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Thanks for the tips about backpacks!

I just flew TAP Portugal, who have a very restrictive baggage policy, seemingly strictly enforced for flights leaving their Lisbon hub and select other airports.

Their carryon size and weight limits are skimpy, though they did move the weight limit up to 10 kg recently. Their personal item size limit is laughably low if you can meet it, but it's just stupid low if you can't. That is - if you're traveling for personal reasons and can manage with only 2 kg, it's humorous. But if you're traveling for business and trying to put your work laptop and a bare minimum of plane necessities inside a work-appropriate bag (briefcase, work tote, backpack, etc.), it's no laughing matter.

Carryon: 55x40x20 cm / 21.6x15.7x7.9 in (8 inches deep is near-impossible to find in the US, BTW).
10 kg max
Personal: 40x30x15 cm / 15.7x11.8x5.9 in.
2 kg max

Online sources indicate at some airports, passengers are instructed to put their carryon on the scale and set their personal item on top. So, I could not bank on loading up my personal item with "all" the heavy stuff.

I had to put my work bag (a sleek Baggalini nylon tote) and my laptop inside my carryon. The tote would have worked, but would have been mostly empty, as it was too heavy with the laptop inside it.

When I left Lisbon for the US, they didn't actually weigh or measure any bag, much to my surprise. I have read they usually do, so they can fleece US customers for a checked bag fee. Since 8" thick carryons are so difficult to buy in the US, and Americans don't realize there are weight limits, it's easy money for the airline.

But for my trip, they just made EVERYONE with a wheeled bag check it. I assume A boarding group was allowed to wheel on, as I did see a few on disembarkation, but by the time I reached the gate, no wheels were allowed. There were some nice-looking, likely compliant, super-tiny wheeled bags in that line.

I breezed on by with my 9.5 kg backpack and cross-body purse. Thanks RS forums!

Posted by
18813 posts

I don't see a lot of fleecing going on. I see opportunities for less expensive travel by playing by the rules. Those that need to carry more subsidize people like me. I could easily meet those requirements and happy to do so for the discount. The policies have allowed a lot more people to fly, helped to fill planes and reduce individual carbon footprints.

Posted by
14269 posts

Thanks for your update! It's always fun to see how people managed with really restrictive weight and size limits. It sounds like you were very smart with your choices!

What kind of backpack and cross-boy did you use? (Just nosy, lolol!!!!!)

Posted by
22 posts

Thanks Pam, it is fun! I had also planned to use the train to transfer cities mid-trip, and I knew a backpack would be much easier to handle. Sadly, the state of German rail is not great just now, and my work colleagues convinced me to rent a car instead. So I really could have brought my RS rolling convertible.

The backpack I used is a [Deuter Aviant SL28][1] that I stumbled across on sale at Sierra for $100 (in teal - my favorite color!). I found a navy one for my husband (not from Sierra), but it took weeks for delivery from England. It's not perfect, but I do like it a lot.

I have a wide assortment of crossbody bags, and I pick and choose depending on locations, activities, and the colors I plan to wear. My most recent trip to Germany was a business trip, and a laptop tote is not a purse. For most of the trip I was in Cologne, and I needed:

  • A flight bag big enough for my tablet, wipes, earbuds, toothbrush/paste, comb, contacts, glasses, wallet, passport, and 2 phones.
  • An "evenng suitable" bag to walk to restaurants with business colleagues - holding just 2 phones and wallet, plus sometimes my tiny umbrella.
  • A touring bag for the weekend (2-week trip) - big enough to hold a water bottle, wallet, and 1 phone.

I brought the [Eddie Bauer Jasper][2] in black and i think it was near perfect.

A previous trip to Scotland, I needed a bag big enough to stash my good camera, a rainjacket, and water bottle everyday, and for that I found a cheapie convertible crossbody / backpack on Amazon. [This][3] is the one i picked up but there are a few similar options. This is a positively enormous "purse" by my usual standards, but as I planned to hike with it, a reasonable compromise. When empty it's quite flat and certainly not a "large" handbag by most American standards. It won't last long - one trip and the silver color was rubbing off on some of the hardware. But I haven't found the high-quality version I assume they're copying; when i do, I'll certainly consider buying it.

I have a beautiful PacSafe crossbody with the same capacity, but that bag is quite heavy and the strap is very stiff. It tires me to carry that all day, especially with my 1 lb camera inside. The backpack function of the Amazon bag is not something I would use in Edinburgh or Glasgow, but was much appreciated in the Highlands!

Mister É, I agree there's not "a lot" of fleecing going on, but this airline at this city tend to be known for being exceptionally strict on US-bound flights. I also flew through Lisbon on my way to Germany, and for that flight, there was no weight check, no size check, and no enforced bag-redirection of any kind. For the flight to the US, everyone with a wheeled bag was directed to a special line. No-carryon and backpack-only was allowed to move directly to the plane. This was in line with online reports for the past 4-5 years, which I checked before my trip. What was most concerning to me was that people who likely HAD played by the rules were also forced to gate check their miniscule rolling bags. Since they weren't actually checking weight or size, they were arbitrarily choosing all wheeled bags as "likely uncompliant". I myself had considered shopping for such a bag while in the EU, but ran out of time. Now I see that it is not necessarily worth the investment if I may be forced to gate check anyway. For the record, they were not charging, but if "everything" you have is in a small roller, then it's a bit alarming to turn it over at the gate.

I don't think I'll fly with this airline again; there were other things that rubbed me the wrong way. But my company was paying, and their policies and the timing of the trip somewhat forced me to buy this ticket. There were plenty of good things too - definitely not a "never again" experience - but overall, I prefer other airlines.

Posted by
14269 posts

Thanks for the added information!

I spent some time in Schiphol in August people-watching, lol. I saw lots of Deuter backpacks!

Also, I like the look of the EB Jasper. Long ago I had a small zipper cross body from EB that I wore out and did not like the newer versions of it. This one is a little bigger and it looks like a good size! I've been using a random brand I picked up at TJ Maxx which I like but it needs to be just a touch bigger, lol. I'll take a look next time I go by the local EB outlet!

Posted by
19170 posts

8 inches deep is near-impossible to find in the US, BTW

But any soft convertible, if only packed to 8", will fit in an 8" sizer. And even then, you can bulge the front to exceed 8" (or 9").

9" is just the dimensions of the side panels, the biggest you can make it. You don't have to take every inch.

Posted by
4174 posts

I actually own two, 2-wheeled carry-on bags that would be acceptable for TAP limits: "Carryon: 55x40x20 cm / 21.6x15.7x7.9 in (8 inches deep is near-impossible to find in the US, BTW). 10 kg max. Personal: 40x30x15 cm / 15.7x11.8x5.9 in. 2 kg max."

I flew TAP from Amsterdam to Lisbon in 2019. That year I used my Eagle Creek Expandable International Load Warrior with the T-shaped handle: 2.07 kg. [4.6 lbs.]. 36 L. 53x35x20 cm. [20.8x13.8x7.8]. Expanded 39 L. 53x35x24.5 cm. [20.8x13.8x9.6]. I didn’t expand it. Well within the TAP dimension and weight limits, (the 10kg [22 lbs] limit is more than my personal 20 pound [9 kg] limit), I could've carried it on, but I checked it.

But what to do about that pesky personal item limit of 2kg [4 4 pounds]? It didn't matter because my carry-on then became my cross-body bag which was my only carry-on and was also well within TAP limits.

I usually don't check bags, but I did for 2 additional intra-European flights on that trip. All 3 flights had similar restrictive limits, were nonstop and so cheap that paying extra to check the bag was well worth the small additional charge added to my tickets when I made my reservations and printed the tickets at home.

The second international style bag I have is an Osprey Ozone Global also with a T-shaped handle: 2.12 kg. [4.7 lbs]. 38 L. 50x40x20 cm. [19.6x15.7x7.9]. I used it last summer when I flew on British Airways from Seattle to London and Aer Lingus from Heathrow to Dublin. I took it to the Tucson airport to see if the wider dimension, 15.7" vs. 14," would be a carry-on problem. Delta said it would be okay, but I'm skeptical.

I love both of these bags. I can expand the Eagle Creek to make packing it easier, then zip up the expansion zipper to compress what's inside. I can push it in front of me down an airplane aisle.

The shape of the Osprey makes it even easier to pack. Its width is a negatuve because it's too wide to push in front of me, so I have to carry it in front. I now use a small backpack for my personal item. My hands are free so the slight inconvenience is worth the packing positive.

Fortunately I bought both of those small bags at substantial discounts. The newer similar ones are incredibly expensive, once more proving that less is more. 😉