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Flying with kids – How much hand luggage can they take?

Here’s a question that you will find on every airline’s FAQ page: How much hand luggage can your children take on board with them?

Most airlines would have trouble agreeing what day of the week it is, let alone standardising rules for what children can take on board with them, but there are a few general trends to note about travelling with kids. As always, check the T’s and C’s of your chosen airline for information more specific to your flight.

First thing’s first – allowances are not the same for all youngsters. Generally airlines split kids into two groups; infants and children.


Infants are generally defined by airlines as being less than 2 years old at the time of flying. As you will probably expect, they generally do not get a hand luggage allowance of their own. Cabin bag allowances are also often non-transferable to another person, so if you were thinking that you might be able to take on a second hand-luggage bag of your own under your infant’s name, then you might be disappointed.  Instead, airlines tend to let parents take two items per child of baby related paraphernalia.

Often, the stipulation with these items is that one is a pushchair (which can be used up until boarding the aircraft, at which point it will be put in the hold) and the other is a booster seat or travel cot for use whilst on board. These two items will often need to be labelled as free infant items at the check-in desk, so there’s unfortunately no walking straight to security if you don’t have a hold bag to check in. In addition to this, airlines like Ryanair let a parent take a small baby bag (up to 5kg) in addition to their 2 labelled baby accessories. Something like the Buddy Bob Changing bag is perfect for this.


One thing to note is that your child’s allowance may vary depending on what type of ticket you have bought them. Some airlines will let infants travel on a parent’s lap or chest for a flat fee (usually around £20) if they don’t wish to buy an entire seat for them. This can save you money, but you might lose some of the benefits you would get if you had bought a whole seat (i.e, your two free baby items). Check with your airline before you buy a ticket, as sometimes it may be more worthwhile to buy a full ticket with the associated benefits, rather than a flat-rate baby ticket and then have to add things on.

Finally, if you are travelling with an infant approaching 24 months, remember to declare if your child has their second birthday before your return trip. Stories of passengers being charged additional fees as their child is no longer considered an infant are commonplace and probably not worth gambling with.

Update – 29/06/2016 – If being able to take a cabin bag for an infant is an absolute must for you, British Airways may be the best option for your flight. BA will be more expensive but their updated luggage guidelines stipulate that infants under 2 can take one cabin bag on board.


Airlines usually define children as being between 2 and 16 years old, although some carriers set their upper age limit for children at just 12 years old. Unlike infants, they are usually entitled to exactly the same carry-on luggage rules as their parents and are allowed any additional luggage allowances (on top of their main hand luggage bag) that their elders would be entitled to as well (for example, an additional personal bag on BA, or an extra 35x20x20cm small bag on Ryanair).

Parents of all but the youngest children can make practical savings by buying a carry-on case for their children to use – a surprising number of parents will check a suitcase with all of their children’s items in to the hold even for short city breaks, rather than use the ‘free’ hand luggage capacity that comes as part of the airline ticket.

Larger cabin bags that fully satisfy airline baggage limits can often be too unwieldy for smaller children, which is why Cabin Max has a range of compact suitcases and bags that are ideal for children whilst still offering a decent luggage capacity. We’ve split these into those suitable for younger and older children.

Younger Children

Fenza Trolley – 53x34x20cm

The Fenza is a great choice for car-mad children who love to race through the airport. It has a tri-wheeled design that ensures good stability and also makes tackling stairs a breeze. The large main compartment has enough room for a few nights worth of children’s clothes, towels and books. The Fenza is available in blue or red, with the blue edition available for just £20 for the duration of May 2016. Click here for more information.


Bear Bag – 50x34x20cm

The Bear Bag is perfect for children who like to take a teddy bear or doll with them on their travels. Fitted with an easy-to-pull telescopic handle, pockets on the sides as well as a large 34 litre capacity, the Bear Bag is ideal for both boys and girls and comes in 8 funky colours. Bear Bags can also be worn like a backpack thanks to the versatile padded backpack straps located on the rear. The Bear Bag is available from £25. More information can be found here.


Older Children

Kids Camo Bag – 50x34x20cm

The Kids Camo Bag has many of the great features that make the Bear Bag so popular, wrapped up in a package that is more appealing to older children. As such, it loses the adjustable bear & doll holder but gains a large elasticated front pocket. The Camo bag is priced at £25. Click here for more information.


Metz Backpack – 55x40x20cm

The Metz is a good option for older children. It has a generous 44 litre capacity but remains lightweight enough for kids to wear at just 700 grams. The front pocketed section is ideal for books, tech, small toys and snacks. We all know that travelling with children can be like herding cats, so with over 30 bright and bold patterns, at least your kids will be easy to spot if they are wearing a Metz. The 55x40x20cm dimensions are ideal for over 20 European airlines, whilst the bag’s soft nature ensures that, contents depending, it can be squeezed into the luggage gauges of many more. The Metz is priced at £25. More details can be found here.


Arezzo – 35x20x20cm

If you are flying on Ryanair, team your child’s Metz up with an Arezzo stowaway. This handy under-the-seat bag is ideal for kids to fill up with all their bits and bobs, ensuring parents don’t have to get up to the overhead lockers every time their child needs something. It is also made of strong, durable and wipeclean PU material – great for coping with all the mess children will inevitably make, even on short flights. The Arezzo is available in 9 distinctive designs for just £15 – you can find more information by clicking here.


In summary, cabin luggage allowances vary according to the age of your little ones and the type of ticket you buy for infants, but you do have a lot of options on how you meet those demands. We’d recommend thoroughly reading your airline’s website to find out exactly what you and your kids are entitled to take. The thing to remember is that if you are savvy, you and your family could enjoy some great savings by ditching your hold luggage and going hand luggage only.

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