Guide to Wizz & Ryanair’s personal baggage policy (and how to make the most of it)

7 minute read

You love low fares, we love low fares. It’s why we set up Jack’s Flight Club and it’s why you’re here! If you’ve tried getting anywhere in Europe for under £50 return, it’s likely you’ve come across both Wizz and Ryanair. These insanely low-cost carriers rival the likes of easyJet by offering fares that can’t help but lure in budget-savvy travellers.

For anyone who’s tried to book a ticket with these carriers, you’ve likely seen that these prices come with a cost in additional fees for things you’d often take for granted, such as sitting with your travel companion(s), having a drink (or even water!) on board, and especially their top moneymaker – bringing a regular-sized cabin bag on-board.

To ensure that your flight remains as cheap as possible, we’ve written this handy guide all about the two airlines’ personal baggage policies and how to make the absolute most of your free allowance.

 

Ryanair

Love them or hate them, you can’t help but be impressed at Ryanair’s pan-European coverage (200+ destinations, including some hidden gems) or their super low fares. Their personal baggage policy is, in their own words, designed to maximise the efficient turnaround of its aircraft. Whichever way you look at it, your cheap ticket could end up looking a little less so once you’ve added a decent sized bag into the mix.

How strict is Ryanair’s personal baggage policy?

Very. If your free personal bag doesn’t fit in the bag sizer at the check-in counter (and sometimes even at the gate), you’ll have to pay ~£25 to have it placed in the hold. At an allowance of 40 x 20 x 25cm, this means that anything over the size of a small rucksack, handbag or laptop bag is at risk of being charged for. That said, you do have a little bit of wiggle room as the bag sizer is around 25% larger than the maximum allowance, so you’re still free to live life on the edge, at least a little.

Pro Tip: Unless you’re checking a bag, avoid the check-in counter at all costs. Check in online, print your boarding pass, and go straight through security. Their staff will often avoid doing thorough baggage allowance checks at the gate (especially on delayed flights), while a stop at the counter only gives them another opportunity to find a reason to fine you. Less staff interaction is encouraged!

Why do they charge fees to add a regular-sized cabin bag?

Ryanair insists that efficiency and timekeeping is the primary aim of this exercise. Anyone who has taken a late evening flight on Ryanair will know all too well its punctuality issues, so the airline’s aim is to reduce the amount of bags having to be removed at the departure gate and checked into the hold and thus speed up the boarding process.

Additionally, charging add-on fees for nearly everything helps them keep their base flight prices as low as they are, driving more customers to their website over the competition.

What is their baggage policy & how much do they charge?

Passengers are allowed one free bag up to 40 x 20 x 25cm, with a £25 fee at the gate should this not fit in the bag sizer. For an additional cabin bag up to 55 x 40 x 20cm, it costs between £6 and £12 each way to add at the time of booking (dependent on route) but £10 if added later, with priority boarding included. Cabin bags that exceed this size will be liable to an eye-watering £55 fee to be placed into the hold at the gate.

In terms of checked baggage, a 20kg piece can be purchased for £25 each way at the time of booking, or £40 either later on or at the check-in desk (max dimensions 119 x 119 x 81cm). It’s worth pointing out that an £11 per kilo excess will be charged should your checked bag be over the weight allowance. You can see a more detailed breakdown of charges for sports equipment, musical instruments and more here.

How to make the most of Ryanair’s free baggage allowance

Whisper it, whilst your free bag is supposed to fit under the seat in front of you, it can usually be placed into the overhead lockers without too much fuss, freeing up a bit more room for you. Be sure to arrive at the departure gate early in order to find some space on board. Space and budget-conscious travellers should consider a bag such as this that complies with Ryanair’s free baggage allowance, or this stylish little number (Note: We are not affiliated with these sellers).

Pro Tip: Avoid hardside luggage and go with a softside bag for your carry-on. You’ll typically be able to fit at least 25% more and still muscle it into their bag-sizer at the gate if asked to!

Other ways Ryanair can catch you slipping:

Know what you paid for. If you do choose to pay for a full-sized carry-on or checked bag, remember that you did. Ryanair’s check-in process and boarding passes purposely make it difficult to see what you’ve already paid for as they try to encourage you to make those same purchases again by mistake. You won’t be getting a refund if you’ve accidentally paid for 2 checked bags.

 

Wizz Air

The Hungarian carrier has been rapidly expanding over the past decade and has emerged as a leading competitor to both Ryanair and easyJet. They specialise in flights to Eastern European destinations so are well worth a look if you’re looking to get to places like Warsaw, Budapest, Bucharest, as well as some further out destinations like Tel Aviv.

Much like Ryanair, they offer rock bottom fares with the proviso that a standard cabin bag and other items will cost you extra, shockingly even more so than Ryanair!

How strict is Wizz Air’s personal baggage policy?

A little less so than Ryanair’s. At 40 x 30 x 20cm their free carry-on allowance permits a wider, yet slightly shallower, bag than Ryanair. You’ll have to pay an extra €9 at the gate should your bag exceed this and you haven’t purchased Wizz Priority (between €5-30 dependent on season and route if purchased at the time of booking, otherwise it’s €20 at the airport).

Why do they charge fees to add a regular-sized cabin bag?

In order to compete with the likes of Ryanair, not to mention to attract potential customers with their low base fares. Basically, all the same reasons as those stated above.

What is their baggage policy & how much do they charge?

Passengers are permitted to travel with a bag up to 40 x 30 x 20cm for free. Purchase Wizz Priority as mentioned above and you can bring along an additional 55 x 40 x 23cm bag (note the competitive advantage of 3cm extra depth over Ryanair’s allowance). Both bags are guaranteed to go into the cabin unless operational requirements make it absolutely impossible, lessening the risk of having to wait at the other end in baggage reclaim.

As far as checked baggage goes, things get a little more complicated. The standard allowance is 10kg for between €12 and €27 in high season and €9-24 in low season. Do note that, like Ryanair, Wizz places size restrictions on hold baggage (149 x 119 x 171cm). If you require additional weight then it’s worth considering the Wizz Go package which allows for 20kg and the two cabin bags, or Wizz Plus which takes it up to 32kg. More information can be found on their fares and bundles page. An excess of €10 per kilo is payable for overweight checked baggage.

How to make the most of Wizz Air’s free baggage allowance

Smart and affordable options such as this could be a good option in order to comply with the size regulations.

Pro Tip: If you’re going somewhere cold, wear your most space-consuming clothes at the airport (or even carry them on your arm). Wizz policy dictates that jackets do not need to be paid for as extra luggage so opt for a big coat with deep pockets and fill them with anything that won’t fit in your free bag. Once on board, you can usually fit it between the cabin bags in the overhead locker.

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If you still have more questions, feel free to drop me a message on [email protected] and I’ll be happy to help.

Jack Sheldon

Jack Sheldon is founder and top cheap flights nerd at Jack's Flight Club. Having travelled to 56 countries to date, he currently lives in Barcelona, Spain. His favourite things in life are error fares, but he also enjoys a good audiobook, fresh squeezed OJ, and surfing (though he's not all that good at it). Jack also writes about cheap flights for the Independent.