Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Destinations > Europe
Reload this Page >

British Airways' stingy carry-on baggage allowance

British Airways' stingy carry-on baggage allowance

Old Apr 23rd, 2006, 02:14 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 198
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
British Airways' stingy carry-on baggage allowance

I will leave for my Europe trip in a few weeks. I will fly British Airways via London to go to continental Europe.
I found out that BA has a strict carry-on baggage allowance--the weight limit is merely 13lbs! (Had I known this, I would have redeemed my miles on a different airline.)
My carry-on roller is probably 8-10lbs and that does not leave much room for anything else (my purse + my daily necessicities inside weigh about 2 lbs already). I understand that the general rule of thumb is to pack light, but I plan to bring my PDA with me and would appreciate some packing tips!
Also, I intend to do some shopping in Paris and Rome and will likely buy some items that I would rather not check-in.

Do they really weigh your bags at the gate? Can I carry my purse separately? Unlike most international airlines, BA does not specify if it allows a "small bag" (such as a purse, laptop or camera bag) in the cabin in addition to the standard carry-on piece.
I have also read in some other discussion forums that BA has a strict "one item on board" rule.
Barkinpark is offline  
Old Apr 23rd, 2006, 02:24 PM
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 72,796
Likes: 0
Received 50 Likes on 7 Posts
It isn't just BA - Virgin has the same restrictions. Just a fact of life. Your bag won't always be weighed - but you can pretty much count on them inforcing the rules.

You can carry a handbag too - but not if it is another big semi-suitcase/duffel carry on.
janisj is online now  
Old Apr 23rd, 2006, 02:43 PM
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 270
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
We just flew on Virgin, and they have the same carry on policy. If you fly business/first, the carry on policy is more generous.

We all travelled with 20-22" bags, that would technically qualify for a carry-on, except for the weight. We just checked them, and kept all the important items with us in a smaller bag or backpack.

You are allowed to carry a purse/laptop in addition to your carry on bag. I brought on a large canvas tote as my personal item, and no one batted an eye. It was filled with stuff...including my purse!

They must have weighed some of the bags, because I did notice that many people that brought on a carry-on roller had a tag on it from Virgin that said it could be stowed in the cabin.

I must say it was amazing to see how efficient the boarding process can be when everyone isn't bringing a 22" roller and a duffle bag!!
issy is offline  
Old Apr 23rd, 2006, 06:42 PM
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 469
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I've flown BA twice and from what I observed, I think that enforcement of their carry-on policy depends on who is standing guard at the gate.

I would put any valuable items in your purse...just in case they make you check your bag.
suntravler is offline  
Old Apr 23rd, 2006, 06:43 PM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 429
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I often run into this problem when transferring through London and onto a BA flight go go somewhere in Europe. They usually stop and ask me about the bag, but when I tell them I'm continuing on from an international flight then it's usually not a problem. I've never been required to check a bag at the gate. Just be sure that you can clearly pick up the bag yourself and can demonstrate this to them.

I believe the real issue is an EU rule (?) re: weight in the overhead in case it falls out during the flight. If the bag is going under the seat in front of you, it shouldn't be as much of an issue.
LoriS is offline  
Old Apr 23rd, 2006, 07:26 PM
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 213
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
BA is really impossible to predict, but I think it depends on how crowded the plane is. We flew from Gatwick to Inverness and had no problem with our roll-on bags. On the return flight, however, they would not allow us to carry them on. The same exact bags. We were quite a sight, rearranging our stuff right there at the ticket counter. When we got to the departure lounge, it was full of young families, many with strollers and diaper bags. That's why there was no room for our stuff! In Edinburgh, they took a man's laptop away from him. It was that our his carry on with his medications and money and valuables. When we got to Paris, the luggage was not on the flight. The poor man was in tears -- all his business, his whole life was on that laptop. (It took us two days to get our bags!) Flying sure isn't any fun any more.
virgo839 is offline  
Old Apr 23rd, 2006, 07:40 PM
Join Date: Sep 2003
Posts: 181
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
We flew BA to London and then on to Spain. We had done this before so knew about the stingy hand luggage rule. The first time we had rollons and were made to check them. However,they did provide us with a bag to hold medication, jewelry etc.. I was also carrying a good size handbag and no one bothered me about that. This last time we brought carryons which were probably still a bit over the limit. We were not challenged but many others were and had to give up their hand luggage or run the risk of having it taken from them and sent on another flight.
When we left Spain no one asked about the carryons at all. So, it is possible that if you are departing for home from Paris or Rome you will not be hassled about weight limits.
On the other hand, BA had a 70 lb. per checked bag limit and you were allowed two bags per passenger. Much better than the 50 lb. limit on other airlines.
Raydotman is offline  
Old Apr 23rd, 2006, 07:41 PM
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 37,416
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Just flew BA in December from SFO. They DID weigh our carry-ons in SFO. I worked hard to make weight. My bag was pretty light empty but I really had to work to hit the weight. I had a scale, packed, and then started taking stuff out. I had another carry-on size bag that I checked. I also have one of the "Healthy Backpack" purses, so it holds a lot of stuff. There is no way that you could pack a carry-on with a couple weeks worth of stuff and have it meet cabin weight on BA. I checked both bags on the home trip.
crefloors is online now  
Old Apr 23rd, 2006, 07:42 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 6,343
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
We've had many flights with BA where they have weighed our bags and forced us to check them on flights from Heathrow to Nice, and also from Naples to Gatwick. All of these flights were incredibly crowded, so that was undoubtedly part of the issue, but I do think they are getting stricter every year about the weight and dimensions of carry-on bags.
Weadles is offline  
Old Apr 24th, 2006, 02:32 AM
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 340
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I'm echoing an earlier poster - haven't flown BA since the 13lb weight limit, but have flown Virgin. They did weigh carry-ons and were very strict.

My husband's camera case (with cameras, accessories, etc.) just made the limit (we even put the battery chargers in checked luggage, figuring we could buy them in Europe if necessary).

My carry-on (about 3 lbs empty) became the repository for everything else - all confirmations, maps, reading material, plus soft drinks, etc. It was a challenge for us to get everything into one carry-on. Virgin did not allow a second item, so even my pocketbook had to go into the carry-on.

Not fun. But be ready for them to enforce the limit.

leonberger is offline  
Old Apr 24th, 2006, 02:53 AM
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 3,293
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Flying from the United States to London is on a big plane (747 or 777) and often you can get a larger bag on the plane. However, connecting in London to your next destination will be on a smaller plane and that is where you could find enforcement.
wally34949 is offline  
Old Apr 24th, 2006, 03:01 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 7,067
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
My experience with all airlines, including BA which I've flown a few times, is that in the US they look at, but do not weigh your bags. If the size is OK you get by. Just in case I always put my really heavy stuff (camera, iPod, etc) in my purse. My purse (which is often a daypack size bag - not huge but bigger than a small pocketbook)has never been weighed anywhere and it weighs a ton. I also have an extra tote bag in my suitcase in case I buy too much stuff over there and need extra room on the way back. But if worse came to worse and they did weigh your bag in the US and it was over, you could always move a bunch of stuff to that extra tote bag and carry that on. Coming back is a different story, they always weigh bags in Europe. Of course, "always" is relataive, but that's been my experience. If you are flying from the UK to somewhere else you can expect your bag to be weighed. Even EasyJet, which claims to have done away with weight limits, was making people check 21" bags on a flight I took in March.
isabel is offline  
Old Apr 24th, 2006, 03:15 AM
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 19,881
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
"Even EasyJet, which claims to have done away with weight limits"

Easyjet has done away with weight limits for CARRY ON luggage, but it still operates a SIZE limit as the lockers haven't magically increased in size.

As for poster & her 10lb bag, the solution is simple - a lighter bag. Anything that weighs 10lb empty isn't really a bag for carry on luggage
alanRow is offline  
Old Apr 24th, 2006, 03:37 AM
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 515
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I've never had my carry-on bags weighed by BA or Virgin but I would not carry on assuming this to always be the case.

I'm astounded people are shocked they can only take 13lbs on a plane. How much stuff does anyone need for a flight? Perhaps it's that my bag when empty probably weighs about 1lb which gives me plenty of weight for the actual things going in the bag that it's never an issue.
Where2Travel is offline  
Old Apr 24th, 2006, 03:40 AM
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 6,282
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Most British airlines have a similar rule. As one who likes an aisle seat, I'm all for it - I wouldn't want to be sitting under your 22" rollaboard if turbulence or a rough landing made the overhead lockers fly open - and it does happen.

And as another poster said, boarding is much easier and quicker for everyone if people aren't try to stow all their worldly possessions.
caroline_edinburgh is offline  
Old Apr 24th, 2006, 04:12 AM
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 696
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
just check your bag.
highledge is offline  
Old Apr 24th, 2006, 04:41 AM
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 6,324
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Agree with the last post; just check your bag. I just bring a handbag on board. If everyone just checked their bags, getting on and off a plane would be so much quicker.
Tulips is offline  
Old Apr 24th, 2006, 04:49 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 7,313
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I tend to bring a roller carry-on plus a large purse on board. In the purse are the heavy items (as that is less likely to get weighed and checked), such as the video camera and my digital camera. The roller-on has the medicines, toiletries, change of clothes, and other non-expensive stuff.

Also in my purse is my book to read, in case the carry-on gets checked. However, since the carry-on is rather light then, it gets on board -- at which point I move all my heavy crap to it
GreenDragon is offline  
Old Apr 24th, 2006, 05:01 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 5,271
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Yesterday upon checking in for my Virgin flight from LHR to JFK, they weighed my carry on.

I say great...all airlines should do it....you see people bringing stuff on planes all the time that should be checked and then they have the unmitigated gall to ask me to take my legal carry ons out of the overhead bin so they can put their luggage there...give me a break.

I say good for the airlines...I wish the US airlines would do it too.
xyz123 is offline  
Old Apr 24th, 2006, 05:08 AM
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 11,334
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I couldn't agree more!! I wish all airlines would enforce their rules. I'm amazed at the amount of stuff people carry on board. They use "their" space in the overhead bin, plus the space of three other people.
simpsonc510 is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Manage Preferences - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Do Not Sell or Share My Personal Information -