Pack Smart: These Airlines Have Tricky Baggage Rules


You might know you’ll be hurting if you try to bring a carry-on onto a Spirit Airlines flight, but there are a lot more airlines out there looking to make an extra buck from unsuspecting passengers. These airlines have some pretty tricky baggage rules.

What do we consider tricky? We’re operating as if it’s normal to assume that you can bring one carry-on bag and a purse on the plane. Sadly, Southwest is the only U.S. carrier that gives everyone a free checked bag; most charge $25 – so we’re considering that the new norm as well.

If you don’t see your airline of choice on the list, it’s because it adheres to normal [nice] practices. But the following airlines require passengers to be on their guard.


Your carry-on can only weigh 15 pounds on an AirAsia flight. If you’re not packing super light, buy checked baggage space.

American Airlines

If you book a Basic Economy ticket, you can’t use the overhead bins. All of your luggage has to fit under the seat and be in one bag.

British Airways

“Basic” level fares mean you only get space under the seat for luggage storage. Like other airlines, you can always pay extra to check a bag, however, it’ll cost you $100 at the airport.  If you register your bag online in advance, it will only cost $45.

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It’s the opposite at easyJet: You can always put one bag in the overhead compartment, but only certain ticket-holders have space under their seats.

To check a bag, it’s $17 online, $50 at the check-in desk and $62 at the gate.


Carry-on rules on JetStar vary by ticket type. The heaviest carry-on you can have on JetStar is only 33 pounds (for Business Class). Those pinching pennies in economy can only have luggage weighing less than 15 pounds. If you have to check your bag, it’ll cost anywhere from $30 to $80.

Norwegian Air Shuttle

Norwegian also monitors the weight of your carry-on bags. At the base level of LowFare, Lowfare+ and Premium, you can only pack 22 pounds in your suitcase.

If you’re caught sneaking a heavy bag past security, you’ll pay $35 for domestic and $65 for international. It’s more for connecting flights.


Ryanair charges you $25 to check a bag, but only if you do it in advance. It’s $47 at the airport.

Spirit Airlines

You pay for anything bigger than a backpack on Spirit. If you book space for a carry-on suitcase with your ticket, it’s $35. Adding a bag before or while you check in online is $45, but if you try to add a bag at the airport, it’s $55. At the gate, you’ll pay $65.

Checked baggage prices also increase incrementally if you go over the limit.

United Airlines

Is your ticket Basic Economy level? Then you don’t get a carry-on. If you show up to the gate with a suitcase, you’ll be stuck paying the $25 fee to check the bag and then a $25 penalty for trying to break the rules.


If you want more than space under the seat, you can buy the ability to bring a carry-on. It’s $40 when you buy your ticket, $55 after your flight is booked, $70 at check-in and $100 at the gate.