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Qantas lifts maximum weight of cabin bags by 43%

March 11, 2019 Headline News No Comments Email Email

The surprise decision by Qantas to dramatically ease weight restrictions governing cabin baggage on domestic flights may lead to a re-think by other carriers, following complaints by passengers that a 7kg per piece weight limit is too restrictive.

From Monday 25 March 2019 (two weeks from today) Qantas will let travellers flying on its domestic Australian services carry on one item up to 10kg, and a second piece up to 4kg. Currently, Qantas passengers can carry on two pieces of luggage up to 7kg each. The 7kg limit, imposed relatively recently, hasn’t gone down well with passengers.

The new rules will cap the total carry-on weight limit at 14kg per passenger, as now. The physical size limits of bags will also remain the same. But lifting the maximum weight of the primary carry-on bag to 10kg means fewer passengers will be forced to re-pack at the last moment. Travellers have to go though that infuriating procedure if they find their carry-on bag is too heavy.

(It happened to me recently when I weighed my carry-on before leaving home. After a frenzied re-pack I found someone had set the bathroom scales from kilos to pounds – but that’s another story!)

The jump by Qantas from 7kg to 10kg represents a weight increase in the primary carry-on bag of 42.86% – which is significant. It may allow more people to fly without needing to check-in hold luggage.

Qantas said on Friday the change was in response to feedback from frequent flyers who said they would like to have more choice in how they use the allowance.

Qantas says it offers the most generous amount of cabin baggage of any Australian airline.

“We know a lot of our customers enjoy the convenience of not having to check in luggage. Most customers on short business trips and weekends away only travel with one carry-on bag plus a small personal item.

Carry-on bags

“Focusing on the amount of baggage customers bring onboard helps flights to depart on time and allows everyone to have their fair share of space in the overhead compartments. Heavy bags or overhead baggage compartments that are too full can cause a safety risk for customers and crew.”

Qantas confirmed that passengers would continue to be responsible for lifting their carry-on baggage into the overhead compartment. This will help avoid the risk of injury to cabin crew, a major concern for crew and their unions.

The airline also pointed out that the cabin baggage allowance on domestic QantasLink Dash 8 turboprop services would not change and remained at one piece weighing 7kg for those smaller aircraft.

The Australian newspaper said the Qantas move followed a trial the airline had conducted over summer that involved weighing passengers’ carry-on bags at the boarding gate, and interviewing hundreds of customers across all frequent-flyer levels.

The trial discovered that 90% of customers travelled with 10kg or less of cabin baggage and, of those, 40% travelled with one bag weighing 7-10kg. Only one in 10 customers’ bags exceeded 10kg.

The changes should suit passengers making short business trips and weekends away, who often travel with just one carry-on bag plus a small personal item. It may also deter the cargo pants dodge. See: Will carry-on crackdown boost sales of cargo pants?

A bigger breakthrough would be the extension of the rules to the Tasman. It would allow more passengers making short trips to travel without check-in baggage. On Air New Zealand, for instance, trans-Tasman travellers in economy are limited to a carry-on bag of up to 7kg, plus a handbag or small laptop bag – though business travellers and frequent flyers get a more generous deal, the same as the new Qantas rules.

Rules at the moment are:


Carry-on baggage. There are strict weight and size limits to how much carry-on baggage passengers can bring aboard: Economy Starter, Starter Plus and Starter Max passengers: a main item and a small item, with a combined weight of no more than 7kg.

Virgin Australia

Carry-On Allowance: 1 Small Bag + 1 Personal Item. The carry-on bag must adhere to the following requirements: Maximum Dimensions: 23 cm x 34 cm x 48 cm (105 linear cm/41 in) Maximum Combined Carry-on Weight: 7 kg/15 lb.

Air New Zealand

Weight. Economy carry-on can weigh up to 7kg (15lb). Premium Economy, Business Premier, connecting Business Premier, and Airpoints Gold, Elite and Star Alliance Gold members’ carry-on can weigh up to 14kg (30lb) total, with one item weighing up to 10kg (22lb).

Written by Peter Needham

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