British Airways: Changes to Carry-On Baggage and Boarding Procedure


British Airways has announced changes to the way the airline will handle the boarding procedure as well as the introduction of new rules regarding carry on baggage.

BA CarryonIn the next few weeks, BA will be reducing the size of the handbag/laptop-sized hand bag as well as introduce a yellow tag for these bags which are within the new dimensions. 

Hand Baggage is a very sensitive topic, especially since British Airways offers so called ‘Hand Baggage Only’ fares that do no permit a free check-in bag. A concept that was so far foreign to european mainline airlines. I learned about these changes through an email BA sent me last week. It reads:

Changes to hand baggage

In recent months we have seen an increase in customers travelling with hand baggage that exceeds their allowance. We always try to accommodate our customers where we can but to make sure the aircraft is ready to depart on time we are making the following changes:

• You can continue to carry 2 pieces of hand baggage. One bag should be a handbag/laptop sized bag which should now be no larger than 40x30x15cm.

• The size of your additional cabin bag remains unchanged and should be no larger than 56x45x25cm and can weigh up to 23kgs.

Customers travelling in all cabins, except First and Club World will receive a yellow tag for handbag/laptop sized bags which are within the new dimensions. We guarantee that you can take this bag on board with you. Please have the tag visible for boarding and place the bag under the seat in front of you.

• We encourage you to carry any valuables or items such as medication in your handbag/laptop sized bag to ensure you have everything you need in the cabin.

• Customers who travel with hand baggage which is outside of their allowance will be asked to check this into the hold.

• On very busy flights we may have to ask some of our customers to check bags without yellow tags into the hold if the overhead lockers are full.

This still looks like a generous amount of carry on baggage especially considering the weight limitation is up to 23 kg. There are plenty of airlines that restrict carry on to something ridiculous such as 8 kg which is obviously unrealistic, the suitcase itself in many cases already weighs 3-5 kg.

You can access British Airways website concerning these changes here.

I have seen passengers with plenty of items, looking like they are carrying half of their household with them on the plane. On top of that they are often unable to even lift and stow all of their stuff by themselves.

The email further outlines some modifications in the boarding procedure:

Boarding the aircraft

We are changing the way you board your flight. Customers will now be invited to board based on the cabin they are travelling in and in order of Executive Club status. All of our other customers will be asked to board by seat row number. If you are travelling with an infant or are a customer who requires extra assistance, you will continue to be invited to board before everyone else.

I really can’t seem to notice anything much different here compared to my last BA flights. I’ve been a Gold Member for years and always enjoyed priority boarding even when traveling in Economy Class. Maybe this is more concerning to the Sapphire and Bronze Status holders. Boarding before the bulk of passengers is still a good perk especially in consideration of the carry-on rules and being able to find space for your items.


To me, these seem like reasonable changes. I’m not surprised that the amount of carry on baggage increased, especially within Europe after the aforementioned Hand Baggage Only fares became available. Most people always want to book the cheapest fare even if it means a cut in convenience. I don’t like to check in my baggage unless it’s a huge inconvenience for me to carry it around.

My next BA flight will not be until December so until then maybe some of you have the opportunity to see how their new procedures work.

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