The act of flying with kids in tow is a well-known challenge – but what about booking and packing for the flight itself?
With each airline offering different policies on what you and your family can take for free, or have to pay extra for – getting the best possible deal on your baggage can take some time, and some serious research.
Here at MFM HQ, we know all too well what it’s like to trawl through airline website after airline website trying to find out exactly what our little ones are entitled to bring on board – and whether we can cut costs by pooling our checked baggage allowance together.
So, we decided to do a lot of the hard work for you – so you can confidently begin planning your holiday knowing how much you can pack for 7 of the major, family-friendly UK airlines:
- British Airways (BA)
- Thomas Cook
- TUI Airways
- Virgin Atlantic.
As of April 2019, here’s what you need to know about your family’s hand baggage and checked baggage allowance for each airline…
Jet2 are known for their package holidays and flights to sunnier climates like Spain, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote, Majorca, Turkey, Greece and Malta, flying from most of the major UK airports.
Jet2 hand baggage rules for families
- Each person gets one piece of unchecked cabin baggage free of charge.
- The weight/size limit for each bag is 10kg and dimensions of 56cm x 45cm x 25cm, including all wheels and handles
- If you have baby/toddler items you need to carry, make sure these are included in your hand baggage weight. You can’t carry extra.
- Small handbags or laptop bags may be permitted onto the flight as well, so long as it fits in the overhead compartment or under your seat.
Jet2 checked baggage rules for families
- Prices vary depending on your destination, but you can book up to 3 checked bags per person for your flight.
- The baggage allowance is 22kg per bag per person booked and paid for, so 66kg total.
- The maximum weight for one bag is 32kg.
- HOWEVER there’s NO checked baggage for an infant (under the age of 2), but you do get the same allowance for any child over the age of 2 who has their own seat booked.
- You’re likely to get the best price if you pay when you book your flight online.
easyJet are famous for low cost flights and their bright orange planes – but they’ve also got quite a thorough and we’d say pretty decent baggage policy for families.
easyJet’s hand baggage rules for families
- Each adult gets 1 cabin bag included in their flight: 1 56cm x 45cm x 25cm, including handles and wheels. Flexi, Upfront, Extra Legroom customers and easyJet Plus cardholders get an additional bag sized 45cm x 36cm x 20cm for under the seat.
- Children aged between 2 – 15 years are entitled to take the same amount of hand baggage on board as an adult.
- Infants (14 days – 2 years) don’t get their own cabin bag allowance – but you CAN bring an additional baby changing bag, max size 45 x 36 x 20cm, for under your seat.
- Standard size Trunkis (46 x 20.5 x 31 cm) can be taken on board if they can go under your seat. Larger Trunkis need to go in the hold.
easyJet’s hold baggage rules for families
- Each adult or child (2 – 15 years old) can buy up to 3 bags for the hold.
- There are 3 weights to choose from: 23kg standard bag, or a smaller 15kg, max 32kg per person.
- Infants booked to travel on an adult’s lap cannot add hold luggage.
- If you’re travelling with family or friends on the same flight and booking, you can pool your total weight allowance. Win!
British Airways (BA)
Unlike the low budget airlines, BA do flights to popular holiday destinations in Europe like Spain and France, but also long-distance and long haul flights to America, Asia and beyond.
Therefore, how much you can take for your family really depends on where you’re going and what class you’re travelling in.
BA’s hand baggage rules for families
- All children (2 – 11 years) are entitled to bring 1 handbag/laptop bag (max. 23kg / 51lb and up to 40 x 30 x 15cm) plus 1 additional cabin bag (max. 23kg / 51lb and up to 56 x 45 x 25cm).
- The same hand baggage allowance also applies to young adults (12 – 15 year olds) and adults (16+).
- Infants (children under 2) sitting on mum or dad’s lap can have 1 cabin bag for items needed during the flight (max. 23kg / 51lb and up to 56 x 45 x 25cm).
- UNLESS you’ve paid for your under 2 to have their own seat, at which point they are classed as a ‘child’ and receive the above child allowance.
- You can’t combine your hand baggage allowances, unfortunately.
BA’s checked baggage rules for families
- With British Airways, you only have to pay for check-in baggage if you’ve booked a ‘hand baggage only’ fare, or are hoping to buy extra.
- You can’t combine your baggage allowances on BA
The Majority of World Traveller/Eco flights include as part of the ticket price:
- Adults and young adults (from 12 years) are allowed 1 bag (max. 23kg / 51lb) up to 90 x 75 x 43cm, including any bits that stick out, like the handle, pockets and wheels.
- Children and infants (up to 11) 1 bag (max. 23kg / 51lb, size Up to 90 x 75 x 43cm – not including the buggy/car seat allowance.
If you are travelling long haul or have purchased a premium or first class ticket, you might be entitled to more. Best to check the BA website for your specific destination.
What you can bring on your TUI flight really depends on whether you’ve booked flights only or a packaged holiday for your family.
We’ve broken it down as best we can – though what you’re entitled to should be made clear to you when you’re booking…
TUI hand baggage rules for families
- On a package holiday, each person can take 1 piece of hand luggage weighing up to 5kg and with maximum dimensions of 55 x 40 x 20cm on a TUI Airways flight.
- On some package holidays you’re allowed 7kg – this will be clearly shown while you’re booking if it applies.
- Things like laptops, handbags and items bought at the airport must fit within your 1 piece of hand luggage.
- You can bring a Trunki case as hand luggage, as long as it weighs less than 5kg.
- If you’re just booking a TUI Airways flight, you can carry 1 piece of hand luggage of up to 5kg for free, max size 55 x 40 x 20cm. Same rules apply re: laptops and handbags and duty free buys.
TUI checked baggage rules for families
- On a package holiday, each person gets a 15kg luggage allowance (some hols will be 20kg, though it’ll be obvious if this applies when you book).
- Children under 2 get their very own 10kg luggage allowance for the hold.
- On flights only, you can book checked-in luggage for an extra charge while you’re booking or online at a later date.
- You’ll likely get the best price by booking your luggage in online rather than at the airport.
- For TUI Airways flights, you’re allowed to pool your luggage allowance, but no individual bag can weigh more than 23kg.
Ryanair’s hand baggage policy changed in early 2018 – and it’s a little different from most other airlines. SO when you book these flights, pay close attention.
Ryanair hand baggage rules for families
- Each person is allowed to bring 1 small personal (handbag or laptop) bag on board, max size 35 x 20 x 20cm
- You now have to pay extra to bring a bigger cabin bag – approx £8 per person to upgrade to ‘Priority & 2 Cabin Bags’ – which allows an additional 10kg bag, max size 55 x 40 x 20cm.
- If you’ve bought a Plus/Flexi/Family ticket or connecting flight ticket, you also get the extra 10kg bag.
- Infants (aged 8 days to 23 months) travelling on an adult’s lap don’t get hand baggage, but you can bring an extra baby bag weighing up to 5kg.
Ryanair checked baggage rules for families
- No checked baggage is included in your flight. It is £25 – £35 (depending on the time of year) for one bag weighing 20kg, and you can check in up to 3 bags.
- There’s no checked baggage for infants (8 days – 23 months) seated on mum or dad’s lap.
- It’s cheapest to book this online when you book your flight, though you can book online after you’ve booked your initial flight for more money, basically.
- You can pool or share how much purchased checked baggage you have with the rest of your party – as long as you’re on the same flight, and you’re checking in together, and no one’s bag weighs more than 32kg.
The rules for Thomas Cook vary a bit depending on how long your flight is and your final destination, so pay close attention to what your booking says.
Especially if you’re flying to the States or Canada for a long-distance family holiday…
Thomas Cook hand baggage rules for families
- Each child and adult (2 years +) gets one free piece of hand baggage, weighing max 6kg and max size of 55 x 40 x 20cm.
- Under 2s sitting on mum and dad’s lap don’t have hand baggage, UNLESS they have a seat booked, in which case they also get 6kg.
- Trunki cases are accepted as hand baggage as long as there’s a child travelling (with their own seat). Trunkis can’t weigh more than 6kg – or they go in the hold and become part of your checked baggage allowance.
- You may also be allowed a small handbag, a small bag containing food for your baby or a laptop bag.
- You can’t combine your hand baggage with the rest of your family, sadly!
Thomas Cook checked baggage rules for families
- The standard baggage allowance per person is 15kg, and goes up to 20kg on long-haul flights and 23kg to the US, max size 158cm all around.
- You can combine your baggage allowance together, but no one case can weigh more than 30kg.
- If you’re travelling to the USA, Canada or Puerto Rico you can’t combine luggage but CAN carry up to 32kg in one case.
- Under 2s sitting on your lap get a 10kg baggage allowance ONLY (excluding Economy Light passengers): if they are booked into a seat they get the standard allowance, above.
- You can pay to check-in up to five extra 30kg bags per person.
If you’re flying with Virgin, it’s likely you’re jetting off for a couple of weeks minimum to somewhere quite far away from the UK, typically the USA or the Carribean.
Virgin’s hand baggage rules for families
- Hand baggage is included as part of all Virgin tickets and vary depending on which class you’re flying in – though you’ll get a minimum of 1 bag per person, weighing 10kg max, size 23 x 36 x 56cm.
- Babies and toddlers aged 0 – 23 months are entitled to one bag each weighing up to 6kg.
- Any children aged 2+ years are entitled to the same amount of hand baggage as an adult.
- Small handbags/backpacks and infant food are allowed on separately from the 10kg bag.
Virgin’s checked baggage rules for families
- Firstly, check your ticket number starts with ‘VS’ – if it doesn’t, that means another airline’s policy may apply instead.
- Economy Light bookings are hand baggage only, so you’ll have to pay to check in ANY bags.
- Economy Classic and Delight tickets include one checked bag, max size 90 x 75 x 43cm and up to 23kg in weight.
- If you’re booked into the Premium cabin, you can take up to 2 pieces of baggage.
- For little ones with their own seat booked, they’ll get the allowance stated above for their ticket type.
- Babies/toddlers sitting on your lap get a checked baggage allowance of one 23kg bag for all classes – EXCEPT Economy Light, where there is no checked baggage.
Got any top tips?
Image: Getty Images/Airline websites