Nine ways to get extra luggage on a plane trip (without paying extra)

Flight attendants and frequent flyers reveal nine ways to get extra luggage onto a plane on your next holiday (without paying extra)

  • Airline luggage fees are often an unexpected and hefty travel expense 
  • Legacy airlines tend to offer the most generous baggage allowances
  • Save space by vacuum-packing your clothes or stuffing them into a travel pillow 
  • Read more: Flight attendant reveals ten luxury travel hacks 

Hefty luggage fees are often an unexpected expense when it comes to air travel. 

You can be lured by bargain airline tickets, only to fork out a fortune on carry-on bags and checked-in luggage.

Thankfully, there are a few tricks that’ll increase how much you can take on a flight without leaving a big dent in your bank balance. Here, flight attendants, frequent flyers and seasoned travellers reveal their top tips…

No.1 – Fly with legacy carriers

Rob Burgess, editor of, says that you will enjoy the most generous baggage allowance with legacy airlines 

Use legacy airlines such as British Airways and American Airlines, recommends Rob Burgess, editor of frequent flyer website 

He tells MailOnline Travel: ‘If you do need to take a lot of luggage, you will usually find that the legacy airlines are the most generous in terms of your allowance. Unfortunately, there are no search engines that let you say in advance how much luggage you want to take and adjust the pricing accordingly, so it’s important to do your homework.

‘This is especially true on short-haul flights, where a tempting £9.99 fare can often turn out to be more expensive than a ticket on a legacy carrier once checked baggage fees – and sometimes even hand baggage fees – are included.’

No.2 – Get airline status

A British Airways elite member can enjoy a bigger baggage allowance across partner airlines such as American Airlines, Qatar Airways, and Cathay Pacific 

Having status with an airline can boost your luggage allowance, Rob notes.

He says: ‘If you have status with a particular airline, remember that this will often give you additional luggage across all of the airlines that partner with it – for example, all of the Oneworld alliance members for British Airways status cardholders.

‘This would give a British Airways elite member a bigger allowance on American Airlines, Qatar Airways, Cathay Pacific, Qantas, and so on.’

No.3 – The TikTok travel pillow hack

Ryanair passenger Kristen Black from Atlanta, Georgia, uploaded a video to TikTok in which she rolls a jumper around various other items of clothing to form a makeshift travel pillow. The Atlanta native used the hack to make room in her bag for souvenirs and avoid paying for excess luggage

TikTok user Kristen Black set the social media platform alight when she shared an ingenious hack video that showed her fashioning a DIY neck pillow by rolling a jumper around various other items of clothing and then wrapping it around her neck before a Ryanair flight. 

Labelling it ‘the perfect packing hack’, the Atlanta native told MailOnline Travel that she tried out the trick to make her flight more bearable and to make room in her bag for souvenirs and avoid paying for excess luggage.

To date, the video, titled ‘save space, save money’, has racked up nearly one million likes on TikTok. Other influencers have shared videos that show them filling empty pillowcases with their clothing in a similar travel hack. 

No.4 – Redistribute the weight 

Check-in luggage is always weighed, but it’s far less likely that your carry-on luggage will be placed on the scales by airline staff. 

Hand luggage is more often simply ‘size-checked’ in terms of its length and width, Skyscanner notes. 

If you’re worried your check-in bags might be too heavy, redistribute the weight by putting weightier items such as books, chargers and boots inside your carry-on luggage. 

No.5 – Check in online

Check-in online so that your carry-on bags aren’t weighed at the check-in counter 

If you’re travelling with slightly overweight hand luggage, Emirates flight attendant Caroline Kneitz recommends checking in online to ensure that your carry-on bags aren’t weighed at the check-in counter.

She told MailOnline: ‘My top tip when it comes to luggage is to always check in online or via an app before heading to the airport. If you go to a counter at the airport it is likely that they will check the size of your hand luggage and weigh it. If you are travelling with hand luggage only, this is particularly annoying as it’s likely that it might be a little overweight. 

‘If you check in before the airport, you can waltz straight through security and to the gate, where it is very unlikely a staff member will weigh the bag. That is unless you’re flying with a super-budget airline.’

No.6 – Use a duty-free bag

Miguel Munoz, who has been working as a flight attendant for more than a decade, revealed a nifty hack for sneaking extra hand luggage on to a plane without being charged for having an extra carry-on.

He said the trick is to disguise the surplus bag as a duty-free purchase by concealing it in a shopping bag.

Speaking to the Daily Express, Miguel explained that many passengers are unaware that duty-free bags aren’t counted in your carry-on luggage allowance – a fact that travellers can use to their advantage whenever they find themselves with more baggage than they’re permitted. 

No.7 – Custom under-seat cabin bags

TikTok user Lily Thompstone shared a video of a £9.99 holdall fitting perfectly into the Ryanair baggage sizer – and it went viral 

When TikTok user Lily Thompstone posted a video of her £9.99 under-seat holdall fitting perfectly into the Ryanair baggage sizer, the video went viral.

It shows Lily’s partner easily slotting the pink under-seat holdall inside the luggage checker ahead of a three-night trip to Prague. ‘I can’t believe these bags work,’ she wrote in the video caption.

The bag is manufactured by the brand Narwey and is advertised as a Ryanair under-seat cabin bag that adheres to the airline’s exact dimension ceiling – 40cm (16in) by 20cm (8in) by 25cm (10in).

Ryanair says that all passengers are entitled to bring one small personal bag on board for free, though it must fit under the seat in front of you and mustn’t exceed those measurements. Narwey also does an under-seat bag that sticks to easyJet’s dimension parameters, which are slightly larger at 45cm (18in) by 36cm (14in) by 20cm (8in).

No.8 – Vacuum pack bags

Vacuum packing your clothes can save on space, a TikTok influencer has revealed (file photo) 

A video by blogger ‘Jess’, who runs a TikTok account called ‘sideofsequins’, went viral when she shared her trick for fitting more into her carry-on luggage without paying extra.

In the video, which has racked up 99,000 likes to date, the blogger can be seen squeezing nine days’ worth of clothes into vacuum pack bags before neatly slotting the compressed bags into her carry-on luggage.

She notes that she packs a small travel steamer to iron out any of the creases in the tightly-packed clothes once she arrives at her destination.

No.9 – Fly business class on short-haul trips

While it’s not strictly a money-saving tip, Rob Burgess recommends flying business class on a short-haul flight to capitalise on the enhanced luggage allowance.

He says: ‘Occasionally, you may find with short-haul flights on legacy carriers such as British Airways that business-class tickets – which give you two checked bags included – are not much more expensive than an economy ticket plus extra luggage charge, so it’s always worth checking the premium fare price.’

Backing up his point, British Airways flight attendant Taraneh told MailOnline Travel: ‘On a business-class ticket each passenger is entitled to two 23kg checked bags. In the interest of spending as little money as possible, might I suggest collecting and using Avios for the business class ticket? For example, you can get a business-class flight from £1 and 31,250 Avios to Europe – such as to Paris and Amsterdam – which would include two 23kg checked bags.’

She continued: ‘Alternatively, those who’ve already booked an economy ticket can upgrade to business class from 7,500 Avios and £31 on a return flight, so they’d add an extra bag that way.’ 

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