Airline Baggage Allowance
Today I am going to give you some tips and information regarding checked baggage and carry-on baggage. This is something that worries most passengers especially when they haven’t read the baggage allowance rules of the airline or they are returning back home from their vacations.
In the first case, the “problem” can be solved prior departure by reading the baggage allowance policy of the airline.
In the second case, you can either
- Check with the hotel if they have a scale so you can check the actual weight of your suitcase and be prepared to pay for that extra weight at the check-in desk
- Consider getting a portable scale and check the estimate weight of your bags or the extra things you buy in order to avoid unpleasant surprises at the check-in desk. This option gives you the ability to have the full picture all the time and before getting out for shopping to buy any extra souvenirs or gifts. In this case, you can mail those things in advance either to … yourself back home or directly to your beloved ones.
What To check when reading the baggage allowance restrictions
Note the number of bags you can check in. In most cases, it is one or two pieces per person. But the most important is the weight. For most airlines, the max COMBINED weight is 20kgs (44lbs) or 23kgs (50lbs) for checked baggage, for economy class travelers, unless otherwise is stated by the airline or the rules of the specific route or the air fare.
Max allowance also depends on the class of service. There are some air tickets that are very cheap and there is no baggage allowance, only a carry-on bag of specific dimensions and weight and these fares are usually used by:
- Businessmen traveling on business (short or day trips)
- Single day travelers
- Travelers who prefer to send their luggage by cargo using, usually, the same airline (this needs to be arranged in advance) or by other ways, like using a company like Carry My Luggage to do so. This second option is more expensive than sending luggage by cargo.
By using these alternates will save you money and time since:
- You can carry more weight than it’s allowed
- You won’t have to wait on long ques at the airport to drop or pick up your luggage.
Remark: Before choosing you have to make some calculations and compare the TOTAL cost
- Air Ticket (with baggage allowance)
- Air Ticket (with baggage allowance) + surcharge for extra weight
- Air Ticket (superior class) with More Baggage Allowance
- Low-Cost Air Ticket (no baggage allowance) + Luggage send by cargo
- Low-Cost Air Ticket (no baggage allowance) + Luggage send by other means of transportation
- Any combination applies to your choice
Keep also in mind that some low-cost airlines charge for checked baggage which is something that in most cases, the “low-cost air ticket” becomes … “very high-cost” and travelers need to take this into account when choosing an airline.
In the case, you exceed the max allowance weight for checked luggage you will have to pay for that extra weight and some airlines charge a significant amount of money for that. The most common rule for the amount per kg or lb is the following.
- Low-cost airline (approx 20kgs allowance): cheap ticket = high amount to be charged per extra kg/lb
- Normal Economy (approx 23kgs allowance): economy class = reasonable amount per extra kg/lb
- Busines/First Class (approx allowance 30kgs): business/first class ticket = lower charge per extra kg/lb
What I mean with the above example
Low-cost airlines have a lower margin of profit since they already offer cheap air tickets to travelers but the cost of traveling remains low when travelers do not expect or require anything more than offered (i.e. extra luggage, meals, drinks etc).
By using a Regular Airline things are different and have more dimensions and parameters since everything depends on:
- The Class of Service (Economy, Business, First class)
- The Air Fare (Very or No Restricted)
- The Route (Short, Medium, Long range)
- The equipment (aircraft type) used on the selected route
As you can see things are not easy and I cannot give you a strict and precise rule of engagement to follow. So the best thing to do is to read the baggage allowance policyfor the selected trip and comply with it.
Special Note: All these years I’ve seen travelers trying to “bargain” with the check-in personnel of the airlines to let them carry the extra weight with no charge or to charge them for less weight. Well, this is something that it shouldn’t be asked or even think about it because the airlines have to follow specific rules issued by IATA (International Air Trasport Association) so, all Operations Officers need to have real and valid data in order to issue a correct and accurate Aircraft Performance Sheets based on actual weights and all Flight Crews need to know the REAL weight they are carrying on board the aircraft, make their take-off calculations and set up the aircraft for the flight correctly. I won’t get deeper into that since I believe that you got my point. The only thing that you have to have in mind is that Safety Comes First!
How To Select The Right Suitcase
- Save precious weight by selecting an extra light suitcase.
- The life of a suitcase is about 10 years, and a good one will come with a guarantee for failure of parts such as zips, wheels and handles.
- Expensive models are generally better designed and have better-quality components. Unfortunately, they are just as likely to be lost.
- It is a delusion that a designer suitcase will offer you something extraordinary different than a regular – cheaper one. On the contrary … it might be attracted by a thief.
- Size is always crucial. If you get an extra large one, won’t fit into the boot of a taxi or hired car. Getting a very small one, will make you over-stress the frame and the compounds which will shorten its life. Buying an expandable 66cm (26in) case is considered as a great buy for a two-week trip. You also have the chance to adjust the size according to your needs. Over-loaded suitcases and significant under-loaded suitcases have almost the same chances to be damaged.
- Two wheels or four? Four tend to make larger cases easier to manoeuvre, particularly if each wheel swivels rather than locks into position. Wheeling is not always possible, so ensure you are able to lift your packed case up a flight of stairs. That can be easily achieved when the suitcase’s wheels at the back are larger than those at the front and there is a handbrake.
- Handles should be long enough to tow comfortably and preferably pop-up rather than pull-up. Avoid leashes: you will end up dragging your case along on its side.
- Hard- or soft-sided? A hard shell can add 4-5kgs (10lbs) in dead weight but does offer contents more protection from damage, thieves and sudden downpours. But a soft-sided case will look smarter for longer and is less unwieldy when storage space is limited.
- Most suitcases on any baggage claim area are black. Try something different and get a coloured one or add a coloured strap or a ribbon tied to the handle to make the difference.
Baggage Packing Tips
- Fold, roll or bundle? Whichever method you use, the key is not to over-pack: squashed clothes are creased clothes. The same happens if clothes are too loosely packed. You can reduce creases at your destination by hanging items in a steamy bathroom, but you do have to be careful when packing. Once clothing is slightly moist, give it a couple of sharp shakes and pull into shape.
- Do not put wrapped gifts in checked luggage. If your case is opened for security inspection at the airport, wrapping may have to be removed.
- Put heavy items, such as shoes, just above the wheels.
- Another option is to use hotel’s laundry service. Be careful and never send anything delicate or subject to shrink to a laundry and almost always expect jeans to be returned with ironing signs.
Safety Travel Tips
- Never put anything you would hate to lose in your checked luggage. That includes jewelry of course.
- Hanged luggage label often got… separated from the suitcases. Always put a second one, with details of your flight and destination, inside.
- If two or more people are travelling, split belongings between checked luggage so if one case goes missing, each of you will still have a change of clothes.
- Try not to check in late: even if you make it on to the flight, your luggage might not.
- Always lock your checked bags: an unlocked suitcase could invalidate your insurance.
- If you are travelling to/from the United States of America, you must use cases fitted with
TSA-approved locks (those that the Transportation Security Administration has the tools to open) or a TSA-approved padlock or luggage strap. For further details, TSA.
- You may be able to locate lost luggage more quickly by using a tracking service.
- Rebound Tag is a microchipped luggage tag that allows you to see where your luggage is in case of loss. More information at Rebound Tag
- You are far less likely to lose your luggage if you use a collection and delivery service such as First Luggage. It sends everything via FedEx and tracks it.
- Put a “Find-it” tracking device in your case – although it costs, it would probably be cheaper to replace the lost case and its contents.
What to do if your luggage is lost
- 85 per cent of all lost luggage is found within 48 hours.
- If your case has not appeared by the time the carousel stops, check the tag of any unclaimed case that is similar to yours. Someone may have mistaken your case for theirs.
- If your luggage is missing – even if you are told it is on the next flight – you must fill out a Property Irregularity Report (PIR) before you leave the airport.
- Find out how much the airline will compensate you for immediate supplies. Some airlines will hand out cash; others will offer a refund for purchases, so keep the receipts.
- Limit your purchases to essentials. If your bag turns up, you may not be able to claim the full amount of compensation, even if you have already spent it.
- If your bag is not found, you must make your claim for compensation from an airline in writing within seven days.
- The maximum you can hope to receive from an airline for your lost suitcase is about £300: compensation is based on weight and is about £15 per kg, regardless of the value of the contents.
- You may do better claiming on your travel insurance, but check the small print: some companies do not cover checked luggage and you will still need to produce a PIR.
- Not all insurance companies offer new-for-old replacements when it comes to clothing. Again, check the small print.
Hand Baggage Allowance
- You can take one item of hand luggage, but size restrictions remain: no larger than 56cm x 45cm x 25cm.
- Gels, creams, pastes and other liquids in your hand luggage must still be in containers of no more than 100ml and placed in a transparent, re-sealable plastic bag no larger than 20cm x 20cm.
If you have any further questions please feel free to post them below.