How to Measure Luggage – Identifying the Weight and Measurements

Whether you are planning for a tour abroad or going to visit someone/someplace, choosing appropriate luggage can be tricky, and in the end, the right luggage will save you a lot of trouble.

Recently I had to do some research on it for a friend of mine. Before that, I didn't even know there's so much depth in it. Now I'm here to share my knowledge with you too so that you can go through this process much more easily.

Deciding the type of luggage, structural material to opt for, different traits of luggage to look for, and what particular things to avoid when buying new luggage are all topics of their own discussion. 

How to Measure Your Luggage Correctly?

Here, I'll talk about the process of measuring luggage that I found important and worthy of investing the time and effort.

Checking the Requirements

measuring your luggage is almost compulsory when you are making a trip that involves airplanes. Because almost all the airplanes have a different set of restrictions for luggage.
So, knowing what you can carry will help you a lot to get the one you can carry. Although when there's not so many restrictions, measurement isn't as important. However, knowing the luggage size will help you to plan ahead.

Checking Retailer's Website

most retailers will provide information for most of their products. Check there and choose the luggage that suits your requirements.

However, the information provided on their website may not always match with the practical measurements of the product. Therefore, it is recommended to take the measurements yourself to be sure. 

Measuring the Dimensions of Your Luggage

Length, width, and height are the major concerns that require precise measurements.
Luggage comes in all sizes and shapes. To measure the length of your luggage, put it standing on its wheels, and take measurement from the floor all the way to the top point, including handle/zipper/lock.

The handle does count toward the length for most of the airlines. If the luggage doesn't have any wheels, you should still put it standing upright on its bottom part, because readings may vary otherwise.

For width and height, follow the same process. Some luggage may have a handle or zipper on the side; in that case, count the reading, including the handle and zipper.

Just a classic tape measure or a sewing tape measure is good enough for measurement. But keep in mind that the sewing tape is too flexible, so the reading might be slightly off.
However, if it's the only thing you have at home, leaving some room for error will help. It is a good idea to take a couple of readings for all length, width, and height and then take the average for your final measurement.

My recommendation is to take a separate set of readings with the luggage full. You might see a difference in measurements before and after filling it up. It is always better to be safe than sorry.

Linear measurement is the sum of length, width, and height of luggage. Since luggage can be so very many sizes, it’s very hard to provide specific rules for all luggage types. Instead, some airlines simply ask for linear measurement.

Measuring Weight

many airlines have very strict limitations on the weight of your luggage. Be sure to note down the limit you are allowed to carry. You can find luggage scales online, those do the job well, especially ones that are slightly on the expensive side.

Cheaper ones may die on you after a few uses. However, if you don't want to spend money on it, don't be shy using your regular bodyweight measuring scale.

Backpacks and Duffle Bags

backpacks and duffle bags are more finicky than suitcases. They tend to have rounded corners, and also soft fabrics, making them almost impossible to measure when not full.
I suggest always fill them in first and then take the measurement. For rounded corners, take measurements through the diameter. I mean, around the central, where it is thickest. 

Expandable Zippers

Most duffle bags, some backpack, and even a few suitcases these days feature an extra zipper that does not open in a new compartment.

Instead, they expand the luggage interior space, when unzipped. If your luggage features such zippers, making up mind whether to keep that open or closed is necessary.

If you measure your bag with it closed, and check-in that way, but later decide to expand it, there’s a chance of violating the linear inch/centimeter measurement or weight limit allowed by your airline company. Therefore, take your measurement with it expanded. It won’t hurt you if you don’t use it.


I know, you'd want to bring a large suitcase, not only because it'll help you pack more things, but also you'll have the extra space, in case you get a little carried away while shopping out there.

But, trust me, it won't be as pleasing, if you go to the airport and have to pay an extra charge just because your luggage is larger than their regulations by a hair. Instead, you'd rather want to calculate the small things beforehand and leave some room for error.

Speaking of which, if you find your luggage being slightly larger than the “carry-on limit” provided by your airline, inform it to them beforehand. Most airlines allow carrying slightly larger bags than their carry-on limits if checked in first.

In summary

- Check the guidelines of your airline.
- Measure your luggage with proper tape, don’t ignore even the smallest thing such as zipper/handle, wheels.
- Measure your backpack/duffle bags with caution. Take your measurements where it is thickest.
- Measure the weight properly with a well-calibrated scale.
- Double-check and take the average of the readings.
- Leave some room for error since your equipment might not be well-calibrated with the airport equipment.
- Notify your airline, if you need to carry luggage slightly larger than the carry-on allowance.

Many people tend to underestimate the necessity of measuring their luggage. It's a small thing, but it can pay off by making your journey smoother as well as easier airport screening. Thus, it is worthwhile to spend the time and energy on it beforehand.


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