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Understanding Suitcase Sizes

Need help on what luggage to buy and why? Here is our comprehensive guide to all suitcase sizes, including a breakdown on what suitcase size various airlines allow on board.

With so many suitcase sizes out there, it can be a daunting task to understand which is the best luggage set, lightweight luggage or best travel backpack for your needs. Do you need a large suitcase or a small suitcase? What is the optimum luggage size and why? Do you need a hard shell luggage or a lightweight carry-on luggage only?

In this article, we will explain the suitcase sizes and help you understand what type of luggage you need and for what purpose. It's also worth remembering that if you can't afford a brand new suitcase, eBay is a great place to find a decent second-hand branded luggage.

We know how much we struggled to find the best suitcase size for when we spent 2 weeks in Japan, or when we moved away from the UK. So let's dig in and find you the most suitable suitcase size.

Table of Contents

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The basics of suitcase sizes:

All manufacturers measure the size of the suitcase from the ground to the top of the carry handle. So this means they don't actually give you the internal measurements of the suitcase. It's important to remember that a hard shell luggage will be smaller in capacity than a soft sided one. This is because when you pack a soft shell, it can expand a little. A four-wheel spinner also has a little smaller capacity than a two-wheel suitcase.

Carry On Luggage

Various suitcase sizes:

Small cabin suitcase

A small cabin suitcase measures 48 cm or 18 inches. The capacity is up to 40 litres.
You can use a small cabin suitcase on pretty much all airlines. This is your luggage which you are allowed to take with you onboard during your flight, at no extra cost. These are perfect to use on budget airlines such as Wizzair or EasyJet as they are included in your allowance.

Please note, some budget airlines are now limiting the size of the carry-on luggage or do not allow them at all without additional payment. Always check with your airline before you travel.

Why buy this? The smallest of the suitcase sizes, the tiny cabin bag is perfect for business travellers who only need their laptop and few essentials for the flight. A small cabin suitcase is also great for travellers who have a large checked in luggage and don't want to carry anything else but their papers, electronics and valuable items.

Why not buy? We do not recommend them on their own for long trips due to their small size and lack of space.

Fjallraven - Kanken No. 2 Laptop 15 Black

Fjallraven - Kanken No. 2 Laptop 15 Black

Fjallraven - Kanken Classic Pack

Fjallraven - Kanken Classic Pack

Ucon Acrobatics Unisex Hajo Backpack

Ucon Acrobatics Unisex Hajo Backpack

Large cabin suitcase

The large cabin suitcase measures 55cm or 20inches and has a capacity of up to 45 litres. This is fantastic for budget travellers who do not wish to purchase checked in luggage. Most airlines accept 55cm cabin suitcases. (See table below for individual airlines)

Why buy this? These are perfect for business travellers staying a few days at their destination. The large cabin suitcase is also perfect for short haul flights. If packed well, you can fit enough items to keep you going for 5-7days abroad.

Why not buy? We don't have anything against large cabin suitcases. You might want to consider buying a smaller one if you travel short-haul.

Our Tip: Don't forget to check out the packing cubes which are super useful when going abroad.

Samsonite Kabinentrolley Base Hits 36V Spinner 55/20

Samsonite Kabinentrolley Base Hits 36V Spinner 55/20

Lucas Outlander Carry On Hard Case 20 inch Expandable Rolling Suitcase With Spinner Wheels (20in, Purple)

Lucas Outlander Carry On Hard Case 20 inch Expandable Rolling Suitcase With Spinner Wheels (20in, Purple)

Samsonite Omni PC Hardside 20-Inch One Size Spinner - Black

Samsonite Omni PC Hardside 20-Inch One Size Spinner - Black

Extra large cabin suitcase

The size of an extra large cabin suitcase is around 56cm or 22inches with a capacity of up to 50 litres. This is more spacious than the standard large cabin suitcase adding an extra 5 litres in capacity. However, most airlines accept suitcases which have max dimensions of 55cm, so you might find yourself in a situation where you actually have to pay to check in this type of luggage.

Why buy this? If you are a frequent flyer with a specific airline carrier who allows you to take on board a cabin bag with these dimensions. This size is also a great option to check in for long-haul flights, alongside your carry-on in luggage.

Why not buy? You might have issues with the size and weight of these suitcases. Consider the distance from the airport to your accommodation. If you have to walk a lot, maybe get a small suitcase.

Aerolite 22x14x9" Carry On MAX Lightweight Upright Travel Trolley

Aerolite 22x14x9" Carry On MAX Lightweight Upright Travel Trolley

Travelpro Maxlite 4 Expandable  Rollaboard 22 inch Suitcase, Black

Travelpro Maxlite 4 Expandable Rollaboard 22 inch Suitcase, Black

Aerolite 22x14x9” American, United & Delta Airlines MAX ABS Hardshell Luggage Suitcase Spinner Carry On

Aerolite 22x14x9” American, United & Delta Airlines MAX ABS Hardshell Luggage Suitcase Spinner Carry On

Medium suitcase

A medium suitcase measures 68cm or 24inches and has a capacity of up to 75 litres. This is a fantastic option for short haul flights where travellers still wish to purchase checked in luggage but have no need for a large suitcase which might just be too inconvenient. This is also great for short multi-city stops as it's relatively lightweight and small enough to be incredibly practical.

Why buy this? If you want to check in your luggage, but need a small enough luggage for you to freely move around with your luggage during your travels. Check out the four-wheel luggage for additional convenience. These are easy to roll around and won't fall over while you wait.

Why not buy? We can't find any fault with this size. Consider how much stuff you need and if you think it will fit, go for it.

Antler Juno 4W Medium Case, Black, One Size

Antler Juno 4W Medium Case, Black, One Size

Lucas ABS Mid Size Hard Case 24 inch Rolling Suitcase With Spinner Wheels (24in, Steel Blue)

Lucas ABS Mid Size Hard Case 24 inch Rolling Suitcase With Spinner Wheels (24in, Steel Blue)

SwissGear Maggiore 24" Teal Suitcase, Teal

SwissGear Maggiore 24" Teal Suitcase, Teal

Large suitcase

Out of all the suitcase sizes out there, the large suitcase is perhaps the most popular for travellers wishing to check in their luggage. The large suitcase measures 74cm or 27inches and has a capacity of 117 litres. This is versatile, spacious and allows you to have a series of outfits with you.

Why buy this? The large suitcase is ideal for long trips especially if you need to pack for more than one traveller. We recommend you to buy the four-wheel version as they will be easier to roll around.

Why not buy? This size can be too big for some. Check the amount of stuff you want to take with you and based on the length of your stay try and estimate. Do you need this size?

Tip: Always check the checked baggage allowance for your flight. These suitcases are easy to fill up, as they are so big.

Antler Atom Four Wheel Upright (Blue)

Antler Atom Four Wheel Upright (Blue)

U.S Traveler Alamosa Lightweight Expandable Spinner Luggage Set - Purple ( 27-Inch )

U.S Traveler Alamosa Lightweight Expandable Spinner Luggage Set - Purple ( 27-Inch )

Delsey Luggage Chatelet Hard+ 28 inch 4 Wheel Spinner, Champagne

Delsey Luggage Chatelet Hard+ 28 inch 4 Wheel Spinner, Champagne

Extra large suitcase

This suitcase measures 85cm or 32inches and has a capacity of up to 130 litres. This is ideal for long stays or expats moving abroad. We use an extra large suitcase for our long-term travels. We used it for moving abroad, travelling to Japan and New Zealand. Probably one of the best investment to date.

Why buy this? Perfect if you stay long-term in one destination as you can carry all your belongings in it. This is an excellent choice for families travelling with children as well.

Why not buy? This is a very large suitcase and it can get a little inconvenient to carry around. The issue is usually not the space in the suitcase, but the weight limit imposed by most carriers. Also remember, if you fill up this suitcase to the rim, it might be too heavy for you to carry. As always we recommend buying the four-wheel version which is much easier to roll around without lifting it.

Samsonite Valise Termo Young

Samsonite Valise Termo Young

Ecko Unltd Steam 32" Large Rolling Duffel Bag,  Red,  One Size

Ecko Unltd Steam 32" Large Rolling Duffel Bag, Red, One Size

Fila FL-LUD-532-BL 32-inch Lightweight Rolling Duffel, Neon Lime

Fila FL-LUD-532-BL 32-inch Lightweight Rolling Duffel, Neon Lime

Carry on For Travellers

What type of traveller are you?

With so many suitcase sizes available on the market it is important to first check with your airline on their luggage allowances.

Business Traveller

If you are a business traveller going on very short trips, then a small or medium-sized cabin suitcase will suffice. You should also consider an elegant backpack which fits your electronics, especially if you don't need to carry clothes with you.

Digital Nomads

Depending on how often you change locations, a medium or large checked luggage and a smaller carry-on or backpack should be enough. Make sure to put your laptop and electronics into the carry-on. It is never recommended to put valuables into checked baggage.

Brooks Saddles Dalston Knapsack

Brooks Saddles Dalston Knapsack

Incase CL58084 Pro Pack for GoPro

Incase CL58084 Pro Pack for GoPro

Travelpro Luggage Crew Carry-On Rolling Tote Suitcase

Travelpro Luggage Crew Carry-On Rolling Tote Suitcase

Professional Travellers & Travel Bloggers

Depending on the length of your trip it is recommended to purchase a medium or large checked bag and take a smaller carry-on with you for your papers and electronics. Remember, don't put valuables into checked luggage and always take out insurance for your gear before travelling.

Budget Traveller

If you are a budget traveller who doesn't want to pay for checked luggage, a large cabin suitcase will be perfect for you. Make sure you check with the airline before you travel to ensure your suitcase size fits the allowed carry-on sizes. Remember, that nowadays some airlines ask you to check in your luggage if you didn't purchase priority boarding and the airplane is full. It's a good idea to keep a small handbag or backpack with you which fits under the seat so you can quickly remove valuables from your larger luggage.

City Break & Couple Travellers

If you are going away for a quick city break or doing a multi-city jump (we are jealous) a medium suitcase will be great. You can check it in or (in most cases) carry it on board. A medium suitcase will usually fit clothes and accessories for two people for 2-4 days. Need more space for gadgets and clothes? Pick a size larger suitcase and relax. We recommend you always go for the four-wheel version as it is much easier to roll around and you don't have to lift it up.

Holidaymakers

Travelling for 1-2 weeks normally requires a medium sized suitcase per person (unless you are going to the beach or to a very hot destination). For your convenience, check in all your luggage and keep a small bag with you for your papers and valuables. This small bag should fit under your chair.

Long-term Travels & Couples

The medium or large suitcase is for long-term travellers or couples who want to minimise the checked in costs. When you travel with someone, both of you have a carry-on bag to take on board and a checked bag each so you have a lot of space to play with. It's always better to travel light but we understand that you need a lot of stuff when you travel long term. Remember to check the allowances with the airline before you travel.
The extra large suitcase is perfect for long-term travellers who spend a lot of time in one destination or for expats moving countries. Airlines normally allow you to purchase additional checked bags if needed.

Families Travelling with children

We recommend the medium or large suitcase sizes for families with children. Purchase the four-wheel version so you can carry your suitcase around much easier.

Travel Bag For Women and Travel Bag For Men

Carry On Suitcase Sizes for Various Airlines

Size - 55 x 35 x 25cm (21.6 x 13.8 x 9.8inch)

Airline Weight (kg) Weight (pounds)
Aerolineas Argentinas 10 22.05
Air Europa 10 22.05
Air France 12 26.46
Alitalia 8 17.64
Hop! 12 26.46
Jet Airways 7 15.43
Klm 12 26.46
Tam 8 17.64
Xl Airways 5 11.02

Size - 55 x 40 x 20cm (21.6 x 15.7 x 7.9inch)

Airline Weight (kg) Weight (pounds)
Aeroflot 10 22.05
Air Caraïbes (Air Caraibes) 12 26.46
Air India 8 17.64
Arkia 7 15.43
Asiana Airlines 10 22.05
Condor Flugdienst 6 13.23
Corsair International 12 26.46
Germania 6 13.23
Korean Air 12 26.46
TAP Air Portugal 8 17.64
Thomas Cook 6 13.23
Thomson 5 11.02
TUI Fly Deutschland 6 13.23
Vueling 12 26.46

Size - 55 x 40 x 23cm (21.6 x 15.7 x 9inch)

Airline Weight (kg) Weight (pounds)
Air Canada 10 22.05
Airberlin 8 17.64
Austrian Airlines 8 17.64
Blue Air 18 39.68
Bmi (British Midland Airways) 12 26.46
Brussels Airlines 12 26.46
Ethiopian Airlines 7 15.43
Eurowings 8 17.64
Flyniki 8 17.64
LOT Polish Airlines 8 17.64
Lufthansa 8 17.64
Norwegian Air Shuttle 10 22.05
Olympic Airlines 8 17.64
Scandinavian Airlines 8 17.64
Swiss International Air Lines 8 17.64
Turkish Airlines 8 17.64

Size - 56 x 36 x 23cm (22 x 14 x 9inch)

Airline Weight (kg) Weight (pounds)
Aeromexico 10 22.05
American Airlines (US Airways) No limit  
Cathay Pacific 7 15.43
China Airlines 7 15.43
Qantas 7 15.43
South African Airways 8 17.64
Vietnam Airlines 7 15.43
Virgin Atlantic 10 22.05

Size - 56 x 45 x 25cm (22 x 17.7 x 10inch)

Airline Weight (kg) Weight (pounds)
Aegean Airlines 8 17.64
British Airways 23 50.71
Easyjet No Limit  
El Al (Israel Airlines) 8 17.64
Finnair 8 17.64
Iberia Airline 10 22.05
Jet2 10 22.05
Thai Airways 7 15.43

Size - Various other sizes

Airline Size (cm) Size (inch) Weight (kg) Weight (pounds)
Aer Lingus 55 x 40 x 24cm 21.6 x 15.7 x 9.5inch 10 22.05
Air New Zealand 118cm 46.5inch 7 15.43
Air Transat 51 x 40 x 23cm 20 x 15.7 x 9inch 10 22.05
All Nippon Airways 55 x 40 x 25cm 21.6 x 15.7 x 9.8inch 10 22.05
Cebu Pacific 56 x 35 x 23cm 22 x 13.7 x 9inch 7 15.43
Czech Airlines 55 x 45 x 25cm 21.6 x 17.7 x 9.8inch 8 17.64
Delta Airlines 56 x 35 x 23cm 22 x 13.7 x 9inch Check with airline  
Emirates 55 x 38 x 20cm 21.6 x 15 x 7.8inch 7 15.43
Etihad Airways 50 x 40 x 21cm 19.7 x 15.7 x 8.3inch 7 15.43
Flybe 55 x 35 x 20cm 21.6 x 13.7 x 7.8inch 10 22.05
Israir Airlines 50 x 40 x 20cm 19.7 x 15.7 x 7.8inch 8 17.64
Japan Airlines 55 x 40 x 25cm 21.6 x 15.7 x 9.8inch 10 22.05
LATAM Airlines (LAN Airlines) 45 x 35 x 20cm 17.7 x 13.7 x 7.8inch 8 17.64
Malaysia Airlines 55 x 36 x 25cm 21.6 x 14 x 9.8inch 7 15.43
Monarch 56 x 40 x 25cm 22 x 15.7 x 9.8inch 10 22.05
Philippine Airlines 115cm 45inch 7 15.43
Qatar Airways 50 x 37 x 25cm 19.7 x 14.6 x 9.8inch 7 15.43
Ryanair (Priority only) 35 x 20 x 20cm 13.7 x 7.8 x 7.8inch Check with airline  
Singapore Airlines 115cm 45inch 7 15.43
Transavia 55 x 40 x 25cm 21.6 x 15.7 x 9.8inch 10 22.05
Tunis Airmax 115cm 45inch 8 17.64
United Airlines 56 x 35 x 22cm 22 x 13.7 x 8.6inch Check with airline  
Wizz Air 42 x 32 x 25cm 16.5 x 12.6 x 9.8inch Check with airline  

What about checked baggage?

Most airlines allow a checked in luggage to weight between 20kg (44pound) to 25kg (55pound) but the checked in baggage allowance varies so much that it almost impossible to collect them all.

The allowance will depend on the airline, the length of your flight (short or long-haul), sometimes the policy of the airport where you depart from, etc.

Always check with the airline before you travel and allow yourself enough time to pack your bags before you leave.

Tips & Trick we learnt during our travels

Four-wheel drive

Suitcases are normally very inconvenient to carry around. Always purchase the four-wheel version of larger suitcases. These are easier to roll and you don't have to lift them up. One drawback is the quality. If the suitcase is bad quality, you rick the wheels to be broken by the time you arrive at your destination. Check the reviews and try to go for the suitcase with the most indented wheels.

Less is more

We found that it's sometimes better to carry one large suitcase with us instead of two or three smaller ones. However, always make sure not to overfill your suitcase and check it's weight before you travel.

Carry your valuables with you at all times

Unfortunately, it can happen that things disappear from your checked baggage. We recommend that you never put valuables into your checked baggage. Keep a small bag with you and put all your papers, electronics and valuables in there.

Hardshell vs soft case

We found that during long-haul we prefer a good, sturdy suitcase with hardshell. It will protect your items in the suitcase and won't tear or damage during handling.

Soft cases are lighter normally and easier to carry when you go for a short trip. Wrap fragile items with clothes so they survive the trip.

Travelling with batteries & drones

Regulations on bringing batteries on board (in a carry-on or checked baggage) varies country to country and airport to airport. Find the European regulations here.

Most airlines and airports require you to carry the batteries with you on board in your carry-on. The batteries will be checked during security.

Some airports (we are looking at you Budapest Airport) might not allow you to carry drones on board in your carry-on. You will have to take any batteries out and place them in your carry-on separately.

Always check the regulations before you leave for both your origin and destination countries. If you transfer to a new flight, make sure to check the policy of the transfer airport & country too.

Did we forget anything?

We always try to improve the information here. If you notice any mistakes or outdated information please let us know in the comment section below.

Do you have any tips? Share it in the comments below and we will add it to the article.

What did you think?

Did you like this article? Do you have any questions or suggestions? Leave a comment below.

Responses

J
Johny Jackson
09 Jan 2018

Great info. Lucky me I came across your website by accident (stumbleupon).
I've book-marked it for later!

J
Johny Jackson
14 Jan 2018

You're so awesome! I don't think I have read anything like this
before. So good to discover somebody with some genuine thoughts on this topic.

Really.. many thanks for starting this up. This site is something that's needed on the web,
someone with some originality!

R
Rhona Belle Escaño
24 Mar 2018

Hi. Is 20kg.luggage suits in 24 inches suit case?thanks

C
Cory
26 Mar 2018

Hi Rhona,

Yes it does. Of course, it depends on what type of things you need to bring with you. For example, a medium size full of liquids will easily be over 20 kg. With clothes and some liquids, you should have no issues at all.

T
Tariq
14 Jun 2018

Hi firsty this was a great read and secondly just a quick question I am moving to england and I am told I can take 23kg checked lagguage and 7kg carry on so 30kg in total. So for the checked baggage what size would you reccomend as a lot of the suitcases that i am looking at have a capacity in litres not in kg which is a bit confusing?
Thanks

C
Cory
20 Jun 2018

Hi Tariq,

We bought the Samsonite Valise Termo Young as recommended in the extra large suitcases. We make sure we fit bulky items (like winter clothing) but don't go over 23 kg when we measure it. If you have smaller items, you can also go for a "large" suitcase. The capacity is there to guide on how many bulky items you can fit. Also, if you travel by car, an extra large suitcase is more suitable as you don't have to worry about the kg but gain a lot of inner space for your items. I hope this helps.

Kind Regards,

Cory

a
a thomas
03 Sep 2018

Absolute great info.Do you detailed check in luggage sizes too?
That would be of great help

C
Cory
07 Sep 2018

Thank you for your message. We just updated the content to contain more info.

Kind Regards,

Cory

L
Lola
18 Sep 2018

Hi. so this is my first time traveling overseas and I need your opinion, what kind of luggage should I get for 5days and 4night holiday. We will go on Autumns and will move to 3 city.

P
Patricia
18 Oct 2018

Hi
I have a question!
I am moving from England to Spain via Malaga on Easyjet. I can book 3 suitcases up to 32k each. I need to buy these suitcases but don't know the dimensions of each suitcase( I think total is 275cm)?? Silly question?? HELP!!

C
Cory
22 Oct 2018

Hi Patricia,

I think you can go for a large or extra large suitcase. We used extra large and it was fine!

Kind Regards,

Cory