How Strict Is British Airways About Carry On Luggage?

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You are packing to fly with British Airways and you hit a potential problem…

Your carry on luggage is a little too big!

It happens, sometimes the suitcase that you own is slightly larger than the carry on limits, it would be expensive and wasteful to buy a new carry on that was 1 cm smaller. So you wonder…

Can you get away with it? Should you take a chance?

This post looks at British Airways, their limits, how rigorously they enforce those carry on limits and the consequences if your bag is slightly oversized.

Let’s take a look.

Oversized Carry On Luggage On British Airways

The British Airways carry on luggage size limit is 56 x 45 x 25 cm (22 x 18 x 10 inches). They have a weight limit but it’s a generous 23 kg (51 lbs).

You can also bring a personal item that is 40 x 30 x 15 cm (16 x 12 x 6 inches) and that can also be 23 kg (51 lbs).

In modern times, and compared with most US airlines these are generous size limits. If your carry on bag fits with the most popular American airlines then you shouldn’t have a problem with British Airways.

British Airways is a full-service airline. That means that their tickets are not always the cheapest but that they are not trying to squeeze every dollar they can from you at every opportunity like low-cost airlines do.

This means that they have a reputation for being more relaxed about carry on size limits. It doesn’t mean that you can take massively oversized bags and nobody cares, but it does mean that they are not watching as closely as budget airlines do.

In fact, many passengers complain that British Airlines limits and their enforcement are not strict enough! This can lead to overhead bins filling up because of people taking oversized bags into the cabin.

If an airline is frequently shaking down passengers because their hand luggage us slightly too big then you usually see lots of irate customers venting their anger on twitter. I can’t find anyone like that with regard to British Airways and hand luggage.

Isn’t Gate Checking Free Anyway?

Because BA allow larger carry on bags, and because they are not the most strict enforcers, often their overhead bins fill up.

When this happens they ask people to volunteer to check their cabin bag at the gate.

The most basic tickets on BA don’t include any checked bag for free. But if you are volunteering to gate check your carry on it’s usually free. They are unlikely to turn around and try to charge you if your bag is a smidgen oversized.

If you do need to pay for a checked bag at the airport the cost is £40 – £65 but I can’t find anyone, anywhere complaining that they had to pay this fee for a bulging carry on.

So I think if your carry on is a little oversized the worst that will probably happen is that they will ask you to check your bag for free.

Be ready in case this happens, always have a luggage tag or some way to identify your carry on. Remove any valuables, and make sure you always have a second bag that you use to take the valuables on to the plane with you.

The Verdict

I can’t promise anything, and the limits are the limits, but it looks like British Airways are not very strict about carry on luggage size limits.

If anyone has any inside information about BA and carry on luggage then please do let us know in the comments and I will update this post.