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Cabin baggage allowance – the ultimate guide

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We often get questions regarding hand baggage rules. Many people are not sure whether they're allowed to take a coat or a purse aboard a plane. Truth is, the rules vary greatly amongst airlines. Luckily, the basics are more or less followed by all. Keep reading to find out about cabin baggage regulations.

The common rules

Generally, the rules state that you should only put items needed during the flight and valuable items in your cabin baggage. For a long time it wasn't an issue. Recently, the low cost carriers with their pricey checked baggage fees got us to make the best use of carry on baggage. Nobody wants to pay twice the price of a ticket just to transfer a suitcase. So we started to pack everything in the carry on. And problems in themselves did not wait long.

Maximal cabin baggage dimensions

Let's start with dimensions. There's a general rule by IATA stating that an individual piece should not exceed length of 22 in (56 cm), width of 18 in (46 cm) and depth of 10 in (25 cm). The sum of these three should also not exceed 45 in (110 cm). Count all the external parts, such as wheels, in. However this guideline is not mandatory and is not followed exactly. You can at least assume no airline would allow for a bigger piece of luggage as it wouldn't fit in the overhead compartment. We advice to search for the particular airline in our database to find exact rules and fees applied.

How many bags can I have?

As for the count of allowed carry on items, mostly only one is allowed. This is common among low cost carriers. Ryanair is considered a pioneer in these unpopular regulations. They strictly require all your belongings to be put in one piece of baggage. That implies for ladies carrying handbags too. Regarding coats and other wearable items, you will be fine as long as you wear them. You will likely be asked to put them away for screening during security checks. So check your pockets for forbidden items. Still some scheduled airlines have more generous limits, allowing for an extra handbag. For example British Airways allows a second handbag, typically containing a laptop.

Weight limits

The maximum allowed weight varies greatly. Most often the limit oscillates around 22 pounds (10 kg). Some low cost carriers allow even less forcing passengers to pay the extras for checked baggage. Jet Airways allow 7 kg (15 pounds) and Air Berlin even less, 6 kg (13 pounds). On the other hand, British Airways is generous stating the only limit is that you should be able to lift the luggage into the overhead compartment unaided.

Forbidden items

Generally, all items capable of inflicting damage are forbidden. These include all weapons, even their imitations or sports utilities. All sharp objects are not allowed too. You cannot carry a razor blade or a dart arrow. We advise not take take even nail care items, especially the small scissors could be a source of problems. Additionally, you cannot carry bigger blunt objects such as clubs or other sports utilities. And of course any dangerous chemicals and inflammable objects are banned too.

Rules on transporting liquids

Since 2006, there are special regulations on liquids. These apply for flights in the EU (non EU countries Switzerland, Norway and Iceland included) and the US. There are slight differences due to distinct systems of measurement. Where applicable, we add the European unit of measurement in a bracket. The rules follow. You can only carry liquids in containers having 3 ounces (100 ml) or less. All liquids must be contained in one quart-size (1 liter) resealable clear plastic bag. Each person is only allowed to carry one bag which must be presented individually during security procedures. Exceptions include: prescribed medicine, baby milk and nutrition for diabetes diet.


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