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Weighing of Carry on Luggage

Recently, due to an upcoming trip with RS tour, we've downsized considerably to only having the carry on luggage.

We are sure our size will meet all requirements, but after looking at airline's carry on restrictions on weight, my husband and I wondered if in Europe they actually weigh your carry on. We have not seen this anywhere we traveled in Europe to date.

The airlines we are traveling, Turkish Air and Croatian Air, say on their site ... max 8Kg...
But when I read all things here on this forum everyone works for 20#, that is more than 8Kg. I'm just wondering from you seasoned travelers that only take carry ons have you ever had an airline enforce the weight restriction? I have heard Russian airlines do enforce.
I feel very good with my RS rolling carry on that weighs 17#, but looks empty. Wondering if I can go over that 8 kg?

Posted by
387 posts

Traveling in France on Air France they weighed my luggage once. It was actually about a pound over but they shrugged and let it go. If they had not I was ready to start wearing additional pieces of clothing from my luggage until it passed...

Posted by
23411 posts

It is always a risk. What are you prepared to do if your bag is over weigh? My bags have been weighed - more than once. Very typical of the second tier, discount airlines who make money from overweight bags. Have not flown on Turkish A or Croatian A so cannot address them directly. Have been on easyJet where everything was weighed and sized. Delta out of Prague weighed everything and put a colored tag on bags that passed. Stood in lines at Lufthansa when every rolling bag was weighed. And have stood in dozens of other lines where nothing was weighed or checked. It is strictly a decision of gate personal or the check in folks.

Posted by
2766 posts

We travel with a pair of RS convertibles. We have never been weighed (Lufthansa, USAir/AA, EasyJet, Turkish, Aer Lingus, BA) nor sized. Our feeling is if they see us walking up with our packs on our backs, and they look appropriately sized, then why bother? In terms of weight, we are usually just under Lufthansa's 8kg, checked before we leave home. As they say, your mileage may vary...

Posted by
3521 posts

Most European airlines I have flown allow 11kg per carry on bag (or at least they used to) which is where I think most of us get the 20 lb figure since 20 lb is slightly less than 11KG -- better to be under weight than over.

Air Berlin and Air Canada are the only airlines I have flown that actually weighed my carry on. On Air Berlin I was 20.2 kg, so I took my jacket and guide book out and put it on with the book in the pocket = 19.9 kg! I think in many cases the weighing depends on how your bag looks. Is it stuffed to the max and bursting at the seams? It probably will get weighed.

And I do take only a carry on. Every trip I have taken to Europe for the past 12 years I have lived out of a single carry on for up to a month with no issues.

Posted by
8582 posts

I've seen Lufthansa weigh bags. Sure, you might get away with it, but don't complain if you don't.

Posted by
5697 posts

We just paid the money to check bags on EasyJet and Ryan this spring -- not that much when you buy at the same time as the original purchase. But we DID see people sitting on the floor re-packing bags to get within weight limits.

Posted by
8200 posts

Norwegian Air Shuttle picked me out of a long line of travelers to weigh my carryon bag--which was 2 lbs. over. They tried to make an example out of me--and charge $50 extra to put the bag in "the hole."
Since no others' bags were weighed and since we'd paid for my wife's bag to be checked, I held up their line long enough to move 2 lbs. out of my bag and put it into my wife's bag.
Sometimes airlines weigh you, but most of the time they don't.

My carry on is usually about 10 kg. packing with Rick Steves' packing list. If it's over, a pair of shoes and a Chromebook can be moved to my small backpack and I'll be underweight.

Posted by
280 posts

My bag was weighed by Alitalia a few years ago, but I had a tote with me and I was able to pull things out and stuff them in the tote to get close enough to the weight--which was 8 kg, I think. And once past check-in, I put what I removed back into the suitcase. Since then, I've weighed my bags whenever I've traveled on Lufthansa, which has the same limit, and kept it to just about 18 lbs. Of course, my bags have never been weighted since then, and my husband thinks I'm paranoid! So it's always possible, but as others have suggested, if you have something like a tote, you should be able to adjust if necessary.

Posted by
280 posts

My bag was weighed by Alitalia a few years ago, but I had a tote with me and I was able to pull things out and stuff them in the tote to get close enough to the weight--which was 8 kg, I think. And once past check-in, I put what I removed back into the suitcase. Since then, I've weighed my bags whenever I've traveled on Lufthansa, which has the same limit, and kept it to just about 18 lbs. Of course, my bags have never been weighted since then, and my husband thinks I'm paranoid! So it's always possible, but as others have suggested, if you have something like a tote, you should be able to adjust if necessary.

Posted by
2644 posts

Turkish most definitely weighs bags. When we checked in for our flight in Istanbul and told the agent we were carrying our bags on, she took each one and weighed it to make sure it was under the limit. When she determined they were under, she took these little "cabin baggage" stickers and placed them on the bags so it would be clear that they had been approved. I can't recall if they checked on the outbound out of LAX.

Posted by
2644 posts

Also flew Croatian once and I don't remember them weighing. But I make life easy - my luggage always fits for both size and weight and then I don't have to worry about it.

Posted by
158 posts

I recently purchased easyJet tickets and could have sworn it said no carry on weight limit. The limits sound like a good way to keep your packing to the essentials!

Posted by
19136 posts

I've never flown Croatian or Turkish Air, but I have had a lot of flights on Lufthansa (8 kg or 17.6 lb limit), and I have had my bags weighed. The limits are clearly published. Bottom line, if you choose to try to take on a bag over the limit and they catch you, you have only yourself to blame.

Posted by
6788 posts

I flew Croatia Air a few years ago and they did not weigh our carry-ons.

In my experience on lots of small/low-cost airlines, most have clear limits posted on their website, but I've only seen a few actually weigh carry-ons. As others have said, have a plan and be ready.

Posted by
1194 posts

Yes to Lufthansa weighing bags. Yes to LAN (South America) weighing bags. Turkish Air looked at my LL Bean Quickload TRavel Pack on my back and decided that it was "easily in the weight limit". It actually was barely "legal". (I was heading into the African bush).
20# is a heavy bag in my book. I like to go 7 kg or less. Don't forget that with Many airlines you can put stuff in your personal item.

Posted by
489 posts

Thanks for the responses. Since in the last 2 yrs we've only had brief case size carry on we have never been asked to weigh the luggage. This is the first time not checking any luggage, but carrying on all. We shall see what happens, but I know I'm under weight going. Plan on leaving some clothes there and wearing more on the plane if I purchase anything to bring home with me.

Posted by
1068 posts

KLM and others have weighed my luggage in the past. As said above, an "sometimes" proposition.

Posted by
18477 posts

In the past 10 days i have had my luggage weighed by KLM, Ukraine International and Wizz. At one counter a couple was over weight and held up a line of close to 100 people while they resorted their luggage. They should have bern sent to the back of the line; if not voluntarily gone there out of courtesy. We ran over on a Virgin Air flight some years back and did just that.

Posted by
489 posts

I might add that Sarah Murdoch's hint on the Rick Steve's video about weighing each item with a kitchen scale opened my eyes about weight and choosing the clothing and shoes I will pack. I switched out my second pair of shoes to a lighter one and had enough poundage to spare to add a pair of sandals.

Posted by
720 posts

I have been lucky that no one -- including Alitalia, Turkish, and AirFrance -- has ever tried to weigh my carry on. Without a doubt I am often above 8Kg. I will confess that I try to carry my bag sort of nonchalantly, as if it is as light as a feather (even though it is not). I don't groan and sigh and struggle when I lift my bag in the presence of an airline employee. (By the way, I am 5'4" and the high side of middle aged.)

The trouble I have gotten into is on connecting flights in the U.S. When I flew Turkish to Istanbul last year, I had to fly United from Atlanta to DC to connect to the Turkish flight. The United plane was a little puddle jumper with virtually no overhead space. It was impossible to put any bag into the overhead in what I consider the normal way, with the top handle facing the aisle. I was lucky to board the plane early enough on the outbound trip to put my carry-on in sideways. On the way home, though, the overheads were jam packed. I had checked my usual carry-on backpack and was using only a small duffel as a carry-on. (My under seat/personal bag is camera bag.) Fortunately, a kind passenger agreed to put my duffel under his seat. (Okay, actually I think the flight attendant told him that he was going to have to gate-check his big carry-on in the overhead unless he agreed to help me out.)

As others have said, though, be prepared to have your bag weighed and be prepared to re-shuffle your stuff, if necessary.

Posted by
720 posts

tgreen: I am so happy to hear that I am not the only one who weighs everything on a kitchen scale. Most of my friends think it's geeky. I maintain an on-going spreadsheet with the weights of everything I might pack. I fiddle around with the weights in the spreadsheet for weeks before anything goes into a suitcase. Sometimes I am surprised by what I learn: 8 silk scarves = 1 shirt, swimsuits are heavier than I imagined, 1 pair of regular shoes = ~2.5 shirts, and so forth.

Posted by
19136 posts

I guess weighing things on a kitchen scale is better than not weighing them at all, but I don't think kitchen scales are all that accurate. I think the scales at post offices have to be accurate. That's where I weigh my stuff.

Posted by
27328 posts

Scale tolerances vary, depending on how much you are weighing. A postal scale intended for weighing both letters and parcels will have a tighter tolerance for the letters. One thing to understand is that the USPS builds the tolerance into the weights displayed, so on a heavy item the actual weight might be (I'm guessing) an ounce higher than what the scale shows. (For letters the scales only subtract about 1/30 ounce.) That's so customers are not over-charged in the event the scale is weighing a bit heavy. That's good for postal customers but not necessarily what you want if your suitcase weighs an ounce over the weight limit but the scale says it's dead on.

Any scale can get out of whack if it isn't checked and re-zeroed as necessary. I'd expect a kitchen scale to be plenty good enough for weighing individual items going into a suitcase--deciding which pair of slacks to take, for example--but if you had 30+ items, it would be possible to end up with a noticeable error when you totaled everything up.

Posted by
15634 posts

I flew Turkish Air from O'Hare about 2 weeks ago and they were weighing cabin bags at check-in.

Posted by
18477 posts

Part of your problem is your bag weighs more than 6 pounds empty. Swap it for RS Classic Backdoor bag and you can pack more than 4 more pounds worth of essentials.

Posted by
733 posts

Airfrance international economy carry on weight limit is a total of 26 lbs. - that's for the total of the carry on luggage and the "accessory" item. I saw several weighed but mine was overlooked. My carry ons may not appear very heavy since I can manage a backpack quite easily!

Posted by
27328 posts

I absolutely would not trust a bathroom scale if my luggage was anywhere near the weight limit. Most of those things are not very precise. For just ballpark numbers when I'm not worried about exceeding a weight limit, I sometimes weigh myself, then weigh myself holding the bag. But that's just to get a general idea.

Posted by
18477 posts

UIA has a 7kg limit. Wizz has no weight limit but is strict on size and charges for anything larger than a small purse. KLM was 12kg combined for one small and one large piece. So it varies a lot.

I shoved cameras, phones, lens, etc in my pockets to be on the safe side.

Posted by
733 posts

I have to agree with MrsEB. Using that process, I use my digital bathroom scale to weigh items I sell on eBay. It's accurate to the ounce as proven by the USPS confirmation of my advance postage purchases. It's never wrong.

Posted by
27328 posts

You guys have better scales than I do. If I step on mine three times, I get three different weights!

Posted by
733 posts

acraven, could be.....I would get exactly the same weight to the ounce if I step on mine 3 times.

Posted by
23411 posts

This is kind of silly discussion but I will participate. Our scale is the same every day. I think the old mechanical scales were prone to inaccuracy but the digital a very different. And if measuring the difference it doesn't make any difference what the final weight is.

Posted by
92 posts

We flew Delta/KLM to Geneva and Delta/Air France return in June. At check-in both directions they were weighing both carry-on and personal item together, so combined they had to be under the weight limit, or one of the bags had to be checked. And they were tagging all items being carried on to the plane. So to lower the weight one would've had to start unpacking and putting more clothes on. Both directions it appeared that all of the passengers were having their items weighed. I had never had that happen before.

Posted by
6352 posts

This is interesting. I've never had my carry-on weighed, but it wouldn't be a problem; this year I weighed my bag on a kitchen scale and it came to 13.5 lbs. As someone mentioned above, you can stash some heavier items (camera? guidebooks?) in your "personal item."

The reason I found this topic interesting is I flashed on two memories. The more recent: in an airport a couple of years ago, homeward bound, we were in line behind a couple having a major meltdown. The husband was frantically moving items from one bag to another to equalize them, I suppose, while the wife was crying, screaming, bitter and angry. I wanted to tell them "Please don't! It's not worth it. This is not the way you want to end your dream vacation." But DH held me back.

The other memory was many years ago. I was with a student group that had spent about 6 weeks in the (then) Soviet Union. After that long we were all sick of it, and ready to head back to Europe and home. We were flying out of Kiev, and the day we were to leave our group leaders told us there was a problem: the plane we were booked on was being replaced by a much smaller one, and, by the way, the airport runway was too short for the plane to take off with a full load in the baggage compartment! This was in the bad old days of huge, heavy suitcases, so we all had lots of luggage. We had to dump at least half of our stuff. Since we had accumulated lots of souvenirs (including balalaikas - this was in the Dr. Zhivago period), that meant throwing out almost all our clothes and books.

The scene in the dorm was probably very funny - there were about 30 of us, frantically flinging, cussing, tossing... When we were finally at the airport, the airline rep looked at our considerably lightened baggage, made some comment under his breath about materialistic Americans, and said that the plane would probably be able to take off with that load!

Well, obviously, we made it, although we were all lifting up on the armrests to help the pilot get the plane up. And of course we erupted into a huge burst of applause as we lifted - clumsily - off the end of the runway.

But I still miss my baby blue Oklahoma State University sweatshirt.

Posted by
33 posts

There no longer is a generally applied IATA rule on cabin luggage. All airlines make their own. Permitted size and weight differ by a few cm or kg, i.e, from 5 to 20kg and most in the 7 to 8kg range. Many airlines in addition allow a "personnel item" which could be a hand- or laptop-bag. Its weight may count against the allowance or not. Use it to unburden the larger bag from heavy items or from valuables. There is no choice than to read the small print and, if it matters to you, to compare. Kitchen or bathroom scales are not accurate on luggage. A small luggage scale, comprising a grip with display and strap, costs only a few € and avoids surprises. On business trips, with a full-size laptop, paper documents or other gear, it is difficult to remain within the weight allowance. Otherwise ebook readers, smartphones and tablets made it easier.

The notourious budget airlines make money by selling extras. So the weigh and measure. Some even determine unusual sizes in order to trap their customers. Many discourage check-in luggage in order to minimize the turnaround time at the gate. These may have more generous allowances for cabin-bags than regular airlines.

All other rarely do, unless you, or too many other passengers for a flight, try to get by with obviously oversized or overweight bags. So avoid that obviousness. An overweight, but small bag may get through. But in case your are asked to check-in the large bag, be prepared to transfer your valuables for carry-on, e.g to your "personal item". On small commuter planes with limited storage in cabin you have to do that, anyway.

Roller bags are popular, but there is no universal advice in favour or against. Wheels and handles reduce payload and useable space as against the allowance by at least 1.5kg. Vice versa they increase the weight to carry over rough footpaths, stairs or to lift into overhead bins. They however make sense to stack other luggage, for travel by car, bus or train when weight is not critical, with barrierfree, smooth surfaces in terminals, hotel or office corridors. Hard bags appear rugged, but not necessarily they are. A soft bag is lighter and more flexible with regard to the variable size allowances or for storage in cramped luggage bins.

In 25 years of international travel by air I had five damaged or delayed pieces of check-in luggage, but never ever a lost or stolen piece. On arrival, immigration for non-Schengen citizen takes a little bit longer. You don't gain much time by not to check-in luggage.

Posted by
3235 posts

I'd say just be prepared to check your bag or just check your bag. I think there are a lot more closet carryon bag checkers on this RS site than are publicized or that usually speak up. I usually check my carryon. However, when I do physically carryon I have everything for a delayed or lost bag in a reusable shopping bag. If I have to check or gate check I just reach in my bag and pull out the reusable shopping bag, which is already packed and also holds my purse if need be, and I'm good to go for a few days. No worries. I also distinguish my bag and have a picture of it on my phone/ipod to show the airline personnel if it doesn't arrive on schedule. Our family has had very few late bags and no lost bags in 35+ years of traveling. And they have been late only when there was essentially too tight of a layover...so avoidable, usually. I happen to love the delivery service for a lost bag... I travel on British Air and I think their weight restriction is 51 pounds so weight is not an issue for me as my goal is 20 lbs or less. I did travel SAS in Europe a couple of years ago and didn't want to bother with wondering about the weight so I just checked my bag as it was free anyway. It all works. Wray

Posted by
15505 posts

IATA never had carry on luggage rules. They tried last year but airlines and luggage manufacturers pushed back.

Airlines do not discourage checked bags. They prefer them over carry on bags. A baggage handler can unload a load a plan full of bags faster than passengers can get their items into and out of the overheads while exiting or entering. And while you have to be seated before the door closes, the baggage handlers can continue to load bags.

And, since most airlines now charge for checked bags, it's a way for them to make extra money.

As for carry on bags, airlines have been restricting weight more and more because most people have rollers and it's hard to make a 7 or 8 kg weight limit with them.

Posted by
489 posts

Thank you everyone.
On other trips to Europe we always checked our bags and brought on a small daybag carryon.
Do to the fact that our initial trip had changed, we needed to have two separate tickets to get home, so with a short transfer time the only way to make connections is to carry on all luggage on the way home. (should be interesting.) Otherwise we would have had to collect our luggage and re check it in (this is the info I got from the airlines)

Posted by
1194 posts

@tgreen099
You may want to budget shipping items home on the return trip based on your travel circumstances. It's a bit on the expensive side but it does give you much more freedom on the flight home. I found shipped items arrived in less than 2 weeks. I've used flat rate shipping. Basically if it fits in the box it ships for a fixed price.
I've even stuffed liquid souvenirs padded in clothing. I made sure the bottle items were in the middle of the box. I used dirty clothes and heavy items in the box. I took 2 days clothing and super fragile items with me in my carry on. I wait until 2 days before the end of the trip until I ship. I am in a large city with services at that point.

Posted by
287 posts

I've had good luck with shipping items home. I've successfully used Mail Boxes Etc. to ship home hiking boots that weren't needed for the second half of a trip, gifts purchased for family, souvenirs purchased for myself, etc. A little pricey, yes, but the items were back in the US before I was, all safe and sound, and it was a great convenience to me.

Posted by
15505 posts

I did something different on my last trip.

While I don't buy souvenirs, I wound up with a lot of brochures and extra papers I needed to get home.
Shipping would have been expensive.

Instead, I bought a larger suitcase. I put my carry on bag packed as normal in it and surrounded that with the items I accumulated during the 2 1/2 months I was away. I had a free checked bag on the flight so that didn't cost me anything.

Posted by
1194 posts

@FrankII - The issue here is that they have 2 separate tickets that are not linked. They can not check their bags all the way through. If they checked their bags then they would have to go down to baggage claim, collect their bags, go to the next airline, recheck their bags, and then reenter security. That can take well over an hour (at best). I personally would schedule 3 hours for such an activity just because of Murphy.
Shipping removes the checked bag option and is probably the easiest solution under this off-nominal situation.

Posted by
15505 posts

@Cindy H....it depends on the airlines involved. If they are the same airline, but two separate tickets, the agent should be able to link the two up so the bags will be transferred.

However, my response was more a generic one that for the specific problem. It is actually cheaper at times to buy a new bag to bring things home than to pay the exorbitant international shipping rates.

Posted by
1625 posts

Frank -We usually use this method to bring stuff back. We will purchase a suitcase during the trip and just check in that one bag OR we will buy a duffle bag to check in and stuff it with all our dirty clothes and use our original bags for our extra newly acquired stuff. We got our last duffle bag for like $20.00 from a street vendor in London, we still use it!

Posted by
44 posts

I would appreciate knowing a bit more regarding travelers' experiences with Delta weighing carry on luggage on flights that are operated by Delta. Frank and Nancy both say that on their Delta flights the carry on bags were weighed. This is, perhaps, at odds with the Delta's statement of their current policy on their website that "No maximum weight applies to carry-on baggage except in the below stations:" The stations listed are Singapore, South Korea, Beijing, and Shanghai. This is of interest to me, since I just booked roundtrip tickets to Venice, on an itinerary where all of the flights are operated by Delta--that is, no codeshare flights operated by other airlines. So, I am wondering, perhaps where the carry on bags were weighed on a "Delta" flight, it was because the flight was operated by another airline, as, I think, Nancy indicated ("Delta/KLM to Geneva and Delta/Air France"). Thank you.

Posted by
985 posts

We flew business class Delta to Amsterdam and code share AF home from Paris. We did carry on only with RS convertible bags and each had an extra smaller bag. In fact I didn't put my little cross-body into my smaller bag. Nobody weighed our bags or said anything to us. I usually fly Delta and have never had a bag measured or weighed. That doesn't mean it won't happen though. Looks like Delta is very generous with weight and size compared to European airlines.

Posted by
489 posts

Back from the trip and our carry on luggage was weighted by Turkish air in Chicago. All was good as we carefully weighed it with a hand luggage scale.
On the return trip Croatian air did not weigh any thing and we then transferred to Turkish air without any other questions. Even brought back my collapsible walking pole in the carry on.
Also want to say how happy we were with our RS luggage. I had the rolling carry on and husband had the convertible. We definitely will be traveling this light more often. I was somewhat worried at the retractable handles strength, but it did well. We had more than one flight that required hauling all our stuff up stairs and into the aircraft. I particularly like the fabric handles and ease of moving the luggage anywhere.

Posted by
208 posts

@tgreen099, that's great! Thanks for the feedback.

Cheers,
Vivian