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Ryanair’s cabin baggage policy: all you need to know

Times are tough for travellers. But with the world preparing to reopen in 2021, we're here to keep you dreaming and planning for your next adventure - whether that's a staycation or flying off to parts unknown. Until then, we've got the latest COVID-19 travel advice and updates to keep you up to date and ready to go.

It might be some time since you were on a plane. But with domestic travel possibly on the cards from 12 April, and international flights potentially from mid-May onwards, a refresher of airline luggage policies may be in order. In this article, we walk you through all you need to know about Ryanair’s cabin baggage policy and how to make the most of what you’re allowed to bring on board.

Note: The UK is currently in lockdown and travel is still not permitted. When it’s time to get back out there, always keep an eye on the government’s travel advice and the latest COVID-19 rules and regulations in your destination.

Ryanair’s cabin baggage allowance explained

If you’re travelling or plan to travel with them, you need to be aware of Ryanair’s cabin baggage policy to avoid incurring pesky fees. Currently, you’re only allowed to bring one small bag (40x20x25cm) on board for free. The bag needs to fit under the seat in front of you. If it doesn’t, or if you bring a second bag to the gate, you will be charged a fee of £25.

When you're on board the plane, remember that according to the Ryanair hand luggage policy, your bag should fit under your seat

What if the Ryanair cabin baggage allowance is too small?

The airline offers many ways to top up your Ryanair hand luggage allowance without going too far over budget. One option you have, starting from to £6-£20, is to add priority boarding and two cabin bags to your booking. This allows you to bring one more bag (max 10kg) on board to store in the overhead locker. And because you’ll be boarding first, you won’t have to worry about the overhead locker being already filled to the brim with luggage.

Another option, starting from £12.99 (if you purchase this at the time of booking), is to bring a second bag (max 10kg) which you will drop off at the check-in desk. Then, once you reach your arrival airport, you can collect your bag at the baggage carousel. Be aware though that if you add this option after you’ve completed your booking or at the boarding gate, you can pay anything between £23.99-£35.99.

You can buy extra Ryanair luggage and pick it up at the baggage carousel

What’s Ryanair’s hold luggage policy?

In some cases, travelling with more than just a carry-on cannot be avoided. Ryanair hand luggage policy may allow only 10kg max on board, but you get a check-in bag allowance up to 20kg if you upgrade to Plus. A Plus ticket also offers you the opportunity to reserve your seat and check-in at the airport, which otherwise can cost you a fee of £55.

If you’re travelling with family, perhaps you should consider the Family Plus option. This will allow you 2 x 20kg bags per booking, plus a 10kg bag per person (and your free under-seat bag). Kids also travel for free with this type of ticket and you can also bring up to two types of infant equipment on board for no extra charge.

Worried that your plans might change? Booking a Flexi Plus ticket allows you to cancel or change your booking, while also giving you access to priority booking and two cabin bags. Remember you can always filter for flexible tickets via the Skyscanner website and app, to book travel with confidence.

Can I bring extra items on board?

Medical equipment, such as dialysis machines, are allowed on board. Sports equipment, bicycles and large sports items are also permitted (with a max. weight of 20kg), but you should expect to pay a fee ranging from £30-£60.

Tips to maximise your Ryanair cabin baggage allowance

Follow these tips to make sure your cabin bags don’t cause a problem.

1. Make the most out of your handbag

Your handbag can be repurposed to serve as your Ryanair hand luggage

Ryanair is unusual among low-cost airlines in allowing a small cabin bag as well as your standard carry on luggage, although only the former is currently offered for free.

Take advantage of the Ryanair hand luggage policy and make sure your under-seat bag carries all your necessities like passport, money, your electronic devices etc. So long as you’re within the Ryanair cabin bag size limits (40x20x25cm), there’s no charge for this. Which is good news, because this way you won’t have to place all of your valuables at the mercy of the baggage handlers!

2. Get to the airport early

Going to the airport early will help when you don't have a reserved seat

If you opted to add Priority & 2 Cabin Bags to your booking, or have a Plus ticket, you don’t have to worry about arriving at the airport super early. In all other cases though, arriving at the airport early (90 minutes to two hours before departure time is recommended for domestic and short-haul flights) is a good idea, especially if you haven’t booked an allocated seat. All of those Priority Boarding passengers will get their pick of overhead locker space, so the closer you are to the front of the queue, the better your chances are of getting your bag on board.

Besides, being early affords you time to grab some all-important snacks for the journey. According to current COVID-19 measures, Ryanair is now offering a limited inflight service that consists of wrapped snacks and drinks, which are available to purchase by card only.

3. Pool your (checked) baggage

With the new Ryanair hand luggage rules, pooling your luggage with a partner or friend is a smart idea

Travelling with a partner or friend? Share the cost by sharing a hold bag. Ryanair baggage fees for check-in bags start from £20.99 to £39.99 for up to 20kg, if you purchase when you book your flight. Higher fees (£39.99-£59.99) apply if you change your booking or pay at the airport.

In case your check-in bag is heavier than the 20kg Ryanair baggage allowance, you’ll have to pay a fee of £11 for every extra kilo.

4. Go travel-size

Don't forget to use travel sized cosmetics when travelling

Travel-size no longer just means a tiny shampoo and a squirt of sun-cream. There’s an amazing array of miniature items you can take on holiday these days, from mini hair straighteners that take up half the room of full-size pairs, to micro-fibre travel towels that fold away to the size of a tissue.

Don’t forget the airport liquids rule when you’re buying travel toiletries. All travel liquid containers must be 100ml or less if you’re carrying them in your hand luggage. And if you can’t get a smaller size of a particular item, think about whether you really need to take that bulky jacket or those extra heels.

Learning how to pack sensibly for weekend breaks is a valuable skill, so check out our guide on packing light, to avoid those last-minute baggage fees once and for all.

5. Pick and choose Ryanair extras

To make the most of your trip, you can purchase extras like an additional luggage or extra legroom seats

Ryanair is the pick-and-mix option in the aviation world, so you could always just purchase what’s important to you. For instance, it may be a good idea to pay for extra legroom (as you’ll have an under-seat bag to deal with). Extra legroom seats range from £14 to £28. If you don’t have a huge cabin bag but just want to ensure it makes it on board, select Priority Boarding from to £6-£20.

Find all of Ryanair’s fees laid out in a table here and buy at the time of booking to make the best savings.

6. Shop around other budget airlines

Make sure to always check multiple airline offerings before you get to the airport

Ryanair is not the only option for cheap flights out there, so it’s worth shopping around other major European airlines. easyJet has similar size limitations on cabin baggage to Ryanair, but there’s no weight restriction. And remember, you can always find great deals for airlines on Skyscanner, using our smart tools to filter for flexible tickets and airline cleanliness.

Use our guidelines here to compare the baggage allowances for easyJet, BA and more

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