Airlines Are Clamping Down On Heavy Hand Luggage

Airlines Are Clamping Down On Heavy Hand Luggage
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I’ve travel quite a lot and have noticed that as airlines have started charging extra fees for checked luggage that some people now use carry-on bags that are quite large and heavy. In response, some airlines have started imposing stricter baggage limits for carry on and they are now getting tougher on enforcement.

On a recent trip where one leg of my journey was on Jetstar my hand luggage was weighed and tagged as it was under the 7kg weight limit. Having been caught out on a previous trip, when luggage limits were 10kg and my bag weighed 11kg, I had to fork out $50 on the spot to get my bag checked. That was an overnight trip and I thought I’d packed pretty light.

Another colleague had the two item limit enforced riduclously when they were carrying two small bags and a magazine. My colleague was told the magazine was not permissible as it was a third item. But once it was placed in one of the bags it was OK.

Former Lifehacker editor and all-round nice guy Angus Kidman noticed that TigerAir has become more organised about catching people loading up their carry-on. Bags are checked when passengers check in and are tagged. If you make it to the gate with an untagged bag, it can be easily identified by the staff and then checked there.

Both our low-cost carriers are making it harder for passengers to bypass the baggage limits.

I’ve just travelled to India for a work trip and have my carry-on down to well inside the 7kg mark. I use a small satchel that can carry a change of t-shirt and jocks, basic toiletries, my iPad, wallet, passport, phone and charging cables and international adaptors. The same bag, without the change of clothes, covers me for interstate day trips.

Have the enforced carry-on limits changed your travel habits? What tips do you have for ensuring you stay under the 7kg limit?


  • If I put on a couple of kilos extra before going on a flight, I don’t get charged extra, so why should I get charged for a couple of kilos extra in my bag? As long as the dimensions are right and the weight isn’t too excessive, what’s the charge for?

    • It’s because there are hard limits on what planes can carry and without them people would load up ridiculous amounts. It’s not about total weight (well not entirely) it’s about what can be fitted into the amount of space available. The overhead bins have a physical limit both in cubic CM and it weight. Personally, I don’t want to be smashed in the head by a 12KG (or even 7KG to be honest) bag that’s come out of an overhead locker.

      If you’re thinking overall weight, I suppose you could in theory weigh the passenger and their luggage. But you’d still have an absolute limit of what you could fit into the overhead bin. Anything else would have to go in as cargo.

      I’ve got to be honest though, I think a bigger concern than having 7KG versus 8KG in a bag, is the people who bring three (or more!) bags as carry on. I’ve had a number of international flights where I’ve had to try to stuff my one, small (about 2kg) bag under the seat in front of me because there is literally no space in any overhead locker. On those same flights I’ve watched people walk aboard the plane towing a small suitcase on wheels, wearing a backpack that’s crammed full and carrying a large laptop bag. But that’s apparently ok…

  • No, in 15+ years of travel my habits remain consistent.

    What has changed is the contents and weight of my work bag. In my early days, I carried a number of things I no longer need to and the laptop has lightened quite significantly. Jetstar once weighed my then work bag and it was 16kg. To say we were both surprised at the result would be an understatement.

    Now, I try to keep my work bag to 5kg. Not only good for airline interactions but also good for my back.

  • One of the biggest weights is the weight of the bag itself! I have started sourcing ultra-light – yet strong – carry on bags. This means I can also forgo the rigid sides, frame and wheels. Nowadays I can do a 4 week trip with hand luggage alone.

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