damaged easily and could crack if too cold outside.

The fabric one has two wheels, they are haft inside the suitcase, you get a bit more space for your clothes, and pockets outside.

As with any travel gear, you will be the one to choose your carry-on.

**I bought my Samsung carry-on for $15.00 in Beijing 30 years ago and the handle just gave in. You don’t need to break the bank for a Carry On.  

**Everyone has a different opinion on the best brands, but the best buy for you is ultimately the one that suits your needs as a traveller.

What are the pros and cons of using a hard-shell suitcase?


  • Most have four wheels
  • A more rigid shell equals more protection of items
  • The hard case helps avoid overpacking and creating an “oversize” lump in the front
  • It comes in cooler-looking designs and finishes than soft cases


  • Unlikely to have front or side pockets
  • Not flexible
  • Dings and scratches more easily than cloth
  • More rigid (so could be harder to store in a small space)

What are the pros and cons of using a soft shell suitcase?


  • Depending on need, it can come in two- or four-wheel options
  • Can include front pockets for chargers/documents
  • Cloth can be spot-cleaned


  • Easy to stuff and overpack
  • Fabric can rip/wear out easily
  • Rain, a spilled coffee or other liquids can soak through and stain it

What size is carry-on compliant for airlines in Canada?

Air Canada and WestJet allow the same size for carry-on luggage:

21.5″ (height), 9″ (depth) and 15.5″ (width). This includes handles and wheels.

Suitcases must be able to fit in the carry-on bin upon request. And the more full a flight is, the more likely airline staff will check carry-on bag dimensions at the gate to avoid having too many bags and not enough overhead bin space.

What is considered a “personal item” on an airplane?

Personal items are not meant to be an extra piece of carry-on luggage but a small bag that will fit under the seat (think a big purse or laptop bag).

The maximum dimensions for this are 13″ (height), 6″ (depth) and 17″ (width)



Here’s a quick reference for size limits for the most popular airlines.            Carry-On Items by Airline



Maximum Size

Air Canada


55 x 40 x 23 cm; 21.5 x 15.5 x 9 in

Alaska Airlines


55.88 x 35.56 x 22.86 cm; 22 x 14 x 9 in

American Airlines


56 x 36 x 23 cm; 22 x 14 x 9 in

British Airways


56 x 45 x 25 cm; 22 x 18 x 10 in

Delta Air Lines


56 x 35 x 23 cm; 22 x 14 x 9 in

Frontier Airlines


60.96 x 40.64 x 25.4 cm; 24 x 16 x 10 in

Hawaiian Airlines


55.9 x 35.5 x 22.9 cm; 22 x 14 x 9 in

JetBlue Airways


55.88 x 35.56 x 22.86 cm; 22 x 14 x 9 in

Southwest Airlines


60.9 x 40.6 x 25.4 cm; 24 x 16 x 10 in

Spirit Airlines


56 x 46 x 25 cm; 22 x 18 x 10 in

United Airlines


56 x 35 x 22 cm; 22 x 14 x 9 in

DELSEY PARIS Cruise Upright Underseat Luggage

My camera, tablet, and laptop will fit easily inside. Oh! And some clothes.


*Fits under most airplane seats

*Top and side handles and easy-to-grab bottom handle

*Multitude of pockets to stay organized on the go

*Dimension: 14.5x15x8 inches

*Weight: 4.5 lbs.

**I will use this one with a big suitcase, it can be under my seat or in a bin and also carry my purse.

Travelpro Maxlite 5 International Carry-On Rollaboard Luggage

Case Dimensions:  20″ x 15″ x 7.75″ / 50.8 x 38.1 x 19.6 cm

Overall Dimensions (including wheels and handles):  21.75″ x 15.75″ x 7.75″ / 55.2 x 40 x 19.6 cm

Volume:  38.10 L

Weight:  2.4 kgs / 5.4 lbs.

IT brand Tote Bag


Pockets for laptop/tablet and E-reader

Slip over my suitcase handle

Room for more clothes.

I use this one with my small carry-on and put my purse inside.

What is allowed in a carry-on bag?

What you put in your carry-on bag is regulated, as well. In addition to the same rules that apply to checked bags, which prohibit firearms, lithium batteries, and other potentially hazardous items, you must be mindful of liquids when packing your carry-on luggage. Regardless of your destination, you can not bring containers of liquid, paste, gel, aerosol or cream larger than 3.4 ounces or 100 millilitres through security.

All the containers must fit into a single 1-litre clear, resealable plastic bag. Each passenger can pack one of these bags in her carry-on luggage.

Make sure to check the specific rules of your carrier, too, so you won’t be forced to throw anything away at the gate.

Each passenger is to pack no more than 2 litres, total, of liquids and similar substances in checked bags

These containers MUST be placed in one (1) clear, closed and re-sealable plastic bag no larger than 1 litre (1 quart).

ONE BAG PER PERSON. Liquids, gels and aerosols include but are not limited to, hand lotions, cleansers, moisturizers, suntan lotions, antibacterial gels, contact lens solutions, shaving cream, perfume and cologne. Prescription and essential non-prescription medicines.

Take a look at all my travel bags here:  All My Travel Bags

Bon Voyage !!

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