I will fly from Zurich over Frankfurt, Peking to Auckland. I booked a Air China flight, but the first one, from Zurich to Frankfurt will be operated by Lufthansa. Every other flight is operated by Air China.

My question is: Which regulation regarding hand luggage are the ones I have to follow? The ones of the airline I will fly with first, or the one I with the most restrictions? Specifically Lufthansa's regulation says 8kg hand luggage, Air China says 5kg.

Also: Air China's website doesn't mention an additional "personal item" which most other airlines allow you to carry as hand luggage, e.g. a laptop bag or something alike. Doesn't Air China offer something like a "personal item"?

2 Answers 2


Unfortunately, hand/carry-on luggage must be compliant with the most restrictive rules of any carrier in the itinerary. This is different from checked baggage.

The reasons are entirely practical (I'm not aware of any 'rule'):

  • Carry-ons are enforced at boarding, irrespective of where you came from or where you're going
  • There may be physical restrictions on that particular carrier such as Air China's are bins slight smaller then Lufthansa's

Air China has their carry on policy on their web site: Carry-on Baggage

"Each Economy Class passenger can take up to 1 piece of carry-on baggage."

Correct, they do not mention a 'personal item' specifically but there is anecdotal evidence out there suggesting truly personal items, such as handbag, are allowed. Note, this is not a guarantee and the gate staff can strictly enforce the rule at any time, sorry.


Hand luggage (carry on luggage) is subject to each airline's rules. The "most significant carrier" rules apply to checked bags.

So you need to meet the most restrictive set of rules.

  • Where is evidence of this? I have always used the first flight on the outbound legs restrictions and never had a problem. Apr 1, 2017 at 14:57
  • 1
    @SheikPaul - Lots of airlines are lax about carry on rule enforcement, but that doesn't mean you are not bound by their rules. Just because you weren't stopped doesn't mean you were OK. And the "most significant carrier" rule does NOT mean the first carrier, it means the carrier whose leg is essentially the most important (ie international takes precedent over domestic, long haul international takes precedent over short haul international, etc)
    – user13044
    Apr 1, 2017 at 21:02
  • As a slight addendum, note that US DOT regulation 399.87 supersedes IATA's MSC rule if the itinerary begins or ends in the US; and in my experience most systems simply apply the most generous allowance of any sector to the whole itinerary if the itinerary includes a US point.
    – Calchas
    Apr 1, 2017 at 23:37

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