Is Hand Luggage Free Luggage? (part of the free luggage allowance?)

What is Free Luggage

 

Is hand luggage “free luggage”?

Free luggage (also free luggage allowance) is the amount of luggage (also called baggage) that you are allowed to carry on your flight without having to pay a surcharge. Since a certain amount of hand luggage (in most cases a large piece of hand luggage such as a trolley or a backpack and a so-called personal item such as a handbag or a laptop bag) is practically always included in the fare, hand luggage can generally be called free luggage.

 

Does free luggage (allowance) only consist of hand luggage?

As we have just seen, the free luggage allowance usually includes at least one regular piece of hand luggage as well as a smaller personal item such as a handbag or a laptop. But is hand luggage really the only kind of luggage included in the free luggage allowance?

No. As we see in the definition above, free luggage is the “included amount of luggage that you can carry on your flight without paying an extra charge“.

This amount usually consists of both hand luggage and checked luggage.

Usually, one piece of checked luggage is included within the free luggage allowance. As a rule, this piece of luggage may weigh between 20 and 23 kilograms (depending on the airline).

If you fly Business Class or a comparable tariff (First Class and what does the vulture know about all the other tariffs), two pieces of checked luggage are often included in the free luggage allowance. In Business Class, sometimes even two pieces of hand luggage are included in the free luggage allowance.

However, checked luggage is by no means always part of the free luggage allowance. Particularly in the standard tariffs of low-cost airlines, it is often the case that free luggage consists only of hand luggage and that you are not additionally entitled to checked luggage.

On long-haul flights, however, checked luggage is in most cases an integral part of the free luggage allowance.

 

How much hand luggage (as free luggage) may be carried?

How much hand luggage may be carried on an airline (as free luggage) depends on the airline you are flying with. There are relatively large differences between the different airlines. There is, therefore, no international standard to which all airlines would adhere.

There are such standards and guidelines from the International Air Transport Association, IATA, but not all airlines are members of IATA and these values serve as guidelines rather than as stone carved, mandatory rules.

You can get a good overview of the free hand luggage allowance that you are allowed to carry with the different airlines in our epic table: Carry-on baggage size/weight allowance | All Major Airlines

In this table, you can see at a glance which airline allows how much hand luggage (in the standard tariff!), how heavy the hand luggage may be and which dimensions must be observed. The table can be filtered by airline.

Here are some examples (free luggage allowance in the standard tariff):

  • At Aer Lingus, the free hand luggage allowance includes a large piece of hand luggage (max. 10 kg) measuring 55 x 40 x 24 cm and one small piece of hand luggage such as a small handbag, laptop bag, duty-free bag or diaper bag. The maximum size for the personal item is 25 x 33 x 20 cm.
  • At British Airways, the free hand luggage allowance includes a large piece of hand luggage (max. 23 kg!) measuring 56 x 45 x 25 cm and one small piece of hand luggage (personal item). Even this small piece of hand luggage can weight up to 23 kilograms!
  • At Condor the free hand luggage allowance includes a large piece of hand luggage (max. 6 kg) measuring 55 x 40 x 20 cm and a small piece of hand luggage (also called personal item) as well as accessories (umbrella).
  • At easyJet, the free hand luggage allowance includes a large piece of hand luggage (no weight limit!) measuring 56 x 45 x 25 cm. Economy customers are NOT allowed a small piece of hand luggage (additional laptop or handbag).
  • At Eurowings the free hand luggage allowance includes one large piece of hand luggage (max. 8 kg) measuring 55 x 40 x 23 cm and one small piece of hand luggage.
  • At Ryanair, no large piece of carry-on luggage is included in the standard rate. You can only bring a small piece of hand luggage measuring 40 x 20 x 25 cm on board.

 

Important note: In certain cases, your free hand luggage allowance may be higher. For families, for example, there are other items that you may bring on board (e.g. child seat, baby bag, etc.). But here, too, the regulations differ from airline to airline.

In addition, the free luggage allowance also depends on the flight fare booked. For example, if you fly Business Class, you may be allowed to take more (often two large carry-on items instead of just one).

 

Less and less hand luggage included

Recently, a clear trend has emerged: airlines allow less and less hand luggage that can be brought on the plane free of charge.

Recently Ryanair was one of the first airlines (if not the first) to allow only one personal item (also known as a small piece of hand luggage) to be brought on the plane free of charge. Only those who either pay extra (purchase an option) or fly on a more expensive tariff are still allowed to bring on board a large piece of hand luggage (such as a standard trolley or a larger backpack) and a personal item (laptop bag, handbag).

Recently this change was also adopted by Laudamotion (now also part of Ryanair).

 

Other luggage as free luggage?

At this point, we know that free luggage can be either hand luggage, checked luggage or also a combination of both. But what about other types of luggage, for instance, sports luggage or maybe even bulky luggage?

These kinds of luggage are usually not included as free luggage. However, with certain airlines, it might be possible to bring sports luggage instead of your regular checked baggage, so for instance, if your checked baggage allowance is set at 1 piece of checked baggage (max. 23 kg), it might be allowed to bring 1 piece of sports baggage (same max weight = 23 kg) instead of a regular checked baggage.

 

Luggage terminology

Luggage vocabulary is very extensive. And therefore, it can get very confusing sometimes. If you are unsure about the real meaning of sports baggage, onboard baggage, special baggage, bulky baggage, carry-on luggage, cabin luggage among other “funny” luggage terms, you might want to have a look at our article: Baggage Vocabulary Demystified

 

Related Questions

 

Is free luggage the same as Free Baggage? 

Yes, it is. While in some areas and countries it is preferable to say “free luggage”, it is more common to say “free baggage” in other countries. However, there is really no clean line here and even within the borders of a specific country, you will hear people referring to either (free) luggage or (free) baggage. Same goes for terms like carry-on baggage or carry-on luggage. It just really stands for the same. So please don’t get confused about this.

Is hand luggage always free?

In most of the cases and with most airlines, there is at least a certain amount of hand luggage that can be brought on board for free. In most cases, you are at least allowed to bring one regular piece of hand luggage (trolley, backpack) as well as a so-called personal item (handbag or laptop bag) on the plane. However, there are now some airlines that will only allow you to bring a small piece of hand luggage on board free of charge. For instance, this is the case with Ryanair. Their standard tariff now just includes a personal item.

What does luggage/baggage 1pc on the flight ticket mean?

If you have “luggage 1pc” or “baggage 1pc” on your flight ticket, this means that you are entitled to one piece of checked luggage/baggage. This information usually refers to the amount of baggage that you can drop off at the counter.

This information does NOT normally refer to hand luggage. Hand luggage is normally included in the free luggage allowance in addition to this value. So if the ticket says “1pc”, you are most likely entitled to one piece of checked luggage and hand luggage.

How much does excess luggage cost?

If you have too much luggage with you, i.e. if you exceed the free luggage allowance, you will have to pay additional costs. It is not possible to answer the question of exactly how much excess luggage costs as a lump sum. However, in most cases, excess luggage is very expensive and should be avoided at all costs.

Some airlines charge excess luggage per kilo of excess luggage (e.g. 10 euros per kilo of excess luggage), while other airlines charge a flat-rate fee. Excess luggage can refer both to luggage, which is too heavy, and to luggage, which is too large (max. dimensions as indicated by airline exceeds).

If the luggage is hand luggage, it must be transported in the aircraft’s hold. However, the airlines can refuse to transport the “excess luggage” completely in such a case, for example, if there is not enough space in the aircraft.

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