Emirates, the flag carrier of Dubai and the largest airline in the Middle East and the fourth largest in terms of passengers carried, is well-known for its high quality and excellent service. In recognition of this, Emirates has won numerous awards, for example in 2017 it won the award for Best Airline in the world at the inaugural TripAdvisor’s Traveler’s Choice Awards for Airlines and in 2018 named the Best Airline in the World at the Conde Nast Travel Awards. So bearing in mind Emirates’s high level of customer satisfaction, how strict is the airline with hand luggage? Are passengers allowed to take more than the specified size and weight allowance?
Since 2016, Emirates has enforced new stricter hand luggage weight controls. For economy class passengers, Emirates hand luggage allowance is quite low compared to other airlines. For these passengers, the airline only permits one piece of hand luggage not weighing more than 7kg and no larger than 55cmx 40cm x 38cm. First-class and business class have a more generous allowance: two pieces of hand luggage – one briefcase plus either one handbag or one garment bag, not weighing more than 7kg each. You can read more about the airline’s hand- luggage policy here.
How strict is Emirates with hand luggage?
Unfortunately for passengers, Emirates are super strict with their hand luggage policy and adhere to it nearly all of the time.
For instance, hand luggage is usually weighed twice; once by Emirates check-in staff at the time of checking-in baggage and additionally at the gate prior to boarding the plane and passport control.
If the weight goes over the specified amount of 7 kg per bag, there is quite a steep excess charge per kilo to pay. Many passengers who have purchased any duty-free items have been caught out at the gate when their hand luggage is weighed and checked again because the extra duty-free items is included in the hand luggage allowance.
Since many other airlines do not count Duty Free purchases in passengers’ hand luggage allowance, many people are not aware of this Emirates rule and have been caught out when they have had their hand luggage checked at the gate prior to boarding.
Therefore, if you expect to buy anything at Duty-Free before boarding an Emirates flight and you do not want to pay any excess charges at the gate, be sure to have enough allowance left in your hand luggage so that you can put the duty-free items that you have bought in there.
A bag of duty-free items could count as an extra hand luggage bag so we would advise to err on the side of caution when at the Duty-Free shops, particularly at Dubai airport where some of the best duty-free shopping in the world is to be found.
Otherwise, they may refuse you entry to the plane unless you pay the high excess baggage charges or return the goods to Duty-Free. Due to the strictness of their policy and the high proportion of passengers who either have to pay the excess charges or return their duty-free shopping, this has regularly caused large delays in the Emirates flights taking off.
Emirates staff are so stringent with the hand luggage policy that they will even tell passengers to take out items such as coats or jackets and wear them to not go over the allowance.
Unhappy with the way they have been treated, many customers of Emirates have complained about the customer service of Emirates staff on the hand luggage issue and vowed never to fly with them again.
How much are excess charges for hand luggage?
Excess charges differ from airport to airport, for example, it has been noted that £28- 34 per kg was paid at Birmingham Airport for excess weight and US$31 per kg at Dubai.
Some airports only take a certain currency in cash (if at all —> in some cases, you can only pay with credit card), therefore, be prepared for this if you are taking more than the hand luggage allowance.
Does Emirates’ hand luggage policy differ depending on the airport?
Emirates has given out orders to all ground handling agents in worldwide airports it operates in to enforce the hand luggage weight, therefore it can be assumed that all airports would enforce the same strict allowance.
However, Emirates staff at some airports have been reported to be slightly more relaxed than others with the hand luggage weight, which may cause problems for passengers if they are transferring to a different plane at another airport.
For example, if a passenger is travelling from Lagos to Dubai and is allowed 8kg of hand luggage but arrives in Dubai to fly to another destination, Emirates staff in Dubai who are notoriously known for being strict about the weight of hand luggage may ask the passenger to dispose of the extra 1kg of weight from the hand luggage.
Los Angeles and Lagos Airport have been reported to be slightly more relaxed about the hand luggage weight, yet Dubai is supposed to be the strictest. However, despite some airports being more relaxed about checking passenger’s hand luggage, we advise you to always adhere to the weight and size limit of the hand luggage to avoid the risk of excess charges.
Emirates, in comparison to other airlines such as British Airways (23kg of hand luggage allowance) is extremely strict on its hand luggage policy. Passengers may choose Emirates because of the high level of service and comfort the airline provides, however, if they want to bring more than the specified allowance, they should think carefully when booking a flight with them as excess charges can be very steep and nearly always enforced.
We recommend that Emirates passengers do not risk taking more than their allowance if they are not prepared to pay for it. Additionally, to remember that duty-free purchases will count towards the hand luggage allowance.
Therefore if you are planning to shop at duty-free, it is highly advised to leave some room for it in your hand luggage.