Passengers who arrive at airport boarding gates with oversized hand luggage may be charged more than their airfare to put the bag in the hold.
The fee charged at the boarding gate varies between airlines, but can be as much £60 with Ryanair and £50 with Monarch, even if the suitcase exceeds the airline’s restrictions by just a few centimetres.
Which? has found one-way Ryanair flights from London to Malmo, Sweden, in May for £15.99 including taxes and charges – £44.01 less than the fine for oversized hand luggage. One-way flights with Monarch are available to Barcelona for £39.49 – still £11.51 less than the oversized hand luggage fine.
Check our hand luggage reviews to find cabin cases that will be accepted by your airline.
Hand luggage for spring breaks
If you’re heading abroad over either of the May bank holidays, make sure you find hand luggage that fits the requirements of your airline. Although Euro MPs have proposed a one-size-fits-all policy, airlines have a range of different size and weight requirements, potentially leading to confusion and surprises at the departure gate.
Even if a suitcase is advertised as cabin sized, don’t assume it will be. Our research found that airlines can include wheels and handles in the measurements for their restrictions, whereas manufacturers may only consider the main body of the case.
Our expert hand luggage reviews independently assess the size and weight of each suitcase.
Hand luggage on test
We’ve tested a range of hand luggage from big name manufacturers such as Antler, Samsonite, Delsey, Tripp and Carlton, as well as own-brand hand luggage from Tesco, John Lewis and M&S.
As well as independently assessing the size and weight of hand luggage, all of the models of suitcase are put through a series of gruelling tests. We test durability on an obstacle-studded roller belt, we drop the cases on their corners when filled with weights, and we subject hand luggage to a simulated heavy downpour to test water resistance. Find out more about how we test hand luggage.
- Which? advice on choosing and buying the best hand luggage
- Which? luggage reviews reveal the best larger suitcases
- Before booking your flights, find out how your airline fared in our airlines survey