/ Travel & Leisure

Flying with Easyjet – are new hand luggage restrictions fair?

An orange suitcase

Easyjet is changing its size restrictions for hand luggage as more travellers opt to avoid paying to check in a bag. Would you buy new luggage to fit the rules or take a chance on a bigger bag?

Recently EasyJet announced that from July 2, anyone travelling with hand luggage would need to make sure their bag meets the no-frills airline’s new cabin bag rules. The only way passengers will be able to guarantee their baggage is allowed in the cabin is for it to be no bigger than 50 x 40 x 20cm.

Travellers can still bring along luggage meeting the current size permitted – 56 x 45 x 25cm – but if the flight is busy, you could be asked to put your bag in the hold.

Why change the rules?

More travellers are choosing the cheaper option of flying with just hand luggage. EasyJet’s new size rules have been prompted by overhead locker space on flights becoming increasingly limited as a result.

I know that on a recent flight from Glasgow to London Gatwick, while sitting at the departure gate, volunteers were being asked to come forward and offer to put their bags in the hold. With a full flight, luggage space on board would be limited. It was a late flight on a Sunday night, and people were eager to get to connecting trains as soon as the plane landed. Very few passengers were coming forward.

From July 2, if an EasyJet flight is busy, only those with bags meeting the new size restrictions will be guaranteed to be stored in the cabin. That covers the overhead lockers as well as keeping your bag under the seat in front of you. Anyone else could risk having their bags taken from them and put in the hold – though not at any additional cost.

Will I buy a new suitcase?

I still need to measure my trusty suitcase. It’s the one that comes with me when I fly to Scotland to visit family at weekends and when I’m off on short city breaks to Europe. The suitcase has done me well over the years, it’s still in good nick, and I wasn’t planning to replace it any time soon.

That said, I regularly travel with EasyJet. If I do find myself having to wait at a baggage carousel to pick up my hand luggage, I may have to reconsider. When you travel on the last flight of the day and need to catch public transport to get you to your final destination, you don’t want to be wasting any time hanging around inside an airport.

EasyJet says that Delsey and Tesco sell bags that fit the new size rules, but the team at Which? Travel has not tested these. We have put three fitting suitcases through their paces from Flylite, Samsonite and Tripp, costing from £35 up to £108. A Best Buy bag is currently on offer at £50, which is a fairly good price.

But do I really want to buy a new case when there’s nothing wrong with my old one – other than not fitting the new EasyJet hand luggage rules?

[UPDATE 2 JULY 2013] – EasyJet’s new cabin baggage restrictions came into force today, meaning that only passengers with hand luggage no bigger than 50 x 40 x 20cm will definitely be able to keep their bag with them in the cabin.

Yet despite the new tighter restrictions, our latest research found that 40% of passengers will fly with a bag that fits EasyJet’s previous larger allowance, and risk having their bag put into the hold on busy flights.


Of all the budget airlines, Easyjet has the most pragmatic approach to cabin baggage with no weight limit and practical size limits. Clearly its new rules are likewise intended to be practical rather than a revenue-generating mechanism. Nevertheless I’ll stick to flying on British Airways whenever possible as I really don’t want the stress of flying on a budget airline.

Never flown on Easyjet but last year flew with Virgin Atlantic who have reduced the weight of their baggage allowance. What a nightmare.

We had just bought 2 new suitcases that we did not even consider to be a problem as they were between the sizes of the previous 2 cases (one larger, one smaller) we used.

At the check-ins, people had their bags open trying to make them lighter. It was perfectly ok to stuff your pockets with the extra weight just not put them in your baggage !!!

It is sensible to have size limits on cabin bags. Once you have a suitable bag you can be sure that it will be acceptable. Airlines need to agree on a common standard for size limits.

Agreed, and the European Commission is looking at a common standard. However, we also need a removal of limits (or sensible limits) on weight. It’s absurd that a 70kg passenger with a 15kg regulation-size case can’t travel but a 110kg passenger with a small 5kg case can. As Alfa points out above, if airlines impose weight limits on cabin baggage, passengers simply move items to their pockets. All airlines should adopt no weight limit (like Easyjet) or a weight limit that’s more than adequate (like 23kg on British Airways).

Airlines don’t handle the cabin baggage so there’s no good reason for them to restrict its weight. It makes no difference to an airline whether excess weight is carried as body fat, in the passenger’s pockets or in a regulation-size case.

Sorry, I meant to make this point. If you are packing to return home after a holiday you might not be able to check the weight of your cabin bag, though its size will be the same as before unless it has been seriously over-fed.

23kg is no problem on a 2 week summer holiday, but if you are going on an extended holiday where you need clothes for cold and heat, it is not enough and does not leave spare for any purchases.

They should remove these ridiculous weight limits.

If you’re going on a two-week summer holiday or longer, then you’re more likely than not to have at least some hold baggage. We’re talking here about cabin baggage, and 23kg within regulation-size cabin baggage would only be some very dense material such as a lot of liquid.

Sorry, lost the line of this comment. I was referring to 23 kg for hold allowance.

Scion says:
9 July 2013

Quite a few people per year – in the hundreds, worldwide – are injured by items falling out of overhead lockers, so there is a difference between additional passenger weight and additional hand luggage weight.

The issue not mentioned is that if your hand luggage gets put in the hold you may have problems with an insurance claim if any valuables in it go missing or get damaged.

Actually I think their attitude to baggage is quite reasonable. It always annoys me to see people with bags twice the size of mine being let on, when I’ve struggled to get mine down to the right weight.

What annoys me more is when they ignore the rules about delays. I was delayed 3.5 hours last summer, and they were deliberately obstructive every step of the way when I tried to get compensation (which is a legal right). In the end I went to a company (“Sky Mediator” IIRC) that processed the claim for me. In the end they paid up, but lost any goodwill I might have had.

If they have to have weight and size restrictions on an aircraft, surely it is only fair that this weight and size should be: body + pockets + baggage overall.

I tend to feel that Easyjet are acting responsibly. On a recent BA flight I noticed than many passsengers were struggling to get their cases up into the over-head lockers and it is a bit worrying if you’re sitting underneath while somebody is attempting to do this. Some could hardly manage it so a practical weight limit is sensible. By the time an aircraft is half loaded, locker space is at a premium and people can no longer expect to have their stuff above – or even close to – their seat; hence the mad scramble to be at the front of the line at the boarding gate. This is a bit annoyig if you have reserved seats and would rather board later [rather than in the first dash for position] because by the time you get to your seats all available nearby locker space has been taken. The size of cabin baggage also slows down the exit from planes and there are dangers caused by haste. One consequence of the trend away from hold baggage on short-haul flights is that there is much less luggage in the hold so by the time you have got off the plane, processed along corridors to the baggage-reclaim, been to the toilet, and checked the arrival screens to find the flight’s carousel number, your suitcases are gliding along serenely waiting to be snatched with not much delay at all. On a critical path analysis of airport arrivals I suspect that the baggage reclaim is one of the lesser annoyances but it’s probably the only part of the overall time taken that the passenger can do anything to reduce. Incidentally, we noticed that, for hold baggage, BA combine luggage weights and so long as the average does not exceed the limit there is no problem.

It’s extremely rare that my hold baggage makes it to baggage reclaim before I do, even when BA puts priority labels on it in business and first class, but it’s nice when it does happen. If it was the norm rather than the exception, I would travel more often with hold baggage as I don’t tend to travel lightly.

EasyJet also combine the luggage weights, which is great for me since I pack the kitchen sink and my husband is nicely minimalist.

As for the size restrictions, it is all very well if you have forked out for a nice rectangular case for hand luggage. However, we tend to go on walking holidays and use our day-packs for hand luggage to kill 2 birds with 1 stone. These don’t hold their shape so, although the total volume may be the same as a small case, often they stretch out to be a bit too deep for the testing rack. EasyJet have never penalised us for that as yet so I hope that the new restrictions aren’t going to be applied as stringently as the dreaded Ryanair.

I worked as BOAC/ BA cabin crew for 40 years with the last 19 as Cabin Service Director. Hand luggage in the economy sections has truly been a longterm problem. Have you ever noticed the placarded weight limits placed inside overhead lockers? This is a safety issue…those lockers are stressed to accept a limited weight. As John Ward mentions, many passengers struggle to put their cabin baggage into the overhead lockers. Cabin crew were not allowed to assist in my latter days, (retired in 2007),as there had been so many instances of crew members injuring themselves doing this. The rule is that you must be able to store your own hand luggage, so only carry what you personally can manage & then only to a reasonable weight & size.
As for hold luggage, BA has a very generous allowance of 23Kg at no additional cost. There is an agreed “maximum lifting weight” in all industries now, I believe, & I think that is 25Kg. This is a “Health & Safety” mandate. Anything above should be label as “Heavy” & may then require special treatment by, say, two people.
Weight in aircraft uses extra fuel so limits & extra charges are acceptable in my opinion, but some of the budget airlines seem to be milking this to unreasonable degrees!

I totally agree with Bassington. Once my flight was delayed from luton because too many people had oversized luggage. But last time after cancellation they were acting like I was crazy when I asked for compensation.

bob says:
16 June 2013

They should make it easier for you to check weight *before* you get to the counter.

I agree with that. You can never find a weighing machine when you want one. I’ve never seen one in a hotel to help you check your baggage on departure. Those hand-held balances are useless at any point close to the limit. We always seem to manage to go home with lighter baggage but heavier bodies than when we flew out.

Easyjet don’t impose weight restrictions, it is simply a reduction in case size. Last year we purchased some electronic baggage scales from Home Bargains for around £4 and they are accurate to within half a kilo when weighing 10 kilos for a Ryanair flight.

We recently stayed at 50 Flats apartments in Valencia and they had dedicated baggage scales in reception. It’s about time all hotels provided these as part of their service.

malcolm mclean says:
1 July 2013

if the rules for cabin baggage where adhere to there would be no problem,to many people are carrying more than one bag on to the aircraft and staff see this, so why do staff not stop them.there is space under seats for small bags.i had my bag taken off me and put in the hold,a couple in front of me had 2 bags each.WHY.

Just an update for you. EasyJet’s new cabin baggage restrictions came into force today, meaning that only passengers with hand luggage no bigger than 50 x 40 x 20cm will definitely be able to keep their bag with them in the cabin.

Yet despite the new tighter restrictions, our latest research found that 40% of passengers will fly with a bag that fits EasyJet’s previous larger allowance, and risk having their bag put into the hold on busy flights. http://www.which.co.uk/news/2013/07/four-in-10-to-ignore-new-easyjet-baggage-rules-324650/

First time I’ve used this site, so please bear with me.
If you have a hand luggage bag that complies to the old sizing and are then told it must be classed as hold baggage, but you have already checked in hold baggage to the maximum, do you have to PAY for the extra hold baggage?

This is becoming quite a problem with regard to safety.
Any aircraft designer will tell you that overhead bin lockers are a real safety issue. They can only take so much weight & perhaps the real limit should be placed on the weight if the bag & not size, or better still do away with overhead lockers & put everything in the hold.
More people are injured through items falling out of the overheads than anything else.

Totally agree. Some people put open carrier bags containing heavy articles up in the lockers and quite a few people can barely lift their own bags.

Although I can’t agree that it would be good to put everything in the hold (you need something to carry the books, MP3 player, water etc that people use during the flight, as well as breakables like a laptop), I heartily agree with John Ward about people who place open carried bags in the lockers. On one flight I was sitting under the locker when someones bottle of red wine had come loose and started to knock around in turbulence. The result was a trickle of wine down my neck ruining an outfit for the holiday.

Yes, it’s never in the right place so you can catch the drips is it?

Please see my comments, (cb47), in reply to John Ward’s message re weight limits for overhead lockers.

I am all in favour of anything that dissuades people from upping their carbon footprint. A weekend jaunt to Ibiza and one to Germany is .44tonne against a Kenyan who uses 0.3 tonne per annum and the UK average of 9.7tonne. At least going for two or more weeks would seem to be a more responsible attitude to creating pollution if one has to fly.

As to hand luggage perhaps the airlines would be best served by a mandated floor mounted storage cupboards underneath each pair of beds which would simplify boarding and luggage problems and yet retain passenger density. Anyone who has travelled on a sleeper bus will understand what I am suggesting. Google will provide many pictures.

The elderly, obese and incontinent can be at floor level.

David Ince says:
4 July 2013

I see this as an excuse to increase revenue. I can foreseen in the future when passengers start buying wearable luggage like Scottevest or Bagket, Easyjet and all other budget airlines will start charging for carry-on luggage as well.
According to Easyjet’s Annual Report for 2011, their total Revenue amounted to £3,452M of which £719M were from Ancillary Revenue. They stated that their Ancillary Revenue were up by 12.90% compared to 2010. The increase was driven from the introduction of higher charges for hold baggage on longer sectors, and revised speedy boarding and booking fees. No such information were disclosed in the accounts of 2012. Easyjet’s total Revenue in 2012 has gone up to £3,854M. Their profit after tax has gone up from £225M in 2011 to £255M in 2012. Therefore there new policy in reducing the size carry-on baggage is solely to increase its Revenue and profitability.

I’m rather baffled that the first thing for consideration under ‘Tips for choosing hand baggage’ is ‘Two wheels or four’.

What about ‘No wheels’? After all, we are talking hand baggage here, not heavy trunks. The only thing wheels do is add to the size and weight of the bag, which are the most important factors.

Carrying my soft bag on its shoulder strap, I never had any problems under easyJet’s old rules, as even when the cabin got a bit full, they only ever pulled over people with wheeled bags to put them in the hold, they never even looked at mine.

What on earth do people put in those huge bags? Unless they’re travelling with a baby (heaven forbid!). I’ve never been close to any weight limit for hold or cabin bags, on out bound or return journeys. Even for a month or more long haul, I just packed for a about a fortnight and booked a hotel with a washer/dryer for guests midway through our travels.

I usually fly into Luton. The passport controllers are quick and the speed the bags get to the carousel can at times be incredibly quick.
I am really rather fed up with people who try to get big bags into overhead lockers. It slows everything down and you can see the stewards/attendants thinking “Are we going to miss the slot?” When we do then all of a sudden us passengers are seriously complaining.
It’s cheap folks! Get on the plane, stow your stuff, catch that slot and arrive at the place you are going to.

I wonder why most cabin baggage cases are so heavy even before you fill them? I eventually bought one of those ultra-light cabin bags like Sub-0-G and then bought a large check-in version for a trip to NZ. They are extremely robust and hard-wearing and the cabin bag versions are so light and easy to lift into the overhead lockers (I’m 73). I can’t understand why Which? has not reviewed these!

martin says:
18 July 2013

Many of the arguments posted above sadly do not consider that there are “safe maximum wieght load’s” for both the cabin baggage locker and for the safe operation of the aircraft.

Aircraft manufacturers design and state the safe maximum load limit for the cabin lockers and when exceeded this can result in the catastrophic failure of those lockers during a heavy landing.
When was the last time anybody WEIGHED your cabin baggage? The lockers are probably very close to or exceeding their designed maximum almost every flight.
In addition to this, the aircraft itself also has a safe load, at present, the weight of carry on baggage can not be defined because none of it is weighed and the trend towards carrying luggage into the cabin and away from checking it into the cargo hold means there is a greater “unknown weight”
Most airlines have rules that state each passenger may carry on ONE piece of hand luggage. Many people in fact carry on a wheeled suitcase AND a laptop case or shoulder bag. This is rarely challenged. The actual size of carry on baggage is also rarely challenged, and as stated previously, the weight is never checked.

There have been aircraft accidents where it was found that many of the injured were in fact injured by falling baggage after the failure of the lockers, this debris also impedes evacuation of a crippled aircraft.

So much baggage inside the aircraft is a risk to safety.

If you want aircraft manufacturers to redesign their aircraft with bigger cabins, bigger lockers and no hold……then petition the aircraft manufacturers. Until then, if its got wheels, FFS check it in.

S Walton says:
31 July 2014

If I already have 1 cabin bag and im travelling alone, what do I do with my wedding suit.??