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UPDATED – How to navigate Ryanair’s latest hand luggage rules

Ryanair have announced alterations to their hand luggage policy, just 8 months after the latest version was introduced. The changes are scheduled to be rolled out from the 1st of November 2018 and effectively ensure that all bags over 40x25x20 (20 Litres) receive some sort of charge or require some sort of ticket upgrade in order to be taken on board the aircraft.

In this article we’ll take you through the latest changes and also discuss which of the new paid options may be best for you next time you take a trip with Ryanair.

In a nutshell:

  • Ryanair has traditionally allowed passengers to take 2 items of hand luggage on board for free – one large 55x40x20cm bag and one smaller 35x20x20cm underseat bag. Recently, the larger bag has had to be placed in the aircraft hold free of charge if the passenger didn’t purchase priority boarding.
  • From November 1st 2018 Ryanair will start charging passengers to place their larger cabin bag in the hold. Charges will start at £8 and potentially rise to £25 if the passenger turns up at the gate with a larger carry on bag that they haven’t booked on to the flight.
  • Passengers who purchase priority boarding at a cost of £6-8 per flight will still be able to bring a traditional larger carry on bag on board the aircraft. However, the amount of people who can purchase priority boarding will be capped at 95 per flight meaning that half of the flight will be potentially affected by the new charges.
  • As part of the changes the permitted size of the smaller underseat bag rises from 35x20x20cm to 40x25x20cm. This size of bag is the largest you can take on the flight without paying excess fees.


Which option is best for me?

Ryanair’s business model has always been about headline beating prices with add on extras that nudge the price up as you proceed with your booking. The latest Ryanair hand luggage rules essentially mean hand luggage is now an add on extra too – something to bear in mind when comparing flight prices in future.

The new free size of 40x25x20 is approximately 20 litres may be enough if you are going somewhere warm for the weekend but many people will need more capacity. We have looked at the options and broken down the costs to help you choose your best option.

Priority Boarding

We think that choosing Priority Boarding with the free 40x25x20cm bag and a 55x40x20cm cabin bag will be the most popular option as it allows a passenger to take a potential 64 litres of luggage for an extra £6 per flight (£12 per person return).

However, this is capped at 95 passengers per flight so only about 50% of passengers will be able to book this. If keeping your luggage with you and exiting the airport quickly is important to you, this is by far your best option. This is also the option you should choose if you are travelling with a lithium ion powered laptop or tablet that wouldn’t fit within the new dimensions of the 40x25x20cm free small bag, as these are not permitted to be carried in the aircraft hold according to Ryanair’s policy.

Ideally, try to book your flight well in advance (to ensure the 95 Priority Boarding tickets don’t sell out) and add the ‘Priority & 2 Cabin Bags’ at booking. It is most cost effective to add this whilst booking your flight, but you can add it after you have booked for £8, so long as the Priority Boarding tickets haven’t sold out.

New 10kg Check In Bag

If you miss out on the Priority Boarding tickets, or wish to take a larger amount of liquids (currently capped at 100ml per item to a max of 1 litre per person) the next option is a 10kg check in case that, until recently, you would have taken in to the aircraft cabin with you or have had placed in to the hold for free. This is priced at £8 (£16 per person return) and you will be required to take this bag to the check in desk as you would a heavier case. The usual check-in luggage checks will apply so your 10kg case will be weighed (don’t be tempted to squeeze in those extra couple of kilos) and make sure not to pack items like electronics containing lithium ion batteries that you may have usually taken in to the aircraft cabin with you but are prohibited from travelling in an aircraft hold.

As with Priority Boarding, the best time to specify this option is at the time of booking where it will cost £8 per flight. This rises to £10 if booked later on, whilst passengers who show up at the gate with a 10kg case that hasn’t been put in the hold and don’t have Priority Boarding either will be charged £25.

Whilst not having to battle for overhead locker space on the aircraft is an undoubted plus, another disadvantage of this option is having to queue at the check in desk and having to wait at the baggage carousel to retrieve your case – not ideal if you like to relax in the airport before your flight or escape it quickly when you arrive at your destination.

20kg Check In Case

The addition of the new paid 10kg hold bag begs the question of whether passengers would be better off just paying for Ryanair’s existing 25kg Check In case allowance. The short answer for the majority of travellers is no.

This is an expensive option, priced at £25 per flight (£50 return) and in like for like terms a couple flying away for the weekend would be better spending £32 return to take two 10kg bags rather than £50 return for a shared 20kg case. The couple would be better of still if they had booked “Priority & 2 Cabin Bags” at the time of booking as the same 20kg worth of luggage would be theirs for £24 return.

To ‘Plus’ or not to ‘Plus’

A 20kg bag is included if a passenger upgrades their standard fare to a ‘Plus’ fare on the Ryanair website at the time of booking (usually an extra £35-40 per person per flight). On the face of it this seems like a reasonable idea as priority boarding and 2 Cabin Bags are also included, but we’d advise you to stick with a standard fare and simply add any extras that you need through the booking process as choosing the ‘Plus’ fare can leave you with a lot of extra unused capacity.

For example, a family of four comprising of two adults and two children would spend an additional £140-160 (£280-320 return) to upgrade to Plus (NB – Ryanair stipulates that either all of your travelling party upgrade or none at all). Under their ‘Plus’ fare each family member would be entitled to 20kg of hold luggage as well as a 10kg bag in the cabin and the 40x25x20cm small carry on too – a potential 120kg of luggage between them and probably much more than they need or could manage.

In reality the family would have been better booking a standard fare and adding on the cases they need separately for a much-reduced cost. Two 10kg bags and one 20kg case for the family would cost £82 return in comparison.

Example Fares

To illustrate the effect Ryanair’s new luggage rules will have on the price of fares we’ve compared the cost of a typical return flight from Manchester to Faro during the Easter holidays in 2019. We’ve crunched the numbers for one adult ticket, a couple and a family of 4 comprising of 2  Adults and 2 Children. The comparisons show how the extra luggage charges can quickly add up, especially if you are flying with a larger group. These prices were correct at the time of publishing (Sept 18).

Fare & Optional Extras Price for 1 Adult Price for 2 Adults Price for Family of 4 (2 Adults & 2 Children)
Standard Return Fare


–       Small Free 40x25x20cm Cabin Bag for each passenger




Standard Return Fare with Priority Boarding

–       Small Free 40x25x20cm Cabin Bag for each passenger

–       10kg 55x40x20cm Carry On Bag for each passenger




Standard Return Fare with 10kg hold bag for each passenger

–       Small Free 40x25x20cm Cabin Bag for each passenger

–       10kg Hold Bag for each passenger




Standard Return Fare with a 20kg hold bag shared between each 2 passengers

–       Small Free 40x25x20cm Cabin Bag for each passenger

–       20kg Hold Case shared between each 2 passengers




Return Plus Fare

–       Small Free 40x25x20cm Cabin Bag for each passenger

–       10kg 55x40x20cm Carry On Bag for each passenger

–       20kg Hold Case for each passenger





I want to avoid all extra fees and just get the lowest fare – which luggage fits the new 40x25x20cm free size?

Cabin Max will launch a new 40x25x20cm carry on bag to meet the new Ryanair free small bag regulations in late 2018, but until then several existing bags in our range are suitable for the new rules.

The Cadiz Packaway backpack fits the new Ryanair size perfectly and has the benefit of being exceptionally light and also able to be folded down in to its own self-contained bag. Made from a durable and showerproof ripstop outer shell, the Cadiz also features water bottle holders and a quick access buckled front pocket. Find it here.

Cadiz Packaway Backpack – suitable for Ryanair’s new free bag regulations

Underseat stowaway bag likes the Arezzo, Oxford Stowaway or new Manhattan Stowaway were specifically designed to fit Ryanair’s old 35x20x20cm allowance and will easily fit inside the slightly larger new 40x25x25cm size. These bags are surprisingly spacious and will easily hold an iPad or small laptop, as well as a change of clothes for an overnight stay. Find them, and more stowaway bags here.


The Arezzo Stowaway and Oxford Stowaway both fit within the new free bag Ryanair sizer.

New Manhattan Stowaway Backpack & Shoulder Bag

 New Manhattan Stowaway Backpack & Shoulder Bag

The super-lightweight Cabin Max Dublin is very close to Ryanair’s new 40x25x20cm free bag rules and features a padded laptop compartment too. If packed sensibly, it should be able to squeeze in to the new Ryanair sizer.

The Dublin Travel Daypack


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