5 Simple Ways to Avoid British Airways Baggage Fees

Use these tips to avoid British Airways baggage fees and save on your overall travel expenses.
Last updated May 13, 2021 | By Ben Walker
British Airways flight

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Baggage fees have become increasingly common among the airline industry and are often seen as a necessary nuisance when flying. But each airline has its own baggage policies that instruct you on what type of baggage is allowed, how much it can weigh, and when you’re going to incur a fee.

This can get confusing if you often fly different airlines and need to learn all their baggage policies. The baggage fees can also start to add up for frequent fliers. To help avoid these fees and any potential confusion at the airport, learn the ins and outs of the baggage policies for the airlines you fly the most.

Here we’ll explain the British Airways baggage policy and different ways you can avoid British Airways baggage fees. This can help you breeze through the baggage check-in process and save money on future travel plans.

In this article

What is British Airways’ baggage policy?

British Airways’ baggage policy outlines the standard weights and sizes the airline allows for personal items, cabin bags, and checked baggage. It also gives you guidelines on the type of baggage allowed, including sports equipment and musical instruments, as well as banned and restricted items.

British Airways’ carry-on policy

You’re allowed one personal item and one cabin bag for free on British Airways flights.

British Airways’ maximum standard personal item weights and sizes are:

  • Up to 16 inches x 12 inches x 6 inches (length x width x depth)
  • Up to 51 pounds

British Airways’ maximum standard cabin bag weights and sizes are:

  • Up to 22 inches x 18 inches x 10 inches (length x width x depth)
  • Up to 51 pounds

If you’re traveling with children, each child (aged two to 11) has the same carry-on luggage allowance as an adult. If you have an infant (under two years old), you’re allowed an extra bag, such as a diaper bag, to bring items they may need while flying. If you pay for a seat for your infant, they’re booked as a “child” and given the same personal item allowance as an adult.

Strollers (or pushchairs, as they’re known across the pond) that can fold down into a carry bag and comply with the maximum hand baggage dimensions can replace your cabin bag. If you have a small, fully collapsible, and lightweight stroller with maximum dimensions of 46 inches x 15 inches x 15 inches (length x width x depth) when collapsed, you can bring it right to the aircraft door and then collect it at the aircraft door upon arrival at most airports.

Car seats are allowed at no extra charge for children or infants who have their own seats booked. The car seat must be no more than 18 inches across to be able to fit into an aircraft seat and two-part (car seat plus base) car seats aren’t allowed.

Note: Your handbags or laptop bags are guaranteed to travel in the cabin as personal items, but you may be asked to check your cabin baggage (for free) on busy British Airways flights.

British Airways’ checked baggage policy

You’re typically allowed one checked bag for free on British Airways flights. However, your amount of free checked baggage may vary depending on your fare type. Here’s the breakdown for checked baggage by fare type:

  • Basic: No free checked baggage, but hand luggage is free.
  • Economy: One free checked bag.
  • Premium Economy: Two free checked bags.
  • Business: Two free checked bags.
  • First: Three free checked bags.

British Airways’ maximum standard checked baggage sizes and weights are:

  • Up to 35 inches x 30 inches x 17 inches (length x width x depth)
  • Up to 51 pounds

Business and First class fares can have these checked baggage sizes and weights:

  • Up to 35 inches x 30 inches x 17 inches (length x width x depth)
  • Up to 70 pounds

Children (aged two to 11) and infants (under two years old) with a booked seat are given the same checked baggage allowance as adults. Infants without a booked seat are allowed one free checked bag. In addition, children and infants are allowed to check two of these items for free:

  • A fully-collapsible stroller
  • A car or booster seat
  • A travel cot
  • A baby back carrier

Note: Certain British Airways routes may offer additional free checked luggage on Economy flights. For example, flights to Ghana, Kenya, and Nigeria offer two free checked bags for Economy class passengers. Flights between Europe and Japan may also offer two free checked bags on Economy fares, and the same is true for Economy fares originating from Shanghai to London Heathrow and fares originating from Saudi Arabia or India to USA/Bermuda/Canada. Be sure to check your itinerary to see if it allows additional free checked baggage.

British Airways’ baggage fees

British Airways doesn’t publish a complete list of potential baggage fees on its website and customer service representatives will suggest you check for these fees while making a booking.

However, the British Airways baggage allowance tool can help you see what your luggage allowance is and if you’ll have any potential baggage fees according to your fare class, origin airport, and destination airport.

Once you add your potential flight information, you’ll see the hand baggage allowance and checked baggage allowance. This will also show you how many free checked bags you get and how much any additional checked bags will cost.

Buying additional checked bags online instead of at the airport is typically cheaper. Also, keep in mind that this tool will show you the excess baggage fees in the local currency of the origin airport.

Overall, baggage charges vary depending on where you’re flying. You’ll have to check your exact itinerary using the tool above to make sure you know what the fees and allowances are, but here are a few sample itineraries to give you an idea:

LAX (California, U.S.) to LHR (London, United Kingdom) on a Basic fare.

Online price Airport price
1st bag $65 $75
2nd bag $90 $100
3rd bag $170 $200
4th bag $170 $200

MAN (Manchester, United Kingdom) to DBV (Dubrovnik, Croatia) on a Basic fare.

Online price Airport price
1st bag £30 £65
2nd bag £60 £65
3rd bag £60 £65
4th bag £60 £65

EDI (Edinburgh, United Kingdom) to HND (Tokyo, Japan) on a Basic fare.

Online price Airport price
1st bag £70 £75
2nd bag £60 £100
3rd bag £120 £140
4th bag £120 £140

As you can see, the prices can vary dramatically depending on your route. In addition, if a checked bag weighs more than allowed, you may have to pay an overweight baggage fee of $100 per checked bag.

How to avoid baggage fees on British Airways flights

1. Pack light

It may seem obvious, but if you want to avoid British Airways baggage fees, don’t pack a lot of stuff. This is especially important if you’re traveling on a Basic fare that doesn’t allow a free checked bag. But the same principle applies to any fare class.

You get a personal item and cabin bag for free on any ticket with British Airways, which is often more than enough to pack your essentials. This could include a few changes of clothes, plus some toiletries and electronics.

If you don’t think it’s possible to pack less than what you think you need, try a few packing test runs at home well before your flight. Also, carefully consider what’s essential and what’s not on your packing list. Clothes can be washed, and it’s not the end of the world if you have to wear the same outfit more than once during your travels.

2. Become an Executive Club member

It’s free to become an Executive Club member, but achieving the higher status levels will take some time and effort. However, it could be worth it if you frequently fly British Airways and want to avoid baggage fees.

Silver Executive Club members receive:

  • An additional free checked bag allowance on Economy fares for everyone on your booking
  • A maximum weight allowance of 71 pounds per checked bag on any type of fare for everyone on your booking

Gold Executive Club members receive:

  • An additional free checked bag allowance on any type of fare (other than Basic) for everyone on your booking
  • A maximum weight allowance of 71 pounds per checked bag on any type of fare for everyone on your booking

3. Buy a premium ticket

Upgrading your ticket on British Airways will cost money. But if you were planning to upgrade anyway, possibly for a better seat or in-flight amenities, you might as well take advantage of additional free checked baggage allowances at the same time.

The maximum amount of free checked bags available by fare type is three, which is for First class tickets. You get two free checked bags for Premium Economy and Business class, and one free checked bag for Economy fares. Basic fares don’t come with a free checked baggage benefit.

4. Get a British Airways credit card

Credit card issuers often work with airlines to provide co-branded credit cards that offer unique rewards and benefits. One of these credit cards is the British Airways Visa Signature Card, provided by Chase.

The British Airways Visa Signature doesn’t provide an extra baggage allowance benefit, but you can earn Avios points on the purchases you make and then redeem them for rewards. Earning rates include 3X Avios on purchases with British Airways, Aer Lingus, Iberia, and LEVEL; 2X Avios on hotel accommodations; and 1X Avios on all other purchases. In addition, the sign-up bonus offers 50,000 Avios after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months after account opening.

This can come in handy for award flights or upgrading your ticket. If you use points to book a fare with free checked baggage, you won’t have to worry about baggage fees on those bags. The same applies to upgrading your ticket with points to a fare class with more free checked bags.

To figure out how many Avios points an upgrade would cost, subtract how many points the fare you originally booked would cost from how many points the upgraded booking would cost.

For example, a Premium Economy one-way ticket from JFK (New York, U.S.) to LHR (London, United Kingdom) might cost 40,000 points while a Business one-way ticket on the same route could cost 60,000 points. If you subtract 40,000 from 60,000, you get a cost of 20,000 Avios (60,000 - 40,000 = 20,000) for your upgrade from Premium Economy to Business on this route.

The British Airways Visa Signature also provides up to $600 in statement credits each year for award flights you book to London. And you can get 10% off British Airways flights originating from the U.S.

Learn more in our British Airways Visa Signature Card review.

5. Opt for a general travel rewards card

Many of the best travel credit cards can also help you avoid baggage fees. This could be through using rewards to book award flights and avoid a lot of the costs associated with flying. Or certain cards might provide specific perks that apply to baggage fees.

For example, the Chase Sapphire Reserve offers up to $300 in annual travel credits. This travel credit includes baggage fees, so you can immediately wipe out $300 in fees. Learn more about this card in our Chase Sapphire Reserve review.

Other Chase credit cards, even non-travel ones, can also help you save on your travel expenses. One of the best rewards strategies for travelers who use Chase cards is to earn rewards on everyday purchases with multiple Chase cards and then transfer those rewards to a Chase card with better travel redemption rates.

This could include the Chase Sapphire Reserve, Chase Sapphire Preferred, or Chase Ink Business Preferred, as these cards provide an additional 25-50% value when you use your rewards for travel redemptions.

FAQs about British Airways baggage fees

Does British Airways include a free checked bag?

Most British Airways flights include a free checked bag, though it depends on the fare class you’re flying. All fares receive free personal items, but Basic fares don’t provide a free checked bag. Economy fares receive one free checked bag, Premium Economy and Business fares receive two free checked bags, and First class fares receive three free checked bags.

What do baggage fees cost on British Airways?

Baggage fees vary with British Airways depending on your flight itinerary, fare, and how many additional bags you want to check. Costs may range from about $35 to $200. Excess weight fees are $100 per bag.

Keep in mind that British Airways does allow free personal items on every flight and most flights (other than Basic fares) provide one free checked bag per person.

What's the weight limit for luggage on British Airways?

The standard weight limit for hand bags, cabin bags, and checked baggage on British Airways is up to 51 pounds each. If you’re on a Business or First class fare, your checked baggage weight capacity is up to 70 pounds.

Does British Airways waive baggage fees if you have elite status?

British Airways doesn’t waive baggage fees if you have elite status. But if you have Silver or Gold Executive Club status, you qualify for increased checked baggage allowance. Silver members get up to two free checked bags on Economy fares for everyone on the booking while Gold members get up to two free checked bags in any travel class (other than Basic) for everyone on the booking.

The bottom line

Traveling can be expensive, especially if you fly often and have to pay baggage fees for your luggage. But if you research an airline’s baggage policies beforehand, it’s easier to prepare for how the fees work. This can help you learn how to avoid baggage fees entirely with certain tips and tricks.

In addition, using the right credit cards can help you cut down on your travel expenses, whether it’s baggage fees, flight costs, or even hotel stays. So the next time you’re planning a trip, consider implementing these strategies to help you save money while traveling.

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Author Details

Ben Walker Ben Walker is a credit cards and travel writer at FinanceBuzz who loves helping others achieve their travel goals through financially-sound decisions. For nearly a decade, he has been using credit card points and miles for the sole purpose of traveling the world. Ben has been featured in The Washington Post, MSN, Debt.com, and Finder.com.