I booked a flight with American Airlines (operated by British Airways). In my receipt, it indicates that I can have two pieces of baggage, each max. 23kg. and a dimension of 158cm (width + height + length).

Personally, I don't like to carry two bags with me. So my question is, can I put 40kg. in to one bag and carry it, which means I have only one piece?

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    I have done this once with a different airline. The lady on check in was not happy and said next time please dont do that. I said we have 3 seats with only 1 bag to check in we still have plenty of allowance then whats the issue? She said handling for one. She put an extra tag on it which said Heavy Commented Jul 28, 2017 at 4:29
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    But my bag was 31kg, not 40 Commented Jul 28, 2017 at 6:35
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    What is missing so far in this questions & the answer is how the limit helps towards "health and safety". Bags are loaded in the plane manually by human beings. Lifting heavy bags is bad for your back, so they can't be expected to lift more than 32 kg at any time. Additionally, the automatic baggage transportation system of the airport may be unable to deal with very heavy bags.
    – DCTLib
    Commented Jul 28, 2017 at 11:12
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    Heres's one thing that has happened to a group of travellers that I was in. We had one bag between the eight of us, that weighed approximately 40kg. The airline agreed to take it, because other than that one bag, each person in the group had far less than the allowed limit. After agreeing to take it, the airline staff failed to load it onto the flight - presumably because of the weight. We were invited to retrieve it from our initial departure point after we had returned from our journey. Don't let this happen to you! Commented Jul 29, 2017 at 11:06
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    The typical airport worker doesn't work out like this. Commented Jul 29, 2017 at 15:02

4 Answers 4


The 23kg limit is the "advised maximum weight limit" as issued by the IATA in its "Baggage Reference Manual" and is set for health and safety reasons.

The maximum weight of a single item of normal baggage that an airline should accept is set at 32kg, above this the airline can start to receive fines under IATA health and safety guidelines.


Your bag should weigh less than 23KG/50LBS. This is an international regulation set for the health and safety of airport workers who have to lift hundreds of bags daily. If your bag weighs more than this, you may be asked to repack, or have it labeled as "heavy luggage".

The maximum weight however is 32KG/70LBS in the EU and the US. Some airlines impose lower limits. Refer to the airline website and your conditions of carriage.

You may get away with a single item of baggage up to 32kg, but there are no guarantees as it depends on the good will of the checkin assistant at the time - I personally would not recommend it, as you have been given your baggage allowance quite clearly as "2 items, 23kg each"

You would certainly not get away with a 40kg bag - you would be asked to repack it (essentially, take out enough to get it under the 32kg limit - perhaps more depending on the checkin staff at the time).

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    Flyed from Europe recently and had two bags, one with 35kg and another with 19kg. Was asked to repack below 32kg for the big one (ps: paid overweight in this one).
    – brasofilo
    Commented Jul 29, 2017 at 22:14
  • Most likely, they'll charge you an overweight bag fee for the one bag of up to 32 kg, unless you have status with the airline and/or are booked in a premium cabin. In those cases, they frequently allow you to check bags up to 32 kg/70 lb without an overweight bag fee. If your bag is, say, 23.5 kg, they might allow you get away without paying the overweight fee, but it's unlikely at, say, 30 kg.
    – reirab
    Commented Jul 30, 2017 at 19:31
  • American Airlines does allow (for a fee) bags up to 100 lb/45 kg on domestic flights only, though.
    – gparyani
    Commented Nov 17, 2018 at 7:12

The airline may have union contracts, employment conditions, or contracts with baggage handling services that limit the weight it can allow. For example, it may require employees in certain jobs to be capable of lifting X pounds, test for that during hiring, and limit bags to weighing no more than X.

You can limit yourself to carrying one very heavy bag, but check two bags.

Buy a really good hard sided suitcase that can stand being in an aircraft hold without being completely full. Also buy a foldable duffle bag. Label both.

Pack everything, including the duffle bag, inside the suitcase. Shortly before reaching baggage check, after you have a cart, move a planned set of heavy items, sufficient to bring its weight under the stated weight limit, from the suitcase to the duffle. Check in both the suitcase and the duffle bag.

At the other end, at baggage claim, put the duffle and its contents back in the suitcase.

Whenever you are doing the carrying there is one very heavy suitcase. When the airline is doing the carrying there are two bags, each under the airline's weight limit.

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    You may even be able to pre-pack the duffel bag so that all you have to do at the check in hall is pull it out of the suitcase
    – Dancrumb
    Commented Jul 28, 2017 at 13:37
  • Ingenius, but difficult if any item in your luggage is fragile: the duffel-bag contents end up unprotected during baggage handling, and the suitcase contents end up rattling around in a partly-empty suitcase.
    – PLL
    Commented Jul 30, 2017 at 9:15
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    @PLL One option would be a suitcase with a center divider. Put anything fragile in one side, with enough other stuff to keep that side full. Put the duffle and its contents in the other side with only non-fragile, non-rattling stuff such as clothing. Commented Jul 30, 2017 at 13:40

I'm assuming you're referring to hold luggage.

Is it possible for you to strap two bags together, so than you can handle them as one? If so, you can separate them at drop-off, and then connect them back together in the pick-up hall.

That way you have the advantage of having one (albeit heavy bag), but the baggage handlers don't have to risk their backs with a 40kg+ bag.

  • That's exactly what we do. The big bag is a roller, and we set the smaller bag on it. Commented Jul 31, 2017 at 4:41

The maximum checked baggage weight depends on the travel itinerary and dates. You can refer to

For example:

Customers who purchase tickets on or after October 10, 2018, for flights to, from or connecting through SAL are only allowed two bags weighing up to 50 lbs. (23 kg). Excess, oversized and overweight baggage are not permitted at any time.

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