Packing and Luggage

Luggage woes can bring a lot of, well, baggage to the low-cost carrier experience. We've been there. Here are some thoughts.

Q: Will I have to pay to check luggage on low-cost flights?

A: Low-cost carriers in Europe have begun to charge for checking luggage. Some airlines also impose hefty penalties on passengers whose checked luggage exceeds posted weight limits. Read the small print! We've experienced hefty luggage fees for checking otherwise unassuming bags.

If you’re traveling with Ryanair, for example, and you want to check two bags (already a dubious plan), you’d better book these bags ahead of time online, when they’ll only cost €25 and €50. If you wait to purchase the checked baggage allowance until you’re at the airport, though, those two bags could cost up to €300! And it’s still €20 per extra kilo! These check-in surprises can quickly cast a dark (and expensive) shadow on your low-cost experience.

Q: What are the policies for carry-on luggage?

A: In some cases, carriers will allow you to bring one piece of hand luggage (usually with a weight limit of 5-10 kg) and one personal item (coat, handbag, laptop). In this case especially, we'd go so far as to suggest never checking luggage on low-cost carriers in Europe. These budget airlines are designed to get you from point A to point B with a carry-on bag, not your life's possessions, in the hold.

Note that if your carry-on exceeds the size and weight limits for your carrier, you will most likely be forced to pay to check it at the airport. This can be much more expensive than paying for a checked bag ahead of time online, so if you are planning on going the carry-on route, know that you’ll be able to pack efficiently and under the limits.

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