It's really not just me. After some hardcore, serious research involving screeching indignantly in a high pitched voice with my co-workers who share the same problem (and looking at my research from the trip when I bought the Beloved Ugly Hosteling Backpack), the results are in.
Airlines really HAVE made their carryon requirements smaller. My hosteling backpack WAS a carryon size years ago, back in the day when we could insert things lengthwise. Airlines ARE trying to trick you.
We used to be able to bring an elephant.
Now we can bring chihuahuas.
I now shall proceed to mourn my Beloved Ugly. It has served faithfully and I shall hang on to it with hopes that when I make a sabbatical I can do the several-months-long traveling trip that I have always wanted to do. I love that thing. It is such a pity it no longer fits the requirements. It is simply too tall, and as we taller than average people know, the world of airline travel is simply not made for us.
Because of this, I have had to replace the Beloved Ugly with a new bag. I've got a Rick Steves Convertible Carryon and will be checking out an Osprey Porter 46 at REI later today before I make my final choice. (Yeah, I over-research all the time. But this means my itinerary will be exhaustive and informative, and since some of you are entrusting me with the happiness of your child for 12 days, this bodes *very* well for you.)
Ach. Luggage requirements are so complicated these days.