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FAQ: Baggage / Luggage Rules, Allowance, Through-check on AA & Other Airlines

Old Jun 10, 2015, 2:33 pm
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Last edit by: Prospero
How much am I allowed?

Can I check it through?

Im on award travel...

How long can my connection be to through check? Etc.


Link to American Airlines' policy on through checking baggage as of 1 Sep 2016.

Notice that different protocols are followed in IROPS / OSO conditions.

Code:
Through Checked Baggage Policy (AA, 1 Sep 2016)

To align American Airlines (AA) with our oneworld partners
and to reduce baggage mishandlings, we will now only through
check customers and baggage when all the tickets are in the same PNR.

Through check-in will be honored between the following carriers only:
  • Code:
    American Airlines and American Eagle
  • Code:
    oneworld airlines and affiliates


Code:
What if I have separate tickets in the same PNR for itineraries
with American to a non-oneworld carrier?

Our policy on American to non-oneworld airline tickets has not changed.
We will not through check customers or bags even if the tickets are in
the same PNR.

What would be the bag charges if the customer holds separate tickets
in separate PNRs?

American will not through check a customer’s bag, regardless if it is
a oneworld carrier. The customer will need to collect their bag at
the final destination on the AA ticket. They will pay for the bag on the
second ticket when they recheck it. This may involve exiting the secure
area, then claiming and re-checking the bags. The Minimum Connecting
Time (MCT) will usually not be sufficient when the customer has separate
tickets issued for each airline.

International flights will usually require claiming bags, clearing
customs and rechecking bags on another carrier to be continued to
their next destination.

What will customers be charged if we can through check the bag?

The charges would depend on what tickets the customer holds in the same PNR.

Do JetBlue (B6) and our other codeshare/interline partners count as affiliate airlines?

No, the oneworld affiliate airlines are generally the regional partners
of the other oneworld carriers. If a customer held an B6 ticket and an
AA ticket in the same PNR we would not through check the bag. They
would need to reclaim then recheck their bag with B6.
EXCEPTION: "Customers traveling on separate tickets where one
segment is an award ticket and another has been purchased can
through-check bags. Travel must be on American or oneworld partners,
and not on partners outside the oneworld alliance (like Etihad or Air
Tahiti Nui). Tickets much be in the same reservation."
-Gary Leff, Boarding Area

Link to FT thread: Separate PNR: oneworld AA, protection, through baggage issues as of 2016

Q. Can I check my baggage through?

YES: Due to new rules instituted by oneworld in June, and by AA 1 September of 2016, baggage between the fifteen oneworld airlines on the same PNR are required be through-checked.

NO: However, if the trip is booked ticketed separately, or with non-one world partners, through checking by AA will not occur; baggage will have to be recovered at baggage carousels landside and rechecked at the next operating airline's counter (depending on your initial operating carrier's policies about through-checking on separate booking).

On U.S.A. domestic or regional travel, you will have to retrieve your baggage and re-check the following day if your stop is overnight, or recheck, if your connection is 12 hours or longer. On international travel with overnight connections under the same PNR, you often will be able to through check (as long as the new ticket conditions are met).

If you are flying AA and a non-oneworld partner on separate PNR / tickets, you will have to recover and recheck baggage, particularly on separate PNRs. If there is no interline agreement between the airlines (e.g. AA and Spirit, Southwest, etc.) you will certainly be required to do so.

See Multi-Reservation Through-Checking across oneworld no longer required

See Australian Business Traveller article. (Link)

Q. If I'm connecting using AA on a single PNR but have a stopover at my connecting airport, can I check through or recheck?

AA will generally not through check bags or allow you to recheck bags if your layover exceeds twelve hours.

Q. Which carrier's rules apply?

Note: Checked baggage allowances may vary by status, class of service, origin or/and destination, type of baggage. Some AA affiliated credit cards allow one free checked bag on domestic travel - some up to four or eight passengers on the same itinerary.

A. It depends. On separate PNRs AA will collect baggage fees due, and the other airlines will collect what is due under their baggage policies.

On through-checked baggage, USDOT regulations require the marketing carrier of the initial segment baggage rules apply to USA originating (or ending, iirc) flights. E.g. flying QF as an AA codeshare, or QF connecting from AA marketed by AA, AA rules would apply. These take precedent of IATA rules if travel begins (or ends) in the USA.

For IATA governed international itineraries, baggage rules of the Most Significant / Prevailing Carrier apply:

In compliance with the new baggage policy issued by the International Air Transport Association (IATA), free baggage allowance and extra baggage charges for tickets issued on or after 1 April 2011 which involve one or more flights provided by other airlines will be based on a new method. If your journey includes connecting flights with more than one airline, the baggage allowances and fees of the airline that operates the longer leg of the itinerary (MDC) will apply throughout the itinerary. For example, if you fly a transpacific leg with one carrier and a domestic leg with another, the baggage allowances and fees of the carrier that operated the transpacific leg would apply to the whole journey, regardless of which carrier issued the ticket. (Language from Cathay Pacific.)

The Most Significant Marketing Carrier (MSC) is:
  • For travel between IATA areas: The first carrier flying in between two of the IATA areas
  • For travel between IATA sub areas: The first carrier flying in between the sub areas
  • For travel within an IATA sub area: The first carrier crossing an international border


IATA divides Areas and sub-areas. For example:

Area: North America, Central and South America, Hawaii
Subareas:
  • Canada, Mexico
  • Caribbean
  • Central America
  • South America

Area: Europe, Middle East
Subareas:
  • Europe
  • Middle East
  • Africa


Area: Asia, Guam, Southwest Pacific
Subareas:
  1. Japan, Korea
  2. Southeast Asia
  3. South Asian Subcontinent / India
  4. Southwest Pacific
Q. Can I through check my baggage if I have an overnight stop?

That will probably depend on your first operating carrier. Some carriers have no problem with through checking bags if you're stopping overnight, e.g. Qatar Airways with an overnight in DOH, but AA uses a maximum of under 12 hours to determine whether you can through check or must recover bags on overnight stops. (However, ground agents may vary.)

Q. What are my AA and oneworld baggage allowances with [_______] status?

See here on aa.com for updates

A. Complimentary bags
In some cases, you won't have to pay the baggage fees for up to three 23 kg / 50 lb bags (32 kg / 70 lb some premium passengers). Find out if this applies to you. EXPs could have to three checked 32 kg / 70 lb bags.

1st checked bag is complimentary for:
  • Eligible AAdvantage® Aviator™ and Citi® / AAdvantage® cardmembers (on domestic American Airlines operated flights)
  • AAdvantage Gold
  • oneworld Ruby
  • Alaska MVP members


1st and 2nd checked bags are complimentary for:
  • Platinum
  • oneworld Sapphire members
  • Alaska Airlines MVP Gold (AS is a oneworld member now)
  • Confirmed Business Class customers*


2nd and 3rd checked bags are complimentary for:
  • Confirmed First Class customers on 3-cabin aircraft*
  • AAdvantage Executive Platinum
  • oneworld Emerald, including Alaska Airlines MVP Gold 75K
  • Active U.S. military and/or dependents with ID traveling on orders (1st - 5th bags free of charge)
  • Active U.S. military with ID on personal travel


Executive Platinum / oneworld Emerald are allowed one more checked bag:

*See AA reducing some checked baggage allowance tickets pchs on / after 29 Mar 2016

Note: on through baggage: oneworld policy no longer entitles checking baggage through when using oneworld flights when connecting on separetily ticketed segments. Only AA and MH will still through-check baggage with separate PNRS.

Q. Do I have extended baggage allowance as AAdvantage Executive Platinum / oneworld Emerald? (Yes, as of 1 Feb 2013

A. All oneworld Emerald customers, including AAdvantage Executive Platinums, will be entitled to an extra bag.

See:Customer Planning Advisory
Subject . . . APS 13002 – Extra bag for oneworld Emerald

Date . . . . . . Effective: February 1st, 2013
Issued . . . . .January 31st, 2013

Overview . . .Extra bag for oneworld Emerald
. . . . . . . . . . To improve the travel experience for our top tier customers
. . . . . . . . . . we are pleased to offer all oneworld Emerald members
. . . . . . . . . . one extra bag in addition to their free allowance.

Detail. . . . . All oneworld Emerald customers, including AAdvantage
. . . . . . . . . . Executive Platinums, will be entitled to an extra bag.

. . . . . . . . . . Emeralds will have the following allowance:
. . . . . . . . . . First/Business 4 free pieces up to 70lbs (32kgs)
. . . . . . . . . . Main Cabin 3 free pieces up to 70lbs (32kgs)
. . . . . . . . . . This applies to both international and domestic travel
. . . . . . . . . . on/after 1st February.

Processing . Please override the excess baggage mask using the OT
. . . . . . . . . . code using the explanation Emerald. Automation for this
. . . . . . . . . . change will be in place later in the year.

<redacted issuing personnel>

Reference . . .APS13002


Q. How many bags can I check?

A. Check up to 10 bags if your trip is:
  • Domestic
  • Transatlantic
  • Transpacific


Check up to 5 bags if you’re traveling to / through / from:
  • Mexico / Caribbean / Central America*See footnote
  • South America*See footnote


*There are seasonal and year-round baggage embargoes and restrictions


Q. Can I "split" my allowance? E.g. can I split a 23 kg / 50 lb per bag allowance and check two bags weighing up to 23 kg / 50 lb together?

A. No. Per bag weight maxima or number of bags allowed can not be shared or split.

Q. What are my Overweight Baggage Charges?

A. aa.com: Oversize and overweight baggage

We’re pleased to say that your bag can weigh up to 70lbs./32kgs at no extra cost if you are:
  • First Class
  • Business Class
  • Executive Platinum
  • oneworld Emerald

If you are checking more than 3 bags charges will apply.*

Additionally:

Link to checked baggage policy

Link to oversized and overweight baggage policy AA has a "hard limit" of not accepting any baggage that exceeds 45 kg / 100 lb for check-in.


Q. Must I recover and re-check my bags arriving from another country?

A. If you are arriving in the U.S.A. from an international airport, it will depend:

1) If you check in at airports like AUH, DUB, YVR etc. where you process USCBP immigration and customs prior to boarding, your flight will arrive in the U.S. as a domestic flight. Your bag can be checked through (assuming other conditions mentioned above are met), you will be able to proceed to your next flight airside.

2) If you are otherwise arriving from an international airport, you will generally be required to pass USCBP immigration, recover your baggage at the indicated carousel and process through Customs. As you depart the Customs hall, you can re-check your baggage for your continuing flights prior to departing the airside part of arrivals. You will generally have to produce a valid boarding pass and pass through TSA Security to return airside to continue your travel.

3) DFW, MIA (only) in the USA allow through ("ITI") checking for certain passengers arriving internationally and departing on another international flight. This will result in an "ITI" (International to International) check with ITI sticker on your boarding pass, and baggage will not have to be collected and rechecked. ITI passengers may still be required to pass through immigration, exit through customs gate and pass back through security. See this FT thread.


Helpful resource links:

Link to American Airlines' policy on through checking baggage as of 1 Sep 2016. Notice that different protocols are followed in IROPS / OSO conditions.

AA: American Airlines a Checked baggage policy (includes infant assistive and medical devices, mobility devices, pets and specialty sports items).

See No More Multi-Reservation Through-Checking across oneworld

See Change to through-checking Oct 2014 (interlining) baggage on separate tickets

oneworld: oneworld Extra baggage allowance (status / class of service)

Please see FT: EXP / Emerald extended baggage / luggage allowance 1 FEB 2013 (master thread) if you are AA Executive Platinum / oneworld Emerald.


Link to archived thread with older posts.

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FAQ: Baggage / Luggage Rules, Allowance, Through-check on AA & Other Airlines

Old May 10, 2022, 1:02 pm
  #331  
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Originally Posted by VegasGambler
The wiki states that there's an exception to the multi-PNR policy -- if one ticket is an award and the other is paid, the bags can be checked through. Is this still true?
As far as I know yes, but getting a paid ticket and an award booked on the same PNR is practically impossible so take it for what it's worth.
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Old May 10, 2022, 1:14 pm
  #332  
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Originally Posted by JJeffrey
As far as I know yes, but getting a paid ticket and an award booked on the same PNR is practically impossible so take it for what it's worth.
The exception is that is you have a paid ticket and an award ticket on separate PNRs they will check your bags through. So that's the point, you can't (easily) get them on the same PNR but you can still check your bags through.

This should be a fairly common case (if you have an international partner award but can't find sAAver space for your domestic connection to/from the gateway)
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Old May 10, 2022, 1:27 pm
  #333  
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Originally Posted by VegasGambler
The exception is that is you have a paid ticket and an award ticket on separate PNRs they will check your bags through. So that's the point, you can't (easily) get them on the same PNR but you can still check your bags through.

This should be a fairly common case (if you have an international partner award but can't find sAAver space for your domestic connection to/from the gateway)
Ok, apologies, I misunderstood what you were asking.

Reading the wiki I do loosely remember that such an exception may have existed back when this policy was first rolled out, but AFAIK in practice it was never a hard and fast rule.

In short I wouldn't book any separate PNR's (paid or award) and expect bags to get checked through with AA.
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Old May 10, 2022, 4:09 pm
  #334  
 
Join Date: Sep 2009
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Posts: 6,087
Originally Posted by VegasGambler
The exception is that is you have a paid ticket and an award ticket on separate PNRs they will check your bags through. So that's the point, you can't (easily) get them on the same PNR but you can still check your bags through.

This should be a fairly common case (if you have an international partner award but can't find sAAver space for your domestic connection to/from the gateway)
I have done this many times - FF ticket to NY, then paid ticket overseas. (Much cheaper to fly out of JFK than SoFLA.)

I have tried a few times to check a bag through. Not once would AA do it. YMMV
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Old May 10, 2022, 5:54 pm
  #335  
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Originally Posted by Global321
I have done this many times - FF ticket to NY, then paid ticket overseas. (Much cheaper to fly out of JFK than SoFLA.)

I have tried a few times to check a bag through. Not once would AA do it. YMMV
That's kind of what I suspected. I was surprised to see it in the wiki
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Old May 10, 2022, 7:55 pm
  #336  
 
Join Date: Sep 2009
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Originally Posted by VegasGambler
That's kind of what I suspected. I was surprised to see it in the wiki
It would be an odd exception. It might even be allowed per the rules. I haven't seen it, but doesn't mean it is not there somewhere.
In Miami I asked several different ways. Each time, shutdown with a hard no. But, doesn't hurt to ask.
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Old May 10, 2022, 8:01 pm
  #337  
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Originally Posted by Global321
It would be an odd exception. It might even be allowed per the rules. I haven't seen it, but doesn't mean it is not there somewhere.
In Miami I asked several different ways. Each time, shutdown with a hard no. But, doesn't hurt to ask.
Actually it's become clear that I misread the wiki
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Old May 16, 2022, 3:44 pm
  #338  
 
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Originally Posted by Microwave
This sounds like a very harrowing experience, and one that I reckon many folks don't encounter in their daily travels. That said, one should expect an airline to know how to handle these situations, even if they're rare.

My first instinct after reading this was to check what Timatic shows for requirements for an itinerary starting in the USA, terminating in the ROC ("Chinese Taipei" ), and transiting Japan (for argument's sake I chose Hong Kong SAR passport holder living in the USA, though I don't think residency and citizenship will actually impact the transit requirements for Japan). The notes that stood out to me for transiting Japan were:



This seems quite cut and dried to me: you are legal to transit HND without going landside for up to a 72 hour connection (!!), so there's nothing according to the transit rules that should prevent AA from doing what you've asked them to do. You should not need to prove eligibility to enter Japan, and most importantly (to me at least), given these flights were all booked in a single itinerary as legal connections, any decision by AA not to through-check the bags would be one of the airline's own choosing: from what I can tell, there's no rule from the authorities that would prevent you doing what you've asked to do, and (in this case) AA did issue the ticket, so whether it's a system limitation or something else, it's ultimately an AA choice not to check your bag through on a legal itinerary.

For next time, what I would probably do is this:
  • When booking, leave plenty of time at the transpacific departure point—at least 4 hours;
  • When arriving at your first airport of departure, arrive plenty early (at least 3 hours), and bring a printout of the Timatic requirements for your specific situation and scenario. When you get to the counter to check your bag, don't get heated when the first agent invariably tries to check your bags to Japan. Press firmly but politely on the fact that everything was booked as one itinerary, with all legal connections, and that you've met all the requirements in Timatic for the journey. If they refuse to either 1) through-check to the final destination (preferred), or 2) short-check to your transpacific departure airport (next preferred), then I would suggest just "winging it" and have them check the bag the way they want to, and proceed to the next step.
  • Upon arrival to your transpacific departure airport, if AA short-checked here, go get the bag and check it to your final destination with the operating carrier. If AA checked it to the transpacific arrival airport only, go speak to the transpacific operating carrier directly, explain the situation calmly, sticking to just the relevant facts and ask if they can find the bag and retag it to your final destination (e.g. "I booked XXX-JFK-HND-YYY and AA would only check the bags to HND; I won't be going landside so is there any possible way you can intercept the bag here and retag it to YYY?"). In your situation above, had you given up the argument at your departure airport with enough time to make your flights, and done this at JFK, I think this would have had a decent chance of working out in your favour.
  • If by chance the transpacific operating carrier also refuses to help at the transpacific departure airport, I'd take the flight as scheduled, and speak to an agent at the transpacific arrival airport after deplaning without going landside, and once again explain the situation and advise that you need help getting someone to find your bag and tag it to your final destination since you won't be able to go landside to get it and recheck. At this point, because the connections are all legal and you're not going to go get the bag, it seems to me that the operating carrier won't have a lot of wiggle room and will need to help track down the bag and check it through to the final destination.

I realise none of this is perfect, and it's just my take and may not actually help... but it's the best advice I can think of.
Thank you very much for the help, Microwave! I indeed forgot to check the transit rules on TIMATIC, relying only on the IATA travel map for entry requirements. I did wish they would allow me to short-check to JFK, but unfortunately it was a firm no. If I had made the flight, yes, I would proceed to JL counters at JFK (first) and HND (if JFK didn't work) for help.

It seems CX will significantly boost operations later this year, and hope CX will be a viable option again. Still, though, if I need an overnight transit at HKG (< 24 hours) and the first segment is AA, I may run into the same problem.

Originally Posted by wrp96
The problem wasn't the overnight transit, the problem was the over 12 hour connection. They should've been able/willing to short check to JFK, though. If at all possible, and I understand with current schedule limitations it may not be possible, if starting with AA, try to avoid greater than 12 hour connections.
So do we know if there is a definitive 12-hour system limit also applies to foreign airports, as long as one checks in with AA? Anyone had any experience with DOH, HKG, etc.?
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Old May 16, 2022, 3:46 pm
  #339  
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Originally Posted by ernestnywang
So do we know if there is a definitive 12-hour system limit also applies to foreign airports, as long as one checks in with AA? Anyone had any experience with DOH, HKG, etc.?
Yes, AA has a definitive 12 hour system limit for both domestic and international. Agents can waive it but you shouldn't book any itinerary starting with AA that relies on the agent being willing to do so.
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Old May 16, 2022, 3:51 pm
  #340  
 
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Originally Posted by wrp96
Yes, AA has a definitive 12 hour system limit for both domestic and international. Agents can waive it but you shouldn't book any itinerary starting with AA that relies on the agent being willing to do so.
Got it. This is unfortunate and really should not have been put in place. Thanks a lot though.
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Old May 20, 2022, 12:09 am
  #341  
 
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Am I reading the baggage/lounge policy correctly?

AA Plat
3 pax on AA Y award
Traveling to Europe US-ORD-LHR-BER with ORD-LHR on AA
2X50lb for each of the 3 pax (same PNR)?
Lounge is Plat +1?

My daughter is headed to college in Europe so every bag/lb will count!
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Old May 20, 2022, 6:37 am
  #342  
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Originally Posted by audio-nut
Am I reading the baggage/lounge policy correctly?

AA Plat
3 pax on AA Y award
Traveling to Europe US-ORD-LHR-BER with ORD-LHR on AA
2X50lb for each of the 3 pax (same PNR)?
Lounge is Plat +1?

My daughter is headed to college in Europe so every bag/lb will count!
Correct on all of the above!
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Old May 24, 2022, 11:03 am
  #343  
 
Join Date: Jul 2017
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Baggage allowance on partner ticket with OWS

Hey all - I have a question about using Oneworld Sapphire baggage benefits when your FFP number is NOT attached to your reservation.

Specifically I have an economy ticket booked on AA with Avios (via BA).

Because it was booked with BA, i'm not able to attach my RAM Oneworld Sapphire frequent flyer number to the reservation. The BA number is 'stuck' on it.

When I go to the airport, will flashing my status card still be sufficient to get a free checked bag on this reservation? Or am I suck paying for bags?
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Old May 24, 2022, 11:49 am
  #344  
 
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There really ought to be a way to attach your RAM frequent flyer number to the reservation. Have you called or Tweeted (direct message) AA to do so? That’s by far the best way.

I don’t remember specifically with BA, but in general you can leave the frequent flyer number blank at booking by saying you’re booking travel for someone else rather than for yourself. When you do that, you can add whatever valid frequent flyer number you like rather than being stuck with the one you used to redeem miles/points. (This is fine because miles/points can be redeemed for any traveller, not just the account holder.)

I don’t have specific experience recent enough to be useful, but my general impression is that airlines are tightening down on using elite benefits for passengers with a different frequent flyer number in the reservation. You may also be able to change the FF# in the reservation at check-in (showing the frequent flyer card to help get it typed in right!), but it’s obviously easiest if you can do that in advance.
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Old May 25, 2022, 6:01 am
  #345  
 
Join Date: Jun 2011
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Posts: 251
I'm in need of a new suitcase and have a practical question. Most baggage discussion is about weight and that is not generally an issue for me (usually in Business), typically 55lbs.

My question is about size or oversize. I have seen a Samsonite hard shell case that has an overall dimension of 67 inches and I know that is 5 inches over the maximum standard size - but - I have never seen anyone measure a suitcase and to the naked eye I don't think you could 'see' those 5 inches as it is spread over the 3 dimensions.

The same case does come in an overall 62 inch size so maybe I should just stick to that.

Is it worth taking the risk? Is it actually a risk?
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