Compare carry-on luggage allowance sizes on Australian airlines

When it comes to carry-on luggage, size really does matter.

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Not all carry-on luggage sizes are equal. That's a fact.

Typically, airlines are free to dictate whatever carry-on size they like for their flights, which means that one airline may allow larger luggage sizes than another.

Whether you're opting for carry-on luggage only or are actively seeking to max your baggage on your next flight, here's a comparison of the size and dimensions for carry-ons each Australian airline accepts on their domestic routes so you can book according to your luggage needs.

Time to start measuring your bag!

Carry-on luggage size and weight allowances compared (economy)

AirlineBaggage optionsMax. height x width x depthWeight allowance
Jetstar
  • 1x 115cm bag (Q300 aircraft: <105cm) + small personal item
56 x 36 x 23cm7kg total
Tigerair
  • 1x 115cm (total dimensions) + small personal item
54 x 38 x 23cm7kg total
Qantas
  • 1x <115cm bag + small personal item OR
  • 2x <105cm (total dimensions) bags + small personal item OR
  • 1x <105cm bag + 1x <185cm garment bag + small personal item

Dash 8 services only allow for 1x <105cm piece

56 x 36 x 23cm7kg per piece (up to 14kg in total)
Virgin Australia
  • 1x <115cm bag and one small personal item OR
  • 1x <105cm bag + 1x <185cm garment bag + small personal item
  • 2x <105cm bags (total dimensions) + small personal item
56 x 36 x 23cm7kg total
Rex
  • 2x <105cm small bags OR
  • 1x <115cm bag + 1x <185cm garment bag
48 x 34 x 23cm7kg total
  • Best airline for carry-on luggage size allowance

Unsurprisingly, luxury Qantas and Virgin Australia offer more generous carry-on luggage allowances than their low-cost counterparts Jetstar and Tigerair.

Of the two, Qantas is the winner for anyone travelling with bulky and hefty luggage, with a maximum length of 115cm and multiple pieces weighing 7kg each permitted in the cabin.

  • Best budget airline for carry-on luggage size allowance

When deciding between Jetstar and Tigerair, the carry-on sizes are almost like for like. The best tip for those tipping the scales is to top-up your luggage on Jetstar. This allows you to extend your carry-on allowance to 14kgs across two bags. The cost to upgrade is $19 and no one bag can be heavier than 10kg. Bags must not exceed the allowed cabin baggage dimensions.

  • Best airline for carry-on weight allowance

Those not packing light can turn to Qantas, which allows its passengers to carry up to three items, including a personal item, each to a maximum weight of 7kg (or 21kg in total).

  • Which airline lets you carry the most bags?

Depending on how strict the airline is, they may ask you to consolidate your bags before you hop on board, which can be a painful process. Qantas and Virgin Australia are your best bets for avoiding this as both allow up to three bags in the cabin.


What are the charges for excess luggage?

Need to bring extra items on board? If you exceed your carry-on weight or size restrictions you may be asked to check your item in and be charged for it accordingly.

These charges are at their most expensive at the airport, so it's cheaper to tack them onto your booking as soon as you know you won't be packing light.

Here's what you can expect to pay to top up your luggage amount prior to your flight on a short-haul journey like Sydney-Melbourne booked four months in advance. These charges differ depending on how much the flight costs and what route you're flying. Prices were obtained on 15 January 2019 for travel in May 2019.

AirlineExcess weightCharge
JetstarUp from 7kg to 14kg$19
TigerairUp from 7kg to 12kg$15
QantasItem will be placed in the luggage hold$0
Virgin AustraliaItem will be placed in the luggage hold$0
Virgin AustraliaMust check bag in-

Excess baggage at the airport

Left it to the very last? Here's what you can expect to pay if you show up at the airport with more carry-on luggage than you booked for:

AirlineExcess weight chargeOther fees
Jetstar$60 per item-
Rex$7.70 per kg$16.50 per piece if size exceeds limitations
QantasFrom $78 per piece-
Tigerair$75 (short flights) or $90 (long flights) for 15kg$20 per kg exceeding 15kg
Virgin AustraliaFrom $70 per piece-

Frequently asked questions about carry-on baggage

Are carry-on bags free?

Australian airlines don't charge for carry-on baggage that's within the permitted weight and size restrictions.

Can I bring liquids in a carry-on?

Domestic flights within Australia do not currently restrict or limit the amount of liquids brought onboard with you. If you're flying domestic to make an international connection, you will need to move your liquids into your checked bag or risk having them thrown out when you pass through security and customs.

Can I bring powders in a carry-on?

As of 30 June 2018, certain powders including salt, sand, powdered detergents and some talcum powders are restricted from carry-on luggage on international flights. While this rule isn't enforced on domestic flights, if you're flying locally to connect internationally you will need to move restricted powders into your checked luggage or risk having them thrown out.

What carry-on items are prohibited on domestic flights?

Prohibited items in the cabin include:

  • Sharp items capable of injuring a person. This includes kitchen utensils such as knives and metal cutlery, tools such as drills and screwdrivers, sports equipment such as ski poles, and everyday items such as letter openers and scissors with a blade longer than 6cm.
  • Blunt items capable of injuring a person. This includes sports equipment such as cricket bats and golf clubs.
  • Flammables: This includes aerosol cans, fireworks and toy caps.
  • Restraining items: This includes cable ties and handcuffs.
  • Weapons: This includes firearms, daggers, martial arts equipment, explosives and chemical toxins.
  • Dangerous chemicals: This includes poisons and lithium batteries.

For a full list of prohibited and permitted items, visit the Department of Home Affairs site.

Can carry-on luggage have wheels?

Yes. As long as your bag is still within the permitted limits (see chart above), you can bring a bag with wheels for easy transport.

Does carry-on luggage get weighed?

While not every airline strictly enforces the weight limit, some do weigh your bag before boarding the aircraft. Budget airlines, like Tigerair and Jetstar, frequently carry this out.

Whichever airline you're flying with, it's recommended to play it safe and keep your bag below the weight restrictions to avoid any excess weight charges which can be as little as $7.70 per kilogram or as much as $78 if you need to check your entire bag at the last minute.


How to pack to stick to your carry-on allowance:


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