UK Carry-On Luggage Buyers Guide

When it comes to travelling abroad, you’re likely going to need some flexible, lightweight luggage. That often means having to purchase a cabin bag or two outright before you go – but which options should you be looking for?

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What works best, on the whole, as carry-on luggage? You’re going to need to look for portability, strength and the right dimensions.

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Cabin Bags and Carry-On Luggage: A 2022 Buyer’s Guide

Carry-on luggage is something which, as you’d expect, airlines will let you take on board with you as you fly. This means you can keep certain items to hand for ease of access, and it also means you can keep your most important items to hand at all times. In this buyer’s guide, we will take a look at everything you’ll need to bear in mind when shopping for your ideal travel bags.

What Makes a Good Cabin Bag or Carry-On Luggage?

You may probably think that providing your bag has a handle; it’s suitable to be taken on as hand luggage. This isn’t always the case! You’re going to need to bear in mind more than a few important factors before you board your flight.

There is now a standard requirement across most airlines for cabin bags to be of a certain size, not just a certain weight. You’re likely going to find that this will vary from airline to airline.

However, a good ballpark to aim for in terms of dimensions will be 56cm x 45cm x 25cm. Bags of this size, handle and any wheels included, should be allowed onto most UK airlines. If you’re worried, make sure you check the full boarding instructions before you take flight.

Beyond the standard requirements, here are a few more factors you should be looking for when buying ideal carry-on luggage for trips of any length or nature.

Soft or Hard Casing?

When looking for cabin bags and carry-on luggage, you will likely find bags split into two types, soft and hard. The difference should be fairly obvious in the description! However, while you may feel that hard luggage is always going to be the better option, soft bags have their place, too.

Soft luggage is preferred by people who have lots of items they need to store with easy access. This means that it normally comes fitted with extra pockets. Hard luggage, while a little less friendly on the pocket front, will fit easier onto overhead racks, and is very easy to store away when not in use. They are also ideal for transporting items which require added protection, such as breakables.

Do You Need Wheels?

Not all cabin bags and carry-on luggage come with wheels attached. Bags and luggage are becoming more and more convenient for transportation, and wheels will help you transport your baggage’s around lengthy airport terminals and more besides.

However, if you’re not planning to pack that much, you may not even need wheels. What’s more, wheeled luggage can be quite awkward to store.

Look at Capacity

All airlines are going to impose a weight limit on you when it comes to how much you can take into a cabin at any one time. However, you can cram a surprising amount into this limit!

Therefore, you’re going to want to look carefully for luggage which will hold as much as possible, with this limit in mind. You’ll find most, if not all carry-on luggage bags are designed to adhere to these weight limits, not just the dimensions.

Be Careful With Handles

Yes, extendable handles can mean you are able to pull your baggage along fairly easily. However, handles do have a habit of getting knocked and even snapped if you’re not careful. It may not even be your fault if this occurs. You may, therefore, prefer to look for bags with sturdier, reinforced handles.

Ease of Portability

Bearing all of the above in mind, you should be thinking about how easy or difficult it might be to move your luggage around. If you choose not to go for a wheelie bag or something lightweight, you may be stuck lugging something heavy around for long periods of time. The most portable bag for you will be one which can reasonably handle the items you are likely to take away.

Frequently Asked Questions

As always, it’s time to take a look at some of the most commonly-asked questions shoppers may have when looking around.

How Much Should I Pay for a Good Cabin Bag?

You can find reliable short-term luggage, which will fit most airline specifications, for as little as £20-£30. However, these options are unlikely to weather years of use, and may not offer the best support for heavy loads. You may be looking at paying over £100 for the best cabin bags around, but often, it’s worth doing.

Are All Cabin Bags Airline Approved?

No. This is something you will need to check before you buy. However, providing your bag is within the dimensions requested by the airline you are due to travel with, you shouldn’t have anything to worry about. Some bags are approved by big-name airlines, which can help to give you a little more confidence, though it isn’t always necessary.

How Many Cabin Bags Can I Take on a Plane With Me?

This really will differ from airline to airline. Generally, you can expect an airline to request that you bring no more than one cabin bag and a laptop bag or similar on the plane with you. You’ll be able to store a slimline bag under your seat, and your cabin bag in the overhead racks. Do always double-check with your travel operator if you have any doubt.


Sometimes, packing for a holiday can be a bit of a struggle. With the right bags and luggage at your disposal, there is no reason why this should ever be the case. Take a look at some of the more popular brands, and do read up on what people have to say about the bags you’re most interested in!