British Airways Baggage Fees Guide (Carry-on, Checked, Basic) [2019]

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British Airways is an iconic airline based out of London that connects the city to the world with the most nonstop routes out of London. Many people are curious about the baggage fees that British Airways charges. 

British Airways baggage fees structure might be a little hard to follow, but in this article, I will be explaining ways to avoid baggage fees, an also explain the details for traveling with: personal items, carry-ons, checked, sports equipment, musical equipment, and British Airways TAG. 


What are British Airways baggage fees?

British Airways has five different fare classes. All fares do allow you to bring on a carry-on and personal item for free. Out of those five different fares, four offer a free baggage allowance. Basic is the only fare that has no free checked bags included in the fare. Economy, Premium Economy, Business, and First all include checked bags.

I will go into more detail about the baggage fees below.


How can I avoid British Airways baggage fees?

Here are a few tips to avoid British Airways baggage fees.

Fare options

There is one fare that doesn’t offer any free baggage allowance, and it’s called Economy Hand Baggage Only, aka “Basic.” If you want a free baggage allowance Economy, Premium Economy, Business, and First all include free checked bag(s):

  • Economy: 1 bag (23kg/51lbs)
    • Exceptions for economy: 
      • Between London and Doha: 1 bag (32kg/70lbs)
      • Flights to/from Ghana, Kenya, and Nigeria: 2 bags (23kg/51lbs each)
      • Flights between Europe and Japan: 2 bags (23kg/51lbs each)
      • Connecting between Islamabad and USA/Bermuda/Canada: 2 bags (23kg/51lbs each)
      • Connecting between India and USA/Bermuda/Canada: 2 bags (23kg/51lbs each)
      • Journeys originating in Saudi Arabia to USA/Bermuda/Canada and the return journey to Saudi Arabia: 2 bags (23kg/51lbs each)
      • Journeys originating in Kuwait to the British Airways network and the return journey to Kuwait: 2 bags (23kg/51lbs each)
  • Premium Economy: 2 bags (23kg/51lbs each)
  • Business: 2 bags (32kg/70lbs each)
  • First: 3 bags (32kg/70lbs each)

Basic can cost you $110 roundtrip to check a bag from the USA to London. I suggest keeping in mind the price of checking baggage when buying the Basic economy fare.

Remember, oneworld elites cannot have additional baggage when flying Basic fare.

Elite status

If you’re a British Airways or oneworld elite equivalent or above Sapphire status, you will have an additional baggage allowance. It all depends on your status tier:

  • Silver/oneworld Sapphire: 2 checked bags only in economy (32kg/70lbs each)
    • Note: Silver/oneworld Sapphire 2 checked bags is only for economy and won’t apply to any other class.
  • Gold/oneworld Emerald: 1 additional checked bag for any class (32kg/70lbs)

Unfortunately, any elite status tier flying a Basic fare cannot get any additional bags. No extra bags for elite flyers flying Basic can be a big drawback for elites and devalues status.

On the plus side, elites also have benefits like seat selection, fast track security, premium class check-in, and priority baggage.

Credit Cards

You can utilize individual credit cards to reduce or eliminate your baggage fees on British Airways.

Chase Sapphire Reserve

The Chase Sapphire Reserve is one of the hottest travel rewards credit cards. You should get it because of the 3X points on dining and travel. It has many valuable benefits, one of which is an annual $300 travel credit that can be used on anything that codes as travel, including your baggage fees.

So all you have to do is use the card to pay for baggage, and any remaining travel credit will be used erasing the charges you made with British Airways.

Plus, you also have travel insurance built into the card, which includes baggage insurance.

Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card

One of my favorite cards to use to cover miscellaneous travel purchases is the Capital One Venture card. It’s a popular credit card that comes with an early spending bonus of $500 after you spend $3,000 in the first three months.

It earns 2% cashback on everything travel. The cashback you earn can erase anything that codes for travel like airfare, baggage, lodging, car rental, etc. For example, if I purchased a British Airways ticket or paid by baggage fees with this card, I can erase the charges from my statement with the cashback.


British Airways personal item and carry-on restrictions

When flying British Airways, you are allowed to bring up to one personal item and up to one carry-on in all classes and for every fare. 

Personal item

Each passenger on any fare in any class can bring up to one personal item. The dimensions shouldn’t exceed 40 x 30 x 15cm / 16 x 12 x 6in. Max weight is 23kg/51lbs. In fact, British Airways has probably the most generous weight limit out of all the airlines regarding a personal item.

So, if you bring a personal item, you must make sure it can fit under the seat in front of you. If not, you can put your personal item in the overhead bin, but do note that space can be limited. Some examples of personal items would be a briefcase, purse, laptop, travel blanket, and a small backpack.

Carry-on

Each passenger on any fare in any class can bring up to one carry-on. The dimensions shouldn’t exceed 56 x 45 x 25cm / 22 x 18 x 10in. You definitely don’t have to worry about the weight of your carry-on as the max weight limit is 23kg/51lbs.

Most of the time, British Airways is flexible with weight, but you must be able to put your own baggage in the overhead bins without any help.

For your carry-on item, you can bring a suitcase, bag, garment bag, carrycot, pushchair, or child seat for infants, and any required mobility aids, such as a wheelchair. Some items will be gate checked for free. As long as it doesn’t exceed the dimensions above, you will be fine.

Liquids

The same TSA standards apply to British Airways flights arriving or departing from the US. You can review a list provided by the TSA of permitted and prohibited items, which may be included in carry-on baggage, including the 3-1-1 Liquids Rule.


British Airways checked baggage fees

If you want to check bags outside of the British Airways baggage allowance, you can do so for a fee. Baggage fees depend on the route you are flying. I highly recommend you using British Airway’s baggage fees calculator tool. The tool is actually useful and gives you the most accurate price for your routing.

We were able to give you general prices for British Airways baggage fees that give you an idea of how much bags will cost.

  • London Heathrow (LHR) between New York (JFK)
    • 1st bag: £40/$55 online or £45/$60 at the airport
    • 2nd bag: £60/80 or £65/$85 at the airport
    • Each additional bag: £120/155 or £140/$180 at the airport
  • London City Airport (LCY) between Amsterdam (AMS)
    • 1st bag: £30/$40 online or £65/$85 at the airport
    • Each additional bag: £60/80 or £75/$100 at the airport
  • London Heathrow (LHR) between Italy (FCO)
    • 1st bag: £35/$45 online or £65/$85 at the airport
    • Each additional bag: £60/80 or £75/$100 at the airport
  • London Heathrow (LHR) between Los Angeles (LAX)
    • 1st bag: £40/$55 online or £45/$60 at the airport
    • 2nd bag: £60/80 or £65/$85 at the airport
    • Each additional bag: £120/155 or £140/$180 at the airport
  • London Heathrow (LHR) between Mumbai (BOM)
    • 1st bag: £60/80 online or £75/$100 at the airport
    • 2nd bag: £60/80 or £75/$100 at the airport
    • Each additional bag: £120/155 or £140/$180 at the airport
  • London Heathrow (LHR) between Johannesburg (JNB)
    • 1st bag: £60/80 online or £75/$100 at the airport
    • 2nd bag: £60/80 or £75/$100 at the airport
    • Each additional bag: £120/155 or £140/$180 at the airport

These fees are for one direction of your trip. So, if you are flying roundtrip, you will have to pay these fees on your return section as well.

Again, I strongly suggest using the British Airways baggage calculator tool to figure out the price on your specific route.

As a reminder, here are the fares that have a free checked baggage allowance:

  • Economy: 1 bag (23kg/51lbs)
    • Exceptions for economy: 
      • Between London and Doha: 1 bag (32kg/70lbs)
      • Flights to/from Ghana, Kenya, and Nigeria: 2 bags (23kg/51lbs each)
      • Flights between Europe and Japan: 2 bags (23kg/51lbs each)
      • Connecting between Islamabad and USA/Bermuda/Canada: 2 bags (23kg/51lbs each)
      • Connecting between India and USA/Bermuda/Canada: 2 bags (23kg/51lbs each)
      • Journeys originating in Saudi Arabia to USA/Bermuda/Canada and the return journey to Saudi Arabia: 2 bags (23kg/51lbs each)
      • Journeys originating in Kuwait to the British Airways network and the return journey to Kuwait: 2 bags (23kg/51lbs each)
  • Premium Economy: 2 bags (23kg/51lbs each)
  • Business: 2 bags (32kg/70lbs each)
  • First: 3 bags (32kg/70lbs each)

To explain how the fees work, if you were seated in Premium Economy and wanted to check a 3rd bag, you would be paying the “each additional bag” fee.

When comparing other international airlines, United charges the following rates for checked baggage:

  • $30 for the first checked bag
  • $40 for the second checked bag
  • $150 to $200 for the third checked bag

British Airways checked baggage allowance

Each bag can be up to 90 x 75 x 43cm / 35.5 x 29.5 x 16in or less.

For passengers seated in economy, your bag can weigh up to 23kg/51lbs (except for flights between Doha and London, which get an allowance of 32kg/70lbs.) Premium economy has a baggage allowance of 23kg/51lbs. For business and first class passengers, you can check your bag weighing up to 32kg/70lbs.

Emeralds have a 32kg/70lbs allowance in every cabin, but Sapphires only have a 32kg/70lbs baggage allowance in economy.


British Airways excess baggage fees

British Airways allows overweight and oversized bags. Sometimes you just might pack a little too much or need a bigger checked bag.

Overweight bag fee for British Airways

If your checked baggage allowance is up to 23kg/51lbs and your bag weighs between 23 to 32kg / 51 to 70 lbs, you will have to pay an overweight baggage fee.

  • 23 to 32kg / 51 to 70lbs: $100 each way
  • 32kg/70lbs: aren’t accepted

There are no overweight charges for personal wheelchairs, mobility aids or medical equipment

Oversized bag fee for British Airways

British Airways is very vague when it comes to oversized baggage fees. In fact, they claim you can check oversized bags up to 190 x 75 x 65cm / 75 x 29.5 x 25.5in, but they quote no prices:

You can take larger items of up to 190 x 75 x 65cm (75 x 29.5 x 25.5in) as long as they weigh no more than your permitted baggage weight allowance. If the bag weighs more than your allowance, you will be charged extra at the airport. No bag can weigh more than 32kg. Any items larger than the above dimensions will require shipping as cargo.

From further investigation, it seems the allotment of oversized baggage would be for sports equipment and musical instruments.

Keep in mind, if you pay for any excess baggage fees, these fees will be on top of those fees and only for one direction.


Sports equipment on British Airways

British Airways doesn’t charge for sports equipment if it’s within the allowance that is in your fare.

When you want to bring your sports equipment, the max size for sports equipment is 190 x 75 x 65cm / 75 x 29.5 x 25.5in and max weight is 32kg/70lbs. Anything over either one will be considered cargo.

British Airways requires you to call in 72 hours or more in advance if items are over the size of 90 x 75 x 43cm / 35.5 x 29.5 x 16in. You can contact British Airways contact center via +1-800-247-9297. 

Sports equipment fees aren’t too bad as it uses the standard checked baggage fees. (You can read more above.) Let’s say you are flying economy from the USA to Europe, and you want to check in your 32kg/70lbs sports equipment. If you check-in without any elite status, you will have to pay the overweight baggage fee for standard checked baggage.

Here are some sports equipment you can check:

  • Bikes
  • Diving equipment
  • Gold clubs and umbrellas
  • Firearms and ammunition
  • Ski and snowboarding equipment
  • Surfboards and kayaks
  • Sporting rackets and sticks

You can read more here about packing methods and what is required about checking this specific sporting equipment. 


Musical instruments traveling British Airways

You have three choices for your musical instrument to fly with you on British Airways: carry-on, purchasing an extra seat, or checked.

As a carry-on, musical instruments will be free and count towards your free carry-on allowance. It must fit in the overhead bin by not exceeding 80 x 45 x 25cm / 31 x 18 x 10in.

If your musical instrument cannot fit in the overhead bin, you can purchase it a seat. It must not exceed 140 x 50 x 40cm / 55 x 20 x 16in. A British Airways flight attendant will help you fasten the instrument into the seat. You must contact British Airways reservations to purchase your instrument a seat.

If you want to check your musical instrument as checked baggage, it can count towards your free baggage allowance, but not exceed 190 x 75 x 65cm / 75 x 29.5 x 25.5in. If your musical instrument exceeds 23kg/51lbs, you might be subject to overweight fees. Max weight is 45kg/99lbs. You must contact British Airways 24 hours prior to departure to ensure checking your musical instrument.

I highly recommend traveling with your musical instrument in a hard-shell protective case. The stronger it is, the less likely your musical instrument will be damaged during your travels.

You can call British Airways at +44 0344 493 0787 (use option 3).


British Airways military baggage policy

Since British Airways is an international airline, they don’t give US military personnel or veterans any benefits for flying their metal. Therefore, British Airways won’t allow US military personnel to check bags for free or other benefits. Only US airlines will give benefits to US military personnel and veterans.

If you want to learn more about military benefits for other airlines, I suggest reading our master article about military benefits when flying.


British Airways pet policy

British Airways doesn’t allow any pets into the cabin unless it’s a service animal. Service animals are the only animal allowed in the cabin.

If you wish to transport your pet via the cargo hold, you can do so via British Airways World Cargo, PetAir UK or IAG Cargo. 

Prices vary by season, load, weight, and route. You must contact the respective cargo carriers prior with documentation that is required by the country destination you are flying to.

British Airways has rules like:

  • Pet must travel in a ventilated container
  • The carrier must be large enough for your pet to stand, sit, and lie down
  • Hard carrier that withstands the pet and turbulence
  • Water and food in the container

To learn more about traveling your pets on British Airways, read more here.


What if my bags are lost or damaged by British Airways?

If your bag(s) are lost or damaged, make sure you report it to British Airways immediately. It is imperative to make a claim in person or online after the flight.

Making a claim online is as easy as filling out a form. You can find the form link here. Keep in mind, the sooner you fill out the form, the better it is.


British Airways lost and found

Losing or forgetting something on the aircraft happens to the best of us. British Airways suggests speaking to someone at the airport before you leave the airport. A staff member might be able to grab it for you from the aircraft if you speak up soon enough.

However, if you need to contact British Airways lost and found, you can read more here, directing you to the airport that will handle lost and found for British Airways.


When can I check-in bags for British Airways?

Check-in and bag drops close 60 minutes prior to your long-haul flight. For short-haul flights, counters will close 45 minutes prior to departure.

You can check-in as early as three hours for outpost stations or all day at a British Airways hub. 

Remember to arrive at your gate 20 minutes prior to departure, or you will not be allowed onto the aircraft. 


TAG by British Airways

TAG is simply a checked luggage label that is reusable over 3,000 times. 

It can connect to your British Airways app on your phone, skipping the process of obtaining a luggage label.

It goes for £63/$85 as the introductory price. However, in January 2020, the price will go up to £80/$105. Both are just one time fees to save time at check-in bag dropoff counters.


Final word

British Airways might not have a traditional checked baggage fees chart, but the fees are easy to swallow compared to other carriers like Lufthansa.

I do hope this article was useful and have a wonderful flight. 

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