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How Strict is Lufthansa on Hand Luggage?

As the largest German Airline in the world and one of the most popular airlines in Europe in terms of the number of passengers carried, Lufthansa has clearly succeeded in building its business over the past sixty years. Before an international flight, many nervous travellers wonder how strict the airline is concerning its hand luggage and carry-on bag policy.

Before a big vacation, no one wants to be caught paying exorbitant fines just to check a bag that’s slightly out of the airlines’ weight or size requirements. Before we delve into most international jet setters’ experience with Lufthansa, we should first discuss what the actual hand-bag requirements are for the lofty airline.


How strict is Lufthansa on Hand Luggage?

Although Lufthansa is one of the highest-rated intercontinental flight providers, many customers have had mixed experiences with having their carry on bags checked last minute. It can be hard to determine just how strict Lufthansa is because, often, the policies in practice shift depending on the country and attendants’ attitude towards hand luggage at the check-in and at the gate. After all, according to most reviewers, Lufthansa is not very strict about hand luggage and passengers seldomly need to pay excess baggage fees for carry-on bags that are (slightly) too big or too heavy. 

One man flying into Frankfurt from Houston swore off ever flying the Lufthansa airline ever again after a harrowing checked bag experience.

Excited to explore the sprawling metropolis in Germany, the man struggled to pack everything in his carry on and personal item luggage. Fruitlessly, he tried to pack his expensive camera into his bag. Although it fit, the dimensions ended up just slightly exceeding the allowable dimensions of Lufthansa’s carry-on requirements. Before he could make it to the gate, an attendant stopped him to measure his bag.

The attendant, anxiously re-measuring the man’s bag over and over again, ultimately had to inform the customer that his carry-on luggage would have to be checked. Without a hint of frustration, the man watched as his bag was shunted on a conveyer belt off to who-knows-where.

After a long and comfortable journey, the man stepped off the flight. With growing concern, he waited for his small bag to whir out of the baggage claim shoot. After a few minutes, the man let out a sigh of relief when he found his luggage completely unharmed. Later that night, after inspecting the bag, he realized his camera was utterly crushed during the flight – it should have come as no surprise; after all, checked baggage often has to survive through several rounds of departures and layovers, often carelessly tossed from plane to plane.

Ultimately, the man had to shell out money for a disposable convenience store camera in time for his German relative’s wedding the very next morning. It took several weeks of appeals and lengthy calls before Lufthansa Airlines owned up to the mistake and shelled out a pitifully small reimbursement for the man. It was even more frustrating when he realized the reimbursement barely covered the cost of checking the bag last minute in the first place.

For international flights, it’s no surprise that customers will do just about anything to avoid checking their hand luggage. Whether it’s damaged or lost property, high baggage fees, or the annoyance of collecting the bag thirty minutes after the flight, many wary customers want to forgo the anxiety altogether.

Thankfully, others have had a bit more luck than the Texan man. According to some reviewers, Lufthansa less strictly adheres to their regulations for intercontinental flights in Europe than for lengthy global flights.

One European woman swears by Lufthansa for all of her travel needs. Due to complicated cancer treatment care, the woman is forced to bring bulky medications and medical devices on all of her flights. She is no stranger to airlines not respecting her need for medical care. Before flying with Lufthansa, the woman had sworn off international flights because it represented too much of a safety concern.

However, the woman was desperate enough to meet up with family that she anxiously bought an international ticket anyways. At first, she met resistance when attempting to check in to her flight. Carrying only the bare necessities, her hand luggage exceeded the width requirement by nearly six inches. Additionally, despite how much she tried to lighten the bag, its weight was still over the allowable limit.

After tearfully expressing her concerns to her attendant, the Lufthansa employee assured her that her need for medical access would be completely respected. Fighting off her anxious expression, the woman ended up boarding her flight without any need to explain her condition to other suspicious attendants. According to the woman, she only ever turns to Lufthansa now, stating that she hasn’t ever encountered another problem with her baggage not meeting hand luggage requirements.

The old, normally socially anxious, woman now recommends that every passenger try and explain any extenuating circumstances to flight staff before allowing them to check luggage. In her experience, Lufthansa employees can be much more understanding than most customers give them credit for. Whether a customer is carrying a delicate heirloom or a life-saving medical device, most customers would be hard-pressed to find an attendant they couldn’t sway.

Many customers also decide to get in contact with Lufthansa staff in order to explain extenuating circumstances and get more in-depth answers for their hand luggage concerns. By determining upfront what they need to do, customers can avoid all the anxiety and bad baggage experiences that last-minute rushing entails. In the end, some customers may need to sacrifice some packing space in their hand luggage to make sure that their most valued personal items make it on board the flight.

It can be hard to determine the reaction of local Lufthansa staff when it differs so much depending on the airport’s location and staff’s personal attitude towards luggage. Most customers state that Lufthansa is comparatively more strict concerning hand luggage regulations than other airlines.


Lufthansa: Where does bag check occur?

As with most other major airlines, almost all bag checks occur when a customer is attempting an in-person flight check-in. Once reaching the terminal, customers may have to put their bag on a scale and in a pre-measured box in order to test that it meets the standard weight and dimension requirements.

Occasionally, customers who’ve circumvented in-person contact may have to get their bag checked in at the gate. However, it is rare that Lufthansa staff will stop customers once they’ve made it through normal check-in processes past security. Nevertheless, when customers attempt to board their flight, the attendant may politely state that there is not enough overhead room to accommodate their luggage.

At this point, either staff will flag an employee to get the customers’ bag processed at another station if it is exceedingly large and heavy. Otherwise, customers usually leave their tagged bag at the end of the corridor when boarding their flight. As always, normal procedures differ from flight to flight.

Even if a customers’ bag meets the requirements, it is possible that Lufthansa may still coerce them to have their bag checked. Customers who board their flight last may run into problems fitting their luggage in overhead bins. The smaller the bag, the more likely it is that flight staff will not force the customer to check their bag.

Depending on the overhead space that’s available on the specific plane, more or less customers could experience checking their luggage at the gate. Some flights hardly have to check bags because the plane model accommodates extra space for customer carry-ons. In most Lufthansa aircrafts, there is a lot of space under the seat to hold personal items.

According to frequent travellers, it’s exceedingly unlikely that flight staff will ever make customers check their bag if it is merely heavier than the weight limit once they make it past in-person check-in routines. Unless the bag very obviously does not meet the dimension and weight requirements, Lufthansa flight staff almost never charge a customer the international bag checking fee at the gate.


How strict are the official hand luggage rules of Lufthansa?

Those who’ve travelled internationally or flown with other domestic providers like Delta Air Lines or Southwestern would likely be familiar with many of Lufthansa’s policies. At least this is what one would hope for and expect. In reality, however, the cabin baggage regulations of different airlines can differ dramatically. So how does Lufthansa compare with other airlines in terms of hand luggage?

For carry-on bags, Lufthansa’s website states these helpful tips:

  • Every passenger is allowed one free carry-on bag for Economy and Premium Economy, whereas Business and First class passengers can bring two
  • Each carry-on bag should weigh no more than 8 kg (or 17 lbs)
  • In addition to a carry-on bag, passengers may also carry a small personal item, such as a compact handbag
  • If necessary, passengers may also bring a pushchair for infants or mobility aids like a wheelchair
  • The size of the carry-on bag can be at most 55 x 40 x 23 cm (or 21 x15 x 9 in)
    The size of the personal item can be at most 40 x 30 x 10 cm (or 15 x 11x 3.9 in)

Additionally, there are certain restrictions concerning what’s allowed inside a customer’s hand luggage. Firecrackers, corrosive substances (like acid), battery-powered scooters, and camping stoves are not allowed on board and must be placed in checked luggage. Like most other airlines, strict regulations relating to sharp objects, knives, and liquids also apply.

Lufthansa officials reserve the right to check any baggage which does not strictly meet their requirements. If the bag is checked, fees for international and Europe-bound flights may be applied.