Travel hacks: flying with hand luggage

Travel hacks: flying with hand luggage

Traveling with a large suitcase is not always convenient, especially if it is a short trip. And this often greatly increases the cost of air tickets, so many people limit themselves to hand luggage only. We share tips on how to properly pack for such a trip.

What is considered hand luggage

The standard size of hand luggage for most airlines is 55x40x20 cm in length, width and height, respectively. Weight should not exceed 10 kg. This can be a bag, a special backpack with a capacity of 44 l or a small suitcase with a capacity of 32 l.

Low-cost airlines have stricter restrictions – bags with dimensions up to 40x30x20 cm can be placed in the calibrator, and the weight must be up to 5 kg. Usually a handbag or backpack fits these parameters.

For clarity, we have collected in one table the permissible dimensions of hand luggage in the most popular Russian airlines.

Airline Tariff Dimensions and weight
Aeroflot Economy
55x40x25 cm, 10 kg
55x40x25 cm, 15 kg
Pobeda All tariffs 36x30x27 cm, weight without limitation
S7 Economy
55x40x23 cm, 10 kg
55x40x23 cm, 15 kg
Utair Minimum, Optium
Premium, Business
40x30x20 cm, 5 kg
55x40x25 cm, 10 kg
Nordwind Light, Optium
40x30x20 cm, 10 kg
55x40x25 cm, 10 kg
Smartavia All tariffs 40x30x20 cm, 10 kg

For an additional fee, in many low-cost airlines (for example, European Wizz and Ryanair), you can take standard size hand luggage with you by purchasing the Priority service. This means that your boarding will be priority and you will definitely be able to find a place for your bag on the shelf. This option is cheaper than checking a small suitcase as checked baggage, and you won’t have to wait for it after boarding. However, it’s not worth paying extra just for a quick boarding. According to observations, this service is very popular among travelers, and upon boarding there is a separate long queue of such passengers.

Travel hacks: flying with hand luggage

What to check before going to the airport

Typically, the size of carry-on luggage is checked in two places: at check-in and upon boarding. You can almost always check in online and walk past the counters at the airport, and boarding for flights occurs dynamically, so airline employees probably won’t have time to check each passenger. In this case, you will not face a fine for a few extra centimeters on your bag, but if your hand luggage looks out of bounds, you will probably be asked to place your luggage in a calibrator. To avoid unexpected expenses at the airport, prepare in advance:

  • check on the airline’s website for current requirements for hand luggage sizes;
  • do not fill a soft bag or backpack completely – the item should be able to take the shape of the calibrator and fit into it;
  • If you are carrying a camera, tablet or laptop, take it out and carry it on the plane in your hands to reduce the weight of the bag.

What is better not to take with you on a trip

Such things can be divided into two categories: what definitely cannot be carried in the cabin of the plane, and what is simply not recommended to take with you if you want to save space.

The following cannot be carried in the aircraft cabin:

  • sharp and cutting objects: for example, razors (except electric razors, in which the blades are hidden), nail scissors and a corkscrew;
  • everything that can explode: aerosol deodorants, lighter refills and pyrotechnics;
  • bottles with a volume of more than 100 ml: these include cream, shampoo, perfume and water. Even if a 250 ml jar has a couple of drops of shampoo left at the bottom,  you will not be allowed to take it with you;
  • the total volume of liquids per passenger should be no more than 1 liter.

What to leave at home to save as much space as possible:

  • second pair of shoes;
  • heavy cosmetics bag with a lot of creams;
  • sun protection and swimming gear: these can usually be purchased locally; 
  • packs of medicines. Trim the blisters and place the tablets in a separate container, so they will take up less space.

Travel hacks: flying with hand luggage

Useful life hacks

  • hotels and apartments often provide shampoo and shower gel in small quantities, so you don’t have to take them with you from home;
  • Buy creams, hair masks and cosmetics in travel formats: usually, the volume of such jars is no more than 50 ml;
  • pack bottles with liquids in one transparent bag in advance – this way you will save time at customs control if they ask you to get all the bottles.

Also keep in mind that airports have luggage storage facilities. There you can leave a bottle of expensive perfume you accidentally took from home and outerwear if you are flying to a warm place. At the airports of Moscow and St. Petersburg, storage rates are as follows:

Sheremetyevo 500 rubles for the first day and 250 rubles for each subsequent day
Domodedovo 800 rubles per day, from the seventh day to 400 rubles
Vnukovo 500 rubles per day
Zhukovsky 400 rubles per day
Pulkovo 600 rubles for the first day and 300 rubles for each subsequent day

How to pack things

Travel hacks: flying with hand luggage

Weigh separately the equipment and wires that you take with you. There is no need to weigh your phone and camera. The smartphone will be in your pocket, and the camera can be worn around your neck. Add the weight of documents, medications and liquids.

  • a jacket, hoodie or sweater weighs about 500 g, but you can put these clothes on yourself – then the weight will not be taken into account;
  • T-shirts and shirts weigh about 250 g, three pieces are usually enough for a week; 
  • jeans and trousers weigh about 600 g and take up a lot of space, it’s best to go straight to them;
  • shorts, skirts and dresses weigh about 300 g, denim ones are heavier;
  • swimsuit, swimming trunks, socks and underwear weigh on average from 50 to 200 g.

At the bottom of the backpack, put those things that you will not use until your destination – a dress, socks or a cosmetic bag. It is better to put equipment and things that need to be taken out frequently on top.

Roll up your clothes: this way they wrinkle less and take up minimal space. To do this, you need to fold the T-shirt from the sleeve to the center one third on each side and twist it tightly, starting from the collar. It is better to put on the most voluminous clothes right away: this way more things will fit in the backpack, and you can change clothes at any time. For example, it is better to fly in pants, and put shorts or a skirt in your backpack. Put a sweater over a T-shirt – if it’s hot, you can carry it in your hands. It can be cold on the plane due to the air conditioning, and a sweatshirt on hand will come in handy.

If you are not flying alone, pack your backpacks together: distribute your clothes by weight and volume. Sometimes, in this case, you will be able to fit more things, and the bag will be lighter.

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