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Airline hand luggage size restrictions: what you need to know

Lorna Cowan ( 21 February 2019 )

Ryanair recently announced changes to their hand luggage restrictions. Find out how these and other airline restrictions might affect your next flight.

Travel suitcase and jacket at the airport boarding area
Make sure you're not left in a muddle at the airport by knowing what baggage restrictions apply to your airline before you fly

Flying with Ryanair on or after 15 January 2018? Then take note of the airline’s new rules regarding their cabin luggage allowance. 

Unless you have bought Priority Boarding, passengers will no longer be able to travel with two items of hand luggage.

Ryanair passengers have been fortunate of late, and able to travel in the cabin with two pieces of hand luggage - a small suitcase, holdall or rucksack weighing under 10kg, as well as a handbag or laptop bag.

However, because of this, the airline has seen more and more people turning up at the departure gate with their full allowance and Ryanair claims there’s just not enough room in their aircrafts’ overhead lockers to safely store all the bags.

New Ryanair luggage allowance

From 15 January 2018 onwards, only Ryanair’s Priority Boarding customers will be allowed two items of hand luggage – a cabin bag measuring no larger than 55cm x 40cm x 20cm and weighing no more than 10kg, and a smaller bag, such as a handbag or laptop bag, not exceeding 35cm x 20cm x 20cm.

For all other passengers, it’s a one small bag policy, which ideally will need to fit under the seat in front of them.

Priority Boarding, allowing passengers to travel with two items of cabin luggage, can be purchased at the time of booking a Standard fare flight for £5/€5 per person per way. 

This allows you to skip the queue at the boarding gate, so you’ll be first on the plane and therefore have first access to the overhead lockers.

If you decide to buy Priority Boarding after you’ve already purchased your flight online, it can be added later via the ‘My bookings’ facility on the website or on the Ryanair app, up to 45 minutes before the scheduled flight departure time, for £6 or €6.

Plus and Flex Plus travellers

Buying a Plus or Flexi Plus ticket also gives passengers Priority Boarding, but as these fares include a 20kg check-in hold luggage allowance, reserved seating and the option to check in 60 days in advance of your flight (instead of four days for Standard fare customers who haven’t booked reserved seating), the price of the flight is considerably more.

Plus fares can be double that of the Standard fare, with Flexi Plus (giving you the option to change your flight time, destination or departure airport for no extra cost, subject to terms and conditions) being three or even four times the price of the Standard fare.

Travel with two bags and don’t pay

It’s also worth noting though, that Ryanair says Standard fare passengers can still turn up with two pieces of cabin luggage. 

According to the airline’s website, planes have space in the overhead lockers for 90 cabin bags. Once this space is full, any customers at the departure gate with a second item of hand luggage – if under 10kg and not measuring more than 55cm x 40cm x 20cm – will be able to put it in the aircraft hold free of charge.

The bag will be tagged and you’ll simply pick it up at baggage reclaim once your flight has landed. If any bag is too heavy or too big however, the passenger will be charged a £50/€50 fee.

Checked-in bags

Since the announcement of the new cabin luggage rules in September, Ryanair has also made changes to checked-in luggage, reducing the price by £10/€10 and increasing the weight allowance by 5kg. 

Anyone buying a Standard fare online will be charged, on average, £25/€25 for one item of hold baggage, weighing a maximum of 20kg.

The fee does vary though, depending on the route and travel dates selected. A £10/€10 supplement is added during peak travel periods, such as Christmas, Easter and during busy summer months.

Remember, if want the best deal you’ll need to decide whether to purchase checked-in luggage allowance at the same time as booking your flight online. 

Decide a week later that it’s a good idea to take a hold bag and it will cost you £40/€40 – this is the same price you’ll be charged if you ask to put a bag in the hold at the airport check-in desk.

Do check the weight of your luggage. The maximum weight of a checked-in bag on Ryanair flights is 20kg. For every kg of excess baggage, it will cost an additional £10/€10.

Also note that if you want to bring golf clubs or ski equipment, more fees apply. Find out more about Ryanair allowances and fees online.

Hand luggage allowances of other short-haul airlines

As frequent air travellers are all too well aware, it’s not a case of one size fits all when it comes to cabin baggage allowances.

Airlines are not consistent and one rule for Ryanair may not apply for Flybe, and vice versa. Also, allowances can vary depending on your route and the type of ticket you buy, even if you are flying with the same airline.

When booking a flight, always check your baggage allowances and any additional fees before you give any payment details.

Aer Lingus

Allowance and maximum dimensions: 

1 cabin bag, 55cm x 40cm x 24cm


1 small personal item, such as a handbag, laptop bag, 33cm x 25cm x 20cm

Weight limit: 10kg

Aer Lingus flights operated by Stobart Air only allow 1 cabin bag, 48cm x 33cm x 20cm, weighing 7kg

British Airways

Allowance and maximum dimensions: 

1 cabin bag, 56cm x 45cm x 25cm


1 handbag or laptop bag, 40cm x 30cm x 15cm

Weight limit: 23kg for each bag

Applies to Basic fares, available on all direct British Airways short-haul flights


Allowance and maximum dimensions:

1 cabin bag, 56cm x 45cm x 25cm

Weight limit: none

Any oversized item of hand luggage will be put in the hold at the departure gate, costing the passenger £47. 

easyJet Plus cardholders, FLEXI fare, Up Front and Extra Legroom customers are also allowed one additional bag to be placed under the seat in front, 45cm x 36cm x 20cm


Allowance and maximum dimensions: 

1 cabin bag, 55cm x 35cm x 20cm


1 small personal item, such as a handbag or briefcase

Weight limit: 10kg both bags combined

Any oversized item of hand luggage will be put in the hold at the departure gate, costing the passenger £50


Allowance and maximum dimensions: 

1 cabin bag, 56cm x 45 cm x 25cm


1 small personal item, such as a handbag or laptop bag, subject to space available

Weight limit: 10kg

Norwegian Air

Allowance and maximum dimensions: 

1 cabin bag, 55cm x 40cm x 23cm


1 small personal item, 33cm x 25cm x 20cm

Weight limit: 10kg combined

This allowance applies to LowFare, Lowfare+ and Premium customers. Weight limit for Flex and PremiumFlex customers is 15kg combined

Thomas Cook Airlines

Allowance and maximum dimensions: 

1 cabin bag, 55cm x 40cm x 20cm


1 small personal item, such as a handbag or laptop bag

Weight limit:  6kg

Premium Class customers weight limit is 10kg

TUI fly (formerly Thomson Airways) 

Allowance and maximum dimensions:

1 cabin bag, 55cm x 40cm x 20cm


1 small personal item, such as a handbag or laptop bag

Weight limit: 6kg

Wizz Air

Allowance and maximum dimensions:

1 cabin bag, 55cm x 40cm x 23cm

Weight limit: 10kg

Wizz Priority passengers can bring an additional small bag, 40cm x 30cm x 18cm.

Wizz Air introduced a new free hand luggage allowance on 29 October 2017. Passengers travelling after that date who have already purchased hand luggage will be reimbursed with 120% of the paid price.

Liquid restrictions

Restrictions are in place as to what liquids you can take in your hand luggage.

Airport security stipulates that all liquids, sprays, pastes and gels – including cosmetics such as mascara and lip gloss, shaving foam, toothpaste, hair gel and contact lens solution – must be in containers that hold no more than 100ml.

Larger containers are not allowed, even if they only have a small amount of liquid in them.

All your containers must fit into one transparent plastic bag, measuring approximately 20cm x 20cm (8in x 8in). Bags should be sealed, not knotted or tied at the top. And you are limited to one bag per person.

If you want water for your flight, buy it once airside. Or carry an empty plastic bottle and fill it up at a water fountain after security.

For more on liquid restrictions, including information about baby food and milk, see GOV.UK.

Medicine restrictions on flights

You can pack essential medicines – and liquids can be more than 100ml – if they are needed for the duration of your flight and you carry a letter from your doctor or a copy of your prescription.

Inhalers, hypodermic syringes and cooking gel packs are also permitted if they are necessary for your flight and they pass airport security checks.

If you’re travelling with a mobility aid, such as a wheelchair, inform your airline at least 48 hours before departure.

Essential medical equipment is allowed in the cabin, again if it’s essential for your journey and you have documentation from a medical professional. Check with your airline before you book a flight if you need to travel with an oxygen cylinder and a battery-powered aid.

Other hand luggage restrictions

It may seem obvious that you can’t take chemicals, toxic substances and ammunition on your flight, but there are many other restricted items, including badminton rackets, walking poles, corkscrews, darts, screwdrivers, crackers and party poppers, that you may not have thought of.

Knitting needles, along with scissors with blades under 6cm in length are, however, acceptable. If in doubt, check with your airline.

All details correct on 25 October 2017

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.