Understanding Suitcase Sizes

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 sided 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. If you're looking for hard-shelled luggage, for example, it may only be offered as collection only, so you may want to use a service like Shiply to make the delivery for you. 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 help you find your most suitable suitcase size. 

The basics of suitcase sizes:

All manufacturers measure the size of the suitcase from the group 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 sided 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 is also a little smaller to 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 you are allowed to take with you during your flight, at no extra cost. These are perfect to use on budget airlines such as Ryanair or EasyJet as they are included in your allowance. 

Why get a small cabin suitcase? 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. Not recommended for long trips away due to lack of space. 

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

Small Cabin Suitcase

Fjallraven - Kanken No. 2 Laptop 15 Black

Fjallraven - Kanken No. 2 Laptop 15 Black

Fjallraven - Kanken Classic Pack, Heritage and Responsibility Since 1960,One Size,Royal Blue

Fjallraven - Kanken Classic Pack, Heritage and Responsibility Since 1960,One Size,Royal Blue

Ucon Acrobatics Unisex Hajo Backpack Unisex Backpack In Olive Green

Ucon Acrobatics Unisex Hajo Backpack Unisex Backpack In Olive Green

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. 

Why get a large cabin suitcase? 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 one maybe even two weeks abroad. 

Large Cabin Suitcase

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 suitcase size for an extra large cabin suitcase is 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 your luggage. 

Why buy this? Only 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 is a great option for long haul flights, alongside your checked in luggage. 

Extra Large Cabin 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 68 cm or 24 inches and has a capacity 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 to inconvenience. 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 still benefit from a small enough luggage for you to freely enjoy your travels. 

Medium Suitcase

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 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 27 inched 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. 

Large Suitcase

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 32 inched and has a capacity of up to 130 litres. This is ideal for all long term travellers interested 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? This is a very large suitcase and it can get a little inconvenient from time to time. However, for long term stays in one destination, it's excellent as you can carry all your belongings in it. Th issue is usually not the space in the suitcase, but the weight limit imposed by most carriers. This is an excellent choice for families travelling with children as well. 

Carry on For Travellers

Extra Large Suitcase

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

Recap on suitcase sizes for your needs:

With so many suitcase sizes available on the market it is important to first check with your airline on their luggage allowances.
If you are a business traveller going on very short trips, then a small or large cabin suitcase will suffice.
If you are a budget traveller who doesn't want to pay for checked in luggage, a large cabin suitcase will be perfect. 
If you are a traveller interested in multi city stops a medium suitcase will be great, as it's not too big and inconvenient.
The Large suitcase is for long term travellers or couples who want to minimise the checked in costs. 
The extra large suitcase is perfect for long term travellers who spend a lot of time in one destination or for expats moving countries. 

Travel Bag For Women and Travel Bag For Men

Suitcase Sizes for Various Airlines

55 x 35 x 25

  • AIR FRANCE - 12KG
  • KLM - 12KG
  • ALITALIA - 8KG
  • HOP! - 12KG
  • JET AIRWAYS - 7KG
  • AEROLINEAS ARGENTINAS - 10KG
  • AIR EUROPA - 10KG
  • TAM - 8KG
  • XL AIRWAYS - 5KG

55 x 40 x 20

  • RYANAIR - 10KG
  • VUELING - 10KG
  • THOMAS COOK - 6KG
  • GERMANIA - 6KG
  • TUI FLY - 6KG
  • AEROFLOT - 10KG
  • AIR CARAÏBES - 12KG
  • AIR INDIA - 8KG
  • ARKIA - 7KG
  • ASIANA AIRLINES - 10KG
  • CONDOR - 6KG
  • CORSAIR - 12KG
  • KOREAN AIR - 12KG
  • TAP AIR PORTUGAL - 8KG
  • THOMSON - 5KG
  • TUI - 6KG

suitcase sizes for planes

55 x 40 x 23

  • LUFTHANSA - 8KG
  • SCANDINAVIAN AIRLINES - 8KG
  • BRUSSELS AIRLINES - 12KG
  • NORWEGIAN - 10KG
  • SWISS - 8KG
  • AIR CANADA - 10KG
  • AIRBERLIN - 8KG
  • AUSTRIAN AIRLINES - 8KG
  • BLUE - 18KG
  • BMI - 12KG
  • ETHIOPIAN - 7KG
  • EUROWINGS - 8KG
  • FLYNIKI - 8KG
  • LOT - 8KG
  • OLYMPIC AIRLINES - 8KG
  • TURKISH AIRLINES - 8KG

56 x 36 x 23

  • VIRGIN ATLANTIC - 10KG
  • AMERICAN AIRLINES
  • AEROMEXICO - 10KG
  • CATHAY PACIFIC - 7KG
  • CHINA AIRLINES - 7KG
  • QANTAS - 7KG
  • SOUTH AFRICAN AIRWAYS - 8KG
  • US AIRWAYS
  • VIETNAM AIRLINES - 7KG

Lightweight Luggage For Travellers

56 x 45 x 25

  • BRITISH AIRWAYS - 23KG
  • EASYJET
  • FINNAIR - 8KG
  • IBERIA - 10KG
  • AEGEAN AIRLINES - 8KG
  • EL AL - 8KG
  • JET2 - 10KG
  • THAI AIRWAYS - 7KG

OTHER

  • WIZZ AIR - 42X32X25 CM
  • AER LINGUS - 55X40X24CM - 10KG
  • AIR NEW ZEALANDMAX.  - 118 CM - 7KG
  • AIR TRANSAT - 51X40X23CM - 10KG
  • ALL NIPPON AIRWAYS - 55X40X25CM (MAX. 115 CM) - 10KG
  • CEBU PACIFIC - 56X35X23CM - 7KG
  • CZECH AIRLINES - 55X45X25CM - 8KG
  • DELTA AIRLINES - 56X35X23CM (MAX. 114 CM)
  • EMIRATES - 55X38X20CM - 7KG
  • ETIHAD AIRWAYS - 50X40X21CM (MAX. 115 CM) - 7KG
  • FLYBE - 55X35X20CM - 10KG
  • ISRAIR - 50X40X20CM - 8KG
  • JAPAN AIRLINES - 55X40X25CM (MAX. 115 CM) - 10KG
  • LAN - 45X35X20CM - 8KG
  • MALAYSIA AIRLINES - 55X36X25CM (MAX. 115 CM) - 7KG
  • MONARCH - 56X40X25CM - 10KG
  • PHILIPPINE AIRLINES - MAX. 115 CM - 7KG
  • QATAR AIRWAYS - 50X37X25CM - 7KG
  • SINGAPORE AIRLINESMAX.  - 115 CM - 7KG
  • TRANSAVIA - 55X40X25CM - 10KG
  • TUNIS AIRMAX.  - 115 CM - 8KG
  • UNITED AIRLINES - 56X35X22CM (MAX. 114 CM)

Most airlines allow a checked in luggage of 20kg or 23 kg. 
Tell me then, what suitcase sizes interest you the most and why? Are you planning mostly short or long haul flights? Let me know in the comments section below. 

Hey gang, one more thing: this article contains affiliate links. This means that if you are kind enough to purchase something by using these links, I will earn a small commission. It really helps me keep this blog free and fun for everyone. Thank you. 

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