Ryanair’s hand luggage rules ensure that all bags over 40x25x20 (20 Litres) receive some sort of charge or require some sort of ticket upgrade in order to be taken on board the aircraft.

In this article we’ll take you through the hand luggage rules, tell you how to avoid extra fees and discuss which (if any) of the new paid options may be best for you.

In a nutshell:

  • The maximum size of carry on bag that you can take on board without paying extra charges is 40x25x20cm (20L).
  • If you wish to take a traditionally sized cabin bag on board (up to 55x40x20cm), you have to purchase the ‘Priority Boarding and 2 Cabin Bags‘ bundle in order to do so.
  • Purchasing the ‘Priority Boarding and 2 Cabin Bags‘ bundle means you can take both a 55x40x20cm bag and a 40x25x20cm bag on board, but Ryanair will charge you between £8 - £38 per flight to do so.
  • The number of ‘Priority Boarding and 2 Cabin Bags‘ tickets is capped at 95 per flight.
  • There is no option to take just a 55x40x20cm traditional cabin bag on board.
  • Ryanair also offers Plus and Flexi-Plus bundles which include a hold luggage allowance, but these can often increase the price of your flight by over 400% and include a lot of extras that are irrelevant.

Which option is best for me?

We’d always recommend that travellers going on city breaks or short trips under 4 days adapt your packing towards the free bag allowance when travelling on airlines like Ryanair, simply because of the huge savings you can make by avoiding the extra fees.

Though Ryanair quotes a fee of between £8 and £38 for Priority Boarding, our investigations indicate that it is quite difficult to find a Priority Boarding fee towards the lower end of that spectrum. Generally fees tend to range from upwards of £22 per flight for this bundle. That means, on average, a couple could save £88 over a typical return trip, simply by travelling lighter and each taking a 20L under seat bag.

20 Litres may not sound like a huge allowance, but Cabin Max’s range of 20L Stowaway bags are incredibly space-efficient and offer so much more packing possibilities than you may expect. Teamed with a few small changes to your packing technique, they can be more than enough. Here’s a few of our best picks to comply with Ryanair’s free allowance:

Manhattan Stowaway XL 20L

We designed the Manhattan Stowaway XL 20L to be the most space-efficient backpack of its kind – that’s why you will be amazed at just how much you can pack in to it. The main compartment opens like a suitcase to reveal a surprisingly large packing area, complete with 3D pockets that are perfect for smaller items of clothing or chargers. The bag also features padded laptop storage, a quick access ticket pocket, a water bottle pocket and a rear luggage loop so you can combine it easily with a rolling suitcase.

With a choice of styles and even models made from recycled plastic bottles, the Manhattan Stowaway XL 20L is a great choice for avoiding those costly extra fees on Ryanair.

Find out more here.

Travel Hack Stowaway Cabin Backpack

This deceptively spacious laptop backpack is the perfect size for a weekend city break. Designed using travel blogger The Travel Hack's extensive knowledge of stylish travel on a budget, this ingenious backpack features a quick-stash top pocket that provides easy access to your purse, phone and travel documents on the go. Internally, the bag features a 20L main compartment with 3D packing pockets and a tactile rose gold lining. Packing is a breeze, thanks to the usefully large clamshell opening. Ideal for use as a laptop bag the Travel Hack Backpack can accommodate devices up to 13" and is excellent for ensuring your laptop stays with you on board busy flights. An integrated water bottle holder and rolling luggage strap complete an impressive list of standard features.

Find out more here.

Metz 20L Stowaway


Cabin Max’s Metz range has been going strong for over 15 years now, offering lightweight simplicity and space for a low price – and this 20L Stowaway version is no different. Key to the Metz’s appeal is the large clamshell opening which allows you to pack it like a suitcase. Side compression straps let you slim the bag down for airline luggage sizers, and there’s also a useful front organiser pocket and padded top carry handle too. With so many reasons to recommend it, we wouldn’t be surprised if we were still singing the Metz’s praises in another 15 years too!

Find out more here.

Memphis 20L

Crafted for the modern traveler, this 20L backpack prioritizes both efficiency and organization. Its meticulously designed dimensions (40x20x25cm) comply with Ryanair's strictest under-seat luggage regulations, eliminating potential baggage fees and streamlining your airport experience.

Multiple carrying options, including comfortable backpack straps, sturdy top handle, and a rear pass-through sleeve for attaching to rolling luggage, offer optimal travel flexibility. Maximize packing efficiency with the built-in compression system, while the dedicated compartments for laptop, tech, water bottle, and essentials, along with a discreet rear pocket, ensure meticulous organization.

Constructed from durable, showerproof RPET 600D weave polyester, this backpack is crafted with both sustainability and resilience in mind. The adjustable chest strap and sunglasses loop further enhance comfort on the go, ensuring you arrive at your destination refreshed and prepared.

Embark on your next adventure with newfound confidence, knowing this compact and functional companion minimizes hassle and maximizes travel satisfaction.

Narvik 20L Rolling Case

The Narvik 2.0 is your secret weapon for Ryanair's under-seat policy. This deceptively spacious 20L wheeled cabin case (40x20x25cm) packs big, thanks to clever features like internal compression and 3D pockets. Its lightweight 1.6kg design glides effortlessly through airports, while hidden organization compartments keep you effortlessly prepared. Padded tech pockets, water bottle holder, and even a secret stash pocket - the Narvik 2.0 thinks of everything.

What about Priority Boarding?

Though it can be expensive, the ‘Priority Boarding and 2 Cabin Bags‘ bundle may be worth it for some travellers and it is certainly a better option than paying Ryanair’s extortionate hold bag fees.

The combination of 2 cabin bags allows passengers a potential 64L of packing space, which is more than enough for most long trips - and we would recommend that if you are paying this extra fee, you should try and get the greatest value from it by taking 2 bags.

Aside from the additional packing space, there are other reasons to choose this option too. For example, this is the option you should choose if you are travelling with a lithium ion powered laptop or tablet that wouldn’t fit within the dimensions of the 40x25x20cm free small bag as lithium ion batteries are not permitted to be carried in the aircraft hold on Ryanair flights.

It goes without saying that this option will gives the largest luggage allowance without having to check a bag in to the aircraft hold. Travellers who wish to keep their luggage with them on the flight, avoid check in queues or waiting for their case to appear on the baggage carousel may find this valuable.

If you are looking to make the most of the ‘Priority Boarding and 2 Cabin Bags‘ bundle, we’d recommend teaming your 40x25x20cm bag with one of these cases:

Anode 40L Cabin Suitcase

The 40L Anode is a great choice for Ryanair’s Priority Boarding allowance. Measuring in at 55x40x20cm and featuring a spacious interior, the Anode 40L lets you charge your mobile devices on the go thanks to its USB port and internal power bank pocket. It also features a combination lock and super strong wheels and handles, making it a great choice for seasoned or novice travellers.

Note: Video above uses the 35L Anode model.

Find out more here.

Metz 44L Cabin Backpack

The original version of the Metz Backpack offers a huge amount of space at a very low price and is still one of Europe’s best selling backpacks. Amazingly, this 44L version weighs in at an incredibly lightweight 0.7kg, meaning you can pack to your heart’s content. Available in a myriad of colours, patterns and even variants made from Recycled plastic bottles, the Metz 44L is possibly all the cabin bag you will ever need.

Find out more here.

Velocity Expandable Cabin Suitcase

We love the Velocity case because it is such a fantastic all-rounder. Though it can expand by 25%, we recommend using the Velocity in it’s unexpanded form to comply with Ryanair’s Priority Boarding rules. Made from hardwearing ABS and available in a range of subtle or eye-catching colours, the Velocity’s large interior features a zipped divider and netted pockets so you can organise your packing effectively. It’s a great choice for Ryanair’s Priority Boarding allowance.

Find out more here.

Travel Hack Pro Cabin Case

Travellers love the Travel Hack Cabin Case because it’s spacious, stylish and features a unique hand bag storage compartment. Amazingly, some airlines (we’re looking at you, easyJet) will count even the smallest hand bag as ‘luggage’ and then try to charge you for bringing one on board in addition to your usual carry on! The Travel Hack’s dedicated hand bag compartment lets you store it away and avoid those extra charges. This case is also the ideal size for Ryanair’s Priority Boarding allowance and features niceties such as a MacBook compartment, water bottle holder and Rose Gold detailing. What’s not to love?

Find out more here.

So there you go…

Hopefully we’ve given you a few ideas on how you can keep your money in your pocket when travelling on Ryanair. Show us how you get on swerving their hand luggage fees by tagging us on Instagram during your next trip. Happy travels!

January 25, 2022 — Martin Barwise