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More airlines are selling the "large carry-on" extra nowadays in Europe; something that used to be free a few years ago. Examples: Easyjet, Vueling, Ryanair...

If the flight is not full, and there is still space available in the overhead bin, can I use it even if my ticket only includes the smaller carry-on that should fit under the seat? Or do crews fully enforce the rule?

This would be appreciated to save some legroom. Large carry-on prices can get a bit expensive, nearly the same as checked bags.

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  • How many people have not yet boarded? If the flight is not full, could you put your bag under, or in front of, an empty set nearby? Oct 8, 2023 at 20:22
  • You need to ask the cabin crew, as closely as possible to the last minute. Oct 9, 2023 at 19:36
  • Anecdotal but maybe useful information. I've been on both EasyJet and BA flights that didn't charge for overhead luggage. I took overhead luggage and an under-seat bag and on both airlines I've been asked to put my under-seat bag in the overhead lockers. I guess implying that my under-seat bag is too large to be under the seat but I didn't have any issue with it being too big to be allowed on with my overhead luggage.
    – Sam Dean
    Oct 10, 2023 at 10:47
  • Do these carriers force you to book overhead space if you choose an emergency exit seat? If not, that could be one way to get round it - it's illegal to have bags on the floor in an emergency row.
    – Tetsujin
    Oct 11, 2023 at 8:15
  • @Tetsujin Huh? Exit rows still have a row in front of them, and people sitting in the exit row are expected to put their small carry-on under that seat.
    – nobody
    Oct 12, 2023 at 23:12

6 Answers 6

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I've seen enforcement at boarding at the gate. Typically the "no carry-on" passengers are in a separate boarding group and when that group starts boarding the gate agents take a close look at the size of the luggage you are carrying. I've certainly seen bags put into a VERY small sizer and being rejected. Followed by a spirited discussion on how much $$$ the passenger needs to pony up to get their stuff on the plane.

If you manage to get your bag on board you are typically fine. Generally it's "first come, first serve". So if there is space, you can shove in whatever you want and on-board will rarely interfere. Keep in mind that "no carry-on" boarding group is typically the last one to board so there may not be much space left.

SUMMARY: bag & related fees are now a major part of the airline's revenue. However the rules are complicated and hence difficult and expensive to enforce to 100% so most airlines settle for 90/10 or thereabouts. That's why you have to pay a "fine" when you get caught: checking a bag at the gate is often significantly more expensive than checking it at booking. Same applies to carry-on fees.

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    I don't think this is answering the question the asker is asking. They seem to me to be asking about taking the correct sized bag on board but then put it overheard rather than under the seat in front. Oct 9, 2023 at 8:57
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    It's possible that the airline will examine luggage pre-boarding and tag it depending on where it's to go; this then makes it easy on the plane to see if the "wrong" bags are in the overhead locker. I think it was BA that did this the only time I've ever seen it. But airlines that don't do this rely on cabin crew making general appeals to passengers to move their luggage if there's no room for paying customers (I guess the threat is that the plane won't take off unless people sort their luggage, but if you're willing to risk that, or there's no need for an appeal, you'll be OK).
    – Stuart F
    Oct 9, 2023 at 12:22
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    @JackAidley I think that is answered by the second paragraph...
    – wimi
    Oct 9, 2023 at 18:05
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    @JackAidley how does "If you manage to get your bag on board you are typically fine."not answer the question? Oct 9, 2023 at 22:44
  • Which airline did you fly with that separate boarding group system?
    – DavGin
    Oct 10, 2023 at 13:29
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Experience at EasyJet (full flight):

People who didn't book an overhead slot-sized luggage and did place their bags in the overhead were asked to remove it when the crew tried to find a spot for late boarders who did order.

I placed my bag, without ordering a slot, in the overhead and was fine for both flights.

Based on the other answers it seems to depend on the crew's willingness to police the overhead bins.

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    Some airlines do examine luggage at the gate and tag/sticker it according to whether it's to go under the seat or in a rack, but I've never seen Easyjet do this.
    – Stuart F
    Oct 9, 2023 at 12:19
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From my experience on EasyJet

Or do crews fully enforce the rule?

Absolutely, last flight I got on was maybe 40% full and people got told by the crew to get their bags out of the overhead bins

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    Did they do this individually (inspecting individual items or talking to individual passengers) or was it just a general call over the public address system?
    – Stuart F
    Oct 9, 2023 at 12:25
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    @StuartF Bags to be stored overhead had a orange tag and the crew talked individually to the passengers of the untagged bags to get them off... and this wasn't a space thing for me Oct 9, 2023 at 12:54
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    A) You were on a flight that was only 40% full? Congratulations!!! B) Since it wasn't very full, there should have been plenty of under seat storage - just move the bag to under the seat next to you (or across the aisle)...
    – FreeMan
    Oct 9, 2023 at 18:00
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I've always put it in the overhead bin, and never had a problem (EasyJet and RyanAir). You might get asked to move it if the bins are completely full and they need to fit a larger bag in but that's all the consequences it can have.

May as well try it and see.

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I've seen plenty of people just do it. As other have said, as long as the size is compatible with your ticket, the worst that can happen is that you get asked to remove it, usually if the space is required for a bigger bag but it might also happen if you find a particularly zealous cabin crew.

As long as you remove it when required and don't get mad about it, it should be fine.

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  • This happened to me on a recent flight with Ryan Air. I put a quite small backpack in the overhead locker. One of the cabin crew asked me to put it under the seat. I complied without making a fuss.
    – badjohn
    Oct 10, 2023 at 6:46
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This wasn't a ticket with a smaller carry-on restriction. However, this happened to me recently.

I had a standard sized carry-on, boarded, put it overhead, and sat down. It was a very busy flight, every seat taken. There wasn't enough space in the overhead bins for some items larger than mine. I presume the owners of these outsized things had paid to be allowed a larger than standard carry on. Or maybe the check-in staff were lax. Anyway, the flight attendants went along looking for standard-sized carry-ons like mine, and removed them and asked the owners to put them under their seats.

Annoying, but there wasn't any alternative course of action. I didn't have a guarantee of space in the overhead bin. It was a short flight so it wasn't desperately uncomfortable.

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