Baggage Allowances Explained

Airline baggage allowances *

Airline baggage allowances vary greatly from airline to airline these days, and the fees associated with checked luggage can often make up for differences between cheap airfares. Baggage allowance is the weight and quantity of baggage a passenger is allowed to bring onboard. This includes checked luggage, carry-on luggage, free of charge baggage allowance and baggage allowances purchased by the guest.

It’s important to note that each and every airline has their own baggage allowance policies and systems, and these not only depend on the fare type, but also on the route. Where some airlines may provide free baggage allowances, others may charge. Where some airlines allow the purchase of additional luggage, other carriers may have firm baggage allowance limits.  Passengers should always reference their ticket and the airlines website.

Carry on luggage

Carry on luggage is the luggage that passengers physically carry or wheel onboard the aircraft cabin. Carry on luggage allowances tend to be stricter on dimensions than luggage weight, although increasingly airlines are beginning to enforce weight restrictions for carry on luggage. 

The standard carry on luggage allowance allows for one bag and one personal item. Generally carry on bags should be no bigger than 45” in total dimensions, although some airlines allow up to 55”. Most airlines will provide outlines or shells to give an idea of the maximum carry on luggage dimensions. Personal items include; laptops, reading material, hand bags, carry bags, coats, cameras, small backpacks and other items that can typically be slipped under an aircraft seat.

Liquids and gels

There are strict rules in place regarding carry on luggage containing liquids or gels. At present each passenger is allowed one 1 quart-size clear plastic zip-top bag, containing all liquids or gels in containers no larger than 3 ounces. No other liquids, gels or aerosols are to be contained in carry on luggage.

For up to date carry on luggage restrictions visit the TSA website.

Domestic checked luggage

Baggage allowances for domestic carriers have become increasingly restrictive, with very few domestic carriers providing any free checked luggage as part of a traveler’s baggage allowance. The standard practice is for domestic airlines to charge a fee per item of luggage checked. There are of course weight restrictions on checked luggage, and these may vary depending on the number of checked items. For example item one may have a limit of 70lbs, and items 2-10 may have a limit of 50lbs. Luggage exceeding the purchased baggage allowance will be subject to overweight baggage fees charged by the airline.

Note: Most airlines allow for checked baggage fees to be paid either online or at check-in. Although a number of airlines offer a discount when checked bags are prepaid online.

International flights

International airlines differ in the way they set their baggage allowance. Some airlines will set a baggage allowance based on the number of pieces allowed, and the maximum weight of each piece (this is the so-called piece system). Other airlines operate using purely a weight system, where baggage allowances are based on the combined weight of checked items, regardless of the number of checked items.

Once again the international baggage allowance, both carry on luggage and checked luggage allowances, will vary dependant on the airline, the route you’re flying, and the fare type you have purchased.  For example Business Class passengers will often have a significantly greater baggage allowance than Economy Class passengers

* Travelers and Webjet customers should always refer to the baggage allowance details displayed on their ticket, and refer to the ticketing airline’s website.