Airline Luggage Allowance Explained – FAQ Fridays

Video Transcription

Welcome to another edition of Travelstart’s FAQ Friday with me, Nick Paul.

Today we are going to be talking about baggage restrictions on flights. This is in relation to a question we were asked by Priscilla:

“Recently I flew to UK. The weight allowance is 23Kg per case on an International flight wherever you travel to. When I got to Durban The Counter Assistant said I was overweight – my suitcase weighted 22Kg. After a lot of haggling my case passed through. When I returned same thing – my case weighed +/- 22kg again. This time having arrived from London without a problem. I am at the local internal check-in. I was made to unpack my case until my case weighed 20kg. The balance was put in my hand luggage!! Also checking in – in front of me – was a family from the USA who were also having the same trouble with ALL their suitcases. The girls behind the counter were rude and unhelpful – not a good welcome to this country. Its absolutely ridiculous that there isn’t consistency – thousands of people travel on from Internal flights to International flights and vice versa. If you are traveling to the States you are allowed 2 cases as well. I WILL on principle NOT pay extra – why should I? That is my allowance. I think you Travel Agents ought to make a HUGE FUSS about this. It is not doing Tourism any good.”

Detailed Answer:

“Hi Priscilla,

Technically, if you’ve booked a ticket with all the flights on one ticket (eg Durban – Johannesburg – London and back all on the same ticket) then the domestic airline is obliged to abide by the luggage restrictions of the international carrier. There are instances when this won’t work like this though – but it’s very complicated to explain. Essentially the international carrier strikes a deal with the local airline that the international carrier’s customers can fly on the local airline’s flights, if the international airline doesn’t fly there, for example with Virgin Atlantic to Durban. Virgin don’t fly to Durban, only Johannesburg and Cape Town, but they have an arrangement with BA and SAA to fly their passengers on to Durban, PE and so on. Part of the deal is that BA and SAA offer the same baggage allowance between Johannesburg and Durban for Virgin customers, but the customers have to fly in a specific ticket price class (all flights have a variety of tickets on sale at a variety of price classes, each with their own restrictions – the cheaper the price class the more restrictive the rules on that ticket). The issue is that these airlines often restrict add-ons to a higher price class to recover their costs for luggage etc. This will mean that there are often cheaper tickets available on the local flights and many booking systems will prefer booking those when looking for the best rate, this obviously has an impact on the luggage allowance as the cheaper priced tickets don’t have as much allowance as the negotiated, higher fare for use on add-on flights.

It’s a mouthful, and hard to explain, many travel agents take years to fully grasp the inner workings of ticket pricing too!”

This is a question that a lot of people ask and we would like to shed some light on this topic:

Factors Which Influence Luggage Allowance

  • Route and destination: Flights over the Atlantic for example will have different allowances to flights to Europe
  • The airline: Certain airlines allow for more baggage than others
  • The cabin: First class, business class, premium economy and economy will have different luggage allowances

Some examples of routes:

  • The trans-Atlantic route flight allows for 2 pieces of 23kg each. This might change in the future but airlines still currently allow this.
  • Destinations such as Nigeria often have much higher luggage restrictions. E.g. On Arik Air from JHB to Lagos you will be allowed 2 pieces of 23kg each. On SAA a lot of the tickets for the same route will allow for 3 pieces of 23kg each.
  • A lot of the low cost carriers in the USA and Europe will have no baggage included in the price of your ticket. You will need to pay extra to put baggage on the flight.

Hand Luggage

Hand luggage is what you are allowed to take with you onto the plane. The weight allowance for this is generally 7kg. This will depend on the class you are traveling in. If you are traveling first class or business class you might be allowed to take on an extra piece of hand luggage. The first class and business class areas generally have a closet where you can put this additional luggage.

Hand luggage dimensions differ from airline to airline. SAA, which is about the average, allows for bags that are max: 56cm long, 36cm wide and 23cm high. Most hand luggage bags that you find at a luggage store will meet these requirements.

In addition to your single piece of hand luggage you are allowed to bring a handbag or a laptop bag with you. They can however deny you to bring it on board if it is too big.

Where To Find More Information

To find the exact allowances for your particular ticket:

  • Ask your travel agent directly
  • The info will be printed on the ticket that you bought (e.g. “2 pc” = 2 pieces of luggage at 23kg each)
  • If you bought tickets with Travelstart you can visit and enter in your airline reference number and surname

That’s all from me for this week. Don’t forget to subscribe to our channel and post your questions in the comments below.


Our Readers Comments

  1. What do I have to do to take an extra luggage (suitcase) from Johannesburg to Cape Town?

    • Hi Ursula,

      Thanks for reaching out.

      Excess baggage needs to be booked directly with the airline you will be flying with.

      They will advise on the additional cost and the correct procedures to go about requesting and when making payment.

  2. hello i already booked a flight in with 23 kgs baggage allowance free, but i want to another additional baggage like 10 or 15 kgs. Can you help me where or how can i add or pay for extra baggage allowance? Thanks in advance.:)

    • Hi Jophet,

      If you purchased your ticket with Travelstart Germany which falls under Travelstart Sweeden, unfortunately I am not the right person to contact as I am working for Travelstart South Africa, which has no connection to Travelstart Sweden since it has been sold years ago to a separate company.

      You would need to contact them direct as only they would have access to your booking and would be able to assist accordingly. Alternatively you welcome to contact the airline you travelling with direct. And purchase excess baggage with them or on the airlines website direct.

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