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How to save hundreds with a Ryanair approved cabin bag in 2021

Anyone who travels even occasionally in Europe will sooner or later have wondered what a Ryanair approved cabin bag is? For many travellers, Ryanair is the beloved means of transport to their dream holidays, but often also the best direct link between secondary cities that with traditional airlines would require stop overs and additional costs.

Whilst it is true that you can find flights for less than €10, Ryanair is also famous for very rigid policies, such as the last one concerning Ryanair cabin bag size, which can catch you unprepared and make you spend a lot of money.

The hardest thing? Their rules change often and are becoming more complex. In this article you will have all the info regarding Ryanair baggage sizes, differences, and related costs.

Ryanair carry on dimensions are different from most other European low cost airlines, so in order to not be caught off guard you will find a list of the best cabin bags suitable for Ryanair. The good things is that the bags that are suitable as hand luggage for Ryanair are suitable for 99.9% of the other low cost airlines.

Why so much focus on an Ryanair approved cabin bag? Because with careful packing even a family of 4 can travel with the free Ryanair cabin baggage allowance and save hundreds of £/€ … yes we tried it and we will talk about it later.

This post may contain affiliate links. I may receive a commission for purchases made through the links on this page, at no cost to you

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CABIN BAG SIZES FOR RYANAIR

The latest changes in Ryanair’s bag policy were not well received by consumers, especially as they came soon after the previous changes which were much less restrictive. There are currently four baggage options to consider when you plan your trip. Two of them authorise you to bring your baggage into the cabin and the other two are for putting your baggage in the hold. Let’s have a look:

  1. CARRY-ON BAG – Free of charge for everybody: a small personal bag no bigger than 20x25x40 cm (8x10x16 inches)

  2. CARRY ON BAG – Starting from £/€ 6: a bag no bigger than 20x40x55 cm (8x16x21 inches) including handles and wheels, and no heavier than 10 kg.

  3. CHECK-IN BAG – Starting from £/€ 12.99: a bag no bigger than 20x40x55 cm (8x16x21 inches) including handles and wheels, and no heavier than 10kg

  4. CHECK-IN BAG – Starting from €/£ 20.99 to €/£ 59.99: a bag no bigger than 81x119x119 and no heavier than 20 Kg (bag pooling is allowed, but a single bag can’t be heavier that 32 kg)


It is clear that if you do not plan your baggage well, you risk turning your flight from cheap and cheerful to expensive and miserable!
Let’s have a look at the first two options which allow us to bring the baggage on board.

RYANAIR SMALL CABIN BAG FREE OF CHARGE

Ryanair small-bag-size
Ryanair approved cabin bag (to carry on board free of charge)

FROM RYANAIR’S BAG POLICY WEBPAGE

All passenger fare types include a small personal bag, which must fit under the seat in front of you.

A bag that is no bigger than 20x25x40cm max (8x10x16 inches max) is the only baggage item you can carry for free on any Ryanair flight (as per 2021).

The only exceptions are:

  • Parents flying with a baby (8 days to 23 months) can carry an extra baby bag up to 5kg (dimensions: 45x35x20cms) plus some baby equipment like a travel cot or a travel stroller.
  • People that need to bring medical equipment can contact the special assistance team, but should be able to bring on board some common items.

It is really important to be familiar with this rule because if you exceed this bag size, Ryanair could refuse boarding or ask you to pay €/£50 at the boarding desk and put your bag on hold.

A bag 20x25x40cm could seem really little but I can assure you that if you pack well you can fit a lot in. At least there is no weight limit for this bag. We actually managed a week long trip just using bags that fall into this category (more later). Consider that if you have a soft bag that is slightly larger than the Ryanair approved cabin bag size you can probably use it as long you don’t over-pack it and you are able to squeeze it a bit to fit their measuring trolley.

COMPARISON CHART: FREE OF CHARGE SMALL CABIN BAG (20x25x40 CM)

The chart below shows the best models you can buy: some of these options are great for those who fly Ryanair occasionally and prefer to spend as little as possible (like the Aerolite duffle bag), as they’re maybe not going to use it often. Others are light enough and offer great features that could be useful on any trip (like the Cabin Max backpack).

In this list I selected only products that are maximising baggage size for Ryanair, you don’t want to lose even a few cm! The last two options are actually a little bigger than the Ryanair approved cabin bag dimension, but I included them as they are soft bags that, if not overpacked, can be squeezed. I added them to show a flexible option to use also on airlines with less restrictions.

MODEL DIMENSIONPRICE
BEST OVERALL BACKPACK
AEROLITE
BACKPACK

20x25x40 cm
18L
1KG (2.2lb)

CHECK THE PRICE IN AMAZON
BEST OVERALL DUFFLE BAG
SAPHETE DUFFLE BAG20x25x40 cm
20L
840gr (1.85lb)

CHECK THE PRICE IN AMAZON
BEST OVERALL SUITCASE
CABIN MAX20x25x40 cm
20L
1.7KG (3.7lb)
CHECK THE PRICE IN AMAZON
TOP CHOICE FOR PRICE
AEROLITE DUFFLE BAG20x25x40 cm
20L
450gr (1lb)
CHECK THE PRICE IN AMAZON
BEST SUITCASE FOR PRICE
TRAVEL READY20x25x40 cm
19L
1.1Kg (2.4lb)
CHECK THE PRICE IN AMAZON
MOST VERSATILE BACKPACK
CABIN MAX (3 OPTION)20x25x40 cm
20L
500gr (1.1lb)
CHECK THE PRICE IN AMAZON
PERFECT FOR THE YOUNG ONES
LEGO BRICK15x25x40 cm
20L
450gr (1 lb)
CHECK THE PRICE IN AMAZON
CHEAPEST EXPANDABLE BACKPACK
ACENT15x31x45 cm
20L to 35L
1.2Kg (2.7 lb)
CHECK THE PRICE IN AMAZON
MOST VERSATILE BAG
BRIGGS & RILEY20x28x43 cm
25L to 33L
1.6kg (3.6 lb)
CHECK THE PRICE IN AMAZON

APPROVED – Best overall backpack

AEROLITE BACKPACK 18L

20x25x40 cm
(8x10x16 inches)
18L
1Kg (2.2 lb)

RYANAIR APPROVED
CABIN BAG

This is a really clever and well designed backpack at a great price.

The structure is soft so you can maximise the space. You can carry it as a backpack, as a shoulder bag (removable strap included), or with one of the 2 padded handles.

WARNING: In the US market they seem to still sell the previous version that is 3cm (1 inch) bigger than the max dimension on the longest side. This shouldn’t be a concern as it is a soft bag.

PROS

  • Main compartment is opening fully in suitcase style
  • Practical straps to keep clothes and shoes in place, and a waterproof pocket for toiletries.
  • Two other zipped spaces, one perfect for a small tablet, and a front one for smaller possessions.
  • A small RFID compartment is a clever feature at the back.
  • There is a power bank pocket with a built-in USB port, and a side water bottle holder.
  • Backpack straps can be zipped inside the back when not in use.
  • Back sleeve to fit over trolley handles

CONS

  • Compartments are good to organise items but they also reduce available space.

APPROVED – Best overall duffle bag

SAPHETE DUFFLE BAG

20x25x40 cm
(8x10x16 inches)
840gr. (1.85 lb)
20L

RYANAIR APPROVED
CABIN BAG

This duffle bag is another example of an item cleverly developed to maximise Ryanair carry on size.

It has one main compartment with a wide opening from the top, that make it easier to pack. Another big compartment for shoes on one side, and two other zipped pockets on the side and on the front for smaller objects.

Removable shoulder strap and handles to carry it in different ways, but no back sleeve to attach on to a trolley handle

Comes with a laundry bag and a pvc transparent liquid bag.

PROS

  • Wide opening at the top of the main compartment
  • Removable shoulder strap
  • Big side compartment for shoes (up to size 11)

CONS

  • No back sleeve to fit on top of trolley handles
  • No dedicated space for tech items

APPROVED – Best overall suitcase

CABIN MAX WHEELED TROLLEY

20x25x40 cm
(8x10x16 inches)
1.7KG (3.7 lb)
20L

RYANAIR APPROVED
CABIN BAG

This is the best 2 wheel trolley that still meets Ryanair carry on size. It has a solid structure and most of the space is given to the main compartment.

The internal padded sleeve is useful for a tablet, but too small for a laptop.

This bag is probably the best option if you want to only bring on board the free personal bag.

PROS

  • One main compartment to maximise space available
  • Solid structure
  • Packing strap, padded sleeve, and zipped pocket inside.
  • Two zipped pocket on the front and one on the side for smaller objects.

CONS

  • No back sleeve to fit on top of trolley handles
  • Handle stretches to 85cm; a bit short for tall people

APPROVED –Top choice for price

AEROLITE DUFFLE BAG 19L

20x25x40 cm
(8x10x16 inches)
19L
500gr (1.1 lb)

AEROLITE DUFFLE BAG 20L

20x25x40 cm
(8x10x16 inches)
20L
450gr (1 lb)

Aerolite did a great job on adapting their bags to the latest dimensions for Ryanair hand luggage. They produce 2 similar, basic, no fuss, but great bags that fit the policy.
Perfect if you travel with Ryanair occasionally and don’t want to spend much on a bag.

These bags don’t have anything inside to keep your clothes and items organised, the best option is to use them with packing cubes.

RYANAIR APPROVED
CABIN BAG

PROS

  • One main compartment maximises the space, and a front zipped pocket.
  • The most recent model (red in the picture) opens from the top making access easier.
  • Back sleeve to fit over trolley handles

CONS

  • In the older model (black in the picture) the zip stops half way on the side not allowing suitcase style opening, making it more difficult to organise the items inside.
  • No dedicated space for tech items.

APPROVED – Best suitcase for price

TRAVEL READY
2-WHEEL MINI SUITCASE

20x25x40 cm
(8x10x16 inches)
19L
1.1Kg (2.4 lb)

RYANAIR APPROVED
CABIN BAG

This is one of the few wheeled trolleys that fit Ryanair cabin baggage size. It has been launched on the market recently, but everybody is already raving about it. It isn’t a top choice on this list because is not yet widely available, but hopefully they will expand their reach soon.

It is basic and cheap, fitting perfectly with the Ryanair concept, but does the job.

It has a soft structure that allow you to collapse it and store it away easily.

PROS

  • Easy to carry and light.
  • Collapsible and easy to store.
  • One main compartment maximises the use of available space, plus 2 flat pockets on the front and one on the back.
  • The handle stretches up to 95cm.
  • Removable shoulder strap.

CONS

  • No padding to protect tech items inside.
  • No back sleeve to fit on top of trolley handles.

APPROVED – Most versatile backpacks

CABIN MAX BACKPACKS

20x25x40 cm
(8x10x16 inches)
20L
500gr (1.1 Llb)

The Cabin Max brand took the Ryanair topic really seriously and produced several backpacks that are in the bag size for Ryanair limit.
They are all really light, so they are a god option, once you arrive at the destination and unpack them to use them as a daily bag during activities/ excursions.
They all offer 3 years guarantee.

They differ little in style and functionality:

  • CABIN MAX CHICAGO has a suitcase style opening at the front and a padded sleeve at the back for laptops up to 13″
  • CABIN MAX METZ is available in some countries in really nice colours and patterns. Most of the space is dedicated to the main compartment. The front zipped area is good for a tablet and to hold documents and small items organised in the different sleeves.
  • CABIN MAX MANHATTAN is the option with more features. The front is opening fully in suitcase style and the thin side can be closed with a mesh zipped panel. There is a padded area at the back for a small laptop/tablet and the backpack strap can be stored away. It comes with a removable strap to carry it also on the shoulders.

RYANAIR
APPROVED
CABIN BAG

PROS

  • Different price levels
  • Really light backpacks
  • Suitcase style opening
  • Manhattan has a back sleeve to fit over trolley handles

CONS

  • Cabin max Metz doesn’t have a dedicated space for laptop.

APPROVED – Perfect for the young one

LEGO BRICK BACKPACK

15x25x40 cm
(6x10x16 inches)
450gr. (1 Llb)
20L

RYANAIR APPROVED
CABIN BAG

This backpack is well within the Ryanair bag sizes limits. It doesn’t have all the features that other bags have, but it is cool backpack and it would be perfect for kids. They can bring their stuff and still board without paying the bag fee.

Cheapest expandable backpack

EXPANDABLE BACKPACK

15x31x45 cm
(6×12.4×18 inches)
20L to 35L
1.2Kg (2.7 Llb)

This a really versatile backpack. You can use it on Ryanair without expanding it. Then when flying on other airlines you can take advantage of the almost 10cm extra (15L extra clothes or souvenirs to pack with you).

What makes it particularly great is the possibility to open it like a suitcase, so it is really easy to organise your stuff inside.

WARNING: This bag is few cm/inches larger on two sides compared to Ryanair hand luggage size. This shouldn’t concern you much as it is a soft bag so if you don’t fill it completely you will not have an issue fitting it in the Ryanair bag checker.

PROS

  • Extra 15L available when expanded.
  • Lie flat opening for the bigger compartment.
  • Front compartment with multiple slip pockets, plus three zipped spaces for document and small things
  • USB charging port
  • Padded back compartment for tech
  • Back sleeve to fit over trolley handles

CONS

  • A little bigger than Ryanair policy limit.
  • Compartments are good to organise items but they also reduce available space.

Most versatile bag

BRIGGS & RYLEY EXPANDABLE CABIN BAG

20x28x43 cm
8x11x16.5 Inches
25L to 33L
1.6kg (3.6 lb
)

This isn’t a bag you buy just to fly Ryanair once, this is a bag you will always enjoy to travel with. It isn’t cheap but it is incredibly well made and really stylish.

It is expandable from 25L to 33L, this feature makes it really adaptable to use on different airlines (Ryanair cabin bag size being the most restrictive).

WARNING: This bag is few cm/inches larger on two sides compared to Ryanair hand luggage size. This shouldn’t concern you at all as it is a soft bag and if you don’t fill it completely you will not have issue fitting it in the Ryanair bag checker..

PROS

  • Excellent quality
  • It has three different compartments including flat packing plus a front pocket with key holder and slip pockets
  • Possibility to expand adding extra 8L
  • Lifetime guarantee
  • Many zipped pockets and sleeves
  • Sleeve to fit over trolley handles
  • Removable shoulder strap and handles with magnetic leather wrap.

CONS

  • The price

Flying with a baby or a toddler? You could be interested in some tips and advice to make your next flight with a baby a breeze.

RYANAIR PRIORITY CABIN BAG (20x40x55cm)

Ryanair priority bag
Ryanair priority bag

In this section, likely we are going to have a bit more choice. Ryanair cabin luggage size limits are tight but there are many more option available on the market.

If you want to bring anything on board that is bigger than the personal bag we have just seen, you will have to pay. In case you already know that you are going to need a small carry on bag I recommend you to buy at the time of booking the “Priority and 2 cabin bags” option. Choosing to add a priority bag at the moment of booking it usually start from €6, but you add it later it will cost you at least double.

Two are the most important things to consider when looking at the size of hand luggage on Ryanair:

  • Max dimension: 20x40x55 cm (8x16x22 inches). This dimension are usually the equivalent of a 40L bag. This start to be a decent size bag and you will be able to choose your favourite type: trolleys, backpacks or duffle bags and all their hybrid variation.
  • Max weight: 10Kg Here is were you need to put a bit of attention because it is really easy to pack more than 10kg in a 20x40x55 cm bag. And yes I’ve seen some time Ryanair weighting the bag. The best things to maximise the space available is choose the lightest bag possible, that mean you will be able to pack more..

Also in here I picked only bags that maximise Ryanair dimensions for hand luggage.

COMPARISON CHART: PRIORITY CABIN BAG (20x40x55cm)

MODEL DIMENSIONPRICE
BEST OVERALL EXPANDABLE HARDSHELL
AMERICAN TOURISTER20x40x55 cm
35 L to 41 L
2.6 kg (5.7lb)
CHECK THE PRICE IN AMAZON
BEST PRICE FOR EXPANDABLE HARDSHELL
CABIN MAX20x40x55 cm
35 L to 41 L
2.6 kg (6.4lb)
CHECK THE PRICE IN AMAZON
TOP CHOICE FOR BUSINESS TRIP
TRAVELITE20x40x55 cm
35 L to 41 L
3.4 kg (7.5lb)
CHECK THE PRICE IN AMAZON
BEST ECO-FRIENDLY LUGGAGE
SAMSONITE ZIPROLL20x40x55 cm
40.5 L
2.8 kg (6.1lb)
CHECK THE PRICE IN AMAZON
BEST VALUE FOR MONEY SOFT SHELL
AMAZON BASIC20.8x41.4x55 cm
2.6 kg (6.4lb)
CHECK THE PRICE IN AMAZON
BEST PRICE FOR BACKPACK
AMAZON BASIC21x40x55 cm
25L to 35L
1.6 kg (3.5lb)
CHECK THE PRICE IN AMAZON
TOP CHOICE FOR HYBRID BACKPACK
CHECK THE PRICE IN AMAZON20x40x55 cm
1.7/2.8 kg.
44L
(3.7/6.1 lb)
CHECK THE PRICE IN AMAZON
MOST ICONIC HARDSHELL
DELSEY PARIS MONCEY20x40x55 cm
41L
2.9 kg (6.4lb)
CHECK THE PRICE IN AMAZON
TOP CHOICE FOR A VINTAGE LOOK
WITZMAN19X33X53 CM
35L
1.4 KG (3lb)
CHECK THE PRICE IN AMAZON
TOP CHOICE FOR SOFTSHELL
ANTLER20x40x55 cm
36L
2.6Kg (5.7 lb)
CHECK THE PRICE IN AMAZON

APPROVED – Best overall expandable hardshell

AMERICAN TOURISTER SOUNDBOX

20x40x55 cm
8x16x22 Inches
35L to 41L
2.6kg (5.7lb)

RYANAIR APPROVED
CABIN BAG

This is an amazing suitcase at a good price with great features, one of the best carry on luggage for Ryanair. We have one of these for 3 years now and it still looks new.

It is light and easy to carry, but robust. The fact that it has a hard shell but is expandable makes it a perfect choice. Take advantage of more room when flying on other airlines but still comply with Ryanair baggage size.

All of this with an eye catching design too!

PROS

  • Hardshell but expandable (+6L.)
  • Light
  • TSA lock
  • Double wheels

CONS

  • No internal padded areas for tech

APPROVED – Best price for expandable hardshell

CABIN MAX VELOCITY

20x40x55 cm
8x16x22 Inches
40 L to 50 L
2.9kg (6.4 lb)

RYANAIR APPROVED
CABIN BAG

This is one of the few expandable suitcases you will find at this price point.

It is maybe not going to be as strong as other brands, but if you are planning to use it only as a carry on then you shouldn’t be too worried.

It is a Ryanair approved cabin bag, but the expansion will give you an extra 10 L which is perfect when you are travelling with airlines that allow bigger bags than Ryanair.

Inside there are clothes straps and a zipped divider.

Cabin Max even offer 3 years manufacture’s warranty.

PROS

  • Hard-shell but expandable (+10L.)
  • Light
  • Internal zipped divider and clothes straps
  • 4 multi-directional wheels

CONS

  • No internal padded areas for tech

APPROVED – Top choice for business trip

TRAVELITE CITY S 55 WITH LAPTOP POCKET

20x40x55 cm
8x16x22 Inches
40 L to 50 L
3.4kg (7.5 lb)

RYANAIR APPROVED
CABIN BAG

This is the perfect bag to use for a business trip or if your laptop doesn’t fit in the second personal bag. The front pocket makes it really easy to access your tech without opening the full bag.

There are not many hard shell suitcases with this feature that can fit into the Ryanair approved cabin bag category. Many of them are just 3 or 4cm too deep and being hardshell it’s becoming too risky as you can’t squeeze them to reduce the size if Ryaniar want to check it.

Being a hard shell suitcase your tech are also protected from bumps. Perfect bag especially for those who don’t often carry a second bag.

PROS

  • Practical front opening for up to 17.3″ laptop
  • Reinforced corners
  • TSA lock
  • Internal zipped divider and clothes straps
  • Front opening organised with different sleeves
  • 4 multi-directional wheels

CONS

  • The front pocket reduces capacity in the main compartment
  • The front pocket doesn’t lock with the TSA lock.

APPROVED – Best ecofriendly luggage

SAMSONITE ZIPROLL

Ziproll backpack
20x40x55 cm
8x16x22 Inches
50 L

1.4 kg ( 3 lb)
Ziproll trolley
20x40x55 cm
8x16x22 Inches
40.5 L

2.8 kg (6.1 lb)

RYANAIR APPROVED
CABIN BAG

There is a reason why, after 110 years, Samsonite is still one of the top luggage companies, they know how to make good bags! However they recently stretched a step further making sustainability one of their focus areas from the resources they use to their manufacturing chain.

The Ziproll line is only one of the many they started to produce using Recyclex, a fabric 100% made using recycled PET plastic bottles.

Most importantly it is not just ecofriendly, it is also functional and with a really cool design.

The Ziproll backpack and the Ziproll trolley in the picture are both the right cabin size luggage for Ryanair. There is another model worth considering that is a hybrid version of these two (a trolley that can also be used as a backpack), making it really versatile. However it is 3cm deeper than a Ryanair approved cabin bag so you will need to avoid over packing (if they want to measure it you can squeeze it a bit)

PROS

  • Both models: roll top closure to easily access much more than just laptop and documents.
  • Both models: open flat, they have clothes part and both sides close with a zipped panel
  • Both models: Tablet compartment suitable for 10.5″
  • Both models: Handle at the top and on both sides
  • Backpack: really light
  • Trolley: 4 multi-directional wheels

CONS

  • Both models: No TSA lock

Best value for money softshell

AMAZON SOFTSIDE CARRY ON

20.8×41.4×55 cm
8x16x22 Inches
29 L
2.6kg (6.4 lb
)

This bag is part of the Amazon Basic line. A group of products that have great features with reasonable prices. It is few millimitres bigger than the Ryanair size of cabin luggage, but it is worth considering as the bag measurers have a little jiggle room.

It is sturdy and the space available is easy to maximise as there is only the main compartment and a front zip area. It has only 2 wheels but they are big enough to roll easily on different terrain. Here you also have the 4 wheels version, but you loose in volume (26L)

The wheels are integrated into the body of the bag to maximise the 55cm available

This is a great product that does the job and will last for long time.

PROS

  • Corner guards and bumper for wheel housing to protect from damage
  • Support stabilizer to allow it to stand
  • TSA lock
  • Clothes strap and 2 zipped sleeves

CONS

  • No internal padded areas for tech
  • Only 2 wheels
  • A little over the dimensions of Ryanair hand luggage

APPROVED – Best price for backpack

AMAZON EXPANDABLE BACKPACK

21x40x55 cm
8.25x16x22 Inches
25L TO 35L
1.6kg (3.5lb
)

RYANAIR APPROVED
CABIN BAG

This is another great product from the Amazon basic range. It maximises the dimensions for the limit available and it is really light. On top of that it also expands a little giving room for even more.

It has a main compartment that opens flat with straps to hold clothes in place. There is a padded back sleeve for a laptop and a front pocket for small items/documents.

It also comes with a shoulder strap for when you want a change.

Overall a great value for money product. It could be a great solution for those who want a bag to travel with, but also to use as a daily bag when they are at their destination.

PROS

  • Expandable (extra 10L)
  • Padded sleeve for laptop
  • Side compression straps are also useful to hold a jumper when around
  • 2 handles, on the top and on the side

CONS

  • No TSA lock
  • No side bottle holder

APPROVED – Top choice for hybrid backpack

CABIN MAX HYBRID CARRY ON

GREENWICH

MANHATTAN

LYON

20x40x55 cm
(8x16x22 inches)
1.7/2.8 KG. (3.7/6.1 lb)
44L

RYANAIR APPROVED
CABIN BAG

If you are looking for a hybrid bag you will find plenty of choice here.

These three bags have all been designed to the maximum Ryanair cabin size dimensions and they all contain a huge 44L.
They are extremely versatile as they all have a telescopic handle to pull them as a 2 wheel trolley, but they also have pack away backpack straps to free your hands in case you are also carrying a bigger bag or pushing a pram!

GREENWICH: Great bag with lots of space in the main compartment that is also organised with clothes holding straps. The backpack shoulder straps zip into the bag and there is a separate cover for the wheels. No padded area for laptop or tablet.

MANHATTAN: The Manhattan bag is the more organised of the three. The main compartment has a handy meshed panel with useful zipped pocket, to keep clothes in place if you open your bag while standing to take something out. Inside there is a dedicated space for laptop and tablet, and outside a bottle holder and several pockets to keep small things on hand.

LYON: The simpler of the 3 bags and really similar to the Greenwich model. The front pocket has lots of sleeves and zipped pockets, and the compression side straps also offer the opportunity to carry a jumper when around. The back has a useful wheels cover to not get dirty while using it as a backpack. No padded area for laptop or tablet.

PROS

  • Pack away backpack straps (so they are not in the way or getting dirty when you pull it as a trolley)
  • Wheel cover
  • Light
  • Suitcase style opening

CONS

  • No internal padded areas for tech on Lyon and Greenwich
  • No TSA lock

APPROVED – Most iconic hardshell

DELSEY PARIS MONCEY

20x40x55 cm
(8x16x55 inches)
41L
2.9Kg (6.4 lb)

RYANAIR APPROVED
CABIN BAG

Delsey Paris is a French luggage brand in production since 1946. It has been evolving to keep pace with modern needs and in recent years has been relooking at some of their iconic lines to introduce cabin luggage suitable even for strict airlines like Ryanair.

The quality is impeccable, it is a sturdy and easy to maneuver bag. The closing system has a vintage touch that makes it even more special.

This is the perfect bag for whoever wants a solid traditional hard shell trolley. It is available in different colours and comes with 5 years warranty.

PROS

  • Strong polypropylene construction
  • Light
  • TSA lock
  • Double 360° spinning wheels
  • Clothes holder straps and zip divider with pockets

CONS

  • No internal padded areas for tech

APPROVED – Top choice for a vintage look

VINTAGE BACKPACK/ DUFFLE BAG

19x33x53 cm
7.5x13x21 INCHES
35 L
1,4 KG (3lb)

RYANAIR APPROVED
CABIN BAG

This is a perfect solution for people looking for somenthing a bit different with a more vintage look, but with some of the essential features that modern bags should have. It is a bit smaller than the hand luggage size on Ryanair, but it still holds 35L.

It is made from a robust canvas material with a front panel in artificial leather. This bag can age gracefully with a little wear and tear making it a bit more lived.

It can be carried as a backpack or with a shoulder strap (duffle style). It doesn’t open like a suitcase, so you will be better off organising your items with packing cubes, but it has lots of sleeves and pockets to keep smaller items in an easy to reach position.

PROS

  • 2 front pockets, one with tablet sleeve
  • Light
  • Side bottle holder
  • Internal laptop sleeve up to 16 inch
  • Compression straps on the side, also useful to hold a jumper or jacket while around.
  • Handles on the top, side, and front
  • Removable shoulder straps and pack-away backpack straps.

CONS

  • No internal padded areas for tech
  • No TSA lock or lockable zip
  • Front pocket is not easy to open
  • Main compartment opening should be bigger

APPROVED – Top choice for softshell

ANTLER SOFT SHELL CARRY ON

20x40x55 cm
(8x16x21 inches)
36L
2.6Kg (5.7 lb
)

RYANAIR APPROVED
CABIN BAG

This last suitcase on the list could pass as a bit anonymous and too expensive, but when you look at it carefully you understand that Antler (a manufacturer of luggage for more than 100 years) has not forgotten the details.

It is a sturdy suitcase, with reinforced corners and a large padded front pocket to accommodate a laptop up to 15.6″. The front pocket has a U-shaped opening that makes it easily accessible without having to open the bag completely. Perfect to make going through security a breeze.

PROS

  • Large padded front pocket
  • Main compartment, with a zipped panel to hold clothes in place.
  • TSA lock
  • 10 years warranty

CONS

  • The front pocket doesn’t close with the TSA lock

FINAL THOUGHTS ON RYANAIR APPROVED CABIN BAG CHOICE

How are you going to save money? An example…

Being unaware of the policy could easily cost a couple arriving at the gate each with a bag bigger than the Ryanair approved cabin bag £/€ 100 (£/€ 50 each) plus another £/€ 48 minimum on the return journey to check in the bags (£/€ 23.99 each). £148 in total when with the right bag that could be, if not free, at least minimised to £/€ 24.

The price to add luggage changes based on the itinerary and dates. Lets make a real example with a route I am very familiar with: London-Rome. At the moment I have a one way ticket in my account from Rome to London for 4 people (2 adults and 2 kids) that cost €109.36.

This ticket only includes a personal bag each. A few years ago I would have brought 2 check in luggage for the 4 of us. Today that would cost me ~€90 (€ 44.99 each bag), that is almost as much as the ticket itself! Instead, we will have 4 personal bags (free of charge) and if needed, a few days before boarding I will pay €20 for a priority cabin bag, Net saving € 70!

Is the free personal bag the only luggage you are going to carry with you?

  • If yes,then you can choose the bag that really best suits your style. The mini trolleys, even if basic, are in general a good option, but remember that space in the outside pockets is limited to smaller items. Most of the time when you need something you will need to fully open the trolley. If you go for the backpack you have more choice in terms of models and you can pick the one with the right features for you.

Are you going to pay to bring onboard a bigger cabin bag?

  • In this case choose two bags that complement each other. A backpack as a personal bag and a wheeled trolley are a perfect combination, especially if the backpack has a back sleeve to fit it over a trolley handle.
  • If you have kids and you are going around with a stroller, it could be useful to consider a duffle bag to attach to the stroller and a backpack as a bigger carry on bag. Even when you have something super easy to maneuver around like our Joolz Geo it’s always better to have your hands free!
  • If you often bring your laptop with you then consider a bag that has a dedicated, easily accessible space for it. Make sure you also check the size of the dedicated space, as some trolleys seem to have reduced the size of their front pockets.`
  • If you fly often with different airlines, it could be useful to choose a bag that is expandable. Ryanair hand luggage sizes are the most restrictive between all the low cost airlines.

Hard-shell or soft-shell?

Hard-shell have improved a lot in the recent years, there are now expandable models and even models with laptop space. They are great to better protect your contents and perfect if you also travel a lot with traditional airlines and occasionally check in your bag.

The soft bags on the other hand are more flexible with many different features to organise and keep on hand small items. They are also a little more forgiving if you have over packed and to fit in airline bag checkers.

4 wheels or 2 wheels?

Both options have their advantages and disadvantages. Bags with 4 wheels move really swiftly around you, but you always need to be careful when you stop, unless you bought one of the newest models with brakes they will keep moving if you stop on a slope. The wheels are also usually more exposed and they could damage more easily with cheaper models. Bags with 2 wheels have the advantage of usually having more capacity as the wheels are partially recessed into the bag structure.

Our experience

We have several pieces of luggage so we are lucky to be able to choose which is more convenient based on the airlines we fly with or the trip we do.

Some models, or their updated version, made it onto the list like the Aerolite duffle bag, the American Tourister sound box, the Samsonite, and the Delsey hard-shell.

The Samsonite soft bag (old model) has been with me for more than 10 years and it is still my preferred choice for any kind of trip, it shows wear and tear but wheels, structure, and zip are still working perfectly! The American Tourister hard-shell is my favourite for the look and the flexibility you get from the expansion. The Delsey hard-shell we own is a bigger model so we use it less frequently now, but I love the super strong double zip that makes it easy to close even when over-packed.

Another bag we love is the Eminent hard-shell. We bought it when Ryanair was letting you bring 1 piece of hand luggage onboard for free, but it was a smaller size. Eminent makes super strong and easy to maneuver suitcases (also in the right size 20x40x55 cm). It isn’t on the list only because it is not easy to find everywhere.

As a personal bag (free on board), nowadays, we use backpacks. The small duffle bag has been parked in favour of a more organised backpack. On one of our latest trips (9/10 days) we managed with just one free personal bag each. We packed minimally, and we washed what we needed half way through the trip. It seems that every time Ryanair change/reduce/make more restrictive their luggage policy, we manage to shrink our luggage and since the boys were little we have been perfecting our essential packing list.

I tend to overpack, but I need to be honest Ryanair never stopped me at the gate. We have 3 different backpacks (plus the small ones for the kids), but they are not on the list as they are slightly over the hand luggage size for Ryanair. My absolutely favourite is the Tripped backpack, this is an unstructured backpack, really light and foldable. I use packing cubes so it becomes just a shell around them, and when we arrive at our destination I can use it to go around. This back pack is also a perfect gift for a friend who is passionate about travel, after you use it once you will not want to leave it behind.

I hope this guide wll help you to save money next time you fly Ryanair or any other low cost airlines, let me know in the comments if you have any other favourite bags!

PIN IT FOR LATER!

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