British Airways Baggage Policies and Fees

Everyone gets a carry-on and a personal item. All tickets — except the airline's basic economy fare — include a free checked bag.
JT Genter
By JT Genter 

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British Airways is one of the largest airlines when it comes to flying across the Atlantic, offering travelers the option to "cross the pond" in options including economy to true first class. It's the class of service that determines your British Airways baggage allowance — from no free checked bags up to three checked bags of 70 pounds each.

Let's dive into the details of British Airways' checked baggage and carry-on bag policies and fees.

How to find your British Airways baggage allowance

If you've already booked your flight, the easiest way to find your baggage allowance is by logging into your reservation via Manage My Booking. After entering your booking reference number and last name, select your flight to see the details of your booking. As shown in the example below, under "Your flight choices," you'll find your seat selection and baggage allowance.

Whether you've booked a flight or not, you can always check your baggage allowance using the baggage allowance tool on British Airways' website. You'll need to enter the route, departure date, ticketing date and booking class.

As an example, I searched for a premium economy seat on a flight from New York to London on Feb. 1, 2024 (ticketed on August 1, 2023). This ticket would get two free checked bags up to 51 pounds (23 kilograms) measuring up to 35 x 30 x 17 inches (90 x 75 x 43 centimeters).

Generally, the British Airways baggage policy depends on what fare type you booked:

  • Economy Basic: No checked bags.

  • Economy: One checked bag up to 51 pounds (23 kilograms).

  • Premium economy: Two checked bags up to 51 pounds each.

  • Business: Two checked bags of up to 70 pounds (32 kilograms) each.

  • First: Three checked bags up to 70 pounds each.

British Airways overweight and oversized baggage fees

You may need to pay an overweight bag fee if your bag weighs more than 51 pounds (23 kilograms) and you're flying in economy or premium economy. The overweight bag fee depends on the currency used in the country that you're departing from. The primary options are:

  • 65 Great British pounds.

  • 75 euros.

  • 100 U.S. dollars.

  • 100 Canadian dollars.

If you're departing from a country that uses a different local currency, the GBP amount will be converted to that local currency.

Note that British Airways doesn't accept any checked bags weighing more than 70 pounds (32 kilograms).

However, British Airways does accept some oversized bags — those measuring larger than 35 x 30 x 17 inches (90 x 75 x 43 centimeters) — as part of your standard baggage allowance and without additional fees. However, you'll need to check these "out-of-gauge bags" at a special bag drop at least 90 minutes before departure.

The maximum size for British Airways checked baggage is 74 x 29 x 25 inches (190 x 75 x 65 centimeters).

What are British Airways carry-on bag size dimensions?

All British Airways tickets include a "cabin bag" and "hand bag." The maximum weight and dimensions differ between these two types of British Airways carry-on bags.

Your "hand bag" — also known as a "personal item" on other airlines — can measure up to 16 x 12 x 6 inches (40 x 30 x 15 centimeters) and weigh up to 51 pounds (23 kilograms). This bag is guaranteed to fly in the cabin with you. So be sure to pack your essential items in this bag — such as electronics, medicines, travel documents and battery packs.

Meanwhile, your "cabin bag" can measure up to 22 x 18 x 10 inches (56 x 45 x 25 centimeters) and weigh up to 51 pounds (23 kilograms). This bag may need to be checked depending on how full your flight is, so don't pack anything critical in it.

How to increase your British Airways checked baggage allowance

What if the current British Airways baggage allowance isn’t cutting it for your trip? Here are a couple of ways that you can boost your baggage allowance with British Airways.

Oneworld alliance elite status

Travelers with Sapphire or Emerald Oneworld elite status get an extra checked bag on most British Airways fares. If you have Oneworld Sapphire elite status, you'll get two checked bags up to 70 pounds (32 kilograms) each, regardless of which cabin you booked. Oneworld Emerald travelers get one additional checked bag up to 70 pounds (32 kilograms), plus up to 70 pounds (32 kilograms) on all other checked bags.

Critically, British Airways opts out of providing these Oneworld elite benefits on its "hand baggage-only" basic economy fares. Travelers who book these basic economy fares won't get a free checked bag regardless of their elite status.

For reference, the following airline elite statuses grant Oneworld Sapphire status:

And the following elite status members get Oneworld Emerald benefits:

Remember that you can get American Airlines AAdvantage elite status solely from spending on an eligible AAdvantage credit card. That means you can potentially spend your way to free baggage allowance on British Airways without taking a single flight.

Upgrade your booking class

If you're facing steep extra baggage fees, it may be worth checking the cost to upgrade your ticket to a premium cabin. Upgrading from standard economy to premium economy will get you a second free checked bag up to 51 pounds (23 kilograms).

Meanwhile, switching from premium economy to business class will boost your per-bag allowance from 51 pounds (23 kilograms) to 70 pounds (32 kilograms) each. And upgrading from business class to first class gets you a third checked bag of up to 70 pounds (32 kilograms).

Check the terms associated with your ticket to ensure you're actually getting the additional baggage allowance as part of the upgrade.

Final thoughts on British Airways checked baggage allowance

British Airways includes a free carry-on bag and personal item with all tickets. However, you won't be able to check a bag for free if you book one of its cheapest basic economy fares. All other fares include at least one checked bag of up to 51 pounds (23 kilograms) — or up to 70 pounds (32 kilograms) on business and first class fares.

Oneworld elite members may get an additional checked bag on British Airways, depending on their status tier and the booking class. However, even top-tier elites can't avoid British Airways' restriction on basic economy fares.

(Top photo courtesy of British Airways)

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