The carry-on baggage policy on British Airways states that:

Maximum weight per bag is up to 23 kg (51lbs).

Two passengers, with bags near the weight limit could easily go well over 40 kg. And then there will be a few smaller laptop bags etc. inevitably stuffed into the overhead compartment, I imagine it can touch 50 kg.

However, the overhead compartments themselves have a stated limit of 32 kg. Isn't this an unsafe practice? If so, how is British Airways permitted to do so, and if not, why do other airlines not follow the same practice?

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    $\begingroup$ under seat storage $\endgroup$ Nov 4, 2014 at 18:18
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    $\begingroup$ A bag like safari.in/store/media/catalog/product/cache/1/image/950x/… can easily carry 20KG, and 2 of these fit overhead. They cannot fit in the under seat storage and will tough 40KG even if everyone keeps laptops,etc under the seat (which they dont) $\endgroup$
    – Akash
    Nov 4, 2014 at 18:24
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    $\begingroup$ I see the aviation (safety) aspect here, but the answer could be a purely business one, e.g. BA has estimated (or gathered data) to show that customers never carry such heavy bags anyway but by 'allowing' it they can make the statement on the same page for Marketing purposes that "We offer one of the most generous free hand baggage allowances of any airline". If you don't get a good answer here you may want to try travel.stackexchange.com instead because I think there's a large business practice component to it. $\endgroup$
    – Pondlife
    Nov 4, 2014 at 18:45
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    $\begingroup$ @Akash: The bag can carry 20kg in a sense that it won't break with such load. But you won't find that many things with sufficient density to actually weight 20kg, fit in and make sense to take on a trip. $\endgroup$
    – Jan Hudec
    Nov 4, 2014 at 19:56
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    $\begingroup$ Where did you read that the overhead bins have a limit of 32kg? This seems low. $\endgroup$ Nov 5, 2014 at 0:15

1 Answer 1


Easyjet has no firm weight limit and advertises this fact. From the website

There’s no weight restriction for cabin baggage, as long as you can place and retrieve the cabin bag safely in the overhead lockers without assistance.

They also use vague language like “within reason” or “lift comfortably” but most people probably won't have 20 kg with them. Given the limited size of cabin luggage, you would need to deliberately carry dense, heavy stuff to reach that weight (books maybe? wine bottles and other liquids are off-limits and if you don't want to check in any bag you still need space for your other things).

And then, comes this (from the BA website you mentioned):

Occasionally we may not have space to stow all hand baggage safely on board and you may be asked to check in some or all of your hand baggage at the boarding gate.

Bottom line: Airlines don't need to rely on a prespecified weight limit at all. They rely on the size restrictions and general common sense to keep things manageable and if it somehow does not work out, they can always gate check a few bags.

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    $\begingroup$ Looks like it isnt really a safety issue at all.. $\endgroup$
    – Akash
    Nov 6, 2014 at 17:57
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    $\begingroup$ I'm curious about the "without assistance". Some people do need assistance, even for lighter weights many would fine easy to handle. My wife, for example, broke her elbow awhile back and now (after recovery) can't use that arm to lift things. (In practice she's always easily been able to find help from a fellow passenger.) $\endgroup$
    – davidbak
    Dec 28, 2017 at 19:27
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    $\begingroup$ FWIW, Most U.S. airlines also impose no weight limit on carry-on baggage, as long as it complies with the standard dimensions. Most U.S. airlines don't weigh carry-on bags at all. $\endgroup$
    – reirab
    Dec 28, 2017 at 21:44
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    $\begingroup$ @reirab Interesting. Most European airlines that do place a limit on carry-on weight according to their terms and conditions don't actually weigh carry-on bags either, not sure why they still pretend to have restrictions like that. $\endgroup$
    – Relaxed
    Dec 28, 2017 at 21:52

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