Hand baggage has always gone hand-in-hand with short business trips, saving you time at the airport and protecting you from the risk of lost luggage. 

It’s no longer as efficient and cheap as it once was, however. Low-cost carriers have long restricted hand baggage allowances to just one bag that fits under the seat, with some full-service carriers starting to adopt the practice, citing time-saving improvements and limited overhead locker space as the reasons for the change in policy. In these cases, passengers have to purchase more expensive fares, dramatically downsize their packing, or check in their luggage. 

Other airlines give passengers the freedom to bring a case and a “personal item” that is small enough to fit under the seat in front – backpacks, briefcases, handbags or laptop bags fall into this bracket. That said, you’re not always sheltered from the check-in experience, with passengers at the back of the boarding queue sometimes required to put their cases in the hold when the flight is busy due to lack of space onboard.

Here, we take a look at the cabin bag allowances across various airlines. Note that this is correct at the time of writing.