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Australian Airlines Crack Down on Baggage Allowances – Know your Limits

Posted by on May 4, 2015 at 8:32 PM

Travelling with airlines, for many, is one of the most stressful experiences, even if you get yourself to check-in and boarding on time. The entire process from driving, to parking, to queuing, to waiting and then the cherry on the cake – delays. In spite of this we still pay premium prices to be herded around like cattle in many cases.

 Australian Airlines Crack Down on Baggage Allowances – Know your Limits

To dampen the mood for travellers even further, airlines are now cracking down on hand baggage and suitcase allowances again. The majority of us know that its easier to take hand luggage for short trips away, firstly for ease of boarding but secondly (and arguably more importantly) to save on costs. In light of this, below is a list of these recent changes to airline weight restrictions which I’ve summarised in tabular format to help you know what these new limits are. This should hopefully allow you to avoid getting stung by as much as $70 for one overweight bag.


Lets start with the basic facts. Airlines generally now classify hand luggage (carry-on bags) by two parameters of weight and size, which means your case cannot exceed 7kg or 48cm long x 34cm wide x 23cm deep. In some instances for example with Virgin you can also take an additional item such as a suit carrier or laptop. However, this is not the case with budget airlines like Jetstar or Tigerair. But, there is one general rule which allows you to take a small bag for carrying medical or baby necessities.

Unfortunately though, its not one size fits all with Australian domestic airlines and each company will have a different set of guidelines and rules for its passengers. This is another factor that makes flying so stressful compared to other forms of more standardised transportation. Most of us would prefer to spend less on travel and enjoy the savings at our destination, so for the purposes of this article all rules and guidelines will be based on economy class flights.


Australian Airlines Crack Down on Baggage Allowances – Know your Limits

Virgin Australia

Virgin allows you to take up to two bags on their flights but the total weight of both bags cannot exceed 7kg. Online chat forums suggest that there is any enforcement in place yet such as weighing each individual bag, but customers trying to board with obviously oversized bags have been caught out. Their pricing for luggage is as follows.

Hand Luggage Allowance 2 Pieces total weight 7kg 


Free Checked Luggage ·      Saver lite: None
·      Saver / Flexi: 1 x 23kg
·      Business Class: 2 x 32kg each 
Silver / Gold Frequent Flyers:
·      1 x 23kg free Saver lite
·      2 x 23kg free other fares
Platinum Frequent Flyers
·      2 x 32kg each Saver lite
·      3 x 32kg other fares  
Luggage Fees (Booked in Advance) $35 for one piece (23kg)
$70 for two pieces (23kg)
Gold / Platinum: 32kg 
Luggage Fees (At the Airport) 1st Bag: $70
2nd Bag: $90
Additional: $150 per bag (max 9)
Overweight charge: $70 per bag


Australian Airlines Crack Down on Baggage Allowances – Know your Limits


Tigerair and Jetstar are in similar categories as far compartmentalising airlines goes. They recently (17th April 2015) reduced their weight allowance from 10kg down to 7kg on hand luggage with each bag being checked at the gate to ensure weight rules aren’t broken. If you find your bag exceeds this limit you can pay in advance for their ‘Cabin+’ fee to increase the threshold. Short haul flights (under 1hour 45mins) will cost you $18 to increase your allowance from 7kg to 12kg, whilst for longer flights (over 1hour 45mins) you will be charged $23. But, if they weigh your bag at the airport, find that it’s overweight and you haven’t paid for Cabin+, you will have to pay either $36 or $46 depending on whether it’s short or long haul.

* If you booked your flights before 17th March 2015 you may still bring cabin baggage up to 10kgs. Otherwise the following new rules apply:

Hand Luggage Allowance 2 pieces total weight 7kg 


Free Checked Luggage None 


Luggage Fees (Booked in Advance) Short Flights (Under 1hour 45mins)
·      15kg costs $7.50
·      Additional KG costs $2.50 (max $20 for 40kg)
Long Flights (Over 1hour 45mins)
·      15kg costs $10
·      Additional KG costs $3.50 (max $27 for 40kg)


Luggage Fees (At the Airport) Short Flight (under 1hour 45mins)
·      $70 for 15kg ($20 per extra kg)
Long Flights (over 1hour 45mins)
·      $85 for 15kg ($25 per extra kg)
Plus $5 Airport Admin fee on top


Australian Airlines Crack Down on Baggage Allowances – Know your Limits


Jetstar like Tigerair have become more aggressive with their policies within the last 12 months. Not only have they dropped their weight allowance from 10kg to 7kg, but they now have staff checking that customers are not trying to exceed weight restrictions. On top of this they also have the most complicated fees structure of any airline. If you booked your flight with Jetstar before the 28th October 2014 you are still allowed to bring up to 10kg of carry-on luggage. People who have flown with Jetstar previously will know that their online check in process and absence of staff until you reach the gate previously made it a little easier. Do not get caught out by this, however, as these guys are tough and will charge you up to $70 for a bag weighing 15kg. Plus, if you have a domestic connecting flight, Jetstar will not deem it as the same flight and will charge you baggage fees for both flights, potentially totalling up to $140 for one bag (what an absolute joke!).

Hand Luggage Allowance 2 pieces total weight 7kg


Free Checked Luggage ·      Starter Fare: None
·      Starter Max: 1 x 20kg
·      Business Class: 1 x 30kg


Luggage Fees (Booked in Advance) Short Flights
·      15kg costs $19
·      5kg increments up to $40 for 40kg (split over 2 bags)
Long Flights
·      15kg costs $26
·      5kg increments up to $45 for 40kg


Luggage Fees (At the Airport) 15kg costs $70 + $15 per extra kg


Australian Airlines Crack Down on Baggage Allowances – Know your Limits


Out of all the airlines, Qantas are certainly the most generous with carry on allowances. You are allowed up to two bags both weighing 7kg each. The only exception is on QantasLink regional flights that limit you to one carry-on bag. Generally these guys don’t check your luggage size or weight unless you are obviously trying to board with a visually over-sized bag. Busier flights will usually encourage staff to check passengers with two bags and they will sometimes allocate one bag for overhead storage and the other for under the seat in front.

Hand Luggage Allowance 2 pieces total weight 7kg


Free Checked Luggage ·      1 item no more than 23kg
·      Qantas Club members: 1 x 32kg
·      Gold Frequent Flyers: 2 x 23kg
·      Platinum Frequent Flyers: 2 x 32kg


Luggage Fees (Booked in Advance) 23kg costs $30 per item
Qantas Club members Gold / Platinum allowed 32kg


Luggage Fees (At the Airport) 1st Bag: $40
2nd Bag: $60
Heavy Charge (over 23kg): $30


Avoiding Airline Baggage Fees

The reduction in weight allowances has made it even more important to have a light carry on bag and will most likely encourage customers to carry a rucksack now more than a bag with wheels. Cases with wheels and handles can weigh between one to four kilograms, which often only leaves you with 3-4kg worth of items to pack. Before you fly I would highly recommend you weigh your case to avoid any unpleasant conversations with airline staff.

Airlines are forcing us to pack smarter and you really have to think about what you absolutely need. Gone are the days when we could travel with 3 outfits per day and umpteen gadgets, now its slim-line all the way. A great way to reduce your costs as its coming towards winter is use or buy a coat with plenty of pockets and stuff them with items e.g. phone charger, laptop charger, headphones, socks, iPods etc.

I recommend bookmarking this post so that you can easily refer back to the table of associated hand luggage costs per airline whenever you need it. That way you can be assured of avoiding the potentially astronomical fees for being over-weight when it comes to your baggage.

To finish on a positive note though, one of the arguments given by airlines for enforcing rules like these is to improve punctuality and efficiency when it comes to the check-in and boarding processes. Something that I think most travellers would would agree is a good thing, so hopefully the knock-on effect of these changes will have a positive outcome in this respect.

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