« on: June 17, 2013, 02:23:50 PM »
I have Googled this and that is why I am looking for people with personal experience in this situation.
I've flown in a number of CRJ-700's and they have all been 2+2. The luggage bins are fairly deep and long, but the doors don't open very far, so the thickness of your bag will be the limiting factor. My main bag is a Gura Gear Kiboko 30L. I've only run into problems when there was too much stuff in the pockets and the bag got too thick. Now I remove the waist belt and clear out the pockets and it fits fine. (The waist belt and the stuff in the pockets travels separately and I put everything back together when I get on the ground at my destination.)
If the flight is full, the staff at the gate will probably be proactive and start labeling the larger bags to be gate checked before boarding starts. Tell them you have photography gear in the bag and they might let you carry it on. It helps if you get there early and talk to them rather than running up at the last minute. On a recent trip, the guy at the gate even let a group of us board in the first group to make sure there was space in the bins.
Since they have been mentioned already, the 2+1 Embraers are rather different beasts. I flew in Embraers this past weekend and split my gear up into two bags, with one bag planned for the overhead bin and the other under the seat if necessary. The Embraers only have bins one one side of the plane, so the risk is that they fill up. My large Tenba messenger bag with a laptop and a few lenses fit in the bin just fine. I need to compare it with my Kiboko to see if the Kiboko would have fit. The second bag was a backpack that was small enough to fit under the seat. Assuming you can make it work, two smaller bags for the airline portion of the trip will draw less attention from the gate crew than a single large bag. I've also been known to cram a lot of stuff in a photo vest to wear on the plane, usually the extra stuff I have to remove from the Kiboko bag to make it fit or meet a weight restriction.