weigh hand luggage scales
Virgin Australia has resumed weighing passengers’ carry-on luggage.

Virgin Australia has resumed actively weighing hand luggage to ensure passengers aren’t flouting the 7kg carry-on limit.

Virgin is now randomly checking carry-on bags at boarding gates at some airports, including Melbourne and Sydney, as well as when passengers check in. Business class passengers and Velocity Platinum & Gold members are not immune, as these checks are also taking place at the priority check-in counters and the priority boarding line.

The new procedure appears to have caught some passengers by surprise, with AFF member Astro posting on the Australian Frequent Flyer forum:

[Priority boarding] was working as normal yesterday MEL-SYD. However I did notice they were checking bag weights – even for priority pax. It was a lunchtime flight which I don’t normally catch.
There was some very funny DYKWIA moments. One person had two bags and a large handbag. What did they expect?
Astro, 17 March 2021

According to Astro, more stringent bag checks were recently introduced after somebody on a Virgin flight apparently received a broken nose from an overweight carry-on bag.

I asked around if it was the new normal and the word is a business class customer caused someone to have their nose broken on a flight as they had a 15kg bag in the overhead locker. I didn’t find out if it was staff or another customer.
Astro, 19 March 2021

Although some low-cost airlines use baggage checks as an ancillary revenue opportunity, there are some genuine issues with passengers bringing on carry-on luggage in excess of the allowance. Qantas implemented a similar hand luaggage crackdown in 2018, citing the workplace health & safety of their cabin crew. And as overhead locker space is limited, there simply isn’t enough room for everyone’s bags when passengers blatantly flout the limits.

“Carry-on baggage limits exist due to the limited space in the aircraft cabin, as well as the importance we place on the comfort and safety of our guests and crew,” Virgin Australia’s website says.

This is also not the first time Virgin Australia has cracked down on passengers flouting hand luggage rules.

“Because of the importance we place on the comfort and safety, we regularly weigh carry-on bags at various points of the customer journey, including at the check-in desk and at our boarding gates,” a Virgin Australia spokesman said.

“We encourage customers to make use of their checked-baggage allowance if their carry-on baggage exceeds the 7kg limit,” the spokesman added.

Virgin Australia Economy class passengers are permitted to bring on board one standard carry-on bag or two small items, with a combined weight of no more than 7kg, plus one personal item such as a laptop computer, small handbag, umbrella or reading material. Business class, Velocity Gold and Velocity Platinum passengers may bring up to two small pieces, or one small piece and a suit bag, each weighing no more than 7kg. No single item may weigh more than 7kg.

In cases were a customer’s carry-on bag is found to exceed the 7kg limit, it will need to be checked in. If the customer has not yet used their full checked baggage allowance, there is no charge for this. However, an excess baggage fee may apply to passengers who have already used their full checked luggage allowance.

Virgin Australia currently gives all passengers a complimentary 23kg baggage allowance, and there are higher limits for Business class passengers and anyone with Velocity status.

Like many other airlines, Virgin stopped actively checking passengers’ hand luggage during the pandemic while skeleton staff were available and few people were flying anyway. But with flights now getting more full – and expected to get even more full over the Easter holidays – airlines are now directing more resources to this issue.

Jetstar also continues to routinely weigh passengers’ hand luggage, both at check-in and at the boarding gate. Jetstar passengers with carry-on bags exceeding the 7kg limit (or whatever higher limit may apply with a bundle or extra carry-on purchase) may be required to check in their luggage for an additional fee.

At Jetstar, there is a $45 fee to check in a bag weighing up to 15kg at the airport check-in counter. Alternatively, Jetstar passengers may purchase 7kg of extra carry-on luggage at the check-in counter for $50, or pay $65 at the gate.

Rex has also recently been weighing passengers’ carry-on luggage at its airport check-in counters.

Join the discussion on the Australian Frequent Flyer forum: Virgin priority boarding fail

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Matt Graham
The editor of Australian Frequent Flyer, Matt's passion for travel has taken him to over 60 countries… with the help of frequent flyer points, of course!
Matt's favourite destinations (so far) are Germany, Brazil, New Zealand & Kazakhstan. His interests include economics, aviation & foreign languages, and he has a soft spot for good food and red wine.

You can contact Matt at [email protected]