Effective November 1, [[Continental Airlines | Continental’s]] maximum allowable carry-on size will shrink from 51 linear inches (the combined length, width, and height) to 45 linear inches. According to Continental, this move will align Continental’s restrictions with those of its [[SkyTeam]] partners, which include [[Delta Air Lines | Delta]], [[Northwest Airlines | Northwest]], and [[Air France]].
A Continental spokeswoman told BusinessWeek the carry-on downsizing has nothing at all to do with the airline’s recent decision to implement a $15 checked-bag fee, but I’m not buying it. Checked-bag fees have led people to try traveling only with a carry-on, which inevitably results in a few folks stretching the limits of what an overhead bin can hold. Reducing the allowable carry-on size will surely free up some space in those bins—which, mind you, is not a bad thing—though it will make it a little harder to travel sans checked baggage.
Here’s Continental’s carry-on policy, updated to reflect the change.