United Airlines Enforces Carry-On Bag Size Restrictions

By Ben Russell
|  Wednesday, Mar 5, 2014  |  Updated 9:33 AM EDT
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United Airlines has announced a new focus on ridding the overhead bins in its airplanes of oversized carry-on bags.

Ben Russell, NBC 5 News

United Airlines has announced a new focus on ridding the overhead bins in its airplanes of oversized carry-on bags.

United Airlines has announced a new focus on ridding overhead airplane bins of oversized carry-on baggage.

To ensure compliance with luggage size limitations, the Chicago-based airline has instructed its employees and contractors who work at airport gates to pay close attention to carry-ons. If necessary, workers will require passengers with carry-ons that are too big to check the bag and pay the extra fees, according to The Associated Press.

Many travelers at the Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport's United Airlines terminal told NBC 5 that they welcome the scrutiny.

"It's always really packed [in the overhead bins] and you end up having to put all your stuff underneath your feet, and then you don't have any room to put anything anywhere," said Lydia Mears, who was passing through DFW on her way home to Australia Tuesday.

"Because when you lift [the overhead bin door] up it all falls down because everyone's tried to jam it in there," said fellow passenger Amy Borrow.

Travelers are typically allowed one carry-on bag to fit in the overhead bin, which can be no larger than 9 inches by 14 inches by 12 inches. Fliers state that travelers can also bring one personal item, such as a purse or laptop bag, that fits under the seat in front of them.

People flying with oversized bags can have the suitcase checked for free at the gate, a long-standing practice. But those who get halted at the entrance to security must now go back to the ticket counter and pay the airline's $25 checked-luggage fee, the AP reported.

Fort Worth-based American Airlines already has a similar policy in place, according to an airline spokesperson.

"American has staffers near security checkpoints in many of our largest airports to do visual checks on the size of carry-ons," Matt Miller, media relations manager with American Airlines, told NBC DFW in a statement Tuesday. "Additionally we have bag-sizers at gates and, in some cases, tape measures may be used in order to enforce policies."

A spokesperson for Dallas-based Southwest Airlines told NBC DFW the company's popular "Bags Fly Free" policy prevents the need for such scrutiny of carry-on items.

Annie Thai struggled to meet the carry-on size requirement for her United flight from DFW to San Francisco Tuesday. After her carry-on was deemed too big, Thai reshuffled some items and tried again at the security checkpoint. This time, a contractor at the security line told Thai to reorganize her items or to check the bag.

Ultimately, after a failed attempt at making her bag meet the size requirement, Thai begrudgingly paid to check the bag.

"I don't know what happened. Last time it was okay, I could pass. But this time I have to pay more." Thai told NBC DFW.

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