The best hand luggage in the UK 2022

It’s a rookie mistake many of us have been guilty of – carrying luggage that’s too big, too heavy, or too uncomfortable to carry. I’m ashamed to admit that despite having worked in the travel industry for over 10 years, I recently, and accidentally, overpacked my hand luggage on an Australia-London flight. Much to the frustration of my fellow Qatar Airlines passengers, I had to go through the embarrassing rush of throwing what I could grab from our check-in suitcases. All that time spent organizing was wiped out in a moment of panic.

“It’s an easy mistake to make,” says aviation expert Jordan Rozario. “Especially since there is no industry-standard carry-on baggage allowance, and that’s where many travelers get caught.”

If, like me, you were surprised at check-in, you’ll know that the wrong carry-on can ruin a trip before it even begins. That’s why thought and research are needed to choose the right hand luggage for your flight – even more so than a check-in suitcase. To save you the administration, we’ve listed the best UK hand luggage options along with our top tips for choosing the right style for your trip.

Which bag is best for carry-on luggage?

As mentioned in our guide to the best suitcases in 2022, for carry-on luggage, we prefer soft-shell suitcases over hard-shell suitcases, as they tend to be more generous in terms of space. Some styles also have easy-to-reach exterior storage pockets that can be useful during transport. While it may be easier to fit more items in soft-shell suitcases, you should be careful not to exceed your airline’s weight limit and carry-on dimensions.

How much hand luggage can you take with easyJet?

According to the easyJet cabin baggage guide, the maximum size of hand luggage that fits under the seat is 45 x 36 x 20 cm (including handles or wheels). If you book a seat in the front or with more legroom or if you book a large piece of hand luggage for your flight, you may also have an additional bag to store in the overhead compartment, the size of which does not exceed 56 x 45 x 25 cm. To maximize your luggage while accommodating the allowance, try the Tripp Superlite Holdall for an underseat bag. For the overhead compartment bag, Aerolite’s cabin bag fits these exact dimensions and is one of the lightest cases on the market.

How much hand luggage can you take with Ryanair?

According to Ryanair baggage policy, all fare types passengers can bring a small bag which must fit under the seat and measure less than 40x25x20cm. If you purchase a “Priority and 2 cabin bags” fare, passengers can bring a small bag to slide under the seat and a 10 kg wheeled bag which must not exceed 55 x 40 x 20 cm. This American Tourister suitcase fits these exact dimensions and is available in a range of colors.

The best lightweight cabin suitcase

In terms of size, weight, price, design, and speedy delivery, Aerolite’s Cabin Suitcase (available on Amazon) ticks all the boxes. The dimensions of the case match most airline allowances including British Airways and easyJet, while the weight of the case is a very light 2.3kg. Of all the features, it’s the two outer pockets that make this one a winner, plus it’s excellent value for money at £99.

Aerolite cabin baggage

Size: 56x45x25cm

The best luxury carry-on

Leave it to Bric’s to create the most beautiful and functional carry-on on the market. The historic brand has been manufacturing travel bags and leather goods in the Lake Como region since the 1950s. Their cabin suitcase is a smaller version of their Bellagio suitcase, with a lightweight Makrolon® polycarbonate shell as well as trims vegetable tanned leather that not only looks stylish but also helps prevent scuffs. The interior of the lined briefcase includes organization pockets, a padded laptop sleeve, a garment bag hook and space for three hangers. As with all Brics luggage, the Bellagio suitcase comes with a five-year warranty.

Brics Bellagio cabin suitcase

Size: 55x38x20cm

The best carry-on bags for the weekend

If you just need a suitcase for weekend breaks, look for durable, roomy styles with trolley wheels that can handle pesky cobbled streets. This Eastpak cabin suitcase has clever adjustable straps on the outside so you can make sure your luggage fits within the allotted size. For a case that can handle on-road and off-road travel, the Thule Aion features oversized rear wheels that can slide easily over rough terrain.

Eastpak cabin suitcase

Size: 51×32.5x23cm

Thule Aion cabin suitcase

Size: 55x35x23cm

The best hand luggage for easyJet and Ryanair flights

These compact options feature clever pockets to maximize and organize your space, while staying within the strict limits of cabin baggage allowances.

Tripp Berry Superlite 4W Holdall

Size: 24x44x27cm

American Tourister hand luggage heat wave

Size: 55x40x20cm

The best cabin hard-shell suitcases

If you’re a regular traveler who focuses more on ease and speed rather than filling every space and pocket, these rolling hard cases are a worthwhile investment.

Clifton cabin bag

Size: 55x40x20cm

The Flex hand luggage

Size: 55.1×34.8×22.9cm

The best carry-on bags for long-haul flights

Most long-haul flights have generous carry-on baggage allowances, so bag dimensions are often less important. Instead, when your trip involves layovers, time zone changes, and multiple hours, having a comfortable, well-organized flight bag is the priority. Look for bags that are lightweight and have multiple pockets so it’s easy to grab what you need during transport and throughout your flight.

Skyflight foldable bag on board

Size: 35x53x23cm

Flight Bag, £650, Anya Hindmarch

Anya Hindmarch in flight bag

Size: 21x41x17cm

The best carry-on bags for business trips

Sleek, organized and lightweight, these carry-on carry-on bags ensure quick departure from the plane and offer plenty of space and easy-access pockets.

Paravel canvas weekend bag

Size: 54×25.5x26cm

48h travel bag

Size: 45x30x15cm

Best Carry Backpacks

If you prefer to travel hands-free, these roomy and comfortable backpacks are great travel bags. For more options, check out our pick of the best travel backpacks.

Flap backpack

Size: 48x30x16cm

Altmont Travel Laptop Backpack

Size: 46x30x26cm

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