Hand Luggage Restrictions Eased But Rules Defy Logic

From 7 January 2008, the 1 bag only limitation for hand luggage will be eased. But not at all airports and not by all airlines.


The lifting of luggage restrictions sounds like welcome news, but because it is not applied at all airports, or all airlines air passengers are facing a maze of confusion.

The relaxation of restrictions by the Department of Transport means the one bag limit on hand luggage is being lifted at 22 airports that have been deemed competent at processing passengers. The Department of Transport says that these airports have “sufficient screening capacity whilst being able to maintain the security standards that we require”. The list of airports crowned with this accolade include Heathrow, Stansted, Edinburgh and Manchester. But it does not include other major airports such as Gatwick, Luton, Exter, East Midlands or Liverpool.

Some airlines are relaxing their one bag policies to allow passengers to carry on two bags, but some are not. It now falls on the passenger to check firstly that their chosen aiport has been approved for the new two-bag rule and if it has, that the hand baggage policiy of their airline they are flying with is in line with this.

In effect, though you can travel from Glasgow airport for example, carrying two bags and carry these onto your BA flight, the easyjet passenger also travelling from Glasgow will still be restricted to one bag.

It is also important to be aware that even though you may be able to travel out with two bags you may not be able to on your return journey.

easyjet chief Executive Andy Harrison said that they are sticking with their one bag allowance policy to ‘avoid confusion’ while Deputy Chair of the Airport Operators Association, Neil Pakey admits it will cause confusion:

Different rules for different airlines and airports means that it is essential passengers check the situation before they fly.

Other restrictions, such as on the carrying of liquids, remain in force. I would urge passengers to check ahead and plan ahead, to avoid any unnecessary last-minute hassle. If in doubt, passengers should make sure that they only take on board items of baggage needed in the aircraft cabin.

The rules governing the carriage of liquids in hand luggage remain unchanged. This means passengers may carry liquid in a container with a capacity no greater than 100ml (or equivalent), and that all containers of liquid must be placed in a re-sealable plastic bag, which is no larger than 1 litre or 20cm x 20cm.

Here’s a summary of what the major UK airlines will allow as cabin baggage from January 7, 2008:

British Airways

The airline is adhering to the new DfT rules, allowing two carry-on bags at Heathrow, London City, Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Manchester, and one bag at Gatwick, Jersey, Newcastle and Newquay.

The hand luggage items must be no larger than 56 x 45 x 25cm, weigh no more than 23kg and be light enough to be lifted into overhead lockers.


Business and economy class passengers can take two pieces of cabin baggage. Economy class passengers are allowed just one plus a personal item such as a small handbag, purse, small briefcase, laptop or baby-change bag. Bmi have final say though on what is a personal item. Though they alliw a small laptop case, a bulky computer bag is not permissable. The single larger piece of baggage as a size limit of 55 x 40 x 23cm and passengers should be able to lift their bags unaided into the overhead lockers.

Virgin Atlantic

Passengers travelling from Gatwick are limited to one item of hand luggage each, no bigger than 56 x 36 x 23 cm and weighs no more than 6kg.

For those departing Heathrow and Manchester and flying in Economy or Premium Economy, the rules are the same, but Upper Class passengers from either of these airports are allowed two pieces of hand luggage up to the same dimensions and weighing no more than 8kg each.


Passengers are limited to one item of hand luggage. A weight limit of 10kg applies and size limit of 55 x 40 x 20cm.


Only one piece of hand baggage is allowed per passenger. Dimensions should not exceed 55 x 40 x 20cm. There is no weight limit.


Passengers flying economy are allowed on piece of hand baggage. Weight limit: 10kg and size limit: 50 x 35 x 23cm.

Those flying Economy Plus can also take a laptop at Dft-approved airports.


One item of hand baggage per passenger. Weight limit 10kg and size limit 46 x 30 x 23cm.


One piece of hand luggage for all passengers. Weight limit 10kg and size limit 56 x 45 x 25cm.