Travel backpack on the plane - What you should consider | Flightright

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Travel backpack on the plane: how to fly properly with a backpack

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Travel backpack What you should consider
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Travelling without luggage is an impossibility. However, you can sometimes limit yourself considerably when packing by thinking only of the most important things. In this case, a small travel backpack is sufficient for most people on a weekend trip. The big advantage is that you can take it with you on board the plane. This not only saves you the time-consuming check-in of baggage, but also the wait at the baggage carousel after landing at your destination.

But even with a suitcase, an extra travel backpack that you are allowed to take onto the plane is worth its weight in gold. After all, it’s a kind of insurance in case your luggage gets lost on the way. The contents of the backpack can help to bridge the time until you finally get your suitcase back. Large-format travel backpacks are a popular alternative to the classic suitcase. In the following, we will explain how to fly properly with a backpack. 

Which backpacks are allowed on the plane?

Not all backpacks are the same. After all, there are sometimes significant differences in size. The backpacking boom has caused more and more travellers to opt for a backpack instead of a large suitcase. These are usually not only heavy, but also take up a lot of space in the cabin. To control this, there are restrictions on what can be taken along. It does not matter whether it is a travel backpack for men or a travel backpack for women. All airlines agree on this. Unfortunately, this is not the case for all parameters regarding the travel backpack. 

For example, there is no real specification for how big a travel backpack may be. There is only a recommendation by the International Air Transport Association (IATA). This states that the baggage may have a maximum circumference of 115 cm. This is calculated from the sum of length, width and height. Of course, this loose guideline means that each airline interprets the specifications independently. Since there are no IATA regulations for weight either, the airlines have a free hand here too. So it is not surprising that Lufthansa’s hand luggage may weigh a maximum of 8 kg, while British Airways allows up to 23 kg. 

But it is not only the dimensions of the rucksack that are decisive. The contents also play a major role in whether or not you are allowed to take the piece of luggage on board. Ideally, you should pack your rucksack in such a way that it does not contain any so-called dangerous objects. For example, hikers who want to take their hiking poles with them in their hand luggage should bear this in mind. By the way, IATA has strict regulations on dangerous items that every airline has to adhere to. The catalogue of prohibited items is quite long. We have compiled a list of the classic requirements for you. 

  • Liquids may only have a maximum volume of 100 ml
  • The total volume of liquids may not exceed 1 litre
  • The absolute ban on flammable liquids
  • Containers filled with gas
  • Only safety matches are allowed
  • Knives with a blade length exceeding 6 cm are prohibited
  • Dangerous objects that can potentially be used as a weapon

How big can a backpack be when flying?

If you don’t want to check a suitcase, sooner or later you have to ask yourself whether your backpack would pass as hand luggage. Imagine, for example, that you have a flight with the Irish airline Ryanair ahead of you. How big is the backpack allowed to be on the plane with Ryanair? The low-cost airline stipulates that hand luggage items and thus also backpacks may measure a maximum of 55 x 40 x 20 cm and weigh a maximum of 10 kg.

Which travel backpack fits under an airplane seat?

If you have been allowed to take your travel backpack on board, the cabin crew will sooner or later ask you to stow it under the seat of the person sitting in front of you. This is mainly for safety reasons. After all, a backpack lying in the way makes it difficult to get out of the row of seats. Furthermore, it can fly through the cabin in turbulence. If it is firmly stowed under the seat, these dangers are reduced. A rucksack with the usual dimensions of 55 × 40 × 20 cm can be stowed optimally underneath. 

Can I take a travel backpack on board in addition to my hand luggage?

Whether you are allowed to take several pieces of hand luggage with you on board the plane also depends on the airline you are travelling with. If you opt for the basic fare, you are usually at a disadvantage. Most airlines prohibit you from taking more than one piece of hand luggage. The situation is often different if you fly in business or first class. Here, the cabin staff are happy to turn a blind eye.

Which backpack counts as hand luggage?

Probably the most important specifications for hand luggage are size and weight. But what counts as hand luggage among backpacks? How big can a rucksack be for hand luggage? Maximum weights and dimensions are specified to a certain extent by IATA. However, detailed hand luggage regulations are set by the airlines themselves. Thus, there are sometimes significant differences between the permitted backpack size for hand luggage. You should observe the following regulations of well-known airlines when travelling with a backpack as hand luggage. 

Have you experienced a flight delay/cancellation?

According to the EU Air Passenger Rights Regulation, the amount of compensation is calculated according to the flight route (distance):

Short distance up to 1500 kmMedium distance up to 3500 kmLong distance from 3500 km
e.g. London – Edinburghe.g. London – Athense.g. London – Tokyo

Backpack as hand luggage – an overview

Brief description (what do the airlines recommend?): 

1. Travel backpack – Lufthansa hand luggage: 

How many pieces of luggage you are allowed to take on a flight with Lufthansa depends on your ticket. In Economy Class, only one piece of luggage is allowed. This may weigh a maximum of 8 kg. If you choose Business or First Class, on the other hand, you may take two pieces of luggage weighing 8 kg. The maximum dimensions of a piece of hand luggage are 55 x 40 x 23 cm. For garment bags, Lufthansa prescribes maximum dimensions of 57 x 54 x 15 cm. For more information on Lufthansa hand luggage, click here.

2. Travel backpack – Eurowings hand luggage: 

With Eurowings, it also depends on which fare you have booked. In the basic fare, you can take a small piece of luggage measuring a maximum of 40 x 30 x 25 cm with you. If this is not enough, you have to pay at least 15 euros extra for an additional large piece of hand luggage measuring a maximum of 55 x 40 x 23 cm and weighing a maximum of 8 kg. For more information about Eurowings hand luggage, click here.

3. Travel backpack – Ryanair hand luggage: 

With Ryanair, you can take one piece of hand luggage on board. The Irish low-cost airline’s size requirement is based on the space under the seat of the person sitting in front of you. If the backpack does not fit underneath, it is too big. This means that the bag may measure 40 x 25 x 20 cm, 45 x 20 x 40 cm or 25 x 40 x 20 cm. If a small piece of luggage is not enough, you can take an additional one on board for an additional charge. This may weigh a maximum of 10 kg and measure 55 x 40 x 20 cm. For more information on Ryanair hand luggage, click here.

4. Travel backpack – British Airways hand luggage: 

When flying with British Airways, you are allowed one piece of hand luggage with a maximum weight of an amazing 23 kg. The dimensions of the piece of luggage maybe 40 x 30 x 15 cm. An additional, larger piece of luggage is possible for an additional charge. This may measure 56 x 45 x 25 cm. For more information on British Airways hand luggage, click here.

5. Travel backpack – Air France hand luggage: 

With the French airline (Air France), it also depends on which class you are travelling in. In Economy Class, for example, you are allowed one piece of hand luggage measuring a maximum of 55 x 35 x 25 cm. In addition, one small item is allowed. If you are travelling in Premium Economy, Business or La Première, you are allowed a total of two pieces of hand luggage and one additional item. For more information on Air France cabin baggage, click here. 

Travel backpack – Hand luggage regulations: Wikipedia

Would you like to travel with an airline other than those mentioned above? Then you should take a look at the Wikipedia page on hand luggage. The regulations of the individual airlines are listed here. Make sure you find out about the relevant regulations in good time. Otherwise, you may be in for a rude awakening at the airport, as you may have to check in your backpack as an expensive piece of luggage. 

Is a backpack hand luggage  – Lufthansa?

Whether your backpack is considered hand luggage by Lufthansa depends on various factors. On the one hand, the size is decisive. Anything larger than 55 x 40 x 23 cm or weighing more than 8 kg no longer counts as hand luggage. The airline has special rules for clothes bags. These may be 57 x 54 x 15 cm.

Is a backpack hand luggage  – Ryanair?

Ryanair specifies different dimensions for hand luggage. The size of 40 x 30 x 15 cm corresponds most closely to the form factor of a classic backpack. To make it easier for travellers, the Irish airline states that the piece of luggage must fit under the seat of the person sitting in front of you. Alternatively, you can add a larger piece of hand luggage measuring 55 x 40 x 20 cm and weighing a maximum of 10 kg for an additional charge. 

Dangerous items to be aware of in your backpack/hand luggage

At least as important as the regulations on the size and weight of hand luggage are the specifications on the permitted contents. While IATA allows airlines freedom concerning the dimensions of backpacks, wheeled suitcases and the like, it prescribes fixed rules for the contents. When packing your backpack, pay attention to the following:

  • Liquids may only have a maximum volume of 100 ml and must be in a transparent liquid container. 
  • The total volume of liquids must not exceed 1 litre.
  • An absolute ban on flammable liquids
  • Containers filled with gas are not allowed
  • Only safety matches are allowed
  • Knives with a blade length of more than 6 cm are prohibited (in the case of a trekking knife, be sure to measure the blade length)
  • Dangerous objects that could potentially be used as a weapon are prohibited.

Checking in a backpack as luggage for a flight – what you need to know

If your backpack does not comply with the hand baggage regulations of IATA and airlines, you may have to check it in as normal baggage. In this case, you should follow the general baggage regulations of the IATA. For example, the travel backpack may have a total weight of 23 kg and may not exceed a total circumference of 158 cm. However, with your travel backpack, you often hand over some valuables that are sometimes sensitive. It is therefore all the more important to secure the backpack adequately so that the journey across the baggage carousels does not leave too much damage, or you even lose the contents. To avoid damage, make sure that the backpack is packed as compactly as possible, that no straps are hanging from it and that nothing is stowed in the outside pockets. We recommend you play it safe and give the backpack a protective cover. 

Give up travel backpack without protection

To avoid damage to the backpack, you should check it in with suitable protection if possible. If you decide against this for cost reasons or simply do not have the time, you should at least pay attention to a few things. For example, you must make your backpack a compact piece of luggage. This means that there should be no straps or loops hanging down from the backpack itself. These could get caught on the luggage straps, which could cause damage. Furthermore, you should not stow any objects in the outer pockets. Anyone who has seen how rough it gets on luggage straps will understand that otherwise there is a risk of serious damage or even loss of the things in the outer pockets.

Disadvantages of backpack transport without protection:

Key point list:

  • The backpack is at the mercy of weather conditions without a protective cover.
  • Straps on the backpack can get caught on the luggage belt
  • Limited resistance, risking damage from airport staff on the baggage carousel

Check-in travel backpack with backpack cover (flight cover).

Anyone who has to check in their travel backpack as luggage is understandably worried about the contents and the backpack itself. After all, air travel is quite an ordeal for a piece of luggage. Unlike suitcases, backpacks are usually not up to the challenge. The alternative is simple and ingenious and is called a flight cover. This is a cover that you simply attach around the backpack. This turns the backpack into a compact piece of luggage and prevents damage. 

Advantages of backpack transport with protection:

  • Extremely easy to use
  • The backpack is protected from the weather
  • More security: Flight cover often offers the option of a padlock
  • Flight cover can often be used as a practical large bag on holiday

Disadvantages of backpack transport with protection:

  • Flight cover adds weight: People who travel with a travel backpack want to save space and weight.
  • Some flight covers are fragile and cannot withstand several flights, which sometimes makes repeated use impossible

Baggage delayed, gone or damaged – what to do?

If your luggage arrives late, is damaged or even gone, the first thing you should do is take a deep breath. The first person to contact in this case is your airline. They must ensure that you receive your luggage as quickly as possible.

How can Flightright help you?

You are stuck at the airport because of a flight delay? Your flight has been canceled, or you have been removed from the passenger list? In each of the situations described, you have a right to compensation as an air passenger.

Tip: Flightright helps you enforce your air passenger rights! With us, you can check your claims free of charge in two minutes. ✔️Easy, ✔️fast & without ✔️risk

According to the EU Passenger Rights Regulation, passengers are entitled to compensation in the event of a delay, cancellation, overbooking, or missed connection. You can claim up to 600 euros of compensation per person (minus commission fee). This compensation is independent of the ticket price. Flightright enforces your right for you. If necessary also in court.

As experts on the subject of air passenger rights, we enforce your right to compensation against the airline! Flightright’s air passenger rights experts are also happy to help you with ticket reimbursements

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