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Explained: BA Hand Luggage Allowance and Checked Baggage Sizes

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As with all airlines, the BA hand luggage allowance is set according to the aircraft, the route, and other factors.  Airline size restrictions for baggage vary from one carrier to another due to several factors that influence their policies. These factors can include the aircraft’s design, operational considerations, safety regulations, and competitive positioning

So, in order for you to enjoy your flight without the hassle and, let’s face it, the embarrassment of being told at the check-in desk that your carry-on bag is too large or that you have too many of them, you’ll need to know what those limits are and what cabin bags are available to buy in each size. No one wants to have to unpack their Samsonite at the check-in desk, watched by a queue of impatient passengers waiting their turn to check in.

Ba Hand Luggage Allowance - Economy Seating

Understanding BA Hand Luggage Allowance

Navigating the British Airways baggage allowance can be crucial for a seamless travel experience. The airline offers a generous free checked baggage allowance and hand baggage allowance for most passengers, with varying limits based on ticket class and frequent flyer status. Whether you’re flying economy or first class, understanding the hand baggage and checked bags allowances will help you pack efficiently and avoid surprises at the airport.

British Airways hand baggage allowance is designed to provide ample space for passengers’ essential items. Each passenger is allowed one hand baggage and one personal item, such as a laptop bag or purse. The free hand baggage allowance ensures that you can keep your belongings within reach during your British Airways flight. Remember to adhere to the size and weight restrictions for hand luggage bags, as oversized or overweight items may need to be checked into the hold at an additional cost.

For passengers who require extra bags or have multiple bags, British Airways offers the flexibility to purchase additional baggage allowance. This can be especially useful for those taking British Airways flights with a more extensive luggage requirement or bringing special equipment. However, it’s essential to be mindful of the weight limit for each checked bag, as an overweight bag may incur additional fees.

When traveling in Club Europe or other premium classes, British Airways passengers enjoy an even more generous baggage allowance. This may include additional free checked baggage allowance and an increased hand baggage allowance, allowing passengers to pack more for their journey. If your travel plans require you to bring multiple bags or exceed the standard weight limit, consider upgrading your ticket class to take advantage of these benefits.

In some cases, passengers may need to pay extra for their baggage, such as when exceeding the free checked baggage allowance or hand baggage allowance. To avoid unexpected fees, it’s crucial to weigh your luggage before arriving at the airport and make any necessary adjustments. If you find that your luggage exceeds the allowed limits, consider purchasing additional baggage allowance online before your British Airways flight to save on fees compared to paying at the airport.

BA Hand Luggage Allowance: Know Your Limits

Personal Item Allowance

The British Airways baggage allowance regulations stipulate that each passenger is allowed to carry one personal item, such as a handbag or laptop bag, onboard, but it should not exceed these dimensions:

  • 40cm x 30cm x 15cm (16in x 12in x 6in)

Cabin Bag Allowance

In addition to the personal item, passengers can bring one cabin bag onboard. The cabin bag must adhere to the following size restrictions:

  • 56cm x 45cm x 25cm (22in x 18in x 10in)

It’s important to note that the combined weight of the personal item and cabin bag must not exceed 23kg (51lbs) for safety and comfort reasons.

Checked Baggage Allowance: Plan Your Packing

British Airways offers different checked baggage allowances based on the fare type and route of travel. Here’s a breakdown of the allowances for various fare classes:

Economy Class

  • Basic (Hand Baggage Only): No checked baggage allowance
  • Standard and Flex: 1 bag up to 23kg (51lbs)

Premium Economy

  • 2 bags up to 23kg (51lbs) each

Business Class

  • 2 bags up to 32kg (70lbs) each

First Class

  • 3 bags up to 32kg (70lbs) each

These allowances apply to most routes, but there may be variations for specific destinations, so it’s always best to check when you book your flights.  The BA website will confirm.  

Extra Baggage: When You Need More Space

If you require additional baggage or have items exceeding the weight and size limits, British Airways offers the option to purchase extra baggage. The fees for extra baggage depend on the route and the number of additional bags. It’s generally more cost-effective to pre-book extra baggage online rather than at the airport.

Sporting Equipment and Special Baggage

Passengers travelling with sports equipment or other special baggage must adhere to specific guidelines. Some items, such as golf clubs and skis, can be included within the standard checked baggage allowance, provided they meet size and weight restrictions. Other items, like bicycles or musical instruments, may require additional fees or special arrangements.

Tips for a Smooth Travel Experience

  • Double-check your baggage allowance based on your fare class and destination.
  • Measure and weigh your hand luggage and checked baggage to ensure compliance.
  • Pre-book extra baggage online to save on fees at the airport.
  • Contact British Airways in advance for special baggage arrangements.
Ba Hand Luggage Allowance And Checked Baggage Allowance Guide
Photo by Miguel Ángel Sanz on Unsplash

Why British Airways limit cabin baggage sizes and numbers

  1. Passenger Safety: Safety is the top priority for any airline, and adhering to cabin bag size and number limitations helps maintain a secure environment onboard. Oversized or excessive luggage can pose risks, such as obstructing emergency exits, impeding evacuation procedures, or causing injuries due to falling from overhead compartments during turbulence.
  2. Aircraft Capacity: Aircraft cabins are designed to accommodate a specific amount of luggage in the overhead compartments and under the seats. By imposing restrictions on cabin bag sizes and numbers, British Airways ensures that the available storage space is used efficiently and fairly among passengers. This also helps prevent overloading the aircraft, which can impact flight performance and safety.
  3. Operational Efficiency: Boarding and disembarking procedures can be significantly impacted by the amount and size of carry-on luggage passengers bring onboard. By limiting cabin bag numbers and sizes, British Airways can streamline the boarding process, reduce delays, and ensure a timely departure and arrival.
  4. Passenger Comfort: Ensuring adequate storage space for all passengers’ belongings is essential for maintaining a comfortable in-flight experience. By adhering to cabin bag restrictions, passengers can avoid overcrowding in the overhead compartments and under-seat areas, allowing them to enjoy a more relaxed journey.

Excess Baggage Fees

If your luggage exceeds the free allowance, British Airways will charge excess baggage fees. These fees vary depending on your destination and can be paid online or at the airport.

Online Excess Baggage Fees

  • Short-haul flights: £20 per bag
  • Long-haul flights: £60 per bag

Airport Excess Baggage Fees

  • Short-haul flights: £40 per bag
  • Long-haul flights: £65 per bag

Restricted and Prohibited Items

For the safety of all passengers, British Airways enforces restrictions on certain items in both carry-on and checked luggage.

Carry-On Restrictions

  • Liquids: Containers must not exceed 100 ml (3.4 oz), and all containers must fit in a single, transparent, resealable plastic bag with a maximum capacity of one liter (34 oz).
  • Electronic devices: Laptops, tablets, and other large electronic devices must be removed from bags and placed in a separate bin for security screening.

Prohibited Items

  • Explosives: Fireworks, flares, and other explosives are not allowed.
  • Flammable materials: Lighter fluid, paint, and other flammable materials are prohibited.
  • Weapons: Firearms, ammunition, and other weapons are not allowed without proper documentation and prior approval.

Special Baggage

British Airways accommodates passengers with special baggage needs, such as

sports equipment, musical instruments, and mobility aids. Follow the guidelines below to ensure the safe transportation of your special items.

Sports Equipment

British Airways accepts a wide range of sports equipment, including skis, snowboards, golf clubs, and bicycles. When packed properly, these items are considered part of your checked baggage allowance. However, if your equipment exceeds the allowed dimensions or weight, excess baggage fees may apply.

  • Bicycles: Must be packed in a protective case with the handlebars, pedals, and wheels removed or folded.
  • Golf clubs: Must be securely packed in a hard-shell golf bag or travel case.
  • Skis and snowboards: Must be packed in a ski or snowboard bag, with bindings facing each other and secured with straps.

Musical Instruments

Musical instruments can be carried as hand luggage or checked baggage, depending on their size and weight. Follow these guidelines to ensure your instrument’s safe transportation:

  • Small instruments: Can be carried as hand luggage if they fit within the carry-on size and weight limits.
  • Large instruments: Can be checked in as baggage, but must be securely packed in a hard case. Excess baggage fees may apply if the instrument exceeds the allowed dimensions or weight.

Mobility Aids

Mobility aids such as wheelchairs, mobility scooters, and walking frames can be carried free of charge in addition to your checked baggage allowance. To ensure proper handling, you are required to provide advance notice and any necessary documentation.

Hand Luggage Bags and Departure Airport Considerations

Hand luggage bags are essential for keeping your important items close at hand during your flight. When choosing your hand luggage bags, make sure they comply with British Airways’ size and weight restrictions to avoid any issues at the departure airport. Most flights have strict carry-on guidelines, and BA Club World passengers are no exception. BA Club World travelers enjoy a generous carry-on allowance, but it’s essential to adhere to the rules for a seamless departure airport experience.

Medical Supplies and Official Medical Letter Requirements

If your journey includes the need to carry medical supplies, an official medical letter from your healthcare provider is required. This letter should detail the necessity of the items and confirm that they are essential for your well-being during the flight. Whether you’re flying BA Euro Traveller or BA World Traveller, having an official medical letter will help facilitate the process of carrying medical supplies on board.

For passengers with connecting journeys, the official medical letter should cover all flights, including the longest flight in your itinerary. When flying with medical supplies in hand luggage bags, keep in mind that some items, such as syringes, may need to be shipped separately as cargo or checked baggage.

Full Fare Economy and Special Luggage Considerations

For those flying full fare economy or BA Euro Traveller, your ticket type entitles you to a standard checked baggage allowance. Heavier items, like sports equipment, may require extra charge or be subject to overweight charges. A heavy bag charge may apply if your luggage exceeds the weight limit for your journey, regardless of your ticket type.

When traveling with a fully collapsible pushchair, British Airways allows you to check it in free of charge, in addition to your standard baggage allowance. This is applicable for both one-way journeys and round trips, making it convenient for families on the go.

Extra Charges and Cargo Options for Oversized Items

For passengers with luggage that exceeds the standard allowance, extra charges may apply. If your journey includes connecting flights, it’s essential to be aware of any additional fees that might be incurred for overweight or oversized luggage.

Heavier items that cannot be accommodated within the standard baggage allowance may need to be shipped separately as cargo. This is often the case for large musical instruments, artworks, or trade show materials. British Airways offers cargo services to help transport these items safely and efficiently to your destination.


The British Airways hand luggage size and checked baggage allowance policies are there to help you, other passengers, and the crew. By adhering to these guidelines and following the tips provided, you can ensure a hassle-free journey and fully enjoy your time in the skies.

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