You’ve got your boarding pass ready and your passport in hand – but have you given much thought to your luggage?

If you’re taking hand luggage, then is it the right size and weight? And what about your hold luggage? If it’s too heavy, you could face fines.

Here’s the lowdown on what luggage you can take on the aeroplane…

Hand luggage restrictions

Also known as cabin luggage, this is the bag you carry on the plane with you.

As these bags have strict size restrictions to fit in the overhead lockers or under the seat in front, it’s a good idea to check specific sizes with your airline so you don’t get caught out.

If you get to the drop off desk, or the boarding gate, and your hand luggage is too big, you could be charged to put your luggage into the hold area. This cost varies depending on the airline, but it’s normally around £50.

Here are the hand luggage rules of some popular airlines:

British Airways

Size of hand luggage: 56cm x 45cm x 25cm including handles, wheels and pockets
Weight restriction: 23kg
Cost if you need to upgrade to hold luggage: £40-£65
Other things you’re allowed: A personal bag such as a woman’s handbag or duty free purchases – up to 40cm x 30cm x 15cm


Size of hand luggage: 56cm x 45cm x 25cm
Weight restriction: none
Cost if you need to upgrade to hold luggage:
At drop off desk: £32
At boarding gate: £45
Other things you’re allowed: an overcoat, a shawl, an umbrella, crutches, a walking stick/frame, one standard size bag of duty free goods.


Size of hand luggage: 55cm x 40cm x 20cm
Weight restriction: 10kg
Cost if you need to upgrade to hold luggage: £50
Other things you’re allowed: A small bag such as a woman’s handbag or duty free purchases – up to 35cm x 20cm x 20cm.

What you can’t take in your hand luggage

Certain things are not allowed in your hand luggage. If you pack any of the following, you’ll be made to dispose of them when you reach security:

  • Sharp items
  • Any liquids, gels, creams, sprays or pastes over 100ml
  • More than one lighter
  • Corkscrew

You can take hair straighteners, ice/roller skates, camping stoves, skydiving equipment, skateboards and tools such as screwdrivers and pliers (as long as they’re securely wrapped).

Hold luggage

If you want to check in a larger bag, it’s best to do this online beforehand – at the time of booking if possible.

Most airlines don’t have size restrictions on hold luggage, but there is a weight allowance. If you go over this weight, then you’ll be fined (sometimes heavily).

For example:

British Airways: if your bag is over 23kg and less than 32kg, then you’ll be charged £65. Bags over 32kg are not permitted.

easyJet: if your bag is over 20kg, then you’ll have to pay an extra £10 for each additional 1kg at the airport.

Ryanair: has the same rule as easyJet - £10 for each additional 1kg at the airport.

What you can’t take in your hold luggage

Hold luggage restrictions aren’t as strict as those for hand luggage, but there are still some prohibited items. These include:

  • Flammable liquids and solids
  • Peroxides
  • Tear gas devices or any gas cylinders
  • Instruments containing mercury or magnets
  • Toy/replica guns
  • Fireworks
  • Lighter fuel, paints or thinners

However, these are some of the things you can take in your hold luggage that you can’t take in hand luggage:

  • Razor blades (if your razor is stuck to a plastic mould, then you can take that in your hand luggage)
  • Knives
  • Walking/hiking poles
  • Darts
  • Snooker cues
  • Scissors
  • Liquids, creams, gels and pastes in containers over 100ml

suitcase on conveyor belt

suitcase on conveyor belt

What if your luggage goes missing?

Watching all the suitcases except your own circling the conveyor belt is every holiday goer’s mini nightmare.

First things first, check your travel insurance includes baggage cover so your bags and contents are covered while you travel. This can be added to most travel insurance policies for an additional cost.

If your luggage is damaged, or the contents go missing, you must act quickly – usually within seven days. You can claim with the airline, but Citizen’s Advice say that you’ll probably be better off claiming through your insurance as it’s easier and you’ll get more money.

If you claim compensation from the airline, your claim is usually limited to:

  • The bare essentials – things like underwear and toiletries
  • Only part of the cost of replacing your lost luggage and its contents

Airlines will often request receipts for everything. Plus, they’ll probably refuse to pay if your suitcase was faulty, and they’ll rarely give you more than £1,000 total compensation.