How to Avoid Fees for Baggage Restrictions on Budget Airlines

Posted on August 31, 2011


Thanks to Europe’s 40+ budget airlines, you can find a cheap flight if you know where to look [link]. One thing to keep in mind is that these airlines offer great deals, but make up the difference of a ticket cost by nailing travelers with unexpected fees [link].

Before hopping on Ryanair, easyJet or another budget airline, here’s what you need to know: how much your bag can weigh, what size it can be, and what happens when you go over the weight limit. We’ll tell you all you need to know, and go into detail on guidelines for specific airlines.

Packing multiple bags will cost you on Ryanair.

By Harmonie Rosenberg

If you plan to save money while you travel, Ryanair is the way to go. The flight prices are the cheapest in the industry, but they also come with some hidden catches. Before you begin planning trips, here’s a few tips to navigate Ryanair’s baggage policy:

  • Carry-on Bags: Each passenger is allowed one 10 Kilo (22 lbs) carry-on item for free, but beyond this you have to pay a fee for each bag you want to check. EVERYTHING must fit inside this one bag – no shopping bags, purses, wallets or anything else can be brought with you in addition to this 22 lbs bag.
  • Checked Bags: Checked bags cost anywhere between 15 Euros and 25 Euros each way, depending on the length of the flight route. You are allowed 15 kilos (33 lbs) for each standard checked bag, however, you can pay an additional fee for a 20 kilo bag (44 lbs). You must purchase this extra bag during the online check-out process, or return later and add another bag through the “manage my booking” section of
  • Dimensions: Ryanair states that your carry-on can have the maximum dimensions of 55cm x 40cm x 20cm. Most backpacks will fit inside these dimensions, and for a weekend trip that’s all you’ll need [link to article on backpacks]. For checked bags, any normal sized suitcase or duffel is fine.
  • Fees: Failing to follow the rules will result in hefty fees. For example, if your carry-on bag appears larger than the above stated dimensions, a Ryanair employee will make you test the size before passing through security. If your bag doesn’t fit in the test-trolley, you’ll pay a hefty fee of 40 Euros to check it on the spot.
  • Buy bags in advance: Always purchase an extra checked bag online before you check-in online and print your boarding pass. Once you check in you can’ return to buy a bag online. You will usually pay 15 euros online, but if you wait until you’re at the aiport, you will pay 40 euros.

Other Airlines: EasyJet, Wizzair, and Vueling are a few of the other main budget airlines you’ll encounter during your travels. For specifics about their baggage restrictions and policies, please check out the links at the bottom of this article.

Tips from a Backpacker

Before you go, don’t stress about packing your bags [link], printing your boarding passes or wondering if you’ve followed the rules. Here are some extra tips from a backpacker to make your flying experience a breeze:

  • Pack Light. See our article on Packing Light [link] for everything you need to know about minimalist packing. For example, if you’re traveling with friends, share one bag between two people or pack items that can be shared within the group (shaving cream, hair dryers, etc.).
  • Digital Luggage Scales: These are a cheap and useful investment for your time abroad; knowing what your bag weighs before you get to the airport saves you the element of surprise and diminishes unnecessary anxiety. You can pick them up at any travel or luggage store. Maybe your apartment flatmates or a group of friends would be willing to split the cost of this item, to make sure that your bags are always within restrictions before a weekend trip.
  • Layer: When passing through airport security, layering clothes on your body is a great strategy so you can pack extra. I’ve known backpackers who made it through an airport wearing three pairs of pants because they didn’t want to check a bag. In one sticky situation when my roommate’s bag was clearly bulging at the zippers, we were forced to reorganize her luggage until it met the 10 kilo requirement to a tee. This meant wearing pajama pants over her leggings, three scarves, two jackets, and a sweater. We shoved our pockets full of sunglasses, playing cards and hairbrushes, traded flipflops for heavier shoes and loaded on a few pairs of socks each. In the end, it worked — and it’s worth it.
  • Board first: While this doesn’t involve packing, it’s important to get in line, otherwise space in the overhead compartment will be full and you’re bulgy carry-on will have to fit in the little space you have at your feet, which may already be wearing 5 pairs of socks.

Related Articles

  • Links for related articles on Globetrotters

More Resources

Check out these great blog posts by others.

Baggage Restrictions for Budget Airlines


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