British Airways has different baggage allowances for its customers based on the type of fare you have and other factors. It can be difficult to navigate how many bags are included in your base fare, and here’s all you need to know about British Airways baggage allowance. Understanding this before you arrive at the airport is critical to prevent unwanted fees, so let’s dig in!

General Baggage Allowance Guidelines

All tickets, no matter the fare, include a free cabin bag and a handbag. This means you’re allowed one carry-on item that can go in the overhead bin, as well as one personal item you can store under the seat in front of you.

However, not all fares come with complimentary checked bags. This will vary based on your booking, including your fare type and your class. You could also get additional free checked bags based on your Executive Club Tier status for being a loyal British Airways traveller.

The breakdown of complimentary bags is as follows.

  • Economy Basic: 0 complimentary checked bags. All checked bags must be purchased in advance or at the airport.
  • Economy: 1 complimentary checked bag that weighs no more than 23 kg
  • Premium Economy: 2 complimentary checked bags that weigh no more than 23 kg each
  • Business: 2 complimentary checked bags that weigh no more than 32 kg each
  • First: 3 complimentary checked bags that weigh more than 32 kg each

You are about to purchase additional checked bags, but you will be subject to fees. The price will vary based on the size and weight of your bag, among other criteria.

If you hold gold or silver executive club status or oneworld emerald and sapphire membership, you may be entitled to additional complimentary luggage. If you have questions, you can always contact your loyalty program for additional information.

Baggage Size Guidelines

British Airways allows three different types of bags when you are travelling with them: handbags, cabin bags, and checked bags.

Hand Bags

Hand bags can also be called personal items. Essentially, they are small bags – up to 40 x 30 x 15 cm that fit under the seat in front of you. Your hand bag should weigh no more than 23 kg, and it must completely slide under the seat. The hand bag cannot block the aisle as this could become a tripping hazard.

These bags are guaranteed to be in the cabin with you, so many people put their essentials in there with them, like their wallets, passports, mobile phones, laptops, tablets, books, medication, and other important personal items.

Hand bags could be a purse, backpacks, laptop bags, and more. As long as it fits under the seat, it does not matter what type of bag it is. Keep in mind that if you place your hand bag in the overhead bin, you may be asked to move it as space is limited.

Cabin Bags

Cabin bags can also be called carry-on luggage. They are the bags that you bring with you on the plane and store in the overhead bin. Because they must fit in the bin, they can only be up to 56 x 45 x 25 cm. This includes the wheels, handles, and any other features unique to your bag.

If you are worried about if your bag will fit, you can check at the airport by sliding it in the guide at check-in. If your bag does not fit, you will be asked to check it. This is because the bin must be able to close, and oversized bags obstruct the bin.

Your cabin bag can only be up to 23 kg, and because it may need to be checked, it’s recommended that you do not place your valuable items like electronics, jewelry, medicines, and more in the bag. You must be able to lift it into the bin yourself without assistance.

Sample cabin bags are small suitcases, duffle bags, or holdall items. If you purchased any items in the duty-free shops, this will count against your cabin bag allowance, so make sure that you can store all items within your bag. If they do not fit, you may be asked to check your bag based on space availability.

Checked Bags

Checked bags are the bags that you drop off at the check-in desk prior to travelling. As long as they are tagged properly, then you should be able to pick them up at baggage check upon your arrival.

Standard checked bags can be up to 90 x 75 x 43 cm, though you can pay for oversized baggage, subject to availability. If you are in Economy Basic, Economy, or Premium Economy, your checked bag must weigh no more than 23 kg. If you are in business or first class, it can weigh up to 32 kg.

You will be asked to weigh your bag when you drop it off, even if you pre-purchased it online or if it was included in your fare. If it is overweight, you will be asked to pay a fee. If it is only slightly overweight, you may be able to move items around from your luggage to your carry-on to avoid the fee.

You will not be able to access your bag once you check it in until you reach your final destination, so it’s not recommended to pack your valuables or essential items that you may need in case of an emergency during the flight.

Because the luggage spends a fair amount of time out of your control, it’s critical that you label it with your name, phone number, and/or address to help it arrive back to you if it is lost.

Oversized Baggage Guidelines

If you need to travel with bags that exceed the maximum dimensions for standard hand luggage, cabin bags, or checked bags, you have options. You can travel with bags or items that are as big as 190 x 75 x 65 cm in the hold.

You do not need to notify British Airways that you are bringing an oversized item, but you must check it in at least 90 minutes prior to boarding to ensure that it can travel with you on the plane. If there is no space, you may need to pick it up at a later time, so it’s critical you arrive early with your oversized items.

Specialized Baggage

If you are travelling with sporting equipment or musical instruments, you want to keep the following guidelines in mind.

Sporting Equipment

If it fits in your luggage and is not prohibited, you should not have issues travelling with sporting equipment on the plane. However, if it does not, it can travel with you on the plane in cargo as a checked bag.

Common items like bikes, diving equipment, and golf clubs count as standard checked bags, while skis, snowboards, surfboards, canoes, and other items count as oversized items. It’s best to notify British Airways 72 hours prior to departure that you plan on bringing these items to ensure there is space in the plane.

You will be subject to additional fees for these items if they are over your luggage allowance or oversized.

Musical Instruments

Similar to sporting equipment, you won’t need to worry about your musical instruments if they fit in your carry-on bag or are within your checked bag allowance.

  • Instruments up to 80 cm: Carried within the cabin as hand baggage. Depending on the size and how many items you have, it can either go under the seat or in the overhead bin.
  • Instruments up to 140 cm: Carried within the cabin if you purchase an additional seat. If you do not purchase a seat for the item, it will be placed in the hold as part of your checked bag allowance or purchased separately.

All larger or overweight instruments must be checked in. You should contact British Airways at least 24 hours in advance to ensure there is space on the plane.

Depending on the item, you should ensure that it is packed securely in a rigid case to protect it from damage. You may need to sign a waiver that British Airways is not responsible for damage that is incurred to your items during the flight.

Other Items

If you have questions about other items you wish to bring on the plane, you can always call British Airways to understand how best to transport them. For example, you may be travelling with a wedding dress or other oversized item that you need to keep with you. If there is no wardrobe space for you to hang it, they can advise you of all your options.

Additional Baggage Fees

Sometimes, you need to bring more luggage than you are allowed. In that case, you need to purchase additional luggage from British Airways. You can do so during the booking process or online after you confirm your reservation for the best rate. British Airways passengers can also pay for the luggage at the airport, but it will be more expensive.

Typically, you will pay between £36 to £120 per bag if you purchase it in advance. The price will go up to £40 to £140 if you purchase it at the airport. Additionally, if your bag is overweight, you will be subject to a £65 fee each way per bag.

The amount you pay for your additional luggage will depend on the length of your flight, your fare, your loyalty status, how many bags you’re bringing, and more. You will be able to see how much the bag will cost during the booking process, and this will help you plan what you need to pack to fit your luggage allowance or meet your budget needs.

How to Add Additional Bags

It is easy to add additional baggage to your booking, and you have options on how you can do that based on your preference. This includes if you are adding more bags, oversized bags, and more. Keep in mind that you will be asked to weigh your bag at the airport, and if the bag or item is overweight, you will be subject to additional fees.

During Reservation

If you know you will need additional bags as you travel, one of the easiest ways to add them is during your reservation process. As you book, you will be prompted if you need to add luggage. If so, add it to your booking. The price you pay to confirm your booking will be the final, with all additional bags and fees included.

Manage My Booking

If you realize you need additional luggage after you’ve finalized your booking, you can always locate your reservation online or via the app and add it via the manage my booking feature. Simply select that you’d like to add baggage and enter your payment information. You will receive confirmation that the luggage was added to your reservation.

At the Airport

If you do not want to pre-pay for your luggage, you can always add it at the airport. Keep in mind that this is the most expensive option. All you need to do is walk up to the British Airways desk and purchase your bag.

Through Your Third Party

If you did not book directly through British Airways, you will need to work with your travel agent, booking party, or other third-party company to add the luggage to your reservation. You will not be able to access your booking directly through the website or app to add it.


Your British Airways luggage allowance varies based on a number of different factors, including your fare type and loyalty level. You could have 0-3 checked bags included with your fare’s base price. You can purchase additional bags for a fee from British Airways during booking, as an add-on online, or in person at the airport.

If your bag is oversized or overweight, you will be subject to additional fees. You can check online based on your destination or by entering your booking information just how much additional bags will cost.


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