Don’t get caught out! Your guide to airline luggage allowances

There’s always that one person at the airport who’s laden with enormous bags, boxes, briefcases and sporting equipment. We’ve all been stuck behind someone who takes ages to check in all their items and then haggles over the exorbitant excess baggage fees at the check-in counter. Don’t be that person. Use our guidelines below to ensure you stay within your baggage allowance when flying.

Man in airport

Checked-in luggage

Airlines will differ slightly – some have a piece quota per passenger, while others have a total weight quota per person.

You are usually allowed to check in two items per person, neither of which may weigh more than 20kg/45lb on their own or collectively. This is only a general figure, and can change depending on the airline e.g. the British Airways baggage limit is 23kg/50lb.

Overall luggage allowance can also differ based on the ticket class. For instance, most business class tickets afford passengers an additional 10kg/22lb allowance. It’s important that you check your flight’s baggage conditions before you go to the airport – this information is usually included with your ticket.

Carry-on luggage

On most airlines, each passenger is permitted to carry on one medium-sized bag plus one item of a personal nature, like a laptop. All carry-on luggage must fit in the overhead compartment, or under the seat in front of you. The bag you bring on the plane with you must not weigh more than 8kg/18lb.

What if you exceed the luggage limit?

If you’ve packed more than you’re allowed, you will be charged an excess baggage fee to take your excess baggage onto the plane. This could be a flat per-item rate, or a per kilogram rate. These costs are often exorbitant – British Airways charges ‎£65 per overweight bag (this amount is converted into the currency of whichever country you are flying from).

Most airlines will not accept any baggage that is heavier than 32kg/70lb.

An affordable alternative to excess baggage fees

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