Your guide to changes in airline hand-luggage allowances

Don’t get caught out by airline cabin-bag policies! Check out the hand-luggage allowances for popular carriers

A female traveller pulls a carry-on case through an airport - but does her hand luggage meet airline regulations?

Be warned: hand-luggage allowances can vary from airline to airline (illustration by Alix Thomazi)

With many airlines tinkering with their policies on hand luggage in recent years, it can be hard to keep track of what you’re allowed to carry on. Here, we check out the latest cabin-baggage allowances for some of the most popular carriers – and round up some recent changes.

Ryanair

The budget carrier somewhat relaxed its baggage allowance in 2014, allowing customers to board with one piece of carry-on luggage and one smaller bag, such as a laptop case, handbag or carrier bag. However, from November 2017 the airline will only allow travellers one small piece of carry-on luggage in the cabin. Any second bags, such as carry-on cases, will be placed in the hold, free of charge, at the gate.

The only exceptions are Ryanair priority-boarding customers, who will be allowed to keep two bags with them in the cabin, passengers with infants, who are allowed to take a 5kg changing bag, or those with medical exemptions.

Your biggest cabin bag still can’t exceed 55x40x20cm, or 10kg in weight. Be aware that Ryanair employees do often check luggage dimensions. If your bag handle or wheels protrude from the measuring frame, you could face a hefty charge to check it in.

British Airways

BA is one of several airlines to introduce hand-baggage-only fares to compete with the budget carriers – so how generous is its allowance?

The airline currently permits passengers to carry on one cabin bag measuring up to 56x45x25cm in total, plus one handbag or laptop case. Note that it has reduced the maximum size of the latter to 40x30x15cm.

The combined weight of both bags must not exceed 23kg.

 Virgin Atlantic

The transatlantic carrier will let you carry on a cabin bag of up to 56x36x23cm in size and 10kg in weight in both economy and premium economy, but doubles that for its Upper Class fares. Plus you can also take a small handbag, backpack, pocketbook or purse with you.

Monarch

The low-cost carrier allows one cabin bag measuring up to 56x40x25cm – slightly smaller than easyJet, but slightly bigger than Ryanair – and weighing up to 10kg. Or, you could carry two items of hand luggage, as long as they don’t exceed those dimensions or weight when combined.

easyJet

All easyJet passengers are allowed one cabin bag measuring up to 56x45x25cm – the same as BA – plus one additional carrier bag of duty-free shopping.

Note that only premium customers such as easyJet Plus fares can bring along a more substantial second bag (such as a handbag or laptop), and are guaranteed that their cabin baggage won’t be relocated to the hold if space in the overhead lockers runs out.

There’s no weight restriction, but passengers must be able to lift their bags unaided into the lockers.

flybe

Europe’s largest regional low-cost carrier flybe recently revised its hand-luggage policy to allow customers a second, smaller bag, such as a handbag or laptop case, in addition to their main cabin bag (to be included in your 10kg weight allowance).

But be careful: at the same time it has reduced the permitted dimensions of the main bag from 55x50x23cm to a slimmer 55x35x20cm – the smallest we’ve reviewed.

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