Hand luggage: Avoid fees and take more onboard by taking advantage of your personal item

Globally airlines are increasingly enforcing strict hand luggage policies which lay out weight and size restrictions to determine how much cabin baggage customers are allowed. Frustratingly, not every airline has the same policy, and so many travellers find themselves caught out at the check-in desk.

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However, while many airlines specify restrictions on cabin bags, they often allow for a personal item to be brought onboard too.

Exact rules surrounding this personal item vary between carriers.

British Airways, for example, allow all customers to carry one piece of hand luggage and one small item such as a handbag or laptop onboard.

The main cabin bag must not exceed 56cm x 45cm x 25cm and the small item must be no bigger than 40cm x 30cm x 15cm. Both items can weight up to 23kg each.

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Hand luggage: Experts say you should make the most of any allowed personal items (Image: Getty Images)Hand luggage: Travellers take more on board by making the most of their allowances (Image: Getty Images)

While a cabin suitcase can measure up to 56cm x 36cm x 23cm, a personal item is also allowed onboard such as a handbag or purse and is not deemed baggage.

The good news is, some budget carriers also include a personal item in their cabin bag allowance.

Jet2 states: “Hand luggage must be no more than 10kg and no larger than 56cm x 45cm x 25cm. You can also bring a small, personal item on board.”

On the other hands, other low-cost carriers such as Ryanair and easyJet do not list a person item amongst their luggage allowance.

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Ryanair states: “Only priority boarding passengers will be permitted to take one small bag (40cm x 20cm x 25cm), plus a larger cabin bag (55 x 40 x 20cm) with a maximum weight allowance of 10kg into the cabin free of charge.”

Meanwhile, easyJet specifies one cabin bag measuring 56x45x25cm, however, makes no mention of a personal item.

For airlines that do allow a personal item, this could be the key to making the most of your packing space.

Exact sizes for personal items are sometimes not specified but suggest the bag must fit under the seat in front.

Hand luggage: Ryanair does not allow a personal item (Image: Getty Images)

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A travel expert from the PointsGuy UK explains: “While this could be a tiny purse, typically briefcases, regular-size backpacks and even tote bags or small duffles are usually acceptable, and most airlines won’t bother to weigh or measure it (though it’s still best to stay within the size/weight requirements whenever possible).”

“Put whatever you need to keep handy in this bag, such as things you want to use inflight, like electronics, moisturiser and a sleep mask and things you might need, like medicine as well as any important valuables you’d rather keep close to you.”

However, it is important to make sure you only pack items allowed in the cabin, otherwise, some belongings could be confiscated.

The FCO lists some of the items which are and are not allowed in hand luggage on its website.

Large scissors (with blades longer than 6cm) are not allowed – and the FCO advises checking with your airline if you intend to pack them in your hold luggage.

Trending Baggage allowance for popular airlines (Image: DX)

Surprisingly, airlines do allow both sewing needles and knitting needles on board.

Beauty items such as nail clippers, nail files tweezers and fixed-cartridge razor blades (disposable razors) are all fine too.

A corkscrew, however, cannot be packed into hand luggage, nor can a knife with a sharp or pointed blade and/or blade longer than 6cm.

Meanwhile, in terms of electronics mobile phones, laptops, tablet devices, MP3 players, hairdryers or straighteners, travel irons, electric shavers and e-cigarettes are all okay too.

Though the FCO does add: “Some airlines might also have different restrictions. Check with your airline before you travel if you’re not sure about what you can take as hand luggage.”