As ‘baggage chaos’ adds to travellers’ stress at UK airports, avoiding checking in cases might just be the way to go
Thinking of going hand-luggage-only for your next holiday? You’re not alone.
As travellers read the headlines about thousands of bags being mislaid or held up by airports struggling to recruit ground staff, many have decided to make their holiday as straightforward as possible and pack light to get away more efficiently.
According to retailer Studio, searches for “hand luggage allowance” are up 2,816 per cent year on year, alors qu'il y a eu 1,300 per cent more searches for “how to pack hand luggage” than this time last year.
pendant ce temps, they say there’s been a 130 per cent increase in cabin case sales since last summer.
Going hand-luggage-only is worth it for three reasons: you can skip the often-lengthy check-in queues (certains compagnies aériennes have been plagued by staff shortages, making them slower than usual to check passengers in); you avoid any risk of the airline or airport losing your luggage or leaving it piled up in the wrong place – baggage claim waits have also been longer in recent months; and hand-luggage travellers can get off the plane and head straight out into their destination without having to wait for a bag.
But which airlines give you the most cabin-ready packing space for your buck?
Here are the top options.
1. British Airways
BA is famous for its generous baggage allowance, though it does depend on which route you’re taking with them. Broadly speaking, passengers are allowed one cabin bag – such as a wheelie case or holdall – not exceeding 56cm x 45cm x 25cm in size and 23kg in weight, as well as one handbag or laptop bag not exceeding 40cm x 30cm x 15cm in size and 23kg in weight. That’s a fair amount for a week’s beach holiday or a shorter city break.
Of flight legs that may be operated by a different (codeshare) Compagnie aérienne, British Airways says: “Flying with a partner airline? Your hand baggage allowance may be different – please take a moment to check the airline’s baggage policy.”
Jet2 also allows you to bring two bags into the cabin, and its size allowance is larger than BA’s – though its weight allowance is less than half of the UK flagship carrier’s. Passengers can take one piece of hand baggage on board at a maximum weight of 10kg and not exceeding 56cm x 45cm x 25cm in size, including any wheels and handles.
“You can also bring a small, personal item on board (such as a handbag, laptop bag or airport purchase), as long as it is placed underneath the seat in front of you,” says the airline.
Spain’s flagship airline, which offers flights onward to Central and South America as well as to Spain’s beloved cities and resorts, also has a two-bag cabin allowance. You can bring onboard a cabin bag of up to 56 cm x 40 cm x 25 cm and a “personal accessory” such as a laptop bag sized up to 40cm x 30cm x 15cm. The maximum weight for your larger cabin bag is 10kg, while the latter must fit under the seat in front of you.
4. TAP Portugal
Though it doesn’t have a huge network, TAP Portugal is worth a look for flights from the UK to its homeland for its two-bag cabin allowance. The airline includes a case of up to 55cm x 40cm x 20cm in economy, as well as a personal item (handbag or backpack, etc) sized at up to 40cm x 30cm x 15cm, weighing up to 2kg.
Economy passengers flying with Qantas are entitled to a single cabin bag weighing no more than 10kg per piece or two weighing up to 14kg, although your entitlement depends upon your ticket type. This could be one 10kg bag sized at 56cm x 36cm x 23cm – as generous as Virgin’s cabin allowance (see below) – or two smaller pieces of 48cm x 34cm x 23cm, weighing no more than 10kg each and 14kg total. The versatility of being able to bring two pieces of luggage will be a perk for many.
6. Virgin Atlantic
This is a one-cabin-bag scenario, but with a decent sized case allowed. Virgin’s very cheapest tickets (it has several levels of Economy seat with different allowances and perks) include one cabin bag of 56cm x 36cm x 23cm, which can weigh up to 10kg. The same is true of Premium class. Parents of babies and toddlers aged 0-23 months are entitled to one extra bag per child weighing up to 6kg.
7. Qatar Airways
Economy Class customers flying with Qatar are allowed to carry one piece of cabin baggage not exceeding 7kg. There is no size limit for Qatar Airways.
The baggage allowance available on Émirats flights varies depending on the class of travel, fare type and membership tier (if applicable). Essentiellement, it’s a generous-sized cabin bag or wheelie case up to 7kg in weight. “Economy Class passengers are permitted one piece of carry-on baggage not exceeding 55cm x 38cm x 20cm in size and 7kg in weight,” the airline advises. No second piece of luggage is allowed for basic Economy customers.
EasyJet passengers can only take one bag on board as hand luggage, but it’s of a reasonably generous size. There’s no weight limit, but it must not exceed 45cm x 36cm x 20cm in size (including handles and wheels). For comparison, Tripp’s standard cabin case (55cm x 40cm x 20cm), pictured above, would be deemed too big for easyJet – though anecdotally speaking, this travel editor has definitely taken theirs on more than one easyJet flight.
EasyJet is also notorious for taking cabin-approved bags from customers if their flight is at full capacity and overhead lockers are filling up. Your case may travel in the hold if this does happen, but that does undo the effort of packing carefully for cabin baggage rules.
10. Wizz Air
Wizz Air allows one free carry-on bag of no more than 40cm x 30cm x 20cm in size, which must fit under the seat in front of you. It can have wheels but this is not mandatory. You can then pay extra for “Wizz Priority” (€5–€40 depending on the flight) to bring a wheelie case of up to 55cm x 40cm x 23cm, which must weigh less than 10kg and fit in the overhead lockers.
Ryanair has one of the smallest cabin baggage allowances around – unless you pay more. It allows one “small personal bag” per passenger in its cabins. This must fit under the seat in front of you and measure around 40cm x 20cm. To take more onboard you’ll have to pay from £7-27 (depending on route) for a Priority seat with two cabin bags – the second bag allowed can be a wheelie case up to 10kg. This must not exceed 55cm x 40cm x 20cm in size. If you managed to score a bargain ticket with Ryanair in the first place, this Priority fare could prove economical in the end.