I recently re-entered the baggage dating market (as opposed to dating baggage market) when I tore a seam on my suitcase while un-sticking it from a cramped overhead bin. But seeing how I buy luggage once every 10 years, might have undiagnosed OCD, and know a thing or two about the travel industry, I spent way too much of a long weekend calculating which bag would maximize my space, while still fitting airlines' size restrictions.
Let's save you the headache.
Although the International Air Transport Association's recent proposal for "optimum-sized" bags hasn't become standard yet, once airlines adopt this policy (they probably will), your old bag will cost you $25 every time you check it. Not ideal.
Right now, most US airlines allow bags that measure 21in x 14in x 9in. But guidelines vary -- especially overseas. Low-cost European carrier RyanAir, for example, allows bags measuring 21.7in x 15.7in x 7.9in (55 x 40 x 20 cm), while rival EasyJet allows bags that are 22.04in x 17.72in x 9.8in (56cm x 45cm x 25cm). Non-low-cost carrier KLM, however, restricts bags to 21.5in x 13.5in x 10in. These are just a few European carriers -- not even accounting for other continents -- and already there are enough measurements to make Bob Vila's eye's glaze over.
Enter this website: WillMyCarryOnFit.com.
Two main features will guide you: a searchable index of 400 pieces of popular luggage, along with a general listing of every major airline's carry-on size restriction. Unfortunately, the site doesn't allow you to reorganize by bag size or price, so it's hard to know if you're getting the most bang for your buck. And it's unclear who's behind the magic: a Who Is search leads to a privately registered domain, and there's no contact listed anywhere on the website.
Still, the site compiles all the different airline bag guidelines in one place. That in itself is a useful tool. And it helped me decide which suitcase I wanted to buy -- though I won't shill for my new bag. What you want could be entirely different.