Heathrow Baggage Weight Limitation

Posted May 2nd, 2011

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From 1st June 2004 there will be a Heathrow-wide new limit for individual items of baggage, checked in for carriage in the aircraft hold. The maximum weight is 32kg (70 lbs). Additionally any bag over 23kg in weight should be tagged as ‘HEAVY’ with the actual weight of the item clearly visible on the tag.

Gatwick is bringing this in from August, 2004 and the UK airports will follow shortly.

Q1. Why is the 32kg limit being introduced?
The Heathrow Safety Leadership Group in conjunction with BAA Heathrow has decided to introduce the limit to help minimise manual handling injuries amongst baggage handling staff who work at the airport.

Q2. Does this new baggage weight limit affect airline baggage allowances?
The new policy relates only to single items and does not affect the overall baggage allowance for individual airlines and class of travel. The overall baggage allowances should be shown on passenger tickets, or can be obtained by referring to airline web sites.

Q3. What happens if a passenger arrives at check-in with a bag exceeding the new single item weight limit?
Passengers will be required to repack baggage to achieve the single item limit of 32kg. Re-pack areas will be made available in each terminal and during the introductory period white polypropylene bags will be made available from distribution points within each terminal. Alternatively an additional suitcase or travel bag may be purchased from most distribution points:
T1 Rolling Luggage, Excess Baggage
T2 Excess Baggage
T3 Rolling Luggage, Hargreaves Sports, Excess Baggage
T4 Excess Baggage

Q4. How will passengers secure the bags and identify them at the other end of the route?
The polypropylene bags can be secured with a plastic strap which, once tightened, can only be removed by cutting. The bags are white and marker pens will be made available for customers to mark identification onto a designated area on the side of the bag. Slots have been incorporated into the top of the bag to facilitate the secure attachment of airline bag tags at check-in.

Q5. Where should I direct passengers to re-pack?
Airlines and Handling Agents will be provided with plans showing areas designated for repacking within each terminal. However, the use of some areas may be varied for operational requirements. Duty teams will coordinate with airlines and handling agents in each terminal, if this should be required.

Q6. Is the rule being introduced across all of BAA’s airports?
No currently the policy is only being introduced at Heathrow from 1st June 2004. However, most Handling Agents at Gatwick airport introduced a similar weight limit last year and some other (non BAA) UK airports have introduced similar limits as they have become aware of the Heathrow initiative. IATA are developing guidelines for baggage weight limits and the Heathrow initiative is in line with the current IATA proposals.

Q7. Are there exceptions to the 32kg maximum weight limit?
Yes, a small number – musical instruments, electric wheelchairs, pets as baggage, sporting equipment which cannot be broken down to the 32kg weight limit, TV news cameras, commercial spares and diplomatic baggage. However, these items must be pre notified to the airline for transport and will normally need to be processed via the out of gauge system.

To register items of baggage that may exceed the 32kg (70 lbs) weight limit and are listed exceptions, customers should contact their travel agent or airline reservations office at least 24 hours before travel.

Q8. Can bags over 32kgs be processed via the Out of Gauge process?
No. Only baggage which falls outside the design limits for normal conveyable items or is unsuitable for automatic sorting can be processed via Out of Gauge (OOG) or in some circumstances Super Out of Gauge. The 32kg (70 lbs) weight limit applies to OOG items, unless they are on the exception items list above.

Q9. Can passengers pay a charge to take items of luggage which weigh more than 32kg?
Passengers will be required to repack baggage exceeding 32kg (70 lbs) into additional bag(s), once repacked each single item must meet the 32kg (70 lbs) or less weight limit. Airline excess charges will still apply should the collective weight of all items being checked in exceed the baggage allowance for the class of travel and airline.
The purpose of the weight limit is to help reduce manual handling injuries. It is therefore, best to keep baggage to smaller bags and not to exceed the baggage allowance, please check with individual airlines for allowance. Some airlines have a baggage allowance of only 20 – 25 kilos and will charge for excess.

Q10. What if a customer is unwilling or unable to meet the requirement?
From 1st June 2004, customers unable or unwilling to meet the requirements will have to find alternative means of transporting the over weight bag.

Q11. Is anything happening to cabin baggage limits?
Existing airline cabin baggage limits will still apply. However, it is very important that these are strictly adhered to, otherwise the risk of injury could be transferred to airport security and airline cabin staff required to handle such items.

Q12. What about inbound and transfer baggage?
Heathrow currently has no direct control over inbound and transfer baggage. However, influence is being exercised wherever possible to help reduce the frequency of this occurring. IATA is developing international guidelines for baggage weight limits and the Heathrow policy is in line with the current IATA draft proposals.