Hand luggage on the plane – What is allowed?

Hand luggage is part of every plane trip – either as a single luggage or together with checked baggage. But what should and can be packed? What airline provisions are there? And what are the advantages of traveling with hand luggage only? You will find the answers in this article from Mik the PACK EASY bird.

Hand luggage: backpack, bag or suitcase?

Handgepäck im Flugzeug – Was ist erlaubt?

The first question regarding hand luggage is: backpack, bag or suitcase? As is often the case, there is no right or wrong answer to this. Choosing a hand luggage is mostly based on individual preferences or the style of travel. The good old backpack is ideal to keep your hands free and be agile on the go. Furthermore, you can save up an additional piece of luggage since you can perfectly use your hand luggage backpack as a daypack for excursions at the destination. 

However, it is harder to keep things in order. Things slide down, get wrinkled or crumbled and it inevitably leads to painstaking repacking and emptying. So here the golden rule: The backpack should have several pockets. It’s best to have separate laptop and smartphone compartments, a side pocket for the water bottle, several smaller inner and outer compartments with zippers or even a doubled bottom part for extra tidiness. 

A pleasant wearing comfort is also very important when it comes to backpacks as a hand luggage. So, watch out for a wide, stable and padded shoulder and waist strap and a comfortable back part.  PACK EASY has great travel pouches to keep order and safe space, if you are on a hunt for additional tidiness.

Handgepäck im Flugzeug – Was ist erlaubt?

With bags as hand luggage it is similar, whereby the weight plays a more important role compared to the backpack because of the one-sided strain of the shoulder. But for stylish travelers there are some especially chic models like the Swiss Made Weekender from PACK EASY which unite functionality, comfort and style through adjustable shoulder straps and additional hand strap.The advantage of choosing a trolley as a hand luggage is for sure the tidiness and simplicity. Thanks to fully opening up the suitcase as well as inside and outside nets and belts it is relatively simple to keep a certain clarity. Besides, the back gets less strained compared to carrying a backpack or a bag. You can roll your hand luggage trolley effortlessly through the airport and be less afraid of theft since there are often already integrated locks.

Hand luggage regulations: weight and dimension indications

No matter which kind of hand luggage you choose, weight and dimension always matter since the airlines have strict guidelines regarding hand luggage. Failure to comply results in not being allowed to take the hand luggage with you into the cabin but instead gets stowed away in the hold for a fee. You better comply with formalities to prevent such hassles.

As a rule, each passenger is allowed to bring one hand luggage item (backpack, bag or suitcase). It must be stored in the overhead locker above your seat or under the seat in front. Often there is a maximum weight of 8 kg that must be observed. Yet there are airlines who require a lower or even no maximum weight for hand luggage. It’s best to check the airline’s website or call before departure. There are also differences with dimensions. 

They generally vary between 56 x 45 x 25 cm and 55 x 40 x 23 cm, including handles and wheels. At the airport’s check-in desks are mostly stands to check the standard measures of your hand luggage. Here again, better verify the airline’s dimension indications to save unnecessary fees and nerves.

Things that are (not) permitted in hand luggage

After you have found the right hand luggage and controlled the weight and dimension indications, follows packing. But which items are now allowed? What needs to be in the hold, what in the cabin? Pretty complicated but don’t worry I will give you the most important dos and don’ts to take along.

Liquids in hand luggage

Hand luggage can’t contain any container with more than 100 ml of liquids. Furthermore, each passenger must have all vessels in a single, transparent and resealable plastic bag with a maximum capacity of 1 liter. They need to be taken out of the hand luggage and e separately presented at the security check. 

The easiest and cheapest way is to transfer your conventional shampoos, creams and Co. in small plastic containers which can be bought in almost every supermarket or drug store. Alternatively, there are mini versions from most care products. In case you stay in a hotel room you can save yourself the effort because many accommodations are perfectly equipped with toiletries. And in a pinch, you can buy everything later abroad – not to mention mostly cheaper than here.

Excepted from liquid regulations for hand luggage are liquid Duty Free items, sealed properly in special bags. Also, special foods like baby food and urgently required medications during flight are free from the restrictions. Be sure to carry a written attestation from your doctor regarding the necessity of the medication in your hand luggage.

Some advice: Pack an empty water bottle for refill after security check to avoid buying overpriced drinks. The bottle may contain more than 100 ml because the regulations don’t count for empty vessels.

Restricted and forbidden items in hand luggage

Airlines hold lists of all items that are either permitted in limited amount or quantity or are completely forbidden. Check the airline’s website for a detailed list.

Following items must only be carried in your hand luggage and are not allowed in the hold: electronic cigarettes, lighters (one per person, only carried in your pocket), replacement batteries for portable electronical devices (power banks, external chargers) or heat-generating items. Objects such as nail files, cutlery, tools, scissors, pocket knives, syringe, razor blades, hiking sticks, martial arts equipment, weapons and items which can cause injuries, mercury thermometer must be stored in the checked baggage. 

Make sure to carry expensive and personally important electronical devices such as laptop, smartphone, e-reader and camera gear in your hand luggage because checked baggage is always at risk of getting broken. The corresponding chargers also belong in the cabin.

Generally forbidden in hand luggage as well as in checked baggage are, among other things, flammable substances like fuel paste, camping gas, lacquers, diluents, gasoline or solvents, paints, irritant gas like pepper spray, camping stoves, gas tanks, radioactive material, ammunition, fireworks, flares, oxidizing or corrosive substances, combustion engines, detonator, lithium battery-powered mobility aids like e-bikes, smoke capsules and televisions. The list is not complete.

Something else that obviously cannot be missed in your hand luggage are important documents such as passport, flight tickets, credit card and (international) driving license.

The art of packing must be learned

After you have chosen your style of hand luggage, checked dimension and weight indications of the airline and know which items belong into the hand luggage and which are forbidden, it is time to pack. To that you can find helpful suggestions and recommendations on the PACK EASY Blog.

Extra Mik tips

To conclude, I would like to give you some extra tips for the journey.

It can always happen during a flight: your suitcase gets lost. Mostly it takes some days until you have it back. Until then, you are left with your belongings from your hand luggage. So here is my tip: besides tooth brush and most important cosmetics as well as medications, always pack some spare outfits so you can easily get by some days with the content of your hand luggage. That’s why you should always ask yourself while packing: Is it vital and useful? If the answer is yes, then this piece belongs into your hand luggage and not into the checked baggage.

During the flight, it is also helpful to have the following things in your hand luggage: earplugs or noise cancelling headphones and sleeping masks for the most pleasant sleep possible. And in case of bad food, an unpredictable longer stop-over or a sudden bonk, it is always nice to have a bar, some nuts, chocolate or something else to snack on handy.

Now you are well appointed with the most essential tips and tricks for hand luggage. The only thing left: let’s go on vacation!