Carry-on luggage and personal items

Pauline wants to know exactly how much luggage she can take on board her next flight.

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Q. Pauline
I have noticed that people are getting away with bringing on more than one piece of carry-on luggage, claiming a second big bag as a personal item. I thought a personal item was something akin to a handbag. What is the difference between a personal item and carry-on luggage? How much can you take on-board with you on a flight?

A. Different airlines have different rules, but you are right that most allow one piece of carry-on luggage and one personal item.

The specifications for the bags allowable as carry-on luggage and as a personal item will differ between airlines and that may mean that you have to check luggage that was allowed on a different leg of your journey if you change airlines.

Carry-on bags are usually allowed to be larger than personal items. They have to fit in the overhead storage compartment and most airlines will apply a weight restriction. Although the size and weight restrictions will differ between airlines. The airlines will usually have a display outside the boarding gates so you can see if your luggage exceeds the size limits.

A personal item is normally another bag that is smaller than the allowed size for a carry-on item.

As you mention, handbags are a good example of a personal item, but this can also include laptop bags, backpacks and tote bags. It is not hard to find very large tote bags these days, which is definitely where you start to see people taking advantage of what they are allowed to take on board.

Personal items, though, are normally required to fit under the seat in front of you. Some airlines do have size limits for what will be considered a personal item, so it can be worth checking before you arrive at the airport.

Skyscanner.com.au has compiled the below table to show what different airlines allow.

Airline

Allowance

Max Dimensions

Max Weight

AirAsia

1 cabin bag + 1 personal item

56cm x 36cm x 23cm

7kg

Air New Zealand

1 cabin bag + 1 personal item

Sum of length, width and height must not measure more than a combined 118cm

7kg

British Airways

1 cabin bag + 1 personal item

56cm x 45cm x 25cm

23kg

Cathay Pacific

1 cabin bag + 1 personal item

56cm x 36cm x 23cm

7kg

China Airlines

1 cabin bag

56cm x 36cm x 23cm

7kg

Emirates

1 cabin bag

55cm x 38cm x 20cm

7kg

Etihad Airways

1 cabin bag + 1 personal item

50cm x 40cm x 25cm

7kg

Fiji Airways

1 cabin bag + 1 personal item

55cm x 40cm x 23cm

7kg

Garuda Indonesia

1 cabin bag + 1 personal item

56cm x 36cm x 23cm

7kg

Japan Airlines

1 cabin bag + 1 personal item

55cm x 40cm x 25cm

10kg

Jetstar

1 cabin bag + 1 personal item

55cm x 36cm x 23cm

7kg

KLM

1 cabin bag

55cm x 35cm x 25cm

12kg

Lufthansa

1 cabin bag + 1 personal item

55cm x 40cm x 23cm

8kg

Malaysia Airlines

1 cabin bag + 1 personal item

55cm x 35cm x 25cm

7kg

Qantas

1 cabin bag + 1 personal item

48cm x 34cm x 23cm

7kg

Qatar Airways

1 cabin bag + 1 personal item

50cm x 37cm x 25cm

7kg

Scoot

1 cabin bag + 1 personal item

54cm x 38cm x 23cm

7kg

Singapore Airlines

1 cabin bag + 1 personal item

Sum of length, width and height must not measure more than a combined 115cm

7kg

Thai Airways

1 cabin bag + 1 personal item

56cm x 45cm x 25cm

7kg

Tigerair

2 bags

54cm x 38cm x 23cm

7kg

United

1 cabin bag + 1 personal item

56cm x 35cm x 22cm

No limit

Virgin Australia

1 cabin bag + 1 personal item

48cm x 34cm x 23cm

7kg

What luggage do you take on-board with you when flying?

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