Flying is not as fun as it used to be thanks to the obtrusive patdowns by TSA agents, fears about explosives slipping through security, less legroom, no free snacks, and fees on top of your ticket price.

So it’s not cheering news that an international association of airlines is calling for airlines to shrink the size of permitted carry-on luggage. The move is meant to standardize carryon sizes so that theoretically everyone’s carry-on bags can fit in overhead bins and to streamline the boarding process which the association says gets bogged down by passengers looking for overhead space. Currently, most U.S. airlines allow bags that are up to 22 by 14 by 9 inches. The proposed sizes would shave off 0.5 – 1.5 inches from each dimension to 21.5 by 13.5 by 7.5 inches.

We don’t like the airlines’ new luggage proposals one bit, but we also don’t think this is a matter for the government. Indeed, airlines are likely to get so much pushback from the public that they will have to reexamine the policy. But Tennessee Representative Steve Cohen, a Democrat, isn’t used to waiting for the market or public opinion. Cohen, a member of the House Transportation Subcommittee on Aviation, has introduced the Carry-On Freedom Act to prevent airlines from reducing the maximum size of carry-on baggage as proposed.

According to Cohen’s press release:

“Consumers are tired of being squeezed—physically and fiscally—by airlines and this proposal is a step too far,” said Congressman Cohen. “It is a transparent attempt to squeeze even more money out of passengers by forcing them to pay baggage fees to check luggage they purchased specifically to avoid those fees. The new proposed carry-on size limits should not be allowed to go into effect, especially at a time when the airlines are already making huge profits.”

Shrinking carry-on baggage sizes again sounds ridiculous, but that should be the prerogative of private airlines. Consumers can respond by choosing not to fly with them and that would send a clear message.

Passing legislation that limits airlines from making internal decisions is government overreach and may trigger other unintended consequences. While we might all want to be able to keep our bags a couple of inches larger, this is hardly a matter demanding government intervention.

According to The Hill, the airline association pushing for these changes thinks that a standard carry-on size would “bring common sense and order to the problem of differing sizes for carry-on bags” and “help to iron out inconsistencies and lead to an improved passenger experience.” 

What we don’t need is legislation by Congress, but enforcement of policies by airlines – preferably before people board. If airline travel becomes sufficiently unpleasant, some entrepreneur will come up with an idea to compete with the established airline practices.

And even more novel idea: what if checked bag fees were lowered or eliminated? I guarantee overhead space would suddenly appear as passengers would opt to check their luggage. This is up to the airlines, of course. Just sayin’: Let’s innovate, not legislate.