Flying from UK, only one carry-on allowed

The reader’s letter “British Air and Luggage” (June ’07, pg. 75) may confuse some people, I feel. He was discussing checked baggage; however, I found that the rules on carry-on baggage in the U.K. are still strictly limited.

A passenger entering Britain can indeed have two pieces of carry-on luggage, but if he is transiting to another flight then he runs up against the one-bag rule. According to websites I checked as well as airport security personnel, this restriction is U.K.-wide and applies to all passengers.

We transited through London-Gatwick on our way to Rome on April 24, 2007. On disembarking in Gatwick we had two choices: proceed to passport control and enter the U.K. or proceed to in-transit security and go into the transit area. Here is where we encountered the one-bag limit, during a 6-hour layover between arriving from Atlanta and proceeding on to Rome, all on British Air.

Although we had been informed of the one-bag rule by British Air at check-in in Atlanta, we naively thought we would have an opportunity to shop for a larger bag while in the transit area at Gatwick. Wrong! So we resembled the Clampetts as we spread our stuff over the floor and repacked in order to carry with us our cameras and essentials and check only one bag through to Rome.

At the link www.britishairways. com/travel/bagcabin/public/en_gb, you will see this statement: “Hand baggage — Passengers departing from or transferring through the U.K. may only take ONE piece of Hand Baggage.” It also states that the maximum size of hand baggage allowed is 56x45x25cm (22x18x10 inches).

And one bag means just that, not one carry-on plus a lady’s purse or a camera case, just one bag!

Since the maximum size of a carry-on bag allowed is larger in the U.K. than in the U.S., I have been trying to find an overnight/laptop bag that conforms to the U.K. requirements, but so far I haven’t had any success.

I have concluded that the only sensible thing for a U.S. departure is to use ONE U.S.-standard carry-on for my medicines and overnight necessities and pray that the rest of my checked baggage gets through okay.


Marietta, GA

The U.K. Department of Transport ( confirms that airport security rules allow only one piece of hand luggage (carry-on) per passenger. This applies to any flight within or from the United Kingdom. Although travelers may enter the U.K. on flights from other countries with more than one piece of hand luggage, if they board another flight in the U.K. then they each are allowed only one piece for that next flight. Other bags must be checked.