Baggage Allowances on European Airlines

It is not very often that I fly an airline other than Delta domestically or across the ocean, but I do occasionally have intra-region flights on other carriers and there are usually some lessons learned from them.  I recently had some Lufthansa flights from Paris to Munich and then from Munich to London and was reminded that carry-on baggage criteria can be very different than what we are used to in the U.S.

There is some variability by air carrier in Europe but I learned first hand how Lufthansa handles it.  I was traveling with a pretty standard TravelPro 22″ wheeled carry-on bag that I take on flights all over the place without checking it (other than gate checking on regional jets).  However, Lufthansa has a one carry-on rule which applied to my briefcase.  Even if I didn’t have my briefcase, they have some pretty stringent guidelines around both dimensions and also weight.  Here is the info from their website:

In First and Business Class you may take two pieces of hand luggage and their contents on board with you. Economy Class passengers are only permitted one piece of hand luggage. Please check for possible country-specific variations to this general rule.  A piece of hand luggage may not be larger than 55 cm x 40 cm x 23 cm and may not weigh more than 8 kg. Foldable garment bags are an exception to this; they count as hand luggage up to a size of 57 cm x 54 cm x 15 cm.

To save you the troube of looking it up, 8 kg is only 17.6 pounds.  This is going accomondate most briefcases but not a roller bag packed for two weeks in Europe!  There are a few implications to these rules.  First, you may need to arrive earlier than planned since the queues to check baggage can be pretty long since almost everyone is checking a bag.  Second, if you are changing carriers and on different bookings, as I was, you may have to allow enough time to claim your baggage and then go back through passport control and security.

For instance, on my return to the U.S. from Munich, I was connecting to a Delta flight in London.  I had to check my carry on in Munich due to Lufthansa’s rules which meant I had to claim it in London, go through passport control and customs, and then go back through the same process for my Delta flight.  I was lucky and was able to do this very quickly, but it has the potential to add a couple of hours to the process if you hit passport control at the wrong time.

The lesson is to check with your individual airline and not make assumptions that the same rules you are used to on domestic U.S. flights will be the same around the globe.


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