Airline Carry-On Baggage Restrictions : An Extreme Example

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16/12/2008 – Airline Carry-On Baggage Restrictions : An Extreme Example

Recently while researching the somewhat inconsistent rules of carry on baggage in the United Kingdom I stumbled upon something rather extreme being set for by Ryanair.     What is Ryanair’s extreme carry-on baggage restriction, and how does it affect traveling photographers?

Ryanair’s terms-&-conditions of booking has the following wording:

We reserve the right to cancel your reservation without refund and deny you boarding if you arrive at the departure gate with more than one cabin bag or if that item exceeds the maximum dimensions.

Further down in the terms-&-conditions of booking, the following additional restrictions apply:

Handbags, briefcases, laptops, duty-free, etc, must be carried within your permitted one piece of cabin baggage.

Ryanair’s current cabin baggage allowance has no set weight restriction, but the size dimensions are 55cm x 40cm  x 20cm  (21.65″ x 15.74″ x 7.87″). While this is a fairly standard carry on baggage size, under Ryanair’s carry-on baggage rules, everything you bring into the cabin must fit into the bag.   This means you need to pack your gear, laptop, soda, newspaper, everything, in this bag.  Flying internationally?  Skip the duty-free shop; you’ll never get that plastic bag with a t-shirt you just bought on the plane, unless you can stuff it in your cabin baggage.

I contacted Ryanair three times asking about how this affects cameras out on a flyer shoulders. The question was specifically “Do you count a camera hanging from my shoulders as excess cabin baggage that must be stowed in the carry-on bag.”  I got one reply saying the camera would be considered an excess item and may cause me to have my reservation cancelled.   I got two replies saying that the camera would not be considered an excess item depending on the side of the camera.   Given the inconsistent reply from the airline, I don’t think I would risk the potential problems of flying with anything carried outside of my bag.

You can however wear a photo vest, or photo jacket, and load your gear into those pockets. Photo vests, and jackets, are considered clothing, and not subject to carry-on baggage restrictions.

Airlines are trying to find anyway they can to generate revenue. In Ryanair’s case, by severely limiting what you can carry on board the aircraft, you’ll have to check your bags and be subject to the checked baggage fees.

……….If you are wondering why I am mentioning Ryanair, an Irish airline, with the United Kingdom, the answer is simple. Ryanair operates nine airport hubs with in the United Kingdom (which is more UK hub airports than any other airline, except EasyJet).

Happy Flying!


  1. Ryanair… I can feel my blood pressure rising as we speak.

    I *loathe* Ryanair with a passion, as they are one of the worst example of nickel-and-dimeing of passengers I’ve ever seen. I’ve flown with them a number of times, but it’s becoming increasingly difficult. They’re fairly hot on hand luagge (with a nominal weight restriction of 10Kg, not unlimited, but I’ve never seen it enforced.) and to travel with them for any longer than a weekend becomes very expensive, very quickly.

    The two things I hate most – and these are in no way photog related!

    1) They charge a ticket booking fee for paying with a card. This fee is £2.50 per ticket. Don’t want to pay the charge? Tough. They will not let you pay with cash. There is no difference between credit and debit card charges either (despite retailers being charged a percentage of transaction cost for credit cards, typically 2%-5%, but a fixed cost per transaction for debit cards of 20p-50p). 5 people flying? That’s £12.50 extra.

    2) They do not have free priority boarding for anyone. It used to be that the first 50 to check in *and* parents with kids got priority boarding, but now they sell it at £2 per person per flight, and they target it at families. Two parents and two kids, an extra £16.

    Ryanair can be cheap, but only if you watch fare prices closely and take the absolute minimum of add-ons (checked baggage? That’s extra…) and even then you get treated like cattle, with people rushing to form queues to ensure they get a choice of non-allocated seating.

  2. Ryanair are the pits! Although the tickets (sometimes) seem cheap, the added extras can make them far more expensive than the major airlines – let alone the other budget companies. This summer I found it cheaper to fly with British Airways from London to Stockholm than with Ryanair; not only did I get an allocated seat, I was offered free food and drink – now there’s a novelty 🙂 – and was able to carry on my cameras and laptop. Ryanair’s weight policy makes it a complete no-no for the professional photographer. Oh, and their check-in procedure is a joke. I have seen people in the check-in queue refused boarding, because the cut-off time has been reached – when they have been waiting in line for half an hour.

  3. I was refused entry to a Ryanair flight yesterday at the gate. They told me that the 2 small bags I had, 1 containing a video camera and tapes, the other containing a stills camera, (both ‘uncheckin-able’) exceeded their policy. I got pulled out of the line and told to discard 1 in order to board the plane. I was obviously not going to do this, so strapped them both together. This was not adequate for the brilliant minds they have working for them, so 3 min later, when the claimed they had to shut the gate to maintain the punctuality, they closed the doors, and delayed the flight because they had to retrieve my checked bag! Would have been so much simpler, for all parties, (what, in all reality is one small extra bag?) to have just let me on the flight, for which I had paid 98 GBP, plus 17€ bus.

    With no flight for 48 hours to my destination, I paid 155GBP to fly somewhere else, then 33€ train to my ultimate destination.

    Thanks Ryanair, for making one small bag cost me 7 hours, nearly 200GBP, and a nice surprise for my unsuspecting girlfriend.

    I had recently taken 2 other Ryanair flights with exactly the same luggage with no problem…I would love some form of compensation, but I’m confident the money flows only one way with this company.

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