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Carryon packing for Lufthansa - only 8kg

First time flying Lufthansa over the pond and I'm struggling with getting my carryon down to 8 kg. How do you do it? Usually fly BA or Air France and can deal with their carryon weight. I'm still short by 2 lbs. And that's with already taking out a pair of pants and stuffing my raincoat with my heavy cables and bathroom essentials.Can't really take out any more stuff. And only one pair of really lightweight shoes. What is your secret?

Posted by
4574 posts

You are allowed a personal item sort of briefcase/purse or tote shape. Measurements are on the website, and they don't weigh it. Move compact heavy items there and bulky items to overhead. It seems belt bags (fanny packs) if worn around your waist are considered an accessory.

Posted by
547 posts

Thanks, Maria. I already have my 311 in my personal item. But a fanny pack might help:)

Posted by
27352 posts

I've never had to do that and would never try, but you might consider cargo pants and/or a jacket or vest with a bunch of pockets. There are also scarves with hidden pockets where you could stash stuff.

Have you carefully calculated how much you'll need of each toiletry, rather than planning to pack a full 3 oz. bottle of each item? You can cut bars of soap in half with a serrated kitchen knife. You could also plan to buy a few basic items in Europe so you don't need to pack even a small quantity of them. Toothpaste is quite heavy, and I've seen US brands in Europe so you wouldn't have to experiement. Shampoo and conditioner are both available in solid form, but you'd probably want to deploy that serrated knife again. For my short hair a 1-oz. chunk of solid conditioner lasts about a month, and I wash my hair every day.

Are you packing no jewelry or belts beyond what you'll wear on the plane? Only one sweater or one jacket for warmth? Have you substituted a small, light hairbrush for what you use at home? Are you taking no hairdryer? Do you have one lightweight multiplug rather than separate charging plugs for smartphone/tablet/e-reader/external battery?

Have you looked at each piece of paper going into that carryon and considered whether you could scan or photograph it instead? How about an ebook version of any paper guide book you're carrying?

If you're taking a folding umbrella, is it a lightweight one, or is it quite heavy?

Does your purse have to fit inside that carry-on? If so, is it made of a lightweight material like nylon or polyester instead of leather? Have you got a small wallet filled with just the bare essentials for your trip rather than an overstuffed French-clutch-style wallet? Have you removed excess keys from your keyring? If you have a decorative fob on the keyring, have you taken it off?

For that matter, how much does the carry-on itself weigh? That's such a low light weight, you might not need a bag with wheels, which would cut down a lot on the weight. In a pinch, you could use a packable tote bag (probably available at $25 to $40 online) just between your home and your first hotel and buy a cheap wheelie bag when you get to Europe.

I have traveled with a 13.5 lb. bag (bag + contents). Minimalist packing. Pack for 3-4 days and plan on doing laundry. Wear hiking sandals. Leave out socks and extra footwear. No make-up. Etc.,
Lufthansa is really tight about the personal bag. RedOxx metro or Tom Bihn Cadet. Tote bag with a packing cube. I have never flown Lufthansa, but this topic comes up on occasion.

Posted by
18527 posts

It begins with a light bag so more of the 8kg is your clothing and not bag weight. Luthansa's personal item limit is stupid small. I avoid Lufthansa because of that one reason. Last time I had to fly them I wore cargo pants as a backup.

Posted by
20316 posts

Are you trying to get by without checking a bag?

PS. You have a raincoat. Wear it when you check in. If they do weigh your carry-on, once you leave the check in counter, you can stuff it back into your carry-on.

Posted by
4857 posts

I don't try, though on this trip I may well wish I had, as we move around a lot.

I avoid Lufthansa because of that one reason.
Yep, I always book through United and make sure United is operating the outbound international leg. On the way home, I don't care.

I did just pull out an old waist pack and stuffed it with my heavy phone charger and some cables. For my own sake.

If you decide to check a bag and they lose it, I'll go shopping with you in Sofia!!

ETA: I just weighed my bag, it's 20 lbs. PJs still have to go in. My personal limit is 23, so I'm in good shape. May still pull 1 or 2 things out.

Posted by
5007 posts

What are heavy cables?
We have Scottevest jackets and vests, and can stuff a lot in their multiple pockets. I actually buy those pieces on EBay now, where the prices are more reasonable on " gently used".
Good luck?

Posted by
18527 posts

I am not hung up on the culture of traveling light and I have no fear of lost luggage. When the stuff I want to bring in order to get the most out of the trip exceeds the weight limit for a carryon, i check a bag. When i can make carryon only work without any sacrafices then I know I have the luxury of skipping the check in line and walking straight through security to the bar nearest the gate. That saves 30 minutes or more at the airport.

A lot of the carriers to Europe have a 8kg limit on the carryon. Some have no limit on the personal item weight, some put 8kg that too, and when the carrier has a decent size carry on approved then I generally can make the trip with carry on only. Lufthansa's personal item is so small, it only works for me in the Summer and if I am going to the beach.

Last Lufthansa flight i did see some bags getting checked for size. Thats sort of rare, and most often it happens at the check-in counter, so by avoiding checking a bag you reduce the odds of being checked. But I always play by the rules. Life is too short nd I dont like problems.

Posted by
228 posts

Reading this confirms my belief that a checked bag should be free and carryon baggage weighed, measured and restricted. This is my bias but based on purely anecdotal evidence to many people abuse the carryon restrictions.

I do not status so I board late and face not being able to but my limited baggage over my seat.

The cult of carryon has lead to abuse. So respect the limits and if necessary check a bag.

I have travelled for 40 years and have never lost a bag or had one delayed.

Posted by
547 posts

Thanks for all the tips and reassurances. My norm is 23 lbs and that's what I'm going to travel with. So, I'll be checking my bag and just taking my little RS Civita bag onboard. Fingers crossed!

Posted by
547 posts

Yes Plan B is shopping for Bulgarian toothpaste in Sofia;)

Posted by
547 posts

On a Rick Steves tour, though I'm looking for a food tour for before the tour starts

Posted by
18527 posts

Ive used this woman twice. Both on fairly long tours. One time she drove us from Sofia to Istanbul and we went fishing at ever creek, stream and river along the way. Took days and days. Went to her mothers house for dinner. A nicer person you will never meet. Trips to Bulgaria are woth the effort, just for her.

Pavlina Docheva
Guide & Tour Designer
Easy Bulgaria Travel
+359 87 895 6414
www.easybulgariatravel.com
[email protected]

and dont forget that Wizz flies from Sofia to Budapest for about $75.

Posted by
5450 posts

I 100% guarantee that no one will weigh your carry on

Posted by
18527 posts

If you are checking a bag, pretty fair chance it will happen at the check in counter. Doesn't matter as we all want to follow the rules.

Posted by
5450 posts

For a checked bag, yes. For a carry-on, if it looks like the correct dimensions, guarantee it won’t get weighed. But if this is what everyone wants to stress about…

Posted by
8594 posts

We flew Lufthansa from ORD once, and yes they were going around the gate area and hefting peoples bags to go through the sizer. They had at least two big carts full of bags headed for checking. I noted that they only picked bags that were wheeled - no backpacks.

Packing light requires your acceptance of some basic principles: (1) nobody cares how many times you wear the same clothes; (2) you can always buy stuff you "might" need over there; (3) you are allowed to do laundry over there. I see many people bring too many jackets/sweaters/outerwear - the heavy stuff that takes up too much space. Thinking in "outfits" dooms you to failure.

But really, it's OK to check a bag, despite the stories of the last year. I just flew Southwest (who allow two free checked bags) to the Carribbean, and it was a totally freeing experience to only have my small personal item with me. But if you want to travel light, keep in mind that it's not just about getting your bags on board the airplane, it's also a huge advantage for getting around while touring.

Posted by
6 posts

I flew Lufthansa RT this past April connecting in Frankfurt to Italy. They never weighed my bag once.

Posted by
9771 posts

I am sure my carry-on backpack weighs more than 8 kg even tough I always check a bag🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣

Posted by
3200 posts

I’m just back from Sicily.
I flew Air Canada and ITa to get there, and Lufthansa home.
Not once on any of the five flights was my personal item either weighed or measured, or even looked at.
I took my 21” carryon on board, it weighed just over 10 kgs.
I also had a small backpack as my personal item as well as a small crossbody bag.
Both of those went under the seat in front, the 21” one up above.
Coming home, I still had the crossbody bag and the small backpack, but I did check the 21” bag.
It seems to be whatever the agent is thinking on any given day, as I’ve had very strict agents with Lufthansa in the past.
Best to follow the rules of the airline.

Posted by
2618 posts

This morning I am flying Lufthansa—in Budapest for the smaller plane to Frankfurt there was someone eyeballing every rolling carryon at the boarding gate, and ones that were pushing the size limit—or exceeding, in my opinion—were being gate checked. No interest whatsoever in my Rick Steves shoulder tote that easily weighs 30 lbs—the flea market in Budapest was full of goodies!

Posted by
5450 posts

As many anecdotes above confirm, it is always about the size, not the weight. They only care if it fits in the sizer.

Posted by
18527 posts

That’s excellent to hear that Lufthansa guarantees that they will never check the weight of your carry-on.

I haven’t been so lucky with Turkish Air, Virgin, Delta and Ukraine International and Wizz Air. All four have checked the weight of my carry-on when I was checking in at the ticket counter, then they would generally put a tag on the bag so the gate area would know I had passed (I presume that’s why the tag).

The Virgin experience was the only one I didn’t pass. But it was no problem, we just left the line, found some room on the arrivals hall floor and opened our luggage to the world and started moving 1kg from my carryon to my traveling companion’s carryon and then stuffed a few things in our pockets. Then got back in the 50+ person long line and about 45 minutes later were successfully checked in for our flight.

But with Lufthansa’s guarantee I guess I will start considering them more often. I checked the Lufthansa’s terms of carriage and was relieved to see the last few lines stated that the printed rules were for grins and giggles and with that I am not going to worry about any concept of ethics of entering into a contract and then ignoring my word.

Posted by
547 posts

Mister E, I'm confused! Where does it say that Lufthansa doesn't weigh the bag?

Posted by
20316 posts

Tongue firmly planted in cheek re Emily's guarantee your bag would not be weighed.

Posted by
5450 posts

An Emily guarantee is worth its weight in gold. Send me the bill. Just kidding. What do I know? I just live here…

Posted by
1251 posts

We packed carry-on for our Lufthansa flight to Spain in November. I weighed our luggage to keep the carry-on just below the 8kg limit. We used sackpacks (drawstring backpacks) as our personal item in which I packed our heavy items including electronics, charge cables, toiletries, liquids etc. The personal item weighed about 3kg each. So we ended carrying about 11kg, which is a lot.

I noticed that Code share partner Air Canada passengers shared the same flight as us and they had an unlimited carry-on weight limit (the only rule for Air Canada was that the passenger had to be able to lift their bag in and out of the overhead bin on their own). So at least on our Lufthansa flights, there was no weight checking. YMMV.

Posted by
984 posts

Lufthansa is pretty strict about weighing. Even traveling business class with my husband and two friends, they weighed our bags at the gate. We needed to pack for Italy just shy of a month and we needed to pack for rainy and chilly weather.

Here is how I got to the right weight.

  • Choose a capsule wardrobe with a single color palate so that you can mix and match & bring a scarf and jewelry to switch up your look.
  • Weigh your clothing and take the lightest items. I have some lightweight pants and a dress from Athleta and that weigh very little. Plan to layer and wear your heaviest items on the plane.
  • Take the minimum of toiletries. You can buy much of what you need in Europe and it is fun to shop at grocery stores and pharmacies.
  • Pair down the shoes. I always take at least one extra pair as I have been caught in the rain too many times with wet shoes. Sandler can be packed in your personal item bag if you want to take them.
  • Plan on doing laundry mid-way through your trip. That way you can take a week of underwear and socks. It will minimize the amount of clothing.
  • Ask yourself are you really going to use what you are taking. If in doubt, leave it out.

Hope this helps.

Posted by
18527 posts

SandyO, I think it has something to do with your country of residece. But seriously, I took a peak at the competing travel foum and there were a number of reports similar to yours. And those guys come well recommended.

Its why you will never find me suggesting breaking rules for any reason. You dont get caught until you do. I have 2 upcoming Lufthansa trips to Europe (I am not happy about having to use Lufthansa, but the price was right), and will will pull out my trusty VN war era BDU trousers for the flight.

Posted by
18527 posts

So, I flew BUD to FRA and back a few weeks ago. Lufthansa was checking carryon at the gate in both directions. Clever little sizing boxes with built-in digital scales. Several very unhappy customers.

But the people selected to be checked was done on a very random basis. Total of the 2 flights, maybe 10 people.

Austrian Air at the adjacent gate om the way back was doing the same, but size only as their box had no scale.

Posted by
1428 posts

Mister E, did Lufthansa also size check the personal/underseat bag? Mine is squishabe so not really concerned. Just wondering.

Posted by
18527 posts

Yes. Both. The sizing box had a compartment for each, and the scale weighed both together.

No one who looked reasonably close to compliance got checked.

Odd, I flew Ryan and Wizz in the last 10 days and neither checked anyone beyond counting how many bags they had. One fare allowed a personal item only, and the higher fare allowed that and a carryon. Their carryon size is small, most exceeded the size, but still no checking.

Posted by
1679 posts

I wouldn't be able to manage a bag that weighed more than 8 kg, especially hoisting it into the overhead bin or hauling it up and down flights of stairs. I always think my bag is too heavy, but when I weigh it, it turns out to be around 15 pounds, and that's barely manageable for me.

What "bathroom essentials" are you bringing? I find these are usually supplied by my accommodations, other than dental care stuff, which you can get in small sizes or in dry tablets (in the case of toothpaste). Cables and a (multi) USB plug are in my purse, to access easily for use on the plane. I take 3 pairs of shoes (including the ones I'm wearing.)

As others have suggested, maybe your bag is very heavy to start with?

If you absolutely can't do without what you are planning to bring, and trying to do carryon only is stressing you out, then check a bag.

Posted by
3240 posts

Not to throw a wrench into this whole conversation...but that's me. I am more concerned with having both my items at a weight that I can easily handle. That's the guide for me. I check my carryon bag, because it is a pain to hassle with it in airports and on planes, IMO. I always pack in a carryon size or less, (except when walking the Camino, but that's an entirely different story, but the weight issue was the same). In other words, make sure you can easily carry your luggage and leave it at that. Don't pack anything in your carryon that you couldn't replace if you had to do so. In reality, my personal item would be all I would really need to travel if I had to do so. In over 50 years of travel, I have never had lost luggage. I did have delayed skis by a few hours, but they arrived from the airport by midnight so I did not have to rent skis. Also, the only place I had to wait more than five minutes for my luggage was at CDG, but who is surprised at that?

Relax, check your bag if you have to, and enjoy your vacation!

Posted by
195 posts

We also flew Lufthansa and my secret for complying with their weight limits is layering. They will weigh your bag but not you. I wear the heavy stuff on the plane. In my carry on under seat bag I have my jacket, a scarf, and a purse with electronics.

Posted by
4857 posts

The sizing box had a compartment for each, and the scale weighed both together.
Ah, clever!

I'm always flying United across the water and Lufthansa for connections, so I get stuck with Lufthansa's rules. Time for a test pack for this summer's luggage...

Posted by
547 posts

Well, I did check my bag and was happy that it was there waiting for me at both ends. The weight was 1.5 lbs over and as I went to check it, the counter agent in LA said it would have been okay. But I checked it anyway. (Didn't know what the gate agent in Frankfurt would say-and that was a completely full flight to Sofia). Coming home, I noticed that from Frankfurt to LA, people had really big bags. (some had the very small bags too). The man in front of me had a big backpack and a suitcase and a briefcase! (I was in economy). So, I guess it just really depends on the counter/gate agent of the day. Very inconsistent!

Posted by
4171 posts

Two pieces of equipment have made it much easier to keep the weight of what I carry and pack manageable for me and legal for airlines:

  1. Flat digital kitchen scale that weighs in ounces, pounds, grams and kilos. I weigh anything I'm planning to pack before I pack it. Between 2 items that will work with my capsule wardrobe, the lighter one always wins. I've frequently been amazed at how much some things actually weigh.

  2. Hand held digital luggage scale that weighs in pounds and kilos. It hooks around the handle of the bag and you lift the bag off the ground to get the weight of it filled. Under normal conditions that would be 20 pounds. For Lufthansa that would be 17.5 pounds, but I'd use the kilos option to be sure it was 8 or less.

As others have mentioned, it all starts with a 2-wheeled roller bag that weighs about 2 kilos empty. For Lufthansa I'd use the one I have that's "international" 21.7 x 13.8 x 7.9 in (55 x 35 x 20 cm).

Posted by
4431 posts

Austrian Air weighed my carryon at check-in. They nicely let me by but warned me not to do it again. The irony is that my checked bag, which did not arrive in Tirana with me, was a Tom Bihn backpack that would have met the carryon weight requirement.

Posted by
4431 posts

Mister E, was 8 kg the total for both the carryon and personal item?

Posted by
4431 posts

Barbara, the soft sided Maxlite International(19 in) weighs 5 lbs, which would be close to 2 kg. (5 lb divided by 2.2 lb/kg)

Posted by
18527 posts

A tad too wide for some airlines.

Maxlite® 5 19" International Carry-On Expandable Spinner
Overall Dimensions: (includes wheels and carry handles)
H: 21.75 in W: 15.75 in D: 7.75 in
H: 55.2 cm L: 40.08 cm P: 19.6 cm
Case Dimensions:
H: 19 in W: 15 in D: 7.75 in
H: 48.2 cm L: 38.1 cm P: 19.6 cm
Weight: 5.3 Ibs / 2.4 kg
Volume: 39 L

20" International Expandable Carry-On Rollaboard
Overall Dimensions: H: 21.75 in. W: 15.75 in. D: 7.75 in.
Case Dimensions: H: 20 in. W: 15 in. D: 7.75 in.
Weight: 5.4 lbs.

Posted by
4171 posts

I have 3 bags that weigh about 2 kilos or 4.5 pounds. I didnt pay full price for any of them.

All have 2 wheels which makes them lighter than 4-wheel spinners. All have T-shaped handles which also makes them lighter than bags with U-shaped handles, but doesn't accommodate personal items that have sleeves designed to fit over U-shaped handles. That means my personal item needs to be a cross-body bag or a backpack of some kind.

These are the 3 bags from oldest to newest.

Eagle Creek Gear Warrior International Carry Luggage Softside 2-Wheel Rolling Suitcase...20 Inch. My oldest 4.5 pound bag is similar to this one except it's all black with turquoise trim. It's old enough that if you find it online there will be discrepancies in the listings. They often call it "international" and may say one place that it's 20" tall and another that it's 22" as this listing does. If you scroll down, you'll see a picture of a green/beige one with the same dimensions as mine. What is true about my bag as with this one is that it can be expanded. I found that useful on my 5+ week trip to Portugal and Spain in 2019. I could pack my filled compression cubes in it with the expansion loose, then zip it to cinch the contents down.

Osprey Ozone 2-wheeled bags. Neither is expandable. I got them both from REI. They are no longer available there, but might be from Amazon or other vendors. I linked to the REI listings because they have good pictures and details.

Osprey Ozone Global Carry-On Wheeled Luggage - 38 Liters/19.5". This one is European shaped which means it's shorter, but wider -- 20x16x8. I used it for my trip flying British Airways last summer. It was a 5 week trip.

Osprey Ozone 42L Wheeled Luggage. This one is typical 22x14x9 size. I haven't used it for a trip yet.

Posted by
18527 posts

Thank you Lo

There really isn’t a “European” or “International” carry on size. If I wanted to look just at Europe and just at the full price carriers, I would say that 55 x 35 x 23 comes close to being universal.

55 x 35 x 23 cm
21.65 x 13.77 x 9.05 in
Complies with: Air France, American, Austrian, British Air, Delta, Easy Jet, Eurowings, Iberia, KLM, Lufthansa, Swiss, Turkish Air, United, Virgin Atlantic.

Posted by
18527 posts

FrankII, that comes closer to the perfect bag than any other i have seen. Just too large for me but the design is nearly perfect. Thanks