Everything You Need To Know About Cabin Luggage

hold luggage

Never sure whether you will get away with your free carry on allowance, or should you pay extra for priority. On long haul flights baggage allowances are usually quite generous, but on short-haul, or budget flights choosing which size and type of luggage can be mindboggling.


  1. Carry on cabin hand luggage allowances top airlines
  2. Hand luggage what is allowed, and what is forbidden
  3. Convenience or capacity? What to consider when buying a new bag or set of luggage
  4. Travelling with children under 2 years old
  5. Passengers with Special Needs
  6. Questions and answers

There’s nothing more galling than having to shell out more for your luggage than the cost of your flight!

You’ve done it, you’ve found that perfect flight to Cyprus for just £29.99 return, but it’s going to cost twice as much to pay for hold baggage. At times like these we’re sorely tempted to just take hand luggage for a 2 week holiday, but can it really be done?

Parents of young children are already resigned to the fact that they have to travel with checked in suitcases and hand luggage so tend to book with airlines that already have check in baggage allowances. Business passengers, solo passengers or couples are then faced with a myriad of options regarding their baggage.

Carry on luggage is a contentious issue for many airlines. Luggage fees are one of the principal sources of income for budget carriers. Carry on luggage size allowances are not uniform and vary from airline to airline. Hand luggage measurements vary enormously and can even vary by airport even with the same airline!

Airlines such as Ryanair and Wizz Air do offer free of charge hand baggage, but the sizes are so small that most travellers are left with no option but to pay for extra baggage. You can see for yourself in our comparison table below.

Carry on cabin hand luggage allowances top airlines

Airline Dimensions: 1 Bag Personal Item Weight Restriction:
Aer Lingus 55cm x 40cm x 24cm 10kgs
Air France 55cm x 35cm x 25cm 12kgs
British Airways 56cm x 45cm x 25cm 23kgs
easyJet 56cm x 45cm x 25cm None
Emirates 55cm x 38cm x 20cm 7kgs
Eurowings 55cm x 40cm x 23cm 8kgs
FlyBe 55cm x 35cm x 20cm 10kgs
Jet2 56cm x 45cm x 25cm 10kgs
KLM 55cm x 35cm x 25cm 12kgs
LOT Polish Airlines 55cm x 40cm x 23cm 8kgs
Lufthansa 55cm x 40cm x 23cm 8kgs
Norwegian 55cm x 40cm x 23cm 10kgs
Qatar 50cm x 37cm x 25cm 7kgs
RyanAir 40cm x 20cm x 25cm 10kgs
RyanAir Priority (€) 55cm x 40cm x 20cm 10kgs
SAS Scandanavian Airlines 55cm x 40cm x 23cm 8kgs
Swiss 55cm x 40cm x 23cm 8kgs
Thomson (Tui) 55cm x 40cm x 20cm 10kgs
Turkish Airlines 55cm x 40cm x 23cm 8kgs
Virgin Atlantic 56cm x 36cm x 23cm 10kgs
Vueling 55cm x 40cm x 20cm 10kgs
Wizz Air 40cm x 30cm x 20cm 10kgs

* Information correct at time of writing, always check with your airline before you travel

As you can see airlines do vary in their hand luggage size, and weight allowances so it’s very important to check beforehand if your luggage complies, or you may face a nasty fine at the airport.

Hand luggage what is allowed, and what is forbidden

Airport security can be a bit hairy sometimes, and no one likes been given the third degree. To avoid problems, you should know which items are restricted in carry on baggage, and which should be made known at airport security:

Liquids in bottles only up to 100 ml can carried in see through bags, up to a total of 1 litre. Creams and toothpaste also qualify as liquids, so try and buy travel size options to reduce your load.

Medications “for personal use” are permitted. The same liquid restrictions apply for liquid medicines.  Larger amounts should be made known to staff, with a copy of a relevant prescription.

Food and drinks are allowed as long as they do not exceed the 100 ml liquid limit.

Electronic devices, laptops, mobile phones, cameras, e-cigarettes, and all types of chargers can be carried once they are removed from your bag at airport security.

Banned items include hazardous chemicals and sharp objects, but also seemingly innocuous items such as nail files or nail scissors. Airport scanners are able to see into every nook and cranny of your bags, so the golden rule is not to pack anything with a blade, it will be taken and confiscated.

Convenience or capacity? What to consider when buying a new bag or set of luggage

Whether you need luggage that will qualify as free of charge and satisfy stringent carry on hand luggage dimensions, or a set of bags for a family vacation to Australia, certain aspects should be considered.

For short, or business trip hand luggage, a suitcase may be the best choice, a hard case to protect a laptop and clothes may be your best bet. However, if you are going on a city break, a backpack may be easier for walking and sightseeing. If the backpack is small enough it may also qualify as free hand luggage depending on the airlines size and weight stipulations.

Bag weight can be a big factor, there’s no point using half your weight allowance on the weight of the bag. More generous airlines such as British Airways permit travellers a 23kg limit, but for others a lightweight alternative may be best.

The type of luggage in your bags is also a factor. Fragile goods should always be carefully packed in a hard backed suitcase in the hold, making check in luggage essential. Heavy luggage should always have good wheels so that it can be pulled with ease. Depending on destination waterproof baggage may also be necessary. And finally, for hold luggage, always try to buy something distinctive, or something that can you can customise for easy recognition. You don’t want to take anyone else’s bag by accident, and you certainly don’t want anyone to take yours.

Travelling with children under 2 years old

Different airlines have very different policies regarding children under 2 years old. Whilst some airlines allow children under 2 years of age to fly for free once they are held in the lap of an adult, and do not occupy a seat themselves, others usually charge a standard fee of approximately €25 on one way flights (excluding long haul flights).

Again, the baggage and equipment policy vary considerably, so it is always best to check carefully. Usually though, airlines allow 1 buggy, plus another piece of equipment, or 1 piece of hand luggage, or hold luggage.

Passengers with Special Needs

Disabled or impaired passengers are permitted extra allowances when travelling. These allowances vary from airline to airline, but usually allow for the use of a wheelchair, and breathing equipment. For special needs passengers always inform the airline well in advance and check details on allowances.

Recreational travellers with sports equipment like skis, or golf clubs, should also check with their airline in advance. Usually, the normal weight restrictions apply, and sometimes size restrictions also apply. Be advised that sports equipment is usually classed as oversized luggage, and will take longer to process, so give yourself extra time at check in.

Below is a list of some of the different allowances for infants, impaired passengers, and oversized luggage by some European airlines:

Equipment type LOT Lufthansa British Airways Wizz Air Ryanair
baby accessories free foldable buggy free foldable buggy or baby carrier free 2 items foldable buggy, carrier, car seat, etc. free foldable buggy or baby carrier free foldable buggy and 5kg extra carry on bag
accessories for people with disabilities allowed if reported in advance allowed allowed within specified dimensions crutches two items of medical equipment or mobility aids
sports equipment allowed do not exceed weight limits allowed max. size: 190 x 75 x 65 cm additional fee additional fee

* Information correct at time of writing, always check with your airline before you travel

Questions and answers

We have received lots of queries from our customers about packing and baggage and our experts have taken some time out to answer some of those questions:

Q) Can I take my insulin on the plane?

A) Yes, however insulin should never be put in hold luggage where it will freeze. Instead, most airlines permit extra free carry on hand baggage for diabetics. Check in advance with your airline.

Q) Can I bring my phone charger with me on the plane?

A) Phone chargers are not prohibited, and do not constitute a danger in carry on luggage. Some airlines even provide sockets for phones to charge while flying.

Q) Is toothpaste allowed in hand luggage?

A) Toothpaste is considered as a liquid for flight purposes, and as such must adhere to the 100ml limit. Toothpaste can always be brought on board for that emergency mile high brush!

Q) Can I bring a handbag and carry on luggage?

A) This is entirely dependent on the airline that you travel with, and you should consult their allowances before flying.

Delayed or lots baggage?

Chceck your rights

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