Packing guides

Which airline has the best checked baggage allowance?

14 October 2019 | Updated 20 March 20246 min read

A couple walking through an airport pulling suitcases

It’s not often we hear about airlines increasing their baggage allowance but that’s exactly what TUI has announced for their summer package holidaymakers this year.

The holiday firm recently revealed a generous increase to their standard checked baggage allowance. Most passengers on a package booking that include TUI Airways flights will soon see their checked luggage limit jump from 15kg to 20kg. The 5kg upgrade will apply to eligible packages booked on or after 21 December 2023, departing from 1 May.

The tour operator is making packing easier, but are they the absolute best for checked bags?

Whether you’re off on a longer holiday or you’re a serial over-packer who likes to travel with lots of luggage, our guide to checked baggage for flight-only and package holiday bookings will help make sense of it all.

Which airlines still have free baggage allowance?

Often, it’s the carriers offering long-haul flights or connections from the UK who will usually allow you to check in one bag for free as part of your deal, although this varies from airline to airline.

If you’re travelling short-haul, which would include all domestic flights in the UK as well as all those to European and North African destinations, some of the so-called ‘legacy’ carriers such as British Airways and Lufthansa may include one checked-in bag in the fare, subject to the type of ticket you have bought. Not all fares include the freebie, so be cautious when buying the cheapest options on offer as the bag could be extra.

Which airlines have the most generous baggage allowance?

The most generous airlines are those from the Middle East. Emirates, Qatar and Etihad fly out of several UK airports to destinations across the globe via their hubs in Dubai, Doha and Abu Dhabi. Emirates offers 25kg allowance to many destinations with the Saver ticket, Qatar offers 25kg with its Economy Classic fare and Etihad generally offers 23kg in one bag on economy fares.

Next are the big worldwide long-haul carriers. British Airways' baggage rules, for example, generally allow at least one 23kg bag on most fares. Other big carriers including Virgin Atlantic, United, Air France and KLM also offer this as part of their standard economy fares (dependent on the route. Always check the small print).

Which airline has the best-value paid-for allowance?

Jet2 and easyJet offer good value hold luggage rates, with one-way, pre-booked prices starting at £8 and £6.99 respectively.

Most airlines offer a range of weight options, generally between 10kg and 30kg so consider the allowance and cost together to give you a per-kilo rate.

Keep in mind that many of these low-cost carriers do not have a flat luggage rate, varying it by route and charging it each way to boot.

Please note: Prices for online bookings. Converted euros and US dollar costs accurate at time of last update (March 2024).

AirlineStandard economy allowance - one pieceCost of one bag pre-booked, one way
Aer Lingus – European routes20kg From £24 to £49, varies by date and destination
Aer Lingus – European routes25kgFrom £28 to £53, varies by date and destination
Aer Lingus – European routes40kg in two bagsFrom £60 to £75, varies by date and destination
Aer Lingus – US routes20kg£44.99 on Saver fare
Aer Lingus – US routes23kgFree with Smart and Flex fares
Air France23kgFree for most fares (excluding Economy Light tickets)
American Airlines23kgFree for most transatlantic flights or €75 (£64.16) for Transatlantic Basic Economy tickets
British Airways23kgFree on most transatlantic routes (excluding Economy Basic tickets)
Delta23kgFree on most transatlantic routes (excluding Basic Economy tickets)
easyJet15kg or 23kgFrom £6.99 for 15kg. From £9.49 for 23kg. Varies by destination
Emirates20kg - 35kg, depending on fare typeFree
Etihad23kgFree, unless travelling on a Hand Baggage Only fare
Germanwings/Eurowings23kgFrom €17 (£14.54) on a Basic fare. Free on Smart fares
Jet222kgFrom £8 to £45, varies by destination
KLM23kgFree unless travelling on a Economy Light fare
Lufthansa23kgFree unless travelling on a Economy Light fare
Norwegian23kgFree for LowFare+ and higher tickets. Between £14 and £35 on direct flights
Qatar25kgFree (20kg allowance on Economy Lite)
Ryanair10kg£11.99 - £29.99 online, £23.99 - £35.99 at the airport
Ryanair20kg£18.99 - £59.99 per item for each one-way flights (online), £44.99 - £59.99 per item for each one-way flight (airport)
TUI – Flight Only15kg - 25kgFrom £40 for 15kg (both ways), varies by route
Turkish AirlinesMinimum 20kg but varies by routeFree
United23kgFree on most transatlantic flights, unless travelling on a Basic Economy fare
Virgin Atlantic23kgFree on Economy Classic and Delight fares
Wizzair10kg-32kgWhen booked online, between: €8.50 (£7.27) and €87 (£74.42) in the low season; €14.50 (£5.28) and €104 (£88.97) during the high season. Price varies by route and luggage weight

What about baggage allowances for package holidays?

Going for the full package? With tour operators such as Jet2holidays, easyJet and TUI, your luggage is handily included in the price, which means no nasty surprises when you’re faced with a £40 fee to add a bag to a £20 flight (that’s each way, of course).

The weight allowance will depend on your provider. Jet2holidays, for example, allows a 22kg hold bag for all passengers, while easyJet package holidays include 23kg of luggage per person.

Book a holiday with TUI departing from 1 May 2024 onwards and you’ll now get a minimum of 20kg checked luggage included in your package when flying with TUI Airways. If you book a selected type of holiday package such as TUI BLUE or upgrade your long-haul flight to Premium, your allowance jumps up to 25kg.

Is it fair to charge for a bag?

If there is one thing that gets travellers going, it’s the cost of airline extras such as bag charges. But just step back and have a think about why these charges are there.

To get a plane into the air, airlines need fuel. The heavier the aircraft, the more fuel and therefore the higher the cost – and fuel is cited as the largest cost an airline incurs. So, if an airline can cut weight, it can keep prices down. And, if you can travel without a checked-in bag, you can also save money – who would argue against that?

Top tip

The last thing you want to do is get to the airport and find your bags have exceeded your weight limit, so check your allowance and stick to it. Otherwise, go online before you arrive for your flight and pre-book extra bags and weight for a reduced fee.

When looking at your bag costs, factor in your hand luggage allowance too and, if you can, avoid taking a checked-in bag – that way, you can avoid checked baggage charges full stop.

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