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 suitcase size and why? Do you need to purchase hard shell luggage or 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. Which suitcase size is perfect for you depends on where you are travelling, for how long and which airline you travelling with. Each occasion requires a different suitcase size.
We know how much we struggled to find the best suitcase size for our long haul flights and trips across Europe. So let's dig in and find you the most suitable suitcase size for you.
Table of Contents
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.
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.
Large cabin suitcase
The large cabin suitcase measures 55cm or 20 inches 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.
Extra large cabin suitcase
The size of an extra large cabin suitcase is around 56cm or 22 inches 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.
A medium suitcase measures 68cm or 24 inches 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.
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 27 inches 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.
Extra large suitcase
This suitcase measures 85cm or 32 inches 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Suitcase Sizes in cm, inches, litre and oz
Ever wondered how much stuff you can actually fit in one of these carry-ons? In this handy table, we have collected the measurements and volume of each airline approved carry-on suitcase.
|Suitcase sizes (cm)||Suitcase sizes (inches)||Suitcase sizes (litre)||Suitcase sizes (us oz)|
|55 X 35 X 25 cm||21.6 X 13.8 X 9.8 inches||48 l||1627 oz|
|55 x 40 x 20 cm||21.6 X 15.7 X 7.9 inches||44 l||1488 oz|
|55 x 40 x 23 cm||21.6 X 15.7 X 9 inches||50.5 l||1711 oz|
|56 x 36 x 23 cm||22 X 14 X 9 inches||46.3 l||1568 oz|
|56 x 45 x 25 cm||22 X 17.7 X 10 inches||63 l||2130 oz|
Carry On Suitcase Sizes for Various Airlines
Airline companies around the world have different requirements in terms of size and weight of your carry on luggage. In the tables below, we have collected most major airlines and grouped them by their maximum allowed carry on size. For each airline, we added the allowed carry on weight in kilogram and pounds.
Size - 55 x 35 x 25cm (21.6 x 13.8 x 9.8 inches)
Airlines listed below allow carry-ons no larger than 55 x 35 x 25cm or 21.6 x 13.8 x 9.8 inches on board.
|Airline||Weight (kg)||Weight (pounds)|
Size - 55 x 40 x 20cm (21.6 x 15.7 x 7.9 inches)
Airlines listed below allow carry-ons no larger than 55 x 40 x 20cm or 21.6 x 15.7 x 7.9 inches on board.
|Airline||Weight (kg)||Weight (pounds)|
|Air Caraïbes (Air Caraibes)||12||26.46|
|TAP Air Portugal||8||17.64|
|TUI Fly Deutschland||6||13.23|
Size - 55 x 40 x 23cm (21.6 x 15.7 x 9 inches)
Airlines listed below allow carry-ons no larger than 55 x 40 x 23cm or 21.6 x 15.7 x 9 inches on board.
|Airline||Weight (kg)||Weight (pounds)|
|Bmi (British Midland Airways)||12||26.46|
|LOT Polish Airlines||8||17.64|
|Norwegian Air Shuttle||10||22.05|
|Swiss International Air Lines||8||17.64|
Size - 56 x 36 x 23cm (22 x 14 x 9 inches)
Airlines listed below allow carry-ons no larger than 56 x 36 x 23cm or 22 x 14 x 9 inches on board.
|Airline||Weight (kg)||Weight (pounds)|
|American Airlines (US Airways)||No limit|
|South African Airways||8||17.64|
Size - 56 x 45 x 25cm (22 x 17.7 x 10 inches)
Airlines listed below allow carry-ons no larger than 56 x 45 x 25cm or 22 x 17.7 x 10 inches on board.
|Airline||Weight (kg)||Weight (pounds)|
|Easyjet||No Limit||No Limit|
|El Al (Israel Airlines)||8||17.64|
Size - Various other sizes
Each airline listed below has a different carry-ons policy. If you can't find your airline, please let us know in the comments section below and we will try and help.
|Airline||Size (cm)||Size (inches)||Weight (kg)||Weight (pounds)|
|Aer Lingus||55 x 40 x 24cm||21.6 x 15.7 x 9.5 inches||10||22.05|
|Air New Zealand||118cm||46.5 inches||7||15.43|
|Air Transat||51 x 40 x 23cm||20 x 15.7 x 9 inches||10||22.05|
|All Nippon Airways||55 x 40 x 25cm||21.6 x 15.7 x 9.8 inches||10||22.05|
|Cebu Pacific||56 x 35 x 23cm||22 x 13.7 x 9 inches||7||15.43|
|Czech Airlines||55 x 45 x 25cm||21.6 x 17.7 x 9.8 inches||8||17.64|
|Delta Airlines||56 x 35 x 23cm||22 x 13.7 x 9 inches||Check with airline||Check with airline|
|Emirates||55 x 38 x 20cm||21.6 x 15 x 7.8 inches||7||15.43|
|Etihad Airways||50 x 40 x 21cm||19.7 x 15.7 x 8.3 inches||7||15.43|
|Flybe||55 x 35 x 20cm||21.6 x 13.7 x 7.8 inches||10||22.05|
|Israir Airlines||50 x 40 x 20cm||19.7 x 15.7 x 7.8 inches||8||17.64|
|Japan Airlines||55 x 40 x 25cm||21.6 x 15.7 x 9.8 inches||10||22.05|
|LATAM Airlines (LAN Airlines)||45 x 35 x 20cm||17.7 x 13.7 x 7.8 inches||8||17.64|
|Malaysia Airlines||55 x 36 x 25cm||21.6 x 14 x 9.8 inches||7||15.43|
|Monarch||56 x 40 x 25cm||22 x 15.7 x 9.8 inches||10||22.05|
|Philippine Airlines||115cm||45 inches||7||15.43|
|Qatar Airways||50 x 37 x 25cm||19.7 x 14.6 x 9.8 inches||7||15.43|
|Ryanair (Priority only)||35 x 20 x 20cm||13.7 x 7.8 x 7.8 inches||Check with airline||Check with airline|
|Singapore Airlines||115cm||45 inches||7||15.43|
|Transavia||55 x 40 x 25cm||21.6 x 15.7 x 9.8 inches||10||22.05|
|Tunis Airmax||115cm||45 inches||8||17.64|
|United Airlines||56 x 35 x 22cm||22 x 13.7 x 8.6 inches||Check with airline||Check with airline|
|Wizz Air||42 x 32 x 25cm||16.5 x 12.6 x 9.8 inches||Check with airline||Check with airline|
What about checked baggage?
Most airlines allow a checked in luggage to weight between 20kg (44 pounds) to 25kg (55 pounds) but the checked in baggage allowance varies so much that it is 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.
What is the largest suitcase you can check on a plane?
The weight limit for the largest suitcase you can check in is 30kg (66 pounds) per checked bag. Size restrictions also apply, the largest suitcase dimensions you can check on a plane is 81 x 59 x 34 cm (31 x 23 x 14 inches). Remember, depending on your ticket class, you might have additional allowances, like extra bags, extra large bags, etc. Please make sure to check with your airline before you travel.
How much does extra baggage cost?
If you are taking extra carry on luggage with you on board or check an extra suitcase on the plane, you might be required to pay an 'excess baggage fee'. The excess baggage charge can significantly vary between airlines. Excess carry on fees are normally lower than excess checked in luggage. Also, keep an eye on potential extra fees. For example, if your extra luggage is also oversized (it's larger than the permitted checked in luggage size) you might need to pay additional charges on top of the excess baggage fee.
Tips & Trick we learnt during our travels
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 risk 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.