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How Many Pounds Can Your Suitcase Be


by Lorianne Trowbridge



When it comes to traveling, one of the most important things to consider is the weight of your luggage. Whether you’re flying domestically or internationally, there are strict weight restrictions for both carry-on and checked baggage. Exceeding these limits can result in additional fees or even having to leave items behind. So, it’s crucial to understand the guidelines set by airlines and pack accordingly.


In this article, we will explore the various weight restrictions imposed by airlines, including both carry-on luggage limits and checked baggage limits. We’ll also discuss how these restrictions differ based on the type of flight, such as intercontinental, domestic, or regional. Additionally, we’ll touch upon excess baggage fees and provide some useful tips to help you pack lighter and avoid any unnecessary charges.


By being aware of the weight restrictions and planning your packing accordingly, you can ensure a smoother travel experience and avoid any last-minute surprises at the airport.


Airline Weight Restrictions

Every airline has its own specific weight restrictions for both carry-on and checked baggage. These restrictions are in place to ensure the safety and comfort of all passengers on board. While the exact limits may vary, there are some general guidelines to keep in mind.


For carry-on luggage, most airlines have a weight restriction between 7kg (15lbs) to 10kg (22lbs). This weight includes the bag itself and all its contents. It’s important to note that some airlines may also have size restrictions for carry-on bags, typically around 55cm x 40cm x 20cm (22in x 16in x 8in).


When it comes to checked baggage, the weight limits are typically higher. Most airlines allow each passenger to check one or two bags, with a weight limit ranging from 23kg (50lbs) to 32kg (70lbs) per bag. However, it’s important to check with your specific airline as the limits can vary.


It’s worth mentioning that some airlines operate on a “piece” system rather than a weight system. This means that instead of focusing on the weight of your bags, they require you to adhere to a set number of bags, usually 1 to 3, regardless of their weight. Each piece of luggage typically has its own size and weight restrictions.


It’s crucial to familiarize yourself with the weight restrictions of the airline you are traveling with. You can easily find this information on the airline’s website or by contacting their customer service. By knowing the limits in advance, you can avoid any surprises and plan your packing accordingly.


Carry-on Luggage Limits

Carry-on luggage refers to the bags or suitcases that passengers are allowed to bring onboard the airplane and stow in the overhead compartments or under the seats in front of them. These bags are typically smaller and lighter than checked baggage, and they are meant to hold essential items that passengers want to keep close to them during the flight.


Airlines have specific limits on the size and weight of carry-on luggage to ensure that it can fit in the overhead compartments and not pose a safety hazard to other passengers. Generally, the weight limit for carry-on bags is between 7kg (15lbs) to 10kg (22lbs), but this can vary depending on the airline.


In addition to weight restrictions, most airlines also impose size limitations for carry-on luggage. The typical dimensions allowed are around 55cm x 40cm x 20cm (22in x 16in x 8in). It’s important to note that these dimensions include any external pockets, handles, or wheels. If your bag exceeds these size limits, you may be required to check it instead of bringing it onboard.


It’s also worth noting that many airlines allow passengers to bring an additional personal item, such as a purse or laptop bag, in addition to their carry-on bag. The size and weight restrictions for the personal item are usually more flexible, but it should still be able to fit under the seat in front of you.


To ensure your carry-on luggage meets the requirements, it’s important to pack efficiently. Choose a lightweight bag that maximizes the available space, and consider using packing cubes or compression bags to organize your belongings. Remember to remove any prohibited items, such as liquids in containers larger than 100ml or sharp objects, to avoid any issues during the security screening process.


By adhering to the carry-on luggage limits, you can enjoy the convenience of having your essential items with you throughout the flight and avoid the hassle of waiting for checked baggage upon arrival.


Checked Baggage Limits

Checked baggage refers to the larger suitcases or bags that are checked in at the airline counter or designated luggage drop-off points. These bags are stored in the cargo hold of the airplane during the flight and are retrieved by passengers upon arrival at their destination.


The weight limits for checked baggage vary depending on the airline and the class of service. Generally, the weight limits range from 23kg (50lbs) to 32kg (70lbs) per bag. However, it’s important to note that exceeding these limits can result in additional fees or the requirement to repack your belongings into smaller bags.


It’s also important to consider the dimensions of your checked baggage. While there are no specific size restrictions for checked bags, they should be within a reasonable range to ensure they can fit in the cargo hold and are manageable for baggage handlers. Most airlines recommend keeping the dimensions under 158cm (62in) in total (length + width + height).


Some airlines may have different weight and size limits for specific routes or classes of service. For example, intercontinental flights or premium class passengers may have higher weight allowances compared to domestic or economy class passengers. It’s essential to check with your specific airline to confirm the limits that apply to your itinerary.


When packing your checked baggage, it’s important to secure your belongings properly and consider any restrictions on prohibited items. Use sturdy suitcases or bags that can withstand the rigors of handling, and consider using locks or luggage straps for added security. Organize your items in a way that maximizes space and minimizes the risk of damage.


Keep in mind that some airlines may have restrictions or additional fees for oversized or overweight baggage. If you have items that exceed the weight or size limits, it’s recommended to contact the airline in advance to make appropriate arrangements. This can help you avoid any surprises or potential issues at the check-in counter.


By adhering to the checked baggage limits and properly packing your belongings, you can ensure a smoother travel experience and minimize the risk of additional fees or complications upon arrival.


Intercontinental Flights

Intercontinental flights, also known as long-haul flights, refer to journeys that cover long distances, typically crossing multiple continents. These flights often have different baggage policies compared to domestic or regional flights due to the longer duration and higher passenger capacity of the aircraft.


When it comes to baggage allowances on intercontinental flights, airlines often offer more generous weight limits compared to domestic flights. Passengers in economy class may have a weight allowance ranging from 23kg (50lbs) to 32kg (70lbs) per checked bag, while business or first-class passengers may have even higher limits.


It’s worth noting that some airlines may offer an additional checked bag at no extra cost for intercontinental flights, further increasing the total weight allowance. This can be advantageous for those who need to pack more items or have bulky luggage.


Carry-on luggage limits on intercontinental flights are generally the same as on domestic flights, with weight restrictions ranging from 7kg (15lbs) to 10kg (22lbs). However, it’s important to check with your specific airline as there may be variations in the limits.


When traveling on intercontinental flights, it’s advisable to pack essential items in your carry-on bag, such as medication, toiletries, and a change of clothes, in case your checked baggage is delayed or lost. Additionally, consider investing in luggage with durable wheels and handles to withstand the longer journey and potential transportation within airports during layovers.


It’s also crucial to be aware of any customs regulations or restrictions in the countries you will be traveling to or transiting through. Some countries may have specific limitations on the type and quantity of items that can be brought into the country, such as alcohol, tobacco, or certain food items.


By understanding the baggage policies for intercontinental flights and preparing accordingly, you can ensure a smoother travel experience and avoid any unnecessary complications or fees related to your luggage.


Domestic Flights

Domestic flights refer to journeys that take place within the borders of a single country. These flights often have different baggage policies compared to international or intercontinental flights due to the shorter duration and smaller aircraft capacity.


Baggage allowances for domestic flights vary between airlines, but they typically have lower weight limits compared to international flights. Most airlines allow passengers to check one or two bags, with weight limits ranging from 23kg (50lbs) to 32kg (70lbs) per bag. It’s important to check with your specific airline to confirm the limits that apply to your domestic flight.


For carry-on luggage on domestic flights, the weight restrictions are generally the same as on international flights, ranging from 7kg (15lbs) to 10kg (22lbs). It’s crucial to pack your carry-on bag within these limits to ensure a hassle-free boarding process.


Due to the shorter flight duration, passengers on domestic flights may not need to pack as extensively as those on intercontinental journeys. However, it’s still important to consider your travel needs and pack accordingly. Be mindful of any specific regulations or restrictions on prohibited items set by the airline or airport security.


Some domestic airlines may have specific rules regarding cabin baggage dimensions as well. It’s advisable to check with your airline to ensure that your carry-on bag meets their size specifications to avoid any issues during boarding.


When traveling on domestic flights, it’s recommended to arrive at the airport early to allow sufficient time for check-in and security screening. Be prepared for the possibility of additional security checks on your baggage before boarding, especially for flights to certain destinations or during peak travel periods.


Additionally, if you have connecting flights, be sure to check with the airline or booking agent if your checked baggage will be automatically transferred or if you need to collect and recheck it during the layover.


By familiarizing yourself with the baggage policies of domestic flights and packing accordingly, you can ensure a smooth and stress-free travel experience within your country.


Regional and Low-cost Airlines

Regional and low-cost airlines are known for offering affordable air travel options, but they often have different baggage policies compared to larger international or domestic carriers. These airlines have stricter limits and may charge additional fees for baggage exceeding their allowances.


Baggage allowances on regional and low-cost airlines are typically more restricted compared to larger carriers. Weight limits for checked baggage can range from 15kg (33lbs) to 23kg (50lbs) per bag, and some airlines may even charge an extra fee for each checked bag. It’s important to carefully review the baggage policies of these airlines before your trip to avoid any unexpected charges.


Carry-on luggage on regional and low-cost airlines also often have stricter weight and size limits. The weight limits for carry-on bags are usually between 5kg (11lbs) to 7kg (15lbs), and the size limits may be smaller, around 40cm x 30cm x 20cm (16in x 12in x 8in). It’s crucial to adhere to these limits to avoid being required to check your bag at the gate or incur additional fees.


Regional and low-cost airlines are more focused on efficiency and quick turnaround times, which is why they have stricter baggage policies. By having these limits in place, they can reduce boarding and disembarking times and ensure smoother operations.


When traveling with regional and low-cost airlines, it’s important to pack light and efficiently. Consider using compact and lightweight luggage to maximize the allowed weight and size limits. To avoid additional fees, plan ahead and purchase any necessary baggage allowances or check the airline’s policy on cabin baggage restrictions.


It’s also important to note that these airlines may have strict policies regarding prohibited items. It’s crucial to check their guidelines and ensure that you are not carrying any items that are not allowed on board or in checked baggage.


By being aware of the baggage policies of regional and low-cost airlines and packing accordingly, you can have a hassle-free experience and save on unnecessary charges.


Excess Baggage Fees

Excess baggage fees are charges imposed by airlines when a passenger’s checked or carry-on baggage exceeds the allowed weight or size limits. These fees can vary depending on the airline, destination, and the extent to which the baggage exceeds the limits.


The excess baggage fees can be quite costly, ranging from a few dollars per kilogram to several hundred dollars per bag. It’s crucial to familiarize yourself with the baggage policies of your specific airline to avoid any surprises or unexpected expenses at the airport.


If you anticipate that your baggage may exceed the weight or size limits, it’s advisable to pay for additional baggage allowances in advance. Most airlines offer options to purchase extra weight or additional bags at a lower rate compared to paying at the airport. This can save you both money and the inconvenience of repacking or leaving items behind to meet the limitations.


When it comes to carry-on luggage, if your bag exceeds the allowed weight or size limits, you may be required to check it or pay an excess baggage fee at the gate. This can be particularly important to keep in mind when flying with regional or low-cost airlines, as they tend to have stricter carry-on restrictions and are more likely to enforce them.


It’s worth noting that some airlines also have weight restrictions on individual items within your checked baggage, such as a maximum weight for a single piece of luggage. If you have items that are particularly heavy, it’s worth checking if they need to be packed separately or if there are additional fees for exceeding the individual weight limit.


Excess baggage fees can quickly add up, especially if you are traveling with multiple bags or have significantly exceeded the weight limits. To avoid paying these fees, consider packing lighter and more efficiently, and distribute the weight evenly among your bags to stay within the limits.


If you realize at the airport that your baggage exceeds the limits and you haven’t made prior arrangements, it’s recommended to ask the airline for options or to consider repacking some items into your carry-on bag if possible.


By being aware of the excess baggage fees and planning accordingly, you can avoid unnecessary expenses and ensure a smoother travel experience.


Tips for Packing Lighter

Packing lighter not only helps you avoid excess baggage fees but also allows for easier mobility and less stress during your travels. Here are some tips to help you pack efficiently and lighten your load:

  1. Make a packing list: Start by making a list of essential items you will need during your trip. Stick to this list to avoid overpacking unnecessary items.
  2. Choose the right luggage: Opt for lightweight and durable luggage that has ample space and compartments to organize your belongings efficiently.
  3. Roll, don’t fold: Roll your clothes instead of folding them to save space and minimize wrinkles. This technique also allows for better organization within your suitcase.
  4. Pick versatile clothing: Select clothing items that can be mixed and matched easily, allowing you to create multiple outfits with fewer pieces.
  5. Wear bulky items: Instead of packing bulky items like jackets or boots, wear them during your travel days to save space and weight in your luggage.
  6. Utilize packing cubes: Consider using packing cubes or compression bags to maximize space and keep your belongings organized within your luggage.
  7. Minimize toiletries: Opt for travel-sized toiletries or transfer them into smaller containers to save space. Remember, you can usually purchase items like shampoo or toothpaste at your destination if needed.
  8. Leave non-essential electronics: Evaluate which electronics are essential for your trip and leave behind any non-essential items, such as excessive chargers or gadgets.
  9. Limit shoe options: Shoes can take up a significant amount of space. Stick to versatile and comfortable footwear and limit the number of shoes you bring.
  10. Consider laundry options: If appropriate for your trip, plan to do laundry during your travels to avoid packing excessive amounts of clothing.

Remember, it’s important to be mindful of any weight and size restrictions imposed by the airline and to adhere to the specific limitations set by them. By following these tips and being intentional with your packing choices, you can travel with a lighter and more manageable load.



Understanding and adhering to airline weight restrictions is crucial to ensure a smooth and hassle-free travel experience. Whether you’re flying on intercontinental flights, domestic routes, or with regional and low-cost airlines, knowing the baggage policies in advance can help you avoid excess baggage fees, unnecessary stress, and delays at the airport.


By familiarizing yourself with the weight and size limits for both carry-on and checked baggage, you can pack efficiently and avoid any surprises or additional fees. Be sure to check the specific rules and regulations of the airline you are flying with, as these can vary from one carrier to another.


Consider the tips for packing lighter, such as making a packing list, choosing versatile clothing, and utilizing organizational tools like packing cubes. Packing efficiently not only saves you money but also makes your travel experience more convenient and enjoyable.


Remember to also be mindful of any customs regulations or restrictions in the countries you are traveling to or transiting through. Familiarize yourself with the dos and don’ts when it comes to bringing certain items into those destinations.


Ultimately, a little planning and awareness of airline weight restrictions can go a long way in ensuring a stress-free and seamless journey. So, pack smart, travel light, and enjoy your trip to the fullest!