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British Airways baggage allowances and how to make the most of them

Carry-on luggage in the overhead compartment of a plane

It's always a nervy moment weighing your bags at check-in. If you’re flying British Airways then you’ll need to know the baggage allowances

However meticulous you’ve been about packing, everyone gives the weight display a quick glance as they load up their suitcases at the airport check-in. British Airways is very clear about the baggage allowance it offers for each cabin. However, thousands of travellers end up paying for excess baggage every month. A report by airline consultancy firm IdeaWorks revealed that airline ancillary revenue, which includes excess baggage fees, reached a record $117.9 billion worldwide for 2023. Here’s how to avoid those costs.

The British Airways website is thorough. It explains not only your allowance for each cabin (as does our table below), but also what benefits its frequent flyers and OneWorld club members can take advantage of. There you’ll also find advice for families travelling with infants, students and people with specific medical needs.

The best advice is to read the website well ahead of time and use the provided calculator to double-check your allowance. This may change if you’re doing a multi-stage journey using an array of carriers. Jacqui Cleaver is a travel expert and founder of BH14 Travel. She says that there is very little margin for error. “You will be charged if your bag is overweight,”, she says, adding: “I would never advise taking the risk.”

British Airways baggage weight allowance

Here’s a breakdown of the weight allowances by class of cabin/ticket type and checked, cabin and hand baggage sizes. Note that the hand baggage on BA is designed to fit under the seat in front of you, like a small backpack or tote bag. The cabin bags are designed for the overhead locker, but may have to go in the hold. Checked baggage goes into the hold when you check in.

CabinChecked bag Cabin baggage Hand baggage 
Economy Basic (cabin and hand bag only)0Up to 23kgUp to 23kg
Economy (with checked bag)1 x 23kgUp to 23kgUp to 23kg
Premium economy2 x 23kgUp to 23kgUp to 23kg
Business2 x 32kgUp to 23kgUp to 23kg
First3 x 32kgUp to 23kgUp to 23kg

BA baggage dimensions

Here we cover the dimensions of the luggage by cabin/ticket type across hand luggage, cabin bag and checked baggage. Note that the maximum allowed dimensions are the same across all cabins.

CabinChecked bag size (WDH, max)Cabin baggage size (WDH, max), including wheels and handlesHand baggage size (WDH, max)
Economy Basic (Cabin and hand bag only)045 x 25 x 56cm30 x 15 x 40cm
Economy (with checked bag), Premium Economy, Business, First 

75 x 43 x 90cm



45 x 25 x 56cm


30 x 15 x 40cm

READ NEXT: Best backpacks

Increasing your BA baggage allowance

If your departure date is creeping closer but you can’t get your bag to the right weight, you can sometimes increase your allowance if there’s space on your flight. However, the cost of each additional checked-in bag will depend on your destination. Any bag over 32kg will not be accepted.

You pay for each extra bag, and this cost can be subject to additional local taxes. You can check availability and costs through the Manage My Booking option on the BA website. If you miraculously manage to slim your baggage down, then you can cancel any add-ons ahead of time and you’ll receive a refund.

It’s worth noting that if you turn up to check in with two pieces of hand luggage or a bag that is over the permitted size, the larger will have to go in the hold. This will incur a fee.

“Sharing” your baggage allowance

If you’re travelling in a group, you can share the weight if one person is under their allowance and one person is above. However, Cleaver says that “you physically have to swap the contents into another bag to equal this out”. This is not something you’d ideally be doing at the check-in desk, so try to plan with your travel companions ahead of time. Also keep in mind that you will be asked if you packed your bag yourself.

How much does BA charge for excess baggage?

British Airways charges £65, €75 or US$100 per overweight bag for a one-way journey. You may have to pay in a local currency if travelling from some countries, and keep in mind that at some airports only card payments might be possible. You can’t pay using Avios points.

Does BA allow oversized items?

The maximum dimensions for an oversize bag in the hold are 190 x 75 x 65cm. You don’t need to let the airline know ahead of time if your bag is “out-of-gauge” but you will need to take it to a separate bag drop. This has to be at least 90 minutes before your flight so plan ahead. This is particularly pertinent for sports enthusiasts.

Does BA offer allowances for families with small kids? 

Children over two years old have the same allowance as adults, but you can also take other essentials, such as a pushchair and car seat. Children under two who don’t have a booked seat (i.e., they are travelling on your lap) get an extra bag for in-flight essentials, but this is included in your allowance.

It’s worth noting that pushchairs bigger than 117 x 38 x 38cm (WDH) will not be delivered to the aircraft door upon arrival. Some destinations will not deliver to the aeroplane door irrespective of the size of your buggy so check before you fly.

Top tips to make the most of your baggage allowance 

Finally, here are some additional tips to help you get the most from your BA baggage allowance from Portia Jones, freelance travel journalist and host of the Travel Goals Podcast.

  • Remember that duty-free purchases count towards your BA hand baggage allowances so leave room if you want to shop.
  • Use packing cubes – these compact organisers keep your clothes neatly arranged and compressed, creating more space in your suitcase. Cubes allow you to organise and separate clothes, shoes, toiletries and so on.
  • Wear your bulkiest items: if you’re tight on weight, wear your heaviest shoes and chunkiest sweater on the plane. Not only does this save space, but you’ll be cosy on the flight.

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