Travelling with only hand baggage is not an unwise move: air passengers have not infrequently experienced delays and extra frustration because of hold bags being delivered late, or not at all, to the baggage carousel. Last year, for example, passengers of four airlines arriving at Gatwick were advised to go home without their luggage due to staff shortages at the airport's South Terminal.
Packing a smaller bag, however, is cheaper and usually means you can skip the wait to pick up your belongings at the other end.
But airline rules regarding the size and weight of hand luggage vary. Below we summarise, for each UK airline, the size your bag needs to be to ensure you can take it on board for free.
It should be noted also that airlines can struggle to fit everyone's carry-on bags inside the cabin, meaning that some get put in hold. To reduce the risk of this happening, try to arrive at the boarding gate in good time. Some airlines have also announced that taking a slightly smaller bag will guarantee that it travels in the cabin with you.
Below we outline the restrictions on cabin baggage for 10 airlines commonly used by British travellers, including information on weight and size restrictions, and whether or not each airline allows passengers to travel with hand-luggage only for one leg of a journey.
Ryanair allows passengers to bring one main piece of hand luggage on board with them, plus one smaller handbag or laptop case-style bag. The main bag must weight less than 10kg. Read our full guide to Ryanair cabin baggage restrictions.
Ryanair allows two cabin bags per passenger.
Virgin Atlantic allows economy class passengers to bring one piece of hand luggage on board with them, weighing up to 10kg and no larger than 23 x 36 x 56 cm. Read our full guide to Virgin Atlantic cabin baggage restrictions.
Virgin Atlantic economy class customers are allowed one piece of luggage up to 23 x 36 x 56 cm. Photo: Virgin Atlantic
Thomas Cook allows passengers to bring one piece of hand luggage weighing up to 6kg on board with them, plus one smaller item from a list including modest sized handbags, overcoats and cameras. Read our full guide to Thomas Cook cabin baggage restrictions.
Thomson has a strict policy of one cabin bag of no more than 5kg per passenger. Read our full guide to Thomson Airways cabin baggage restrictions.
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