Checked Baggage: Which Airline is Best for Long Haul Travel?

The long-haul travel season is almost upon us, and if you are currently planning your next overseas adventure to Southern Africa, South America, Australia, New Zealand, or the tropical South Pacific, you might want to check and then double-check the baggage polices of the airlines that you are considering. Many airlines no longer include checked baggage in the cost of a standard flight ticket, and others have reduced their weight allowances, and so you really need to read the small print before booking your flight if you are to avoid costly excess fees at the airport.

On short-haul flights with budget airlines, I get it.  If you want to take lots of luggage with you, you need to pay for the privilege and book your suitcase as an optional extra, but when it comes to long-haul flights, can anyone really travel without checked baggage? If you are travelling on business, maybe you can, but if you are heading off on holiday, you’re going to need more than a spare change of clothes if you are to look your best dharlinks, and a single carry on just doesn’t cut it!

As someone who has, finally, mastered the art of packing light, I can now pack for a weeklong trip in a 10kg cabin size bag. It’s not easy, and you have to coordinate outfits carefully, but it is doable if you are not planning on doing multiple activities that require multiple different outfits. For long-haul holidays, particularly those that might include a safari, some cycling, a hiking adventure, or multi-destination holidays where the temperatures may differ, checked baggage is essential, so don’t be tempted by the lure of cheap flights – many of them do not included a checked suitcase.

Emirates is one such airline that has changed their checked-baggage allowances, and not for the better. Previously, long-haul flights came with a generous 30kg checked luggage allowance and 7kg hand luggage, but since introducing economy ‘saver’ fares, the checked baggage allowance has been reduced to just 20kg on many flights. If you wanted to purchase those extra 10kg as excess baggage, Emirates will charge you $320 USD to do so, but only if you book it online before travel. If you wait to do it at the airport, you’ll be charge $40 USD per kilo…! So, you seriously do not want to have overweight bags with this airline.

When British Airways announced that it too was to offer ‘baggage free’ tickets, my heart sank, but fortunately most long-haul flights still included a free checked baggage allowance of 23kg.  When you combine that with BA’s generous hand luggage allowance, they are hard to compete with when it comes to long-haul flights in economy, and here’s why…

The hand luggage allowance for British Airways is the most generous of any airline. You can take 1 handbag or laptop bag measuring up to 40 x 30 x 15cm, and 1 additional cabin bag measuring 56 x 45x 25cm, but what many people don’t realise is that these bags can weigh up to 23kg each!  So, you essentially have 69kg baggage allowance with BA if you include your checked bag.

The only stipulation is that your bags must meet the size guidelines, and that you can lift them into the overhead bin yourself.

As every airline is different, you really need to shop around when it comes to checked baggage allowances, but if you are looking for a well-priced flight to Southern Africa or South America, British Airways could be the perfect choice – although eat before you get on-board, the food they serve is ghastly!

 

 

 

 

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