/ Travel & Leisure

Save a packet – pop your luggage in your pocket

Rufus Roo jacket

Wizz Air has set a worrying precedent by charging its passengers for carrying large items of hand luggage, even if they weigh less than the 10 kilo limit. So how can you avoid low-cost airline baggage charges?

I travel over to Denmark five or six times a year to visit my partner’s family. So for me, low-cost airlines are the only sensible option. Flying with anyone else would cost us hundreds of pounds for a weekend trip.

I try to avoid checking in a bag wherever possible due to the sheer expense of checked-in baggage fees. This means I have to stuff my clothes, books, phone chargers, wash bag and everything else into my small rucksack. It gets very heavy and cumbersome, and can be hard to retrieve something without taking everything else out first.

A small, roll-along suitcase is a possible alternative, but I just can’t bring myself to use one. After years of tripping over them in airports I know how much of a nuisance they can be to people as you walk around. I also don’t want to be selfish by taking up lots of room in the overhead lockers.

Finally, after Wizz Air’s decision to charge for suitcases such as these, they’re also a risky option financially. So what if the other low-cost airlines start charging too?

Practical pockets for passengers

Could the ‘Rufus Roo’ be the answer? The Rufus Roo is a pocket-filled jacket designed specifically to provide travellers with more carry-on luggage capacity. It can carry up to 10 kilos of items, such as books, food and even clothes. I’m tempted to try one out and see how much stuff I can carry, while giving my poor old rucksack a break.

The low-cost airlines don’t seem to be worried about their passengers using jackets like this to avoid baggage fees. They probably think the jacket looks too embarrassing for most of their passengers to wear. I agree that it’s not the most glamorous look, but I’m a practical person and most of my wardrobe is based on usefulness over aesthetics.

Have you ever worn a Rufus Roo on your travels? If not, would you consider wearing something similar to avoid expensive baggage charges?


Wizz’s charge for hand baggage is simply another way of legitimising a misleading indication price, now that card surcharges are to be banned across the EU. The budget airlines want to impose as many surcharges as possible that are excluded from the headline prices but which are paid by the majority of passengers out of necessity. These surcharges distort competition by making it difficult to compare fares between airlines.

We need legislation that forces airlines to include within headline fares any surcharges that are paid by the majority of passengers. This would create honest pricing and eliminate the various surcharges that are not related to cost.

I lived in Japan for a few years a while ago, and I remember seeing a friend off to the airport for her return journey home. She’d been living there for a couple of years and wanted to avoid excess luggage costs wherever she could.

It was the middle of summer, but she chose to wear a coat and carry another. Each had its pockets stuffed with books and other small but heavy items. Likewise, her handbag and laptop bag were also fit to bust – she didn’t even own a laptop but had bought the bag in a second hand shop after reading the airline’s policy.

All told, we reckoned she’d carried at least ten kilos of extra luggage without having to pay the excess. To offset this, I think she was probably ten kilos lighter than the average passenger.

Providing airline charges are clearly displayed, I would suggest that a passenger with little or no luggage should pay less than one with luggage. Carrying luggage involves handling costs plus additional weight (therefore fuel). Considering what flying used to cost many years ago, the “budget” airlines give the opportunity to visit places you would otherwise not have been able to afford.

The logical extension to this would be to charge according to the combined weight of the passenger and their hand luggage. That’s always seemed the most sensible and equitable way to me.

I agree. If an airline is going to charge for the weight of items it does not have to handle (i.e. cabin baggage) on the premise of fuel costs, then it should also include the weight of the passenger. It is unfair that a slim passenger carrying 15kg of non-oversized cabin baggage should be surcharged when a passenger who is 30kg overweight is not surcharged.

This coat seems like a great idea! OK, it’s not fashionable, but I can’t remember the last time I looked good on an aeroplane. If you can get around paying excess charges for hand luggage on planes in any way that’s legal, then I’m all for it.