In this article, we set out the major European airlines’ hand luggage allowances, plus our top tips on making the most of your allowance and the best-sized bags to buy.
Our top tips for making the most of your hand luggage allowance:
- 50cm x 40cm x 20cm sized luggage is the most versatile hand luggage size
- Buy soft-sided luggage to squeeze a few extra centimetres out of your allowance
- Pay for low-cost airline premium services as a cheap way to increase allowances
- Pick your airline carefully as size and weight allowances vary significantly
The Table below sets out the allowances for Europe’s major airlines, with links to each airline’s specific policy as well as our ranking in terms of generosity. We’ve ranked the airlines based on our opinion of their allowances. The ranking takes into account the overall generosity of the allowance in terms of both size and weight, although in our experience the weight allowance is actually the most important factor as that is usually the main constraint.
Major European Airline Hand Luggage Allowances (as of 23 Nov 2017)
|Airline (+link to policy)||Max Cabin Bag Size*||Max Personal Item Size**||Max Weight||Rank|
|Aer Lingus||55cm x 40cm x 24cm||25cm x 33cm x 20cm||10kg (cabin bag)||7|
|Aeroflot||55cm x 40cm x 24cm||Small personal items||10kg (cabin bag)||8|
|Air Asia||56cm x 36cm x 23cm||40cm x 30cm x 10cm||7kg (both)||18|
|Air France||55cm x 35cm x 25cm||40cm x 35cm x 15cm||12kg (both)||5|
|British Airways||56cm x 45cm x 25cm||45cm x 36cm x 20cm||23kg (each)||1|
|Delta||56cm x 35cm x 23cm||Small personal items||No limit***||3|
|easyJet||56cm x 45cm x 25cm||Not Allowed||No limit||2|
|easyJet Premium^||56cm x 45cm x 25cm||45cm x 36cm x 20cm||No limit||2|
|Emirates||55cm x 38cm x 20cm||Not Allowed||7kg (cabin bag)||20|
|Etihad Airways||50cm x 40cm x 25cm||Small personal items||7kg (cabin bag)||19|
|Flybe||55cm x 35cm x 20cm||Small personal items||10kg (cabin bag)||14|
|Jet2||56cm x 45cm x 25cm||Small personal items||10kg (cabin bag)||4|
|KLM||55cm x 35cm x 25cm||40cm x 30cm x 15cm||12kg (total)||6|
|Lufthansa||55cm x 40cm x 23cm||30cm x 40cm x 10cm||8kg (cabin bag)||16|
|Norwegian||55cm x 40cm x 23cm||33cm x 25cm x 20cm||10kg (total)||9|
|Qatar Airways||50cm x 37cm x 25cm||Small personal items||7kg (cabin bag)||21|
|Ryanair||Put in hold at Gate^^||35cm x 20cm x 20cm||10kg (cabin bag)||11|
|Ryanair Priority+Flexi||55cm x 40cm x 20cm||35cm x 20cm x 20cm||10kg (cabin bag)||11|
|SAS||55cm x 40cm x 23cm||40cm x 30cm x 15cm||8kg (cabin bag)||15|
|Thomas Cook Airlines||55cm x 40cm x 20cm||Small personal items||6kg (total)||22|
|TUI Airways||55cm x 40cm x 20cm||Not Allowed||5kg (total)||23|
|Turkish Airlines||55cm x 40cm x 23cm||Small personal items||8kg (cabin bag)||17|
|Virgin Atlantic||56cm x 36cm x 23cm||Small personal items||10kg (cabin bag)||12|
|Vueling Airlines||55cm x 40cm x 20cm||35cm x 20cm x 20cm||10kg (cabin bag)||13|
|Wizz Air||55cm x 40cm x 23cm||Not Allowed||10kg (cabin bag)||10|
|Wizz Air Priority||55cm x 40cm x 23cm||40cm x 30cm x 18cm||10kg (cabin bag)||10|
Hand luggage or cabin baggage allowances are typically set with a view to ensuring the bags can easily fit into overhead lockers, with weight restrictions usually for safety and overall aircraft weight (although there is clearly also a commercial angle), so in practice sizes don’t vary enormously as they are usually dictated by the aircraft being flown. However where there is a lot of variances is in weight allowances, which we consider a more important factor when comparing airlines.
Coming our top is British Airways with a generous 2 bag allowance with more weight that you could actually fit into the bags unless you are transporting gold ingots, in which case you probably don’t need to worry about hand baggage allowances. An honourable mention goes to EasyJet and Delta. At the bottom of the pack are the European Tour Operator giants TUI (previously Thomson) and Thomas Cook, with measly weight allowances.
Typical hand luggage allowance:
Most airlines permit additional small or personal items, sometimes with specific dimensions, but typically they are things like handbags, laptop bags (although laptops often now need to be within the main cabin bag), coats and airport purchases within reason. Usually, the idea is that these can fit under the seat in front. Some airlines have clear size and weight rules, whilst others just have some general guidelines, so it’s worth checking the links we’ve provided for each.
If you really want to ensure you can get on any airline then the smallest dimensions you’d want are 50cm x 35cm x 20cm, however, in practice, few bags come in that size. We’d recommend 50cm x 40cm x 20cm sized luggage as this covers most bases, including 9 of the biggest 10 European airlines – the exception being Air France-KLM – as well as the major package charter operators. We also recommend soft-sided hand luggage, as that allows you stuff a bit more in whilst still being able to get the bag into those annoying airline sizers.
Another top tip that’s worth considering is paying for low-cost airline premium services which usually come with a bonus increase in luggage allowance. For example easyJet’s hand luggage standard allowance is a single bag, however easyJet Plus cardholders, FLEXI fare, Up Front or Extra Legroom customers can also get a second very generous bag from as little as £12, which is significantly less than hold luggage with the bonus that you also get the premium service as well. Similarly, Ryanair’s hand luggage allowance is already pretty good, but again if you have a Flexi fare or pay for priority boarding, it is much better and can avoid your bag being put into the hold.
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* Typically the maximum size includes wheels and handles
** Many airlines allow Small Personal Items including laptop bags, handbags. Check the links for each as rules vary
*** Except for the following airports: Singapore (7kg), South Korea (10kg), Beijing (10kg) and Shanghai (10kg)
^ EasyJet Premium includes easyJet Plus cardholders, FLEXI fare, Up Front or Extra Legroom customers
^^ From Jan 18, Ryanair passengers can take a larger cabin bag (as with priority/ Flexi), but this will be placed in the hold for free at the gate (currently only priority passengers can take one)