Hand luggage

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Hand luggage compartments of an Airbus A340-600 aircraft (economy class) Luggage compartments Airbus.JPG
Hand luggage compartments of an Airbus A340-600 aircraft (economy class)
A tiny portable scale to check if hand luggage is within weight limits. Supermini-Scale.jpg
A tiny portable scale to check if hand luggage is within weight limits.

The term hand luggage or cabin baggage (normally called carry-on in North America) refers to the type of luggage that passengers are allowed to carry along in the passenger compartment of a vehicle instead of a separate cargo compartment. Passengers are allowed to carry a limited number of smaller bags with them in the vehicle, which typically contain valuables and items needed during the journey. There is normally storage space provided for hand luggage, either under seating, or in overhead lockers. Trains usually have luggage racks above the seats and may also (especially in the case of trains travelling longer distances) have luggage space between the backs of seats facing opposite directions, or in extra luggage racks, for example, at the ends of the carriage (train car in American English) near the doors.


Commercial air travel

Hand baggage allowance is a topic frequently discussed in the context of commercial air travel. On the one hand, passengers may want to have more of their possessions at hand during flight, skip the often time-consuming baggage claim process, and avoid the risk of having their checked baggage lost or damaged. On the other hand, safety concerns, takeoff weight limitations, and financial incentives cause airlines to impose limits on how much and what passengers can take into the aircraft cabin.

Studies have found that passengers often pause to retrieve cabin baggage during an emergency evacuation, despite instructions to the contrary in pre-flight safety briefings. This is not a new phenomenon, as it was observed during the evacuation of a Boeing 737 that caught fire in 1984. At least one passenger re-entered a Boeing 777 that crashed in 2008 to retrieve personal belongings. Video of the evacuation of a Sukhoi Superjet that caught fire on landing in 2019 clearly shows passengers on the emergency slides with large suitcases, raising questions as to whether this contributed to the loss of life. Remote locking of overhead baggage bins is being considered as a solution to the issue. [1]


Luggage gauge Luggage.jpg
Luggage gauge

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) sets guidelines for cabin baggage/hand luggage/carry-on luggage size. [2] They are not mandatory, however, and individual airlines can and do vary their requirements. The IATA guideline at one time stated: [3]

Cabin baggage should have a maximum length of 56 cm (22 inches), width of 45 cm (18 inches) and depth of 25 cm (10 inches) including all handles, side pockets, wheels etc.

The actual size and weight limits of cabin baggage can differ widely—in some cases they are dependent on the aircraft model being used, in other cases it depends on the booking class. Due to the lack of standardization a large number of different specifications were created by the airlines on the maximum permitted cabin luggage restrictions (see below). In 2015 the IATA made an effort to introduce a common smaller size for cabin luggage by introducing the "IATA Cabin OK" logo. Major airlines have expressed their interest to accept luggage of that size on their flights. This is specified as 55 × 35 × 20 cm (or 21.5 × 13.5 × 7.5 inches). [4] The Washington Post reported that the move was backed by eight "major" airlines. [5] The new size restrictions were criticised widely [6] [7] with the introduction program to be put on hold a few days later. [8] [9] Consequently, none of the mentioned airlines has introduced the new format (by April 2016).

DimensionsAirlines and notes
40 cm × 30 cm × 20 cm Wizz Air free backpack/carry-on (trolley bag with payment). [10]
45 cm × 35 cm × 20 cm Japan Airlines on aircraft with under 100 seats on domestic flights [11]
48 cm × 36 cm × 20 cm Aurigny class Regional (one bag max. 10 kg) or class Inter-Island (max. 6 kg) [12]
55 cm × 35 cm × 20 cm
  "Cabin OK"
IATA Proposed Cabin OK logo (2015), Flybe (+ one smaller bag, e.g. laptop) [13]
55 cm × 35 cm × 25 cm Air France (weight allowance depends on route and class), [14] Malaysia Airlines; (one bag up to 7 kg plus one personal item). [15] From April 2019, all Brazilian airlines adopt this standard, verifying luggage size before the security checkpoint and weight is limited to 10 kg by ANAC (Brazilian Civil Aviation Agency) regulations.
55 cm × 40 cm × 20 cm Asiana Airlines, [16] Korean Air, [17] Vueling, [18] Ukraine International Airlines, [19] Air China (one bag no more than 5 kg for Economy Class, two bags no more than 8 kg each for First Class/Business Class), [20] Ryanair (not guaranteed to travel in cabin, first bag max. 10 kg;. Second bag of size 35 cm × 20 cm × 20 cm also allowed, valid for existing booking of flights before 2018-11-01 only, for other bookings see below.). [21] Level (airline) [22]
55 cm × 40 cm × 23 cm Austrian Airlines, Edelweiss Air, Lufthansa, Swiss Global Air Lines, Swiss International Air Lines (one bag max. 8 kg or a foldable garment bag up to 57 cm × 54 cm × 15 cm) also allowed in the cabin: another item of carry-on baggage (max. 30 x 40 x 10 cm, e.g. handbag, laptop bag);, [23] [24] Air Canada (10 kg plus one personal item not exceeding 43 cm × 33 cm × 16 cm), [25] Wizz Air trolley bag with payment [10]
55 cm × 40 cm × 24 cm Aer Lingus (one bag max. 10 kg plus one personal item not exceeding 33 cm × 25 cm × 20 cm) [26]
55 cm × 40 cm × 25 cm All Nippon Airways, Japan Airlines on aircraft with at least 100 seats on domestic flights, [11] for all aircraft on international flights, Transavia (45 x 40 x 25 cm guaranteed to be allowed on board while 55 x 40 x 25 cm may be transported in hold, free of charge. [27]
22 in × 14 in × 9 in 56 cm × 36 cm × 23 cm American Airlines (one bag plus one personal item), [28] Delta Air Lines (one bag plus one personal item), [29] United Airlines (one bag plus one personal item) [30]
56 cm × 36 cm × 23 cm Virgin Atlantic [31]
56 cm × 45 cm × 25 cm
  "IATA size"
British Airways (one bag plus one bag up to 40 cm x 30 cm x 15 [32]  cm, up to 23 kg each); [33] EasyJet (one bag, no special weight limit, not guaranteed to travel in cabin); [34] Finnair (one bag, max. 8 kg plus one personal item) [35] Aegean Airlines (one bag up to 8 kg); [36]
40 cm x 20 cm x 25 cm Ryanair has introduced a smaller carry on size, valid for all new bookings and all flights from 2018-11-01 onwards. It is possible to take also the previous bigger size carry on by booking Priority Boarding. [37]
Isometric projection of hand luggage allowance sizes in centimetres
+: an additional unspecified personal item is permitted Comparison hand luggage allowance.svg
Isometric projection of hand luggage allowance sizes in centimetres
+: an additional unspecified personal item is permitted

Dimensions are sometimes listed as "linear", meaning the height, width, and length are not to exceed a certain total number. [38]

Business Class, First class passengers and holders of high level mileage club members are often allowed to carry on a second bag of the same size and weight, or a smaller size and weight.[ citation needed ]

On smaller sized aircraft, sometimes the hand baggage can be carried to the aircraft door, where it is collected by baggage handlers for stowing in the cargo area and returned to the passenger right after landing.[ citation needed ]

Security restrictions

Following the increase in restrictions imposed on flights from UK airports and to the US after the events of August 2006 transatlantic aircraft plot, hand baggage on such flights was restricted to one cabin bag no bigger than 45 cm × 35 cm × 16 cm effective since 15 August 2006. [39] On 21 September 2006, the British Airports Authority advised that from the following day, the allowable size of the single item of hand baggage on outgoing flights from the UK would be increased to 56 cm × 45 cm × 25 cm (approx. 22 in × 17.75 in × 9.85 in), [40] the IATA guideline size. Most UK airports remain to have a strict limit of one piece of cabin baggage per passenger, including business class (allowed two pieces of cabin baggage within Europe, excluding flights to and from the UK).

European Union

Vending machine for carry-on luggage plastic bags at Munich Airport Vending machine for carry-on luggage plastic bags at MUC.jpg
Vending machine for carry-on luggage plastic bags at Munich Airport

A common regulation for cabin baggage restrictions was introduced on 6 November 2006 in European Union and in Switzerland, Norway and Iceland.

  • Restrictions on liquids:
    • only liquids with max 100 ml per piece
    • all pieces assembled in a single zippable plastic bag of max 1000ml (1 liter)
    • the plastic resealable bag must not exceed 20 cm by 20 cm
    • maximum of 1 plastic bag per passenger
    • liquids include gels and lotions (shampoo, tooth paste), lip sticks, moist paper tissue, contact lens solution
    • Exceptions:
      • prescribed medicine of any size, non-prescribed medicine-only items
      • baby milk and other items for infants
      • nutrition for diabetes diet
  • Restrictions on dangerous objects:
    • weaponry, including imitations and sports utilities (e.g. archery)
    • sharp objects, even small ones, including dart arrows and razor blades
      • The recommendation allows for light knives and scissors with blades up to 6 cm but some countries do not accept these either (e.g. nail care items)[ citation needed ]
    • blunt objects, clubs and all larger sticks, including sports utilities (e.g. skateboard)
    • inflammable objects, including ethanol, alcoholic beverage above 70%, some match sticks
    • toxic chemicals, including pepper spray, liquid batteries, blood samples [41]

United States

The United States Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has introduced a series of restrictions effective since 26 September 2006 under the name "3:1:1" for liquids. [42]

  • Restrictions on liquids:
    • 3.4 ounce or smaller of containers for liquids and gels (100 ml)
    • 1 quart-size clear plastic zip-top bag holding the liquid contents (approx. 950 ml)
    • 1 bag per traveler shown openly in the security bin
    • the TSA guidelines explicitly accept the metricized portions of 100 ml / 1 liter as defined later in the European Union
    • the list of exceptions for liquids (baby milk, diabetes diet) is identical to EU guidelines.

The TSA has additional restrictions for security searches: for example, the baggage should not be locked (except with a special luggage locks that TSA staff can open), gifts should not be wrapped, and shoes may be required to be taken off during body search with the metal detector. Food items in the luggage may be mistaken for dangerous material triggering an intensive search.

See also

Related Research Articles

After the September 11 attacks, questions were raised regarding the effectiveness of airport security at the time, as all 19 hijackers involved in 9/11 managed to pass existing checkpoints and board the airplanes without incident. In the months and years following September 11, 2001, security at many airports worldwide was escalated to deter similar terrorist plots.

Transportation Security Administration United States federal government agency

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is an agency of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security that has authority over the security of the traveling public in the United States. It was created as a response to the September 11 attacks under the administration of President George W. Bush, to improve airport security procedures and centralize air travel security under a single federal agency.

Airport security

Airport security refers to the techniques and methods used in an attempt to protect passengers, staff, aircraft, and airport property from accidental/malicious harm, crime, terrorism, and other threats.

Checked baggage

Checked baggage is luggage delivered to an airline or train for transportation in the hold of an aircraft or baggage car of a passenger train. Checked baggage is inaccessible to the passenger during the flight or ride, as opposed to carry-on baggage.

Low-cost carrier Airline with generally lower fares

A low-cost carrier or low-cost airline is an airline that is operated with an especially high emphasis on minimizing operating costs and without some of the traditional services and amenities provided in the fare, resulting in lower fares and fewer comforts. To make up for revenue lost in decreased ticket prices, the airline may charge extra fees – such as for carry-on baggage. As of April 2020, the world's largest low-cost carrier is Southwest Airlines, which operates primarily in the United States, as well as in some surrounding areas.

Lost luggage

Lost luggage is luggage conveyed by a public carrier such as an airline, seafaring cruise ship, shipping company, or railway which fails to arrive at the correct destination with the passenger. In the United States, an average of 1 in 150 people have their checked baggage misdirected or left behind each year.


Baggage or luggage consists of bags, cases, and containers which hold a traveller's personal articles while the traveler is in transit. A modern traveller can be expected to have packages containing clothing, toiletries, small possessions, trip necessities. On the return trip, travelers may have souvenirs and gifts. For some people, luggage and the style thereof is representative of the owner's wealth and status. Luggage is constructed to protect the items during travel, either with a hard shell or a durable soft material. Luggage often has internal subdivisions or sections to aid in securing items. Handles are typically provided to facilitate carrying, and some luggage may have wheels and/or telescoping handles or leashes to make moving them easier.

The largest airlines in the world can be defined in several ways. As of 2019, American Airlines Group was the largest by fleet size, passengers carried and revenue passenger mile. Delta Air Lines was the largest by revenue, assets value and market capitalization. Lufthansa Group was the largest by number of employees, FedEx Express by freight tonne-kilometers, Turkish Airlines by number of countries served, Ryanair by number of routes and UPS Airlines by number of destinations served.

Boarding pass

A boarding pass or boarding card is a document provided by an airline during check-in, giving a passenger permission to enter the restricted area of an airport and to board the airplane for a particular flight. At a minimum, it identifies the passenger, the flight number, and the date and scheduled time for departure. A boarding pass may also indicate details of the perks a passenger is entitled to and is thus presented at the entrance of such facilities to show eligibility.

Economy class, also called third class, coach class, steerage, or to distinguish it from the slightly more expensive premium economy class, standard economy class or budget economy class, is the lowest travel class of seating in air travel, rail travel, and sometimes ferry or maritime travel. Historically, this travel class has been called tourist class or third class on ocean liners.

Bag tag Ticket attached to luggage for identification

Bag tags, also known as baggage tags, baggage checks or luggage tickets, have traditionally been used by bus, train, and airline carriers to route checked luggage to its final destination. The passenger stub is typically handed to the passenger or attached to the ticket envelope:

  1. to aid the passenger in identifying their bag among similar bags at the destination baggage carousel;
  2. as proof—still requested at a few airports—that the passenger is not removing someone else's bag from the baggage reclaim hall; and
  3. as a means for the passenger and carrier to identify and trace a specific bag that has gone astray and was not delivered at the destination. The carriers' liability is restricted to published tariffs and international agreements.
Alicante–Elche Miguel Hernández Airport International airport in Alicante, Spain

Alicante–Elche Miguel Hernández Airport, , is —as of 2019— the fifth-busiest airport in Spain based on passenger numbers, and the main airport serving the Valencian Community and the Region of Murcia. The airport is located in the municipality of Elche, about 10 kilometres east of this city and about 9 km (5.6 mi) southwest of Alicante. Its influence area spans other cities in the Valencia province—the city of Valencia is located about 160 km (99 mi) north of the airport—and in the Region of Murcia. The airport is located about 70 km (43 mi) north of Murcia.

2006 transatlantic aircraft plot security reaction

This article details the security measures taken in response to the 2006 transatlantic aircraft plot.

Airport check-in

Airport check-in is the process whereby passengers are accepted by an airline at the airport prior to travel. The airlines typically use service counters found at airports. The check-in is normally handled by an airline itself or a handling agent working on behalf of an airline. Passengers usually hand over any baggage that they do not wish or are not allowed to carry in to the aircraft's cabin and receive a boarding pass before they can proceed to board their aircraft.

Premium economy class

Premium economy class, also known as elite economy class or economy plus class, is a travel class offered on some airlines. This travel class is positioned as a middleground between standard economy class and business class in terms of price, comfort, and amenities. In 1991, EVA Air was the first to introduce Evergreen Class and had since become the first airline to offer this class of service in the world. In some ways, Premium Economy class has become a standard reflecting what Economy class was like 40 years ago ; as an example the seat pitch of United Airlines' Economy Class was 36 inches back in the 1970s, the same seat pitch as most airlines' Premium Economy these days.

Baggage allowance

On the commercial transportation, mostly with airlines, the baggage allowance is the amount of checked baggage or hand/carry-on luggage the company will allow per passenger. There may be limits on the amount that is allowed free of charge, and hard limits on the amount that is allowed.

2006 transatlantic aircraft plot Foiled terrorist plot

The 2006 transatlantic aircraft plot was a terrorist plot to detonate liquid explosives, carried on board airliners travelling from the United Kingdom to the United States and Canada, disguised as soft drinks. The plot was discovered by British police during an extensive surveillance operation. As a result of the plot, unprecedented security measures were initially put in place at airports. The measures were gradually relaxed in the following weeks, but passengers are still not allowed to carry liquid containers larger than 100 ml onto commercial aircraft in the UK and most other countries, as of 2021.

Air travel with firearms and ammunition

Air travel with firearms and ammunition involves a number of laws, regulations and practices that travelers with firearms or ammunition must comply with and should be familiar with before travel. The main rules are set by the International Air Transport Association (IATA), but there are a number of local variations between airlines and local laws that sometimes are conflicting.

Basic economy class Type of airfare offered by airlines

Basic economy class is a travel class offered by a number of airlines. The class has superseded economy class as the cheapest airfare option for passengers and generally comes with more restrictions when compared to standard economy fares. Restrictions vary between different airlines, but they generally include not allowing passengers to change or cancel tickets or select seats for free. They are seen as a strategy for market segmentation.

Baggage sizer device to measure hand baggage

A baggage sizer, also known as a bag sizer, is a piece of furniture that is used primarily at airport check-in desks and boarding gates to assist and inform passengers and airport ground staff of baggage size limits for personal and cabin luggage or bags.


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