Airline luggage rules for domestic travel in Australia on budget flights. Avoid excess baggage fees. Checked and carry on limits.
There are three main budget airlines for domestic travel in Australia. These are Tigerair, Jetstar and Virgin.
They compete head to head with Qantas, Australia’s national carrier. All offer cheap flights to Sydney, but their airline luggage rules are subtly different.
Airline Luggage Rules
For the purposes of comparison I’ll assume the the cheapest category flight of any given airline. In this category, only Qantas includes checked luggage in the price of the ticket. Click here for baggage allowances on full service flights.
All Qantas economy passengers receive a free 23 kg (50 lb) baggage allowance, even on its cheapest air tickets, except when flying to remote parts of Australia on very small planes on Qantas Link flights. Extra luggage allowances can be purchased.
All the other airlines require you to pay for checked luggage on top of your ticket price (for their cheapest airfares). Costs and conditions vary, so check the small print.
Some, such as Jetstar, offer the cheapest luggage fees only when you book, after that you will pay more.
Others, such as Virgin, allow you to buy or add to luggage weight at any time, at the same cost, until a few hours before you fly.
All airlines charge considerably more for luggage allowances bought at the airport, and excess luggage fees are higher again.
Carry On Baggage
The standard is one bag not exceeding 7 kg in weight and 115 cm (45 inches) in total linear dimensions.
Or two slightly smaller bags (each less than 105 cm (41 inches) total linear dimensions) which together don’t exceed 7 kgs.
Tigerair allows you to buy an extra carry on allowance to bring the total to 12kg. Qantas allows your two smaller bags to weigh up to 7 kg per piece.
All allow standard coats, cameras etc. although, if you looks as if you’re abusing this ‘extra’ you can be asked to stow excess items in your luggage.
Qantas and Virgin seem to monitor this aspect less closely than Jetstar and Tigerair.
Travelling with a Guitar or Cello
You can’t carry your large musical instruments, such as guitar or a cello, with you in the cabin to Sydney. They are bigger than airline carry on luggage size restrictions. All carry on luggage must fit under the seat in front of you or in the overhead storage compartment.
A small musical instrument such as a violin usually fits within the carry on allowance without any issue. If it is slightly bigger, but its total linear dimensions are between 105cm (41in) and 142cm (56in) then it will usually be taken as equivalent to a 115cm (45in) bag. As always, check with the airline you’re travelling with to confirm eligibility.
To take your guitar or cello to Sydney on Tiger or Jetstar’s Australia domestic flights it will need to be checked in and will travel in the hold. Qantas and Virgin give you one further option: to buy a seat to Sydney for it.
To quote Virgin: “The only items that can occupy a seat (apart from a Guest of course) are a cello or a guitar”. To allow for your cello or guitar to be safely secured in the aircraft cabin, the following restrictions apply:
Maximum Dimensions are 85cm x 34cm x 23cm (total linear dimensions 142cm). Each musical instrument counts towards the guest’s carry-on allowance (substitutes for a piece with total linear dimensions of 105cm).
If your cello or guitar does not fit within these allowable dimensions, it will be unable to travel in the cabin but must go as bulky or oversized luggage.
Sporting equipment such as
- large fishing rods
- golf clubs
can usually be carried to Sydney in the hold of the aircraft, subject to space being available.
There can be significant cost differences among airlines for your travel in Australia if you have sports equipment. Rates also change regularly. So if you’re tossing up between two competing fares, go to their checked luggage details and see if that makes a difference.
All carriers will transport your wheelchair, scooter, walking frame or other mobility aid free of charge if it is required for your personal use during your travel in Australia.
They will try to carry it on the same flight as you, but cannot guarantee that. The equipment may be too large for the particular plane you’re travelling in or there may be others also travelling with mobility aids. There is often a limit of 2 electric wheelchairs / mobility aids per flight to Sydney, due to restrictions in aircraft hold space.
Flying with Infants and Young Children
Any child under two is classed as an infant and must be nursed by a parent or guardian.
Airlines may require a doctor’s certificate for babies less than 7 days old. Tiger will not carry babies less than 7 days old under any circumstances.
Any child two or over must have its own ticket and is allocated a seat to Sydney. Proof of age will be required, and you must have the infant’s valid documentation available for inspection.
On the cheapest air tickets, children flying to Sydney get the same luggage weight as adults.
Infants have no luggage allowance in Australia.
Certain infant equipment is generally carried free on Australian domestic flights. All other infant baggage must be included as part of the parent or guardian’s purchased or free baggage allowance. Infant equipment may include:
- Portable cot or bassinet
- Car seat
- Baby capsule
When you’re flying with infants you may also carry on an extra bag, containing things such as nappies or baby food, for use on the way. This applies on all cheap flights to Sydney.
And Save More Still
Don’t forget the getting to and from the airport. You can save on this by avoiding the excessive access fees charged on top of your train fare to the airport. Here’s how.