How Budget Airlines May Pack Extra Costs into Your Luggage

How Budget Airlines May Pack Extra Costs Into Your Luggage

There are so many options available to travelers looking for a short-haul break. But, before you book that flight, you might want to make sure your baggage needs will be covered, and at no extra cost.

A number of new carriers have taken to skies in the last 5-10 years and they are making their mark as low-cost alternatives. But with their upfront low airfares comes a number of surprises for even the more seasoned flyers. Know before you go is a good policy and a nugget of wisdom to keep in your back pocket.

Ryanair Baggage Changes Comes with Added Baggage

Recently, the Ireland based low-cost carrier Ryanair changed their baggage policy. It’s been a long time coming, since they pushed back the change from last October to allow customers some time to adjust to the changes.

Their goal? A much simpler policy from the previous “only the first 90 carry-on bags will be allowed on board,” which caused a scramble among passengers to get to the gate first. With this new policy, you can still bring two cabin bags on board with you, if you pay an extra £5 (US$7) at the time of booking to upgrade to Priority Boarding (£6, if within an hour before your scheduled departure time) — making it a much more laid back and efficient affair once you arrive at the airport.

It’s worth noting, if your bag is taken off to be put in the hold at the gate your travel insurance will not cover any loss, theft or damage of valuables in your luggage due to the last minute switch. So be sure to remove anything of value from your case, and keep them with you throughout your journey if you choose not to opt in to Ryanair’s new cabin baggage policy. Be sure to keep this in mind with  other airlines that may have similar policies.

You can be sure that other budget airlines will be watching the results from this Ryanair change very closely. And, don’t be surprised to see more airlines adopting this approach in the near future.

travelling to remote destinations for more exotic experiences

easyJet is Working to Ease Baggage Concern

EasyJet is another airline that’s been experimenting with their cabin baggage policy, and might be seriously interested in Ryanair’s movements. They currently only allow one cabin bag on board. This one item however, does not have a weight restriction (they only ask that you are able to lift it into the overhead locker) and the maximum dimensions are 56cm x 45cm x 25cm (approximately 22 x 17.5 x 9.85 inches), or as EasyJet describes it, “just enough for a weekend away.” Their compromise for one cabin bag is the addition of a 15kg (33lb) hold bag, dropping the price to be more  “budget-friendly,” plus increasing the weight of a standard hold bag to 23kg (50lb). But remember, your bag needs to fit into those sneaky bag bins in the departure hall or you’ll need to hand them over to be put in the aircraft’s hold. This isn’t really ideal if you’ve already paid the extra cost for the privilege of taking two bags with you.

Passengers who are easyJet Plus cardholders, or who purchase FLEXI Fare, Up Front/Extra Leg Room, or are travelling with an infant (under 2) on their laps are entitled to an additional cabin bag, which must fit under their seat.

According to a survey by the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), Baby Boomers expect to take up to five leisure trips this year, and spend nearly US$6,500 on travel. While that is roughly the same amount, or slightly less, than what Millennials are expected to spend this year, an increasing number of Boomers are looking for more rewarding travel, just like Millennials. AARP notes that the percentage of Boomers who are looking for a relaxing and rejuvenating getaway this year jumped to 49% from 38% last year and, unlike Millennials, they are more willing to unplug from technology to enjoy that escape. Take a look at what AARP highlights as the top 5 Boomer trends.

Get More Personalized Baggage Options with FlyBe

FlyBe passengers are entitled to carry on one standard cabin bag, measuring no more than 55cm x 35cm x 20cm (21.6 x 15.7 x 7.8 inches), including wheels and handles, along with one small personal item —such as a handbag, laptop bag/briefcase that will fit under the seat. The combined weight of both these items must not exceed 10kg (22lb).

Please note: FlyBe reserves the right to carry out random compliance checks on your cabin bag to ensure aircraft and passenger safety. If your bag is too big, they will transfer it to the aircraft hold and you’ll be on the hook for the baggage charge.

FlyBe does offer different ticket types. Just Fly is the standard base price ticket. Their Get More ticket option will allow you one hold bag up to 23kg (50lb), and their All In ticket allows you two items of hold baggage up to 46kg (101 lb). If you’re unsure of your cabin baggage needs or situation, it may be worth exploring these options instead.

Jet2 Tries to One Up the Competition

Much like FlyBe, the Leeds-Bradford based carrier, Jet2, allows you to bring one piece of baggage on board. But it can be no more than 10kg (22lb) in weight and no larger than 56cm x 45cm x 25cm (22  x 17.5 x 9.85 inches), inclusive of wheels and handles. An additional small baggage item may be brought on board with you too, such as a handbag, laptop bag or airport purchase as long as it’s within reason and can fit comfortably under the seat in front of you or in the overhead.

Millennials are looking for better travel experiences

The items brought on board are subject to the crew’s discretion, and applicable operational requirements. This means, play nice and be cordial to the crew or you may find your baggage “outside the parameters of plane requirements.” This may mean your baggage needs to be placed underneath in the luggage hold. But it’s not all bad because you won’t be charged any added fees as the situation may be considered to be beyond your control. The only time you will be charged is when your baggage exceeds the policy outlined by Jet2.

Musician? We’ve all seen the past troubles from United Airlines on YouTube surrounding the handling of instruments, and you’ll be pleased to know you’re able to book a seat especially for large instruments such as guitars and cello’s. A non-emergency-exit seat will be allocated, and for safety reasons, the item must not weigh more than 65kg (143lb) or extend above the top of the seat by more than 30cm (about 12 inches). Or, you could look at it this way: your instrument shouldn’t be bigger than you or an average person.

You won’t be left feeling JetBlue

Generous US light-heavyweight, JetBlue, offers up two free carry-on bags (1 bag + personal item) on all fare options. Your personal item must not exceed 43.2cm x 33cm x 20.32cm (22 x 14 x 9 Inches) and must be able to fit under the seat. Any additional carry-on must not exceed 55.88cm x 35.56cm x 22.86cm (22 x 14 x 9 Inches). JetBlue doesn’t currently have a weight limit for carry-ons, but you must be able to stow this yourself, in the unlikely event no help is available to you.

FAA/TSA regulations say that despite your carriers carry-on restrictions, you’re still permitted to bring on board any duty-free items (of a reasonable amount, so don’t go mad!), a nappy bag if you’re travelling with an infant in your lap, special items such as coats, umbrellas, infant car seat or assistive devices such as wheelchairs, canes and walkers.

If you think you’re going to need that extra bit of storage, you can always use the check in option for extra, or larger, baggage. How much baggage you’re allowed to check however, is dependant on which fare you have purchased. Blue customers do not have checked baggage included in the price, whereas Blue Flex and Mint customers have two checked bags included.

Not getting in the Spirit of things

Like easyJet, this US based ultra-low-cost carrier has a one cabin bag per passenger policy. This one bag (personal item) must not exceed 45cm x 35cm x 20cm (17 x 14 x 8 inches) including handles and wheels - this is part of their Bare Fare scheme. If you need to travel with additional baggage, you must add this to your booking when the option arises, otherwise you will be subject to high fees upon arrival at the airport.

If you have added extra baggage, check the size and weight allowance and double check this before heading to the airport, otherwise fees will be incurred for any bag which is heavier or larger than allowed. This is not the first memory you want to start your vacation with.

The challenges of musical instrument and oversized carry on luggage

3 Top Tips to End With

  1. Do you tend to travel with an entourage, group, or maybe you’ve got a large family and are on your way to somewhere special?  If so, it may be worth weighing your options between bringing a carry on, or sharing a checked bag. Trying this out may save money when booking checked baggage online, rather than stumping up the extra cash for doing this at the airport.

  2. Smart luggage is becoming all the rage for the tech and gadget lovers who love to follow a trend. But beware! There may be complications. Your smart luggage might be able to tell you lots of things but it probably won’t remind you to remove the battery, if that’s even possible. Most airlines will not allow smart bags with batteries which can’t be removed due to concerns over battery fires. A Smart Bag options may include a “ride-on,” any with a lithium-ion battery that allows charging of devices, GPS tracking devices, electronic baggage tags, electronic lock(s), and lithium-ion battery motors and tracking devices allowing the bag to self-propel and “follow” the owner. So despite how cool the bag may be, it’s not going to be very cool if you’re denied taking it on the plane due to a non-compliant regulation.

  3. Remember, the UK flight ban for electronic items includes laptops/tablets, or any other electrical device bigger than 16cm x 9.3cm x 1.5cm (6 x 3.5 x.5 inches) in your hand luggage or carry on. If you’re travelling from any of the affected airports, be sure to check with your airline before you travel to verify the current policy. If your flight is included in the ban, be sure to have suitable luggage for your travelling needs that won’t leave you scrambling on the floor of a crowded airport in the middle of a long line. Nobody needs that kind of aggravation — or attention.


Quick Reference Matrix for Budget Airlines


# Carry-on Bags

Bag 1

Bag 2

Hold Bag



35cm x 20cm x 20cm

55cm x 40cm x 20cm – 10kg *(£5/6 charge for Priority Boarding, 100 customers max)

20kg from £25



56cm x 45cm x 25cm – No weight restrictions but you must be able to lift it into overhead locker

*easyJet Plus Cardholders, Flexi-Fare, Up Front, Extra Legroom, Infant (Under 2) on your lap. Additional bag must fit under seat in front

15kg from £8.99 - £29.99

23kg from £13.99 - £33.99



56cm x 45cm x 25cm

*Additional bag at airlines discretion

22kg per customer when purchased. 3 checked bags can be paid for in advance and allow up to 66kg



Handbag/Laptop. Must fit under seat in front

55cm x 35cm x 20cm – Combined weight of Bag 1 & 2 must not exceed 10kg

Just Fly: Small (1 item up to 15kg) - £19/£22

Standard (1 item up to 23kg) – £24/£27/£40

2 items of hold baggage (up to 46kg) - £48/£53

Get More: 23kg included

All In: 2 items up to 46kg included

JetBlue (US)


55.88cm (22") x 35.56cm (14") x 22.86cm (9") including wheels/handles.

43.2cm (22”) x 33cm (14”) x 20.32cm (9”), including wheels/handles. Must be placed underneath the seat in front of you.

Overall dimensions must not exceed 157.48cm (62”) overall or 22.68kg (50lbs).

Blue - 1st bag $25, 2nd bag $35, 3rd bag (plus any other additional $100 each)

Blue Plus - 1st bag included, 2nd bag $35, 3rd bag (plus any other additional $100 each)

Blue Flex - 1st bag included, 2nd bag included, 3rd bag (plus any other additional $100 each)

Spirit Airlines


One personal item (purse, backpack etc.)

45cm (18”) x 35cm (14”) x 20cm (8”) including handles and wheels

56cm (22”) x 46cm (18”) x 25cm (10”) including handles and wheels. Prices from $35*

*$26 if in $9 Fare Club

Maximum of 158cm (62”) altogether and 18.1kg (40lbs). Bags weighing over 45kg (100lbs) or are larger than 203cm (80”).

1st bag prices from $30

2nd bag prices from $40