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Kai Ryssdal: Nope, it's not just you. Not only are planes getting more crowded as airlines cut flights to try to keep from losing too much money, but those overhead bins are more crammed now too. It makes economic sense if you think about it. Most U.S. airlines are charging to check bags, so suddenly everyone's buying their liquids once they get through security and packing everything else they legitimately can into a carry-on. Which, of course, has led to airlines getting stricter about the size of those bags. From New York, Ashley Milne Tyte reports.
Ashley Milne-Tyte: Airlines are enforcing some packing rules to make sure their cabins don't end up overstuffed. Joe Brancatelli runs business travelers' website Joesentme.com. He says you know the staff that checks your ticket or boarding pass as you wait in line.
Joe Brancatelli: Well, those people are now being asked to police the size of carry-ons.
He's been on flights recently where the overhead bins were bursting with bags, and the airline ended up checking some of those carry-ons for free. Passengers' increasing desire to travel light has been a boon for luggage salesmen like Harry Siever of Lexington Luggage in Manhattan.
Harry Siever: And the bags fold completely flat like a pancake and you can expand it and it meets the exact 45 inches length, width and height.
He says he's been doing a thriving trade in smaller bags lately.
Siever: Everybody wants carry-ons. Seventy-five percent of the people now only want carry-ons.
Even those arriving in the U.S. from afar, like lawyer Joanne Rennick.
Joanne Rennick: I traveled from Australia. With carry-on.
That kind of determination to avoid checking baggage could make Thanksgiving an interesting test for airlines, says Joe Brancatelli. But he says on regular flights these days there's little need for excessive carry-on vigilance.
Brancatelli: There just aren't enough passengers on many flights to worry about it anymore.
He says in the last three months the number of people flying has fallen significantly. And without full cabins, hulking bags aren't such a big issue.
In New York, I'm Ashley Milne-Tyte for Marketplace.