a man and woman standing next to luggage

There’s a great misconception behind airlines introducing “hand baggage only” fares for long haul travel. These fares are toted by airlines as “choice”, designed to offer travelers not requiring a full sized bag lower fares and customization – but that’s not what’s happening. At least not on some airlines. These fares are about deceptively squeezing money out of passengers, by making the cheapest fares virtually impossible to actually use, with prohibitive restrictions. When Virgin Atlantic launches their “three new ways to fly” this spring, things won’t be as delightful as they may say…

the tail of an airplane10KG Limit

Many airlines offer a full sized carry on, personal item and duty free allowance. The full sized carry ons either do not have a weight limit, or offer more than 20kg of weight allowance. Virgin Atlantic’s full sized carry on allowance is a meager 10kg. That’s hardly enough for a bikini and some shoes in any standard bag, let alone supplies for a long haul trip in winter. For reference, most carry on luggage weighs roughly 4kg empty, and a standard pair of shoes weighs roughly 1kg. Delta, Virgin Atlantic’s own partner does not limit carry on weight. British Airways, their direct competitor offers a whopping 23kg allowance.

Beat The System

To be fair, we can envision some travelers being able to beat the 10kg limit and successfully book “light” economy tickets without bags, albeit at prices Virgin Atlantic currently charges for tickets with bags. Those people include…

  1. Celebs and jet setters with houses and wardrobes in each city. 
  2. People who don’t shower, change clothes or have possessions. 
  3. Las Vegas flights, where having nothing to start makes leaving with nothing easier.
  4. Instagram models, who live full time in bikinis weighing less than 5 grams.
  5. Holiday bros, who only wear tank tops to illustrate their ironic tattoos. 

Lowest Denominator

Without a superior carry on allowance to low cost competitors Norwegian or WOW Air, Virgin Atlantic puts themselves right in the heat of the competition. If all airlines must match on price to gaincustomers, the smartest customer will choose the airline offering a carry on allowance they’ll realistically be able to adhere to. But therein lies the point. Virgin doesn’t want to sell you “light” tickets without a carry on, they want you to spend more to get the bag you once enjoyed for free. Until they change their weight policy, it’s that simple if you ask us. And as a sprinkle on top to tempt you, they’ll now let you assign a seat if you pay up for “classic”.

How do you feel about “light” fares?

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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1 Comment

  1. I just travelled light economy to the U.K. . Was allowed 22 1b s carry on , which was enough for my winter wardrobe for a week . Even included extra pair of boots .

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