Tuesday, 25 April 2017

How To Choose Your Hand Luggage

Blooming Fiction, lifestyle blog, How To Choose Your Hand Luggage

It's nearly time to jet off on your holidays to somewhere exotic ( or blinking freezing ), so that time has come to start packing those last few things .... because you done the rest of it ages ago!

The only problem is that one of the trickiest problems of packing is in fact the thing you pack last. Your hand luggage!

Just the thought of it can scramble your mind. What are you allowed to take on the plane? Will they check your bag in the basket by the check in desk? Will they ask you the dreaded question, 'did you pack your own bag?'

Before jumping down to your nearest luggage retailer to pick the cutest or most vibrant case you can find, get an idea of what will be going inside your case. Why? Because the case itself can be even more complicated than what's going inside it. So let's do one hurdle at a time.

There's much more to hand luggage to think about other than whether or not you need to sit on it in order to close it. But don't fret!! Everything you need is here!

Grab a cuppa and read through my ultimate guide on hand luggage to make sure your holiday starts off as smoothly as your flight.

What's In The Bag?

Restrictions on what can be carried in your hand luggage has become increasingly fierce and may leave you thinking what's the point. The point is that there are restrictions for a reason. The reason being your safety. Being trapped thousands of feet above the ground with someone with a weapon is not a circumstance any of us want to be in, so don't ever get cross with a steward who asks you to remove a potential hazard.

Most of the restrictions in place are more common sense than anything else, but it never hurts to know the ins and outs of what you can, or can't, take on board with you in your hand luggage.

Most airlines abide by the same rules and regulations when it comes to hand luggage content restrictions, but always check with your specific airline incase there are any differences in their policy for carrying dangerous goods.

The restrictions below have come from the EasyJet website. Correct at the time of writing the blog post.

Sharp Objects

No sharp objects like knives are allowed full stop. In the question of manicure kits etc, you are allowed to carry scissors with rounded edges which have a shorter blade than 6cm. If you are only taking your hand luggage for your trip please note that you are allowed to carry razor blades but they must have their plastic protectors on at all times.


An item that must be check with your specific airline. EasyJet state that you may carry lighters and cigarettes with you but check your booking for destination allowances. Some places let you take in more cigarettes than others. Just remember that although you can take a lighter, you cannot take matches. In regards to vaping gadgets, you can carry two spare batteries for your e-cigarette in your hand luggage, but not in your hold luggage. Despite being able to hold these items, it is forbidden on any aircraft and airline to smoke while on the craft.


When passing through security and customs you must only carry 100ml bottles of liquids, aerosols and gels. All of which should fit in to a clear, see through, bag. Any extras may be thrown away at customs.

Food & Drink

Snacks for the journey are accepted onboard but don't forget that many airlines offer a trolley service with loads of yummy indulgences. The 100ml limit remains in play for liquids but you are allowed to carry on your duty free purchases, as long as they are unopened. Once again you cannot start drinking your duty free alcohol while with your chosen airline.

Crackers & Party Poppers

If you're travelling for a festive party, some airlines allow you to carry a sealed box of crackers in your hand luggage. However, it is more advisable to put them in your hold luggage to save any problems at customs. Please note, that some airports do not accept them full stop. Check before you fly to be sure.

Other Restrictions .....

If you're a musician you are likely to need to have them checked in as hold luggage. If you possess small instruments like a violin or a flute, they can be taken on board but must count as your hand luggage. If you want to buy an extra seat for a larger instrument like a cello, you can, as long as you strap it in.

Sporting equipment is also checked in and often requires an additional fee as an extra piece of luggage. The costs depend on the weight of the apparatus so check with your airline first.

Now you know what you can't take with you, start planning what goodies you are going to take!!

Blooming Fiction, lifestyle blog, How To Choose Your Hand Luggage

What's Your Best Hand Luggage Case?

Despite the innocence of the question, this is actually a question hated by many luggage retailers. Why? Because everyone's description of the perfect piece of hand luggage differs. A businessman's ideal piece of luggage will be entirely different to someone who's off to trek Malaysia for a month. The best piece of hand luggage will be the one that does everything you need it to.

When contemplating your perfect hand luggage case, think about what you need it to have. For example .... do you need a case that has a built in lock? Do want a case that glides on four wheels? Do you want a case that holds the maximum capacity you're allowed to carry on board? Do you need organizing pockets inside the case?

The list goes on!

Before choosing your case, make a list of what you need out of your suitcase. Need some help? Here's some pointers I've learnt through selling suitcases and luggage for the last few years.


Many hand luggage cases come with inbuilt locks, which come with a combination lock to secure your zips. The only thing with a combination lock is that you need to remember a three or four digit number in order to access your belongings. If this is a task you'd rather be without ... consider a case that has no lock but you can still attach a padlock through the zips.

At the same time, although locking your case is always a good idea keep in mind that your case will be with you throughout your journey so not having an inbuilt lock isn't the end of the world.

Another lock fact is that if you are travelling to the USA you will need a lock that has a red diamond symbol on it. This is for Travel Sentry Approved locks. More commonly known as TSA, this basically means that the American security services can access your bag if they need to. It means though don't have to break open your case, leaving it vulnerable to other passengers. Ensuring you have a TSA lock will save you time at the airport and let you start enjoying your holiday faster. As a side note .... many inbuilt locks also contain the TSA lock.

Internal Pockets

Pockets are great for organizing your belongings but before jumping for the case with the most pockets .. just ask yourself if you will actually use them. Having a bonus wet pocket built in is all well for swimming attire or dirty pants, but if you don't normally miss out on having a wet pocket, do you need it now? Pick the case which has the right organization for you. Even if that means having shoe pockets inside the front door of the case and a main empty compartment inside.


Yes four wheel cases are easier to use, but only if you use them correctly. If you are an impulse dragger, who pulls the case along behind you on two back wheels... DO NOT buy a four wheel case.

A four and two wheeled case are built differently to give support where needed. By using a four wheel case as a two wheeler, you are damaging the back wheels and they will effectively wear down and then break off. Many users try to claim these incidents on warranty but please note that this is actually classed as third party damage because the case is not being used as it was purposefully built for.

Packing Space

If you are looking to cram in as much stuff as you can into your hand luggage make note of two things. The first ... how much weight are you allowed to carry onboard your aircraft. Then secondly ... how much space do the runners take on the inside?

Tackling the weight issue first. Some airlines do not weigh hand luggage at all, they merely ask that you are able to lift the case above your head to put it in a locker. But some airlines restrict the weight, so always be careful of just how much you are stuffing into your case.

When it comes to runners, you are looking at the cylinders running down the back of the inside of your case. These tubes link your handle, and frame of the case, to your wheels. Depending on the shape and model of your case you may see a difference in the amount of room these mechanisms take. My advice would be to look at a case from IT's World's Lightest range. This range of cases have wide handles which spread to either side of the case instead of straight down the middle. Although not as aesthetically pleasing, these wide handles mean there are no runners inside the case, giving you much more packing space.

Hard Shell Cases

The automatic response is that hard shell hand luggage cases are better. This isn't always right. Due to weight restrictions for some airlines, you may find you can put practically nothing in your case because it is heavy to begin with. Yes hard shell cases are more robust, but they are made with a much heavier duty material and the weight comes with that. Unless you plan on throwing your hand luggage into the middle of a motorway .... a softer material will be just as good, and lighter.

Blooming Fiction, lifestyle blog, How To Choose Your Hand Luggage

Sizing Up Your Hand Luggage

If you're already hanging your head, thinking at how much there is to the whole hand luggage thing ... this is the worst section yet!

Despite the attempts to make one uniform size for all airlines .... MOST AIRLINES HAVE DIFFERENT SIZE ALLOWANCES. Yes it's in capitals. Why? Because it is a hugely overlooked point. Seeing others at an airport with a bigger hand luggage case than you doesn't mean they are with the same flight as you, and they are likely to be charged extra for it.

Because there are so many differences when it comes to hand luggage sizes, I have made a chart below which lists airlines flying from the UK. This includes the name of the airline, the size of hand luggage you are allowed, the weight of that hand luggage and whether you are allowed a second smaller bag.*

* In regards to the second smaller bag, you must check the measurements allowed , and whether you need to put that bag into your hand luggage, before you head for the airport.


Before the number download below, something worth checking is how much your hand luggage can hold, this is known as capacity. Usually measured in litres, your local suitcase specialist should be able to tell you how much your new case can hold. If not.... there is a way you can work it out.

In order to work out your litre capacity, you will need some form of tape measure.

  • Measure all three dimensions of the case in CMs. Height ( floor to handle ), width ( side to side of the case ) and depth ( how fat your case is ).
  • Multiply the dimensions. EG. 55 x 40 x 20 = 44,000
  • Divide the result by 1,000 to get the litre capacity. EG. 44,000 / 1000 = 44

 Measurement Guide

Read on to find the chart of airline guidelines for hand luggage allowances. These are based on craft taking off from the UK. All details correct at the time of writing this blog post.

In instances where an airline displays a 'total' amount for a size allowance, use a similar method as above for calculating capacity. Only this time just add the measurements together. EG. 55 + 40 + 20 = 115.  
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All measurements on the chart are in CM and the weights are in KG.

Delta - Hand Luggage weight may apply in some destinations.

EasyJet - Extra piece of hand luggage only available to certain fared customers.

Emirates - Only First Class and Business Class may take a second bag.

Monarch - In order to take two hand luggage, both cases must equal to the maximum allowance size on the chart.

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  1. Great tips! My much loved Beatles suitcase is on it's last legs so it might just be time for a new one


    1. There are loads of options out there Charley, you may find a Beatles upgrade :D


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