Ryanair hand luggage policy changes. A Ryainair plane wing above the clouds at sunset taken through the airplane window.
Budget Travel, Destinations, Europe, Travel Tips

Changes to the Ryanair Hand Luggage Policy – 2019 Update

In January 2018, the Ryanair hand luggage policy was changed drastically. Historically, every passenger was allowed to take two pieces of hand luggage aboard the plane for free. This was then changed to only being allowed one piece on board and a second taken off you at the gate and placed under the plane for free. However, from November 2018, Ryanair then changed their hand luggage policy again. With all the changes, it can be very confusing so I have written this post to explain what it really means for you.

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Ryanair originally changed their hand luggage policy because too many people were taking large hand luggage bags. There wasn’t enough room for them in the cabin which meant only some people could keep their bags with them. Ryanair staff had to count how many large bags were going into the cabin and when it reached a certain number no more were allowed. They then had to take these large bags off everyone else and put them in hold luggage instead.

Small Purple Revelation suitcase with silver accents small enough to use as hand luggage for most airlines

The new policy is that now no one can take these large bags into the cabin. With the first change, they were taken off you at the gate and put in the hold for free. However, now if you want to take these larger, wheelie bags you must pay to have them as checked in luggage. You will then have to pick them up at the baggage carousel like you would with any other hold luggage. The good thing with this is, as you are checking your bag in before going through security you are no longer subject to liquid regulations so can take as much as you want as long as the weight is within the limits.

It costs £/€10 to £/€12 (depending on when you’re traveling) to add a 10kg hold luggage bag or £/€25 for 20kg. If you do not purchase checked in bags and still bring a bag this size, it will be taken of you either at the airport check-in or at the gate and you will be charged £/$20 to £/$25 for up to 10kg plus £/$11 per kg over as excess luggage. You can find all their fees on the Ryanair website.

The only other way around paying for checked-in luggage is to pay for priority boarding instead. If you need two bags and don’t want to wait for them or are taking lots of things you will need whilst on the plane, this is definitely the way to go. Even if you don’t mind waiting, it makes more sense to pay for priority than for checked in bags as it is actually cheaper at only £/$6 to £/$10. This allows you to be one of the first on the plane as well as being able to take a large bag and smaller personal item into the cabin. A personal item can be a small handbag, umbrella, laptop bag or something similar.

Grey and Beige over the shoulder hand bag designed to look like a raccoon face.

The Ryanair hand luggage policy states that all passengers are allowed a small bag of no more than 40cm x 20cm x 25cm which must fit under the seat in front. If you pay for priority tickets you can then bring an additional bag of no more than 55cm x 40cm x 20cm and weighing no more than 10kg. Often hand luggage bags aren’t weighed or measured since you don’t need to check them in anywhere so you can sometimes get away with slightly more. It is usually only if it looks obviously larger than it should that it will get picked up. But if your bag is too large or overweight you can be charged high fees for this so overpacking is at your own risk. I have flown with Ryanair to Brussels, Aarhus and Venice as well as many now and up to now, I’ve never had an issue with slightly oversized hand luggage however, when they feel like being strict, Ryanair flights are often very strict.

Also from my recent experiences with Ryanair flights, the bags that are allowed in the cabin are actually a lot bigger than the official dimensions. It seems that backpacks and hold-alls are acceptable but the small wheeled suitcases are not. It is stated on Ryanair’s site that this is subject to staff discretion though so it might depend on the flight you’re taking. If you can, the best way to fly with Ryanair to keep costs down is by packing light and fitting everything into a backpack or hold-all. You can get some ideas of how to pack light by reading our carry-on packing tips and tricks post.

Grey and Black backpack with white Karrimor logo

In my humble opinion, I thought the first change was a good thing as it essentially meant that you got free checked-in luggage which is rare for budget airlines. However, the second just seems like a way to make extra money from unsuspecting passengers. Ryanair has said that they are doing this to save time and prevent flight delays which makes sense as now they are not having to wait till the passengers are boarding to load their luggage. The problem is since priority boarding is cheaper than checking in your bags, the majority of people are paying for it and having two bags in the cabin resulting in the same issue they were trying to solve originally of not having enough space for all the bags. On top of this, when everyone pays for priority boarding, no one is actually getting on the plane any faster than they were before anyway. It’s not really priority boarding if everyone has it.

It would of been much better if Ryanair had just given everyone the option of a free 10kg checked-in bag which could be dropped off at the desk before boarding. Most people would have gone for this since the most common reason for people taking large hand luggage bags is just that they don’t want to pay for it. They could of got the bags in earlier so less delays and most people wouldn’t have bothered paying for priority so there would be fewer large bags taken in the cabin. It also means passengers don’t have to carry their bags through security and so aren’t subject to so many regulations. It would be a win-win situation for everyone.

However, I don’t believe that Ryanair will do this as currently, they have a way of ensuring almost everyone pays a bit extra for their flights. I would predict that to prevent so many people using priority to bring extra bags, they will raise the price of it making it more attractive to check in your bags. If it is cheaper or the same price to check in your bags rather than take them on the plane with you, I think many more people would prefer this option as it gives greater freedom. There will still be some people who go for priority so that they don’t have to wait for their bags at their destination but if you’re in no rush, checked-in bags are much more convenient.

If you are comparing flight prices to get the best deal, you will now need to take these extra charges into account. If a return flight with Ryanair is only £30 but you need checked-in luggage at an extra £10 each way, it might work out cheaper just to fly with another airline with a return flight at £40 if they include enough free luggage. Skyscanner is a great tool for comparing flights from lots of different airlines in one go but it only states the basic price of flights without any extras so make sure you add these in yourself.

In summary, from now on if you are flying with Ryanair, you are only allowed one piece of hand luggage which must be small enough to fit under the chair in front of you and have no wheels. If you do want a second larger piece of hand luggage, you must pay for either checked-in luggage or priority boarding. Priority boarding is currently the cheaper of the two options and also comes with other perks such as being allowed to enter the plane earlier and not having to wait for your bags on arrival. Watch this space though as that could all change soon as it is causing more issues at the moment. As of yet, Ryanair is the only airline I’m aware of with this kind of policy, but other budget airlines may follow suit if it works well so this kind of policy may become even more common.

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12 Comments

  1. That’s very interesting, I wonder if more airlines will start doing this.

  2. This is super helpful! Sometime baggage policies can be so confusing. Specially when there’s a bit change like this one. Thanks for sharing!

  3. That’s really interesting and good to know! I’m glad they’re aren’t charging more. It seems like all airlines are heading that way and it can get frustrating trying to figure out end costs for a flight.

  4. Thanks for the heads up! I’m curious if Ryanair is just the first of many to implement these changes…

  5. That’s such a bummer. I hate having to check a bag plus they charge for it. 🙁

  6. Thanks for this detailed explanation, I definitely was a little confused by the new policy but this clears things up.

  7. Last year, I tried Ryanair for the first time and I brought my backpack which was more than 10 kg but I was able to get through easily. This means I need to be careful during my trips in October. Thanks for the detailed explanation 🙂

  8. I had no idea they changed it! That’s definitely good to know cause I travel a lot with Ryanair. Thanks!

  9. You don’t realise how much I needed this post! No matter how much I read the Ryanair website, it never makes sense to me Haha!

  10. I’ve never flown Ryanair but it sounds practical! I wonder if more airlines will follow suit?

  11. I really didn’t know this, Amy. Your blog is more helpful and informative than their official website! 🙂

  12. I never expect after reading this article would give such information for my ignorance regarding luggage policy in this case. This sounds informative. Thank you.

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