A Practical Guide to Hand Luggage Types, Features and Sizes
Two factors go into deciding on the best hand luggage for your needs. The first is down to personal taste. Most people intuitively know whether they like the idea of a wheeled hard-shell spinner or would prefer a cool backpack or holdall instead.
Secondly, those all-important aircraft hand-luggage size restrictions need to be factored in. Here, you’ll find different rules for the lower cost airlines compared to the ‘flag carriers’ like BA and Virgin.
This page outlines your options in a clear and practical format – taking into account that everyone’s taste is different.
Here are the different carry-on bag types covered in depth below:
- Hard Shell (wheeled; includes both budget and branded)
- Soft Shell (spinners / wheeled at different price points)
- Laptop / Business Bags
- Shoulder Bags / Holdalls
- Ryanair / Low-Cost Airline Compatible Hand Luggage
Within these types you’ll have options for bright colours, funky designs or regular (black / grey) cases. You’ll find size differences too. If you want your hand luggage compatible with Ryanair, who are ultra-strict, then you’ll need less than 40cms high. Traditional airlines go for 56cm max. Security features and price are also important factors.
Below you will find an overview of the features, plus write-ups on the most popular cases from each category. First up, the table below shows the most popular adult options. Note that children’s hand luggage is covered on this separate linked page.
If you scroll down, you’ll find more details on all of these cases, plus some alternative options for each of the categories. First, a look at the sizes allowed on different airlines, and a more detailed look at the types of hand luggage and key extras to look out for.