Reduce hand luggage allowances – these are the stingiest airlines in the sky

Reasonably priced flight tickets often hide an uncomfortable truth: a reasonably priced flight ticket may have an additional fee that is not included in the originally promised fare.

The growing complexity of cheap tickets has now extended to the contents of overhead bins – and popular budget carriers, such as Ryanair and EasyJet, have introduced positive minimum rules that penalize even the lightest of travellers.

Some people may want to relive the glory days of being able to take their favorite suitcase with them without weighing it on the bathroom scales first; others long for standardized measurements, which are not currently in place across airlines.

With the risk of higher fees at the boarding gate and items being put on hold, the requirements to check a specific carrier before flying pay off. Read on to find out the rules for BA, Ryanair, Virgin and other carriers. Of course, regardless of the size of your bag, remember to take out those long liquids and gels before boarding.

British Airways

Although BA mimics low-cost carriers in many ways, it still has one of the most generous baggage allowances, and they often text passengers before busy flights offering to check baggage into the hold for free .

Hand luggage can weigh up to 23kg, and have a maximum length of 56cm, width of 45cm and depth of 25cm (22 x 18 x 10 inches). This must include wheels, handles, side pockets and any other attachments, so make sure the at all bag according to the dimensions. If it is larger or heavier, there is a risk that it will have to be checked into the stomach.

You can also take an additional, smaller item on board, such as a laptop bag or handbag. This can be a maximum of 40 x 30 x 15cm (16 x 12 x 6in).

Atlantic Virgin

Virgin has a slightly smaller cabin bag allowance than BA. Hand luggage must be 56 x 36 x 23cm (22 x 19 x 14 inches) in size and weigh up to 10kg; those in Economy and Premium Economy can bring one item, while Upper Class travelers can bring two as long as their combined weight does not exceed 16kg. The traveler must be able to place it in the overhead bin without assistance.

Small handbags or rucksacks can also be carried on as long as they do not contain items that could fairly be classified as ‘luggage’. Laptops must be placed in hand luggage.


Economy and Premium Economy travelers can bring bags no larger than 55 x 38 x 20 cm (21 x 15 x 7 inches) in size, although economy passengers only get a paltry 7kg compared to Premium Economy’s 10kg.

In Business and First Class, travelers can take a 7kg carry-on bag as well as a briefcase, handbag or garment bag of the same weight. The briefcase may not exceed 45 x 35 x 20 cm (17 x 13 x 7 inches); the hand bag cannot be larger than 55 x 38 x 20 cm (21 x 15 x 7 inches); the garment bag cannot be more than 20 cm (7 inches) thick when folded.

a passenger on a planea passenger on a plane

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EasyJet’s standard cabin bag allowance is 45 x 36 x 20 cm (17 x 14 x 7 inches), with a maximum weight of 15kg. Perhaps just as important, the bag must fit under the seat in front.

That is, unless customers don’t have easyJet Plus membership or pay more to add a large cabin bag to their booking. In those circumstances, travelers can also bring a slightly larger bag on board – 56 x 45 x 25 cm (22 x 17 x 10 inches) – as long as you can fit it in the overhead bin.


Ryanair also has a slightly complicated policy. Standard airfares – the super cheap rates you see advertised – include a small personal bag of around 40 x 25 x 20cm (15 x 10 x 7 inches), which must fit under the seat in front.

If you want more allowance, book ‘Priority Plus’ tickets, which allow you to enter the ‘priority’ queue (often longer) and, very importantly, allow a 10kg bag with dimensions of 55 x 40 x 20cm ( 21 x 15 x 9 inches).


Jet2 has things a little simpler. There is a 10kg allowance, and the bag should be no larger than 56 x 45 x 25cm (22 x 17 x 10 inches). A small personal item (such as a laptop bag or handbag) can be brought onto the plane as long as it fits under the seat in front.


Flybe allows a 7kg bag, with dimensions of 45 x 36 x 20cm (17 x 14 x 7 inches), as well as a small bag under the seat in front.

Aer Lingus

Not all Aer Lingus flights automatically include carry-on luggage, although you can add it for €9.99 (£9.99) if it doesn’t. Regardless, bags must have a maximum weight of 10kg, and be 55 x 40 x 24cm (21 x 15 x 9 inches) in size. You can also take a small handbag or laptop bag on board.

However, this does not apply to Irish regional flights – in those circumstances, the heaviest bag is 7kg.

Qatar Airways

First and Business Class travelers can take two pieces of luggage on board, as long as the total weight does not exceed 15kg and the maximum dimensions of 50 x 37 x 25cm (19 x 14 x 10 inches) per bag. Economy customers are given a bag weighing less than 7kg.

Laptops must be within the hand luggage allowance, but items such as a handbag, briefcase or baby carrier are allowed as extra items.

Tui Airways

Passengers are entitled to one piece of hand luggage weighing up to 10kg, with maximum dimensions of 55 x 40 x 20cm (21 x 15 x 9 inches). The Trunki case can be brought on board as hand luggage as long as it does not exceed the maximum weight.

Package holidays booked with Tui include a minimum of 15kg of checked hold baggage (for some holidays this increases to 20kg). Flight passengers only have the option to pay for checked baggage.

Find more advice in our investigation into the UK’s best (and worst) budget airlines.

This story was first published in June 2023 and has been revised and updated.

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