From the Airfarewatchdog Mailbag: Airlines Weighing Carry On Bags?

Nov 15, 2011 | Updated Jan 15, 2012

Have a question about air travel or airfares? We answer as many as we can, either by email to or in our Q&A column.

Really? My Carry On Bag Was Too Heavy?

Q: Recently I flew on Hawaiian Airlines from San Diego to Honolulu and and they brought out a portable luggage scale at the gate to weigh our carry on bags. Any bag over 25 pounds had to be checked in at the gate and a checked bag fee had to be paid. You couldn't get on the flight without a sticker showing the bag had been weighed. Is this a common practice?

A: I have to be honest, this is the first I've heard of this, but checking Hawaiian's website there is indeed a 25-pound limit on carry on bags. Checking further, I see that a number of airlines, mostly foreign-based ones, also have limits, some as low as 15 pounds (like EVA Airways for example). I tweeted an inquiry from my @airfarewatchdog Twitter account and learned from followers that many travelers have been surprised by these limits, including those flying on Lufthansa, British Airways and Ryanair.

Even worse than paying a checked bag fee is when a carry on bag is snatched from your hands at the gate upon boarding: You might forget to remove medicines, valuables and electronics from the bag. Airlines do not take responsibility for these items if they're lost in transit.

How Many Liquids and Gels Are Too Many?

Q: I know that the TSA limits liquids and gels in your carry on bags to three ounces each, but is there a limit to how many such items you can carry on board?

A: Actually, the official limit is 3.4 ounces, or 100 ml. You may carry as many containers as will fit in a one-quart clear plastic "zip" bag. More information here. By the way, several websites specialize in a wide range of TSA-approved travel sized products, many of them impossible to find at your local drug store, including and

How Do I Book A Round-the-World Fare?

Q: My family and I are considering a volunteer experience in Africa. I've read about "round-the-world" or RTW fares and "OneWorld" tickets that would allow us to add intermediate stops on the trip without massive costs. Where can I find further information?

A: A company called AirTreks specializes in pricing and selling such fares, and as you noted they can be bought from the OneWorld airline alliance, which limits travel to OneWorld partners such as British Airways and American Airlines. RTW fares can indeed save money, especially when bought in business or first class compared to regularly published fares in those classes, although they come with some rather complicated restrictions.