New Qantas baggage allowance: only one bag checked free, you pay for the rest

By David Flynn, June 1 2011
New Qantas baggage allowance: only one bag checked free, you pay for the rest

Tough new baggage allowances come into play today for Qantas, with most passengers on domestic flights limited to one checked bag – even if they're a member of the Qantas Club or hold Qantas Frequent Flyer Silver or Gold status.

Qantas is also introducing new baggage limits and excess fees for international flights: click here for all the details.

Passengers will be charged between $15 and $60 for extra bags, depending on how many bags you check and if you pay in advance online or at the airport. Qantas has also introduced an additional $20 ‘heavy charge’ for bags beyond the ticket allowance which weigh more than 23kg.

Qantas previously permitted passengers to check any number of bags on domestic flights provided their combined weight fell under a ceiling of 23kg to 45kg (depending on your class of travel and Qantas Frequent Flyer status level).

But as of today all travellers are limited by the number of bags they can check in, in addition to a per-bag weight limit.

Qantas' key competitor, Virgin Australia, is not imposing a limit to the number of bags passengers can travel with -- bad news for Qantas, which must have hoped Virgin would fall in line by the 1st June deadline.

Instead, Virgin is going out of its way to demonstrate that it can provide better service, with more generous baggage allowances than Qantas, yet with cheaper fares.

Qantas says the changes are due to the new do-it-yourself baggage drop system rolled out as part of its Next-Generation Check-in System, which launched in Sydney Airport late last year and will be in place in all capital city airports (barring Hobart and Darwin) by the middle of the year.

Australian Business Traveller has pored over the details and cut through the charts to break down how Qantas’ new domestic baggage allowances affect every traveller.

(If you're wondering about how the new checked baggage rules affect international flights, high-status frequent flyers will be pleasantly surprised – click here for the details.)

Domestic economy (non-Frequent Flyers, Bronze Frequent Flyer status)
The new limit is one piece of checked luggage weighing a maximum of 23kg (prior to June 1st, you were permitted any number of bags totalling the same 23kg).

Domestic economy (Qantas Club members, or Silver or Gold Frequent Flyer status)
You can check one piece of luggage weighing a maximum of 32kg (whereas until June 1st you could check any number of bags totalling 33kg).

Domestic economy (Platinum Frequent Flyer status)
Two pieces of checked luggage weighing up to 32kg each (until June 1st you were allowed any number of bags totalling 38kg). This is a win for top-tier travellers provided they check only two bags, as those can now total to 64kg if each is evenly packed to the brim; but if you check many additional yet relatively lightweight items such as individual boxes, get ready to pay extra for going over the two-bag limit.

Domestic business (including Qantas Club members)
One piece of checked luggage weighing a maximum of 32kg (until June 1st you were allowed any number of bags totalling 30kg, or 40kg if you belonged to The Qantas Club). Yeah, Qantas Club members get screwed on this one.

Domestic business (Silver, Gold or Platinum Frequent Flyer status)
Two pieces of checked luggage weighing up to 32kg each (until June 1st you could check any number of bags totalling 40kg if you were a Silver or Gold Frequent Flyer, or 45kg if you were a Platinum Frequent Flyer). The change is good for high-status flyers who can check just two heavy bags but it's a step backwards if you're already hitting the current 40-45kg ceiling, as can be the case with boxes of product samples.

Domestic excess luggage charges: by bag
You now have to pay to check extra bags above your one-bag or two-bag allowance listed above, and there’s a strict two-bag limit (on top of your standard ticket allowance). The cost is $15 for the first bag and $30 for the second if you pre-pay online (using the Manage My Booking page on, or $30 for the first bag and $60 for the second if you pay at the airport.

Domestic excess luggage charges: by weight
While your ticketed checked luggage allowance ranges from 23kg to 45kg per piece, the maximum of two additional checked bags (for an extra fee) are limited to 23kg each. What if you go over the limit?

Under the current system passengers pay a flat rate of $10/kg for each kilogram the baggage exceeds their ticketed weight

For example, someone travelling in economy with only Bronze frequent flyer status (or no frequent flyer membership at all) is entitled to 23kg under both the old and new schemes.

Should our infrequent flyer turn up to the airport with a 30kg bag there'd be a $70 surcharge (at $10/kg for the extra 7kg over the 23kg limit). From June 1st this bag will attract a new and significanctly smaller $20 'heavy charge' levied on all extra bags over 23kg (through to a maximum of 32kg).

This charge is waived if you’re travelling in business class, are a member of The Qantas Club or hold Silver, Gold or Platinum Frequent Flyer status.

How do you feel about these changes – will you be better off or worse off? Have your say in the comments box below.


David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

25 May 2011

Total posts 2

I was caught by the varying policies of airlines. We left Australia on Qantas with three checked bags between the two of us - no problem there. Returning on a code-shared flight on a BA plane we were confronted with their one-bag-per-person rule, and had no choice by to cough up $300! It would have been nice to be warned at check-in in Australia, but I guess it was somewhere in the fine print.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Frequent Flyer

28 May 2011

Total posts 81

Compared to Virgin Australia's 69kg limit for business and premium guests!

Virgin Blue - Velocity Rewards

12 May 2011

Total posts 66

Not a good move for Qantas, compared to Virgin with any number of bags and 69kg, customers lost there.

10 Mar 2011

Total posts 531

Do people really carry 69kgs of luggage?? Wow! I barely make 15kgs on any trip I make!

24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2543

I certainly never would, but I used to work in TV and there are a lot of crews who would need such a generous allowance for their gear - that's just one example of course, but I wonder if part of the idea behind this is that DJ did some sums and thought 'Yeah, we can be a bit over-the-top with checked luggage' just to win the Battle of Big Numbers and at the same time attract some very frequent flyers from a few specific markets where such a high ceiling has appeal...

06 Jun 2011

Total posts 1

I think qantas should also start to limit the number of carry on bags people take, the amount of people who have a large laptop bag and a trolley bag is getting infuriating now. Sometimes you cannot get your own laptop bag in the overhead locker due to the number of bags. And this may be sexist but women are the worst offenders.

It saddens me to see such a great airline like Qantas doing down faster than the Titanic after it hit an iceberg and Im seriously considering giving Virgin a try. Why are we being forced to coninually pay more to recieve less ? What's happening to what was once a full service airline. I hate being forced to check my own bags in and I hate the new baggage policy. At Christmas time I fly home to Melbourne and always take a spare bag to bring my presents back in. Generally the weight of the two bags is within my 32KG allowance anyway, but because its not all packed in a single bag Qantas want to rip me off for extra cash as if I haven't already paid enough with my standard airfare. Someone needs to tell Allan Joyce  that Qantas is a different business to Jet Star because I think he's forgotton. What's next Qantas for our own food and go and get it from the galley yourself.

Domestic is one thing but internationally it gets into the rediculous... Came over to Aus from Europe 3 months ago paying 50 euros for an extra bag (flying BA). Now, upon my return to Europe Qantas charges no less than 875 AUD per 25kg additional luggage.

Cheap in, expensive out... leave gear or cough up the big $... I feel extorted.

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