Every Australian airline now weighs carry-on baggage
If your hand luggage weighs more than 7kg, you're in trouble.
The days of being able to jump on a domestic flight with two jam-packed carry-on suitcases are well and truly over.
Qantas and Virgin are both now enforcing their carry-on limits, with baggage being weighed at the gate and sent to the hold as checked baggage if it's over the limit.
I saw this in action myself on a Qantas flight to Adelaide last week. One disgruntled passenger was incredulous when told that his 10kg carry-on (one of two large items he had) wouldn't be allowed in the cabin.
Hand luggage limits have always been in place, but historically they have rarely been enforced on Qantas and Virgin. Both airlines are keen to attract business travellers, who often want to avoid the hassle of dealing with checked baggage at either end of their flights. However, there comes a point when there isn't enough room in the cabin, especially since many customers insist on putting both items in the overhead lockers.
So what are the rules? Here's a quick summary (check our full carry-on baggage guide for more details). Across Virgin Australia, Jetstar and Tigerair, you're entitled to 7kg in total. Note: that includes any handbags or laptop bags. On Qantas, you're entitled to two bags, each of which can't weigh more than 7kg. You can pay an extra fee on Tigerair to lift your limit to 12kg and there's a similar scheme on Jetstar that takes it up to 10kg.
If your bags go above those weight limits (or are too big), you'll be asked to check them. On Qantas or Virgin, that shouldn't cost you any more (assuming you haven't already used up your checked baggage limits). On Jetstar or Tigerair, you'll be hit with fees, and they're drastically higher than what you'd pay if you purchased checked baggage in advance. On Tigerair, for example, the minimum fees starts at $75.
Is there any way to get around weighing on the premium airlines? Based on observation, you're much more likely to get pulled up if you've got two large carry-on items, or if your single item is a wheeled suitcase. If you've just got a backpack, you may well avoid scrutiny. However, there are no guarantees.
You also shouldn't assume that higher airline status will make a difference here (though it can help elsewhere). On my flight last week, passengers in the priority queue, covering Gold, Platinum and Business flyers, were being monitored in exactly the same way.
I'm an expert in keeping my carry-on under 7kg, so I'm assuming this won't really change the way I fly. And I'm happy that people will no longer be able to bend the rules and hog all the available carry-on luggage space. But I expect there will be quite a few grumpy passengers this Christmas.
Angus Kidman's Findings column looks at new developments and research that help you save money, make wise decisions and enjoy your life more. It appears regularly on finder.com.au.