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Carryon weight limited to 7Kg on international flights, new?

Neighbor reports her friend recently flew in from Ireland to US last month and said it's a new thing--her carryon was weighed at the airport for weight limit.

We went to Europe last summer with just carryons for our family (bags range from 16lbs-21 lbs) and our bags didn't get weighed.

We bought tickets in months ago for trip to Asia next month. Could have sworn didn't say anything about weight limit on carryons, just size 22X14X9 inches. Just checked again, and there's a 7kg (around 15lbs) weight limit on carryons now. (Flying Delta & American Airlines, China Airlines & Cathay Pacific--all had 7Kg weight limit).

Haven't seen/read anything about this weight limit so thought I'd ask if anyone else has experienced this recently?


Posted by
5687 posts

I've been hearing for years how the airlines are/were starting to crack down on larger carry-ons and were getting strict. Yet every year, I still go with my two carry-ons - one little bag, one smaller personal item - without anyone saying a thing when I carry them on.

Not sure I understand the rationale to weighing carry-ons. Are they going to make you check it if it is too heavy? That won't make the plane weigh less after it's loaded. Will they charge me an extra fee if my carry-on is too heavy???

Delta for example has no weight restriction on carry-ons - except for certain Asian destinations:

Only Singapore limits the weight to 7kg. China and South Korea limit the weight to 10kg.

Posted by
5687 posts

Again, checking a bag instead of having it carried on doesn't make the plane weigh less or use less fuel.

Charging more for a heavier carry-on would help offset the extra cost of fuel I guess (or deter people from carrying on heavy bags, if they know about the fees in advance) - but it's just another fee as far as I'm concerned. I'm probably paying a lot of money for a ticket from the US to Asia anyway. What's the fee to carry-on vs. check a bag? I usually carry my bag on anyway even when I can get a free checked bag, just to save time later.

Posted by
362 posts

I did not realize that Delta even had weight restrictions for carryon luggage for specific destinations. This was a good learning thread. Thanks!

Having said that, the restrictions on Delta at least seem to be confined to just a few markets. It does say on the website that some internal destinations or codeshare partners may have other restrictions.

I would not have thought to look for that wording, though. I've never had a problem with my carryon anywhere else, either.

Posted by
11496 posts

This is from Delta's website.

Carry-on Weight Restrictions

No maximum weight applies to carry-on baggage except in the below stations:

Singapore, Singapore - Changi International Airport (SIN) carry on should not exceed 15 lbs. (7kgs)
South Korea - Incheon International Airport (ICN) carry on should not exceed 22 lbs. (10kgs)
Beijing, China - Beijing Capital International Airport (PEK) Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) requires that domestic hand carry bags should not exceed 10kgs. Individual carrier rules apply for international flights.
Shanghai, China - Pudong International Airport (PVG) carry on should not exceed 22lbs. (10kgs)

Posted by
5426 posts

Not sure I understand the rationale to weighing carry-ons.

I suspect it's intended to scare people into checking luggage, fearful that they will exceed the weight limit.

Personally I'm all for it. The scourge of the carry on debacle needs to be addressed. I'm fed up of watching people bring ridiculous sized pieces of luggage on board and all trying to squeeze them in the overhead bins, bins which were not intended for such large pieces of luggage. I witnessed a family of five boarding my flight on Sunday, they were one of the last group and all were carrrying cases that were either at the maximum size or, I suspect, larger. Consequently the flight was delayed whilst the crew scrambled around looking for places to stow them. This has happened on almost every British Airways flight I've been on since the introduction of checked luggage fees.

The airlines are as much to blame for their greed but part of the blame also needs to be apportioned to those who refuse to check their luggage for the simple reason that they don't want to wait around for the 15 minutes at the carousel waiting for their luggage.

Posted by
6788 posts

This is nothing new. More importantly: Every airline has a different policy. And those policies are often not enforced consistently - but you can not depend on what happened to someone else once on another flight/day. It may also depend on what kind of ticket you're on. And may depend on what airplane you are on (usually - the smaller the plane, the more the restrictions will be strictly enforced). The penalties for exceeding the limits, if enforced (and caught) may vary a lot too - could be a shrug and a smile, it could be a stunning fee is charged - no way to know before you try. Be especially wary with LCCs.

If you're on multiple airlines, you need to investigate them all, and plan for the most restrictive of them.

Best practice: find out what the policy is for your flight on your airline, know in advance exactly what the limits are, and stick to them - even if they seem incredibly unrealistic and impossible to live with (and if you really can't live with them, you can always buy your way out of them by paying for an extra checked bag, something I do often). Or, take your chances...but be ready for major fines and/or hassles. Do you feel lucky?

Posted by
4595 posts

I wonder how much of the weight reduction could also be due to liability? People not able to lift their own bag overhead, or the weight of luggage falling on passengers - though 7kg is still 15 pounds from a height so will inflict injury.
One mentioned to review all policies dependent on carrier if transferring flights, but Air Canada, and Star Alliance state this:
If you’re travelling with a Star Alliance or other airline partner ,you may be subject to the baggage policy and other rules of the airline operating *the first flight in your itinerary*.
I have been able to use this phrase on the occasion. However, I do try to accommodate size and weight to match all.

Posted by
20458 posts

FYI, Aer Lingus is 10 kg for transatlantic flights and mainline European flights. Regional flights operated by Stobart Air is 7 kg (small planes).
Swiss is 8 kg for all flights.
It varies by airline and type of service.

Posted by
4066 posts

The weight restriction may also result from a concern about lifting the bag into an overhead bin. On a B-777, widely used for trans-ocean flights, the luggage bins are fairly spacious but they are also fairly high. Smaller cabin crew members might risk a back injury doing the weight-lift for customers. Air Canada, mentioned in a previous post, allows its cabin employees to refuse to help stow bags.

Posted by
15682 posts

American has no weight restrictions. I don't know where you looked. They do have size restrictions and number of bags depending on the type of ticket you have.

The reason some airlines restrict weight has little to do with crew members or getting you to pay for checking. It has to do with speed. By only allowing lighter bags then they tend to be smaller. And stowing smaller, lighter bags is easier than a heavy wheeled bag. Remember, on time departure percentages are published and airlines want to be as close to on time as possible.

In the U.S., departure slots are basically first come, first served. When a plane is ready to depart, it lets air traffic control know and gets in line.

It's done differently outside the U.S. A plane requests a take off slot. It's a specific time. If it misses its slot, it has to wait for an opening. That might not be right away. So, airlines want to make their departure slot. The faster they can load, the better it is. A bunch of overstuffed carry on bags on a full flight, that need to get checked, delays everything.

Landing is different and airlines must have slots alloted to them. This is so the airport doesn't get too crowded at any collect hefty landing fees. (A 777 at JFK will cost about $4700. That doesn't include terminal rent, parking for aircraft, servicing, etc.)

Posted by
4012 posts

Neighbor reports her friend recently flew in from Ireland to US last
month and said it's a new thing--her carryon was weighed at the
airport for weight limit.

There is nothing new happening. Some airlines weigh and measure carryons; other airlines don't. Be wary when someone "reports" what a third person experienced.

Posted by
368 posts

I flew Swiss last year and I was told by the check in agent that they limited the weight of carry ones to a keep the weight in the overhead bins lower. There were stickers on the bins limiting each bin to 50 pounds.

Posted by
23466 posts

Nothing new. Been that way for years. Weighing is infrequent and inconsistent but it does occur. Returned from Prague on Delta three years ago and every item was weighed at check-in and issued a colored tag. One couple hid a bag at check-in so that it wasn't weighed or tagged. At the gate each bag was checked for the tag and that couple tried to argue that the tag must have fallen off to no success. They were order to return to check-in to get a tag. They missed the flight.

Recently have stood in a couple of check-in lines for Lufthansa in the USA where every bag was weighed. So you have to assume that your carry-on bag will be weighed and checked for size. The probability is low that it will be checked but if it is the consequences can cause a major problem.

Posted by
5837 posts

As David notes, air carriers have their own carry on luggage policies. Lufthansa has a 8 kg limit. A number of domestic Chinese airlines have even lower weight limits (5 kg) but in my limited experience didn't see or experience Chinese enforcement:

Q: What are the specific requirements for hand luggage?

Answer: Airlines have different regulations, but generally, each hand
luggage must not exceed 20×40×55 centimeters (8×16×22 inches) and
should be less than five kilograms (about 11 pounds) in total.

They are many reasons for carry-on weight limits. One being weight/balance assumption limits and another the structural integrity of the overhead compartment. Some overhead compartment have had posted weight limits (40 pounds? per compartment). Another reason is the effect of a very heavy carry-on bag falling out of the overhead. Some passengers are not diligent in latching the compartment door (especially when bags are too big). I've seen doors pop open during air turbulence episodes. Some passengers are too weak and or too short to lift and push heavy bags into the compartment sometimes dropping their bag on the person seated below. Better to get hit by a 7 kg bag than a 10 kg bag.

Posted by
19170 posts

I, too, have had my carryon weighed by Lufthansa (it was well under their 8 kg limit). And that was before all of these checked luggage fees. Lufthansa has had the 8 kg limit since before the year 2000. But I think they are more concerned with size than weight.

those who refuse to check their luggage for the simple reason that they don't want
to wait around for the 15 minutes at the carousel waiting for their luggage.

After nearly losing my checked luggage on two of my first three trips to Europe, I enthusiastically embraced Rick's carry-on philosophy when I first heard of it. That philosophy paid off a year later when I had to make a fast connection in an eastern city. We had an hour to make the flight, and the plane was an hour late leaving Denver due to deicing. There were 14 of us headed for a Lufthansa flight, and the airline met us at the gate with a van and took us around to the waiting Lufthansa flight. Most fellow passenger had checked all their luggage, and I doubt that it arrived in Germany with the flight. I was sure glad to have my carry-on there on my lap in the van.

It's difficult to have a bag lost or delayed if you carry-on. So don't assume that it's all about a 15 minute wait at the carousel.

As for the "15 minute wait at the carousel", on two occasions I've returned from Europe to Denver with just enough time to walk with my carry-on to the bus stop and catch the hourly bus home. Any delay going to the carousel would have meant an extra hour getting home when jetlagged.

Posted by
3521 posts

those who refuse to check their luggage for the simple reason that
they don't want to wait around for the 15 minutes at the carousel
waiting for their luggage

Wow, which airline/airports do you fly? Only 15 minutes would be tolerable. In the past 18 months I have checked luggage a total of 4 times. My luggage was never at the carousel in less than 45 minutes after I arrived there (so I'm not counting the time it took me to walk to the baggage area) with one time taking nearly 90 minutes (DEN, IAH, SFO, EWR airports).

Posted by
315 posts

Our motto is to comply with luggage rules and TSA. They are in constant change, airline corporation (others Walmart) have IT departments that follow consumers trends. Travel writers and IT departments have identified price point is important to the consumer. The numbers are looked at and we are asked to comply once again. It is not about service, it is about dollars. I have considered travel with a toothbrush and the clothes on my back. I may just shout out to Delta that charging for seat selection is over the top. But then again Affordable Health Care shouts go unnoticed. So, why would Delta listen to a consumer?

Posted by
5426 posts

Wow, which airline/airports do you fly?

British Airways primarily, mainly out of T5 but also Ryanair, Easyjet, Virgin. Fly regularly throughout Europe and on average the wait time at the carousel is about 15 minutes. I've waited 45 minutes at Southampton before but that was due to a technical malfunction. The longest waits have been at Dallas and Chicago.

Posted by
3260 posts

I find my checked baggage arrives just about when I am entering the baggage claim area. Sometimes there is time to go to the ladies room before the carousel begins. Rarely have I waited 15 minutes for my bag. I did wait a long time once at CDG...about 30 minutes at the most...wasn't timing, but that was CDG. I fly Boston/London/then interEurope mostly via BA. So I'd say 45 minutes is an exaggeration or your home airport is inefficient. Never lost a bag either. So I would suggest that you just check your bag; I am assuming a checked bag is free? (That's BA, at least.)

Posted by
5837 posts

Not a 15 minute guarantee but Alaska has a 20 minutes guarantee:

If your bags are not at baggage claim within 20 minutes of your
plane’s arrival at the gate, we’ll offer you a $25 discount code for
use on a future Alaska Airlines flight, or 2,500 Alaska Airlines
Mileage Plan™ bonus miles.

Of course there are the fine print terms and conditions.

Posted by
11496 posts

What class of ticket you buy can also affect what is allowed as carry on. And there will be variances among the airlines as to what the limit is.

Posted by
1221 posts

Delta also has a '20 minutes or 2500 miles' checked bag guarantee, but it only applies for domestic to domestic final flight legs. Still, I've gotten 5K miles this year in compensation for a 22 and a 23 minute from open plane door to carousel bag scan, and since there was typically less than five minutes wait time once I got to the carousel, I'll take the miles. (My theory is that Delta figures giving out the penalty miles for a lot of 22-24 minute bag times at VPS is cheaper than paying for 1-2 extra baggage handlers on Saturday nights to bring times down to 15-17 minutes)

Posted by
123 posts

Frank II is correct. Longer gating times ultimately means higher ticket prices and delaying flights. During heavy traffic times of year this has domino effect for airlines. Also, overhead storage for larger heavier baggage is a safety issue upon a variety of unplanned scenarios.

Posted by
2531 posts

The airlines are as much to blame for their greed but part of the blame also needs to be apportioned to those who refuse to check their luggage for the simple reason that they don't want to wait around for the 15 minutes at the carousel waiting for their luggage.

...and I am one of those refusing to check my light bag and especially, especially, especially so when needing to connect to a another plane and when I won't be staying near my arrival airport. A significantly delayed bag when wishing to get on with my trip, well, easily avoided problem.

Posted by
70 posts

Thanks, everyone, for your helpful comments. Thought we report back our experience.
It did depend on what ticket we bought, it turned out (including with American Airlines) when we checked with airline. The 7Kg with Cathay Pacific 'includes' the personal items like coat/purse etc... they eyed our small (under 7Kg) bags carefully but didn't weigh.

What we did was bring along the Ultrasil Sea to Summit Duffel bags, 2.8 oz (on sale at REI for $22) in case. We ended up buying some souvenirs and on return flight home, we just filled 3 duffel bags with dirty laundry and things we didn't mind if lost and checked them. This was the first time we'd checked bags internationally in probably 10 years, and while it was rather nice to have a lighter backpack through airports etc.., it was a PAIN arriving jet-lagged at LAX and having to wait (30 min) to retrieve luggage, then recheck them again through security for our connecting flight, then wait for another 25 minutes at our destination.

This has convinced all of us that next time--no souvenirs, and no check bags. Lighter is the way to go.

I'm eyeing a Scottevest travel hoodie instead of carrying a purse. Unless, of course, they start weighing passengers... ;)


Posted by
5837 posts

RE: Unless, of course, they start weighing passengers... ;)
Finnair has begun weighing passengers

by Alanna Petroff November 3, 2017: 12:42 PM ET

Finnair has just begun a new program where it weighs passengers before
take-off to help the Finnish airline collect more accurate data about
weights on its flights.

Paivyt Tallqvist, director for media relations at Finnair, confirmed
that the airline was weighing passengers on Tuesday and Wednesday at
the Helsinki airport.