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How Do I Keep Within My Baggage Allowance?

Heavy Luggage Tag

Dear EssentialTravel,
I've just come back from a holiday trip where I had to pay a hefty penalty for checking in heavy bags. What are the rules concerning baggage restrictions? John Avery, Surrey

Dear John,
The arcane rules of baggage allowances can indeed be quite confusing, and expensive for the unaware, at times. To help you pack efficiently we’ve collected a few tips for beating the scales (and the measuring tape) and saving yourself money.

Start at the airline's website

The best place to find out about baggage restrictions is the respective airline's website. If you are taking a multi-leg trip start with the leg with the cheapest ticket price, which is usually a budget airline and likely the strictest on luggage restrictions. If your baggage passes muster with your RyanAirs and Easyjets then you’ll most likely have no problem with other airlines.

We've collected the baggage restrictions for economy class below:

  • Virgin Atlantic: Hand Baggage - 1 item, 23 x 36 x 56 cm, 6kg; Checked Baggage - 1 item, 90 x 75 x 43cm, 23kg
  • British Airways: Hand Baggage - 1 item + Laptop Bag or Handbag, 56cm x 45cm x 25cm (45cm x 36cm x 20cm for extra bag), 23kg; Checked Baggage - 1 item, 90cm x 75cm x 43cm, 23kg
  • EasyJet: Hand Baggage - 1 item, 56 x 45 x 25cm; Checked Baggage - 20kg/person (with a 40kg total weight limit)
  • Thomas Cook: Hand Baggage - 1 item, 43 x 28 x 23 cm, 5kg; Checked Baggage - 30kg
  • Monarch Air: Hand Baggage - 1 item, 56 x 45 x 25cm, 10kg; Checked Baggage - 20kg

These restrictions occasionally change so it is advisable to check before each flight to make sure you are within the current limits. Please check the respective websites for the latest baggage restrictions.

Packing Tips

  • Roll your clothes up to fit more in your suitcases.
  • Shrink wrap your stuff to get extra space savings.
  • Wear as much clothing as you can get away with on the day of your flight.
  • Your shoes can hold all the loose smaller items.

For more tips on how to pack efficiently read our How To Pack Your Bags guide.

Measure and weigh your bags beforehand

The bathroom scale is a useful way of checking your weight before going to the airport. Also measure your bags with either a measuring tape or just a plain ruler. Remember that you will return with plenty of loot, so pack sparingly.

Prebook your luggage allowance

Some airlines allow you to purchase luggage concessions online before your flight date. If you know you’ll have excess luggage, this is the cheaper option to the hefty bill you’ll get at the airport.

Finally, take our comprehensive travel insurance - with baggage cover to protect your belongings.

Last Updated: January 2012

Gugulethu Hlekwayo

Gugulethu Hlekwayo

A timid traveller, but a traveller none the less; Gugulethu is in his element lost and without a map - preferably with a companion willing to listen to his tall tales. He's our resident expert on the best muffins in town.