Packing is arguably the most challenging thing of the whole trip preparation. While packing for Australia can be a no-brainer if you stick to a regular packing list and know the basics of international baggage allowance when it comes to packing hand luggage for Australia, there are many things that you need to be aware of.
Firstly you need to ensure that all your valuables and travel essentials fit in your hand luggage, not only to survive the long-haul flight but also to be self-sufficient for a couple of days. Secondly, your cabin bag must comply with the hand baggage allowance of all countries, including (layovers) at international and Australian airports.
Baggage allowance regulations for Australia
As airport luggage regulations may differ from country to country and by the airline company, not only with prohibited items in hand luggage but also with weight allowance, liquid allowance, dimension allowance and more. You need to get all this information before travelling to Australia.
TIP 1: When booking flights to Australia, check the baggage weight limit for the international trip to Australia and all domestic flights within Australia.
Usually, 23 kg ( 50,71 pounds) is what most airline companies allow for international flights to Australia. Still, if you fly Emirates or Qatar Airways, you will be allowed up to 30 kilograms of checked baggage in economy class. While Qantas and Virgin allow 23 kg on all economy Australian domestic flights, the low-cost airline Jet-Star allows 20 kilograms, and Tiger-air allows only 15 kilograms of standard checked baggage in economy class.
With all their variations, it makes sense to have your checked bags complying with all airlines’ baggage regulations. It will make your life easier when travelling with connecting flights with layovers.
TIP 2: When booking domestic flights for Australia, check all airline baggage allowance restrictions and make sure your checked bag complies with all airline rules you will be flying.
Ideally, try not to exceed 15 kg to 20 kg per checked baggage to have peace of mind and not have to pay extra money for excess weight baggage allowance.
Australia Baggage weight limit and baggage rules
Australia is a strange country with hand baggage rules. While most international airlines companies have aligned on the main standard baggage allowances, Australia has added their own.
Australia has lately added a strict rule as far as hand luggage restrictions are concerned. Last year, I was made aware of a layover flight in Dubai when my bottled water was not allowed while boarding a transfer flight (i.e. after the security check).
This post shows you what to consider before packing flight hand luggage for Australia. This will save you lots of time and hassle at airports, thus complying with the hand luggage limits and having peace of mind when flying to and within Australia.
Hand Luggage Restrictions for Australia
Before you start packing your hand baggage for a flight to Australia, here is a handy travel checklist with all that you need to know:
Hand luggage weight allowance
On domestic flights in Australia, most Australian airlines have a weight limit of 7 kg (15,43 pounds). While they usually don’t check the weight, the luggage size is crucial, and if this exceeds the standard allowed dimensions, you may have to check the bag. You can only have one piece as a cabin bag, with an additional small item like a little personal bag or a waist pack that you can take into the flight cabin.
Tip 3: try to pack all flight hand luggage with a 7 kg cabin bag to comply with all domestic airlines’ hand luggage regulations. There is a scale where you can check the weight at the check-in and drop-off bag counter. If this exceeds the weight allowance, you may have to unpack or pay for extra weight. So it is worth checking first at home and packing accordingly.
Hand luggage dimensions
It is probably the most significant issue coupled with the weight allowance. I have seen people approaching the check-in counter with bulky hand luggage nearly the same size as the checked bag. There is a standard hand luggage size of 55 x 35 x 25 cm (21.65 x 13.78 x 9.84 inches), including wheels. These dimensions apply to all types of hand luggage, such as carry-on bags on wheels, travel backpacks, or handbags. There are proper containers (next to check-in counters) to check if the hand luggage fits in; if it fits, it goes; if it doesn’t, you will have to re-pack or check in your bag.
Liquid allowance regulation for Australia
Hand luggage liquid allowance
While years ago, on all Australian domestic flights, you were not asked to pack liquids into a transparent plastic bag, as we have in Europe, the UK and the US. A few years ago, Australia introduced this regulation on all domestic flights. So be prepared to put all your liquids in there (with a max of 100 ml per bottle) and with a maximum of 1 litre altogether. Another important thing you must know on transfer flights, you are not allowed to take bottled water or any bottled drinks nor your liquid duty-free purchases (+100 ml) into the cabin.
Even if you have purchased bottled water after the security check, you cannot take the plane. As far as I know, Australia is the only country with this strict liquid allowance rule. I experienced this twice and had to give up on my bottled water.
Read more about the Australian security guidelines for Liquid, Gels and Powders onboard.
Food Quarantine regulations for Australia
Medications and special needs
If you have a medical condition like diabetes, asthma, DVT, etc., and need to take medicines into the cabin or have injections or use a spray device in the cabin, you need to carry a medical certificate to prove your conditions on Australian airlines.
You cannot take into the country any food in Australia, especially fruit & veggies, seeds, herbs, dairy products, and any meat products. You are allowed to bring food supplements, tablets or chocolate, though. Ensure you either place any rest of the food into disposal bins at customs after landing and declare it (ask questions if you are unsure).
Lap Top and electronics
It would help to pack your laptop into your hand luggage; you are usually not allowed to have a separate bag. But lately, I have noticed that some low-cost airlines have started accepting a separate bag for your laptop.
Hand Luggage Bags – How to choose the right one
So when it comes to selecting the type of hand luggage cabin bags for your trip to Australia, there are again many factors that influence your choice. You shall first choose whether to carry it on you like a shoulder bag or a backpack or pull it on wheels. Either option is sure you pick lightweight hand luggage that does not exceed 1.5 kg of weight.
Some years ago, I came across a Samsonite duffel bag on wheels, and since then, I have been using it as my main luggage. As hand luggage last year, I tried out the 25 l Pacsafe Anti-Theft Backpack which was the best discovery ever. It’s super lightweight (500 gr) and very spacious. It allows me to pack all the necessary items I need for the flight. Moreover, I love the extra security features. It’s handy and light to carry around, and I like using it in everyday life.
Here you can read about my review of the Pacsafe Venturesafe 25l.
The first Pacsafe I tried out was a hip-pack. Here is my Pacsafe waist pack review.
There are crucial things to consider when packing your hand luggage bag for the flight to Australia:
- Carry-on versus soft Suitcase or daypack
- Lightweight – how to save space and weight –
- Travel essential items + electronics to fit into the hand luggage
- Personal toiletries items and travel wear
- Packing habits and the same criteria for international and domestic flights
What can you take in hand luggage?
This list of things is allowed into your hand luggage and items you cannot take on the plane. There are three main categories of items for packing all the travel accessories you need for Australia:
Travel Essentials for the long-haul flight
I pack a small zipped bag that I put into my cabin luggage. Here are my flight essentials:
2. Eye sleep mask
3. A warm fleece ear band
4. a silk scarf
5. personal toiletries items: toothpaste, toothbrush, airbrush, facial cream and facial wipes, lavender oil, lip balm and eye drops.
Tip 4.: Pack wisely for your in-flight.
In this post, you can read more about what to wear on a long flight.
Electronics and Valuables
All valuables shall strictly belong to your hand baggage. In my cabin bag, I take my Mac Pro, camera, iPhone 6 plus and all charger cables into my Pacsafe daypack VentureSafe 25lt. Plus I take pencils, pens, a spiral book and something to read with me.
Food for the flight
I pack some food, like fruit bars, crackers, herbal tea, travel sickness tablets, food supplements and an empty water bottle to refill on the plane. Dry food is usually white-listed, but if in doubt, ask the security officers at the counter.
Please note that after landing, you must eat all your raw food for Australia – including fruits – on the plane or place it in disposal bins in the security zone to comply with Australia’s food quarantine regulations. Here is another excellent article about all the things you can bring on the plane to Australia.
I hope you like this post about the Australia baggage allowance overview for your trip Down Under.
Now that you know the baggage rules, continue reading on preparing for the long flight to Australia.
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First published in 2019, last updated in Jan 2023
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