Norwegian Starts Charging For Hand Luggage

Filed Under: Norwegian

Norwegian is one of the most liked ultra low cost carriers out there, and I suspect part of the reason for that has been their carry-on policy, though unfortunately that’s now changing.

Norwegian’s former carry-on policy

While Norwegian will nickel-and-dime you for most things, a full carry-on allowance hasn’t historically been among those things. Up until now, passengers have been able to bring onboard:

  • One carry-on bag, with maximum dimensions of 55x40x23cm
  • One personal item, with maximum dimensions of 25x33x20cm
  • Combined, the two could weigh up to 10kg

Norwegian starts charging for carry-ons

Norwegian has announced a policy change for carry-ons, which applies for tickets purchased as of January 23, 2020.

Not surprisingly, the airline isn’t marketing this as a way to increase revenue (which they so desperately need), but rather these changes are being implemented “to ensure that everyone traveling with Norwegian Air has a smooth, comfortable flight that departs on time.”

As Norwegian’s VP of Product Management explains:

“It’s important for us that everyone has a good travel experience when they fly Norwegian. It is a common misperception that there is enough room in the cabin for all passengers to bring an overhead cabin bag. However, most of our aircraft carry 186 passengers and has space for around 80 overhead cabin bags. Now, with the new policy in place, our goal is that boarding will be smoother for our passengers, we can avoid spending time rearranging carry-on baggage in the overhead lockers and help ensure that our aircraft depart on time.”

I’ll get into more detail of the changes below, but to summarize:

  • Those on Norwegian’s lowest fares can still take on a personal item for free, but will have to pay $8-12 to take a full size carry-on bag with them
  • On the plus side, the maximum dimensions of the personal item are being increased across the board
  • For those with free checked bags, the maximum weight is being increased from 20kg to 23kg

Here’s a diagram of the changes:

And here’s a video explaining the changes:

Here are some more details, broken down by fare type:

Norwegian LowFare carry-on policy

Passengers with LowFare tickets can now only bring one underseat bag, which:

  • Can have maximum dimensions of 30x20x38cm
  • Can weigh at most 10kg

An overhead cabin bag can be purchased up to four hours prior to departure, and will cost $8 for a short haul flight and $12 for a long haul flight.

Norwegian LowFare+ carry-on policy

Passengers with LowFare+ tickets can continue to bring a personal item and a carry-on free of charge:

  • The underseat bag can have maximum dimensions of 30x20x38cm
  • The overhead bag can have maximum dimensions of 55x40x23cm
  • Combined the two can weigh up to 10kg

In the event that there’s no room in the cabin, your carry-on will be checked for free to your final destination.

LowFare+ passengers can also check one bag weighing up to 23kg.

Norwegian Flex, Premium, and PremiumFlex carry-on policy

Passengers with Flex, Premium, and PremiumFlex tickets can continue to bring a personal item and a carry-on free of charge:

  • The underseat bag can have maximum dimensions of 30x20x38cm
  • The overhead bag can have maximum dimensions of 55x40x23cm
  • Combined the two can weigh up to 15kg

Flex, Premium, and Premium Flex passengers can also check two bags weighing up to 23kg each.

Bottom line

Given Norwegian’s financial struggles, I certainly can’t blame them for this move. I’m sure they see this as a great revenue opportunity, though I also feel like this has been their competitive advantage over other low cost carriers.

For those not booking the cheapest fares, this is mostly good news, as the personal item dimensions are being increased, and the checked baggage maximum weight is being increased.

I do find it interesting that on the cheapest fares they’re not actually reducing the overall maximum weight you can carry-on, so you’ll be able to take onboard a very heavy personal item.

Lastly, I also find it curious that you can only pay for carry-ons up until four hours before departure. This won’t be an option at check-in, but needs to be done in advance. I’m guessing at the airport they’re going to want people to pay the inflated checked bag fees, which really is quite punitive.

What do you make of Norwegian’s new hand luggage policy?

  1. As someone who travels ARN-HEL route quite frequently i think this is a really good change. The boarding has been a real nightmare most of the time because they haven’t really enforced the previous policy, i have seen people coming on board with several bags + plenty of shopping bags. The departure has almost always been late due to boarding problems and luggage puzzle. I do think that the carry on charge is also quite reasonable.

  2. As long as they charge MORE for carry-on than they do for checked bags, it’s absolutely brilliant. Boarding and deplaning an airplane after all the bag fees has become a nightmare. All nickle-and-dime airlines should implement it.

  3. The 10kg combined mass restriction is the problem. The suitcase + personal item both empty probably weigh at least 4kg. 6kg is not a lot of stuff.

  4. Alex has the right of it. I fly them to Ireland from NYC last spring and the only way I could make this work at the Low Fare price point was a very lightweight duffel and to drastically pare back what I could bring, and leave enough room for souvenirs. My TravelPro Crew 5 rollaboard weighs 5.5 kg on its own, so that was a non-starter. The duffel worked well, but I didn’t bring my laptop and just made do with my phone, which was fine.

    I wish they had an option to buy a slightly heavier mass allotment for a few dollars each way. Say $15 per segment for 15kg or something along that line. I didn’t need anything else.

  5. @Jake More carriers should be doing that. Frontier charges more for a carry-on than checked bag. The few times I have flown them, the overhead bins are the most empty I’ve ever seen on a flight. Boarding is 100x more efficient because of it

    It would make even more sense for a legacy carrier. Charge for the carry-on and allow a free checked bag. Those who value the convenience/speed of a carry-on can pay for it, or obtain it free via elite status. The bonus is that the elite folks obviously fly enough to know how to fit a bag properly into a bin. Boarding would take half the time.

  6. Does Norwegian actually weigh carry-on bags? I find it very odd that they have a weight restriction for carry-on bags. I think Icelandair is the only transatlantic carrier that ever weighed my carry-on, but that was at the ticket counter rather than the gate.

  7. On the two segments I flew with them last year (SWF-DUB and back again) they most *definitely* weighed the carryons (at check-in), and I saw more than one person in front of me get hit with extra baggage charges. One younger Canadian traveler in the queue ahead of me was virtually in tears at DUB when they told her how much extra it would cost. I like the airline and wouldn’t hesitate to fly them again for shorter flights, but the 10kg limit is definitely a bit extreme for a trans-Atlantic flight, where stays are likely to be long enough to require more than one or two changes of clothing. I can see it for short haul intra-European weekend trips, though.

  8. A low fare airline is never particularly pleasant, so I book based on convenience of flight times and then aircraft preference. With the airbus all economy narrow bodies preferred to the Boeing 737 as Norwegian and Ryanair consist of.

  9. Love it. I know it sucks to have one more thing to pay for but as previous posters have mentioned too many people stretch the boundaries on what is an acceptable carry-on and the frantic search for space and moving around of bags does cause delays. Not major ones but still.

  10. Yes, Norwegian does weigh carry on bags at check in or at the gate.

    I had a small carry on at 14.5kg weighed at the gate and was charged $100 USD to bring it on as a carry on. I think $125+ to check the bag at the gate. Ridiculous.

  11. Norwegian will continue to become more unpopular as they try desperately to become profitable. I get the feeling that it’ll be too little too late and Norwegian’s 787’s will soon be painted BA red white and blue

  12. I wonder how Norwegian is going to police and enforce this new policy? What’s stopping people from bringing a rollaboard + personal item on board if they have mobile boarding passes and/or print at home boarding passes? If Norwegian is going to police this policy at the gate, I’d imagine their on time departure performance is going to suffer big time due to the chaos at the boarding gate

  13. 10 kg limit for a computer bag is fine and i usually check a bag so no big deal however on my last long haul they wanted $35 to pre order a meal and honestly they have the worst most ezpensive food I’ve ever experienced while in an airplane. I know they need to make profits but they shouldn’t gouge people either!

  14. Who’s weighing personal items? If anything, checking every passengers item to make sure it fits within the dimensions and is under 10 kg will slow down boarding, not speed it up.

  15. Why can a 200 or 300 kg person bring the same amount of luggage on a plane as a 50 kg person or a small child? I have no problem paying baggage fees when they are reasonable, but I recently looked at a flight on this airline and at first it seemed like an incredible deal.

    But wait!

    $21 for an overhead bag
    $85 for a checked bag

    And it’s still only 10kg total on board? So I am literally paying $21 for the privilege of moving 10kg from under my seat to the overhead compartment? Whatever bean counter came up with this asinine idea needs to be stuffed in an overhead for the longest flight they have.

  16. If it’s a 10kg weight limit then it’s a 10kg weight limit. Why do people end up in tears and having a hissy fit when they are charged $100?! It’s not just a little overweight it’s 4 or 5kg, it’s your own fault you have to pay, if Norwegian let every passenger off with 5kg…? Another thing is why do people moan about paying for a headset, meal and blanket? It’s about $40 for them add that to your ticket price and still you save $$$ or why not just go and pay hundreds more on BA and them included!!

  17. they weigh the personal item and the bag. must be under 10kg. theyve put a dumpster by the gates in OSL for bags over the limit where the owner can’t afford the fine.

    I repacked my bag into the pockets of my coat and was asked to weight my coat before being charge 75 euros. absolute cretins!!!

  18. Not only does this make Norwegian redundant compared to other ultra low cost transatlantic airlines, they’re more expensive this summer on routes out of JFK compared to other major airlines in and out of NYC, making them useless. No one is going to pick Norwegian over BA/AA/DL etc if they’re only a few dollars cheaper because with legacy major carriers customers get a free carry on, food and other amenities. This potentially could accelerate the demise of Norwegians long haul business

  19. Are they weighing everyone’s coats or just one where they saw the incredible amount stored within? (Pixilott46) Am planning a few things in my pockets!

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