Tips Before Takeoff: Luggage 101

by Emma Hackwood

Getting ready to fly overseas? We share some travel tips to help you start packing, and minimize any luggage problems so you can get to your destination more quickly and efficiently:


What is my baggage allowance?

There are two aspects to baggage allowance: checked baggage and hand baggage. Free checked baggage allowance for Economy Class on scheduled carriers is usually one piece of 23kg each per person, while on charter flights, such as those on Air Transat, the limit is usually 20kg. Some airlines also charge for the first checked bag on some routes as well.

family with luggage at airport

Children have the same allowance as adults, while infants usually don’t have a separate baggage allowance. Travellers in First and Business Class have a more generous allowance.

Airlines provide for the carriage of sporting equipment; however this differs for each carrier so it’s best to check before you leave.


Restrictions to Items You Can Bring

Generally, items that are classified as dangerous goods (ie. may endanger the safety of an aircraft and the passengers onboard) are not permitted in your baggage. Other restrictions you should be aware of include:

  • Liquids, aerosols and gels in your hand baggage.
  • Number of pieces of hand baggage.
  • Some countries such as Australia and New Zealand do not allow any food items to be brought into the country and fines exist for doing so.
  • On arrival, you will be required to declare goods that are considered a threat to that country. There are large fines in place for failing to declare restricted or prohibited goods, so declare it if you are unsure.
  • Duty free allowances vary from country to country so please check these prior to departure or at the duty free shop before your purchase.

If you’re a parent and travelling with an infant under the age of two, baby formula, baby food, milk and juice are exempt. Transport Canada has guidelines and regulations pertaining to the carriage of dangerous goods, so if in doubt please check before you travel.

Minimizing Baggage Problems

  • Tag your baggage with colourful tags, labels or straps for easy spotting.
  • Label your baggage with your name and contact information. For security reasons, include your business address instead of your home address.
  • Remember to include labels on both the outside and inside of your luggage in case your external tag is removed.
  • Pack important items such as medication, eye glasses and laptops in carry-on luggage.
  • Report missing luggage immediately to the airline.
  • Keep a list of what you packed in your baggage.
  • Check the airline’s policy before you leave


Do I Really Need Insurance?

More than 29 million items of luggage were delayed, damaged or lost at the world’s airports last year which is up 18 percent from the previous year. And while the statistics show that most misplaced luggage is located within two days, even relatively short delays can create headaches for travellers. It’s important to take precautions for those rare instances when something goes wrong. Replacing basic items like clothes and toiletries takes time and can place added strain on a budget. In these situations, travel insurance can be a valuable investment. When buying insurance, read the policy carefully and make sure it covers lost or misplaced luggage. The financial support that may be available under your policy can be crucial even if your luggage is lost for a relatively short period of time.