Before you buy a carry on bag or backpack, read this. Yesterday I was ready to buy the immensely popular Farpoint 40 L Backpack for my son. It’s a great bag, good quality and has everything you could ask for but, just as I reached for my credit card, the shop assistant mentioned that although the Farpoint ( or Fairview for women) is the maximum carry on size for European carriers, it’s just that little bit too big for Air Asia’s size regulations. Did we buy it? Yes. Have we had any issues with it on any Air Asia or Air Malaysia flights? No. Read more below.
Those dimensions seemed to be a deal-breaker. Maybe we’d get away with it, maybe we wouldn’t, but there was absolutely no point in buying a $100+ bag that may end up having to go under the plane, while relieving me of the hefty extra luggage charge. To me it makes far more sense to buy a bigger, more useful, bag, if it’s destined for the hold anyway, or buy one that Air Asia can’t question.
This bag was for my son and he doesn’t carry a whole bunch of gear, but he does have a laptop a Nerf Gun and a bunch of Pokemon cards, so we need a laptop pocket at very least, multiple internal pockets ideally. I set out to find the perfect Air Asia sized carry on bag and relegated the Farpoint to “possibly”.
We generally don’t travel carry-on only very often but if you’d like to read more on this style of travel and what to pack, click through. Alternatively, you can visit our travel gear page to see what’s essential and what’s not, tested through many years of travel.
We do our very best to keep all information up to date, but things change, check and double-check all weights, dimensions, prices and regulations for yourself.
Air Asia’s Bag Size Regulations
“Each guest is allowed one piece of cabin baggage AND 1 laptop bag OR 1 handbag on-board. The main cabin baggage shall not exceed 56cm x 36cm x 23cm and does not weigh more than 7kg. This baggage should also be able to fit under the seat in front of you or the overhead compartment” Source Air Asia, More Information Here
Please double-check the above as their size regulations may change from time of writing.
So Air Asia was one of the few airlines that still allows 2 items of luggage, most of the airlines that we regularly use in Europe only allow one. That’s no help to us, we need to have the same bag, on every flight, so we just have to find one at 56cm x 36cm x 23cm, or, one that when compressed and not stuffed full, meets those dimensions. Compression straps are going to matter. If you plan on carrying a separate hand bag, purse, or other “personal” bag, check out our selection of anti-theft bags, they have some fantastic features for regular travellers including RFID blocking for passport and cards, anti slash bodies and anti-cut straps. We now also have a full post on day packs. Making your day pack your carry on makes sense.
It’s worth noting that Air Malaysia has the same 56 x 36 x 23 cm, 7Kg, cabin baggage allowance as AirAsia.
Bags With Wheels and Handles
On this occasion we were looking for a good-sized backpack, but bags with wheels are also a possibility for Air Asia Carry on.
Under Seat Bags for Airline Cabin Use
Underseat baggage is the latest development here, with some budget airlines even starting to charge for use of luggage bins. There are advantages in keeping your baggage under the seat, everything is on hand, when you need your pen, passport or charger it’s right there. I’ve actually kept my bag under seat a few times lately and noticed that the room available varies and can be awkwardly shaped. You need a soft bag that will be a bit squashy for this. This is an example of a piece of cabin baggage designed to fit under an airline seat, it has a handle and wheels too.
A Quick Look at the Farpoint or Fairport 40 L Osprey Bag.
Is the Osprey Farpoint the Right Size for Air Asia? We tested it. We bought the Osprey Farpoint 40 for our Air Asia flight. It’s such a good bag that we decided it was worth a shot. We bought it over a year ago and have never had anyone so much as look at it on every Air Asia or Air Malaysia flight we’ve taken so far. We have travelled between London, Thailand, Singapore, Vietnam, Malaysia and Indonesia, it’s been tested thoroughly. It has never been weighed. So we think it’s a good choice and we love the bag. Take a look at the bag here to see if it’s good for you. It was a lot cheaper on Amazon than in our local shops and the sales assistant gave us a whole heap of wrong travel information so we won’t be using that store ever again.
- Max size: 54 cm x 34 cm x 37 cm
- Weight: 1.44 Kg
- good harness with waist strap
- great quality and lifetime guarantee
- two sizes
This bag is a beautiful thing and comes with a lifetime guarantee and choice of colours. The harness is comfortable, it comes in 2 sizes ( s-m and m-l) and it has that all-important laptop pocket. For carry on only travel in Europe it’s perfect, but we’re heading to Asia, aren’t you? It’s a great bag, but 2cm too big. We HAVE, however, been using this with no problem whatsoever on Air Asia and Air Malaysia so far. It’s a fraction too big but nobody has checked its size or weight.
Osprey Porter 46 L ( Not Available in the UK at time of writing)
- Max size: 57 cm x 36 cm x 24 cm
- Weight: 1.09 Kg
- stowable harness with hip strap
- excellent compression
Lowe Alpine AT Lightflite Carry On 45L
- Max Dimensions: 36cm x 51cm x 25cm
- Weight: 762g
Cabin Max 44L
- Dimensions: 55cm x 40cm x 20cm
- Weight: 700g
- low price
Mountain Warehouse 45L Phoenix Extreme (US only currently)
We own this bag and have had it several years, although now there is a newer model. It’s not as well built as a Lowe Alpine or an Osprey Bag, but it has a good harness and is light enough for trekking. This is one of the bags we took on the Everest treks. It’s a conventional top loader backpack rather than a front opening travel pack like those above. We have always taken this bag on Air Asia and many other budget airlines and never had a problem.
- Maximum Dimensions: unknown
- Weight: unknown
- a traditional lightweight backpack suitable for trekking with a large 45L capacity.
Cabin Max Equator Backpacking Cabin Luggage
Maximum dimensions: 56cm x 36cm x 23cm (also described as 54cm) Air Asia perfect!
- Weight: 1.3 Kg
- fold away hip strap and harness
- laptop slot
- rain cover
- low price
- external compression straps
So after weighing up the options, we’re going to try the Cabin Max Equator, it’s the only bag that’s been designed specifically for Asian regulations. It’s not my bag of choice, but we’ve ordered it and we’ll check it out. That’s the beauty of Amazon, we can return it if it’s not up to scratch. Update: We returned it, the Osprey won in the end and we’re very happy with it.
Do They Weigh Bags – the 7Kg Weight Limit
We will also be needing one of these. Our best tip for beating the weighing scales, Jetstar are bad for this, they weigh at the gate, after you’ve checked in your main bag. It’s a deliberate ploy to charge you extra. If they weighed when you checked in, of course you could put more stuff in your checked baggage. Our tip is this, and we do it often. Always have a coat with lots of zip pockets. For us it’s our waterproof jackets. Stuff the pockets with phones, chargers, GoPro, even your drone. Anything heavy. Of course you should be wearing your heaviest clothes already. Wear the coat or tie it around your waist before you get to the gate or check-in counter. Just in case they decide to weigh. As I said, Air Asia have never weighed our carry ons, but that doesn’t mean it can’t happen to you.
For you, for Pinterest
Keeping the airlines happy is a real headache these days. We’ve noticed that travellers with backpacks generally get better treatment than wheely bag owners. It’s rare to see a backpack taken to the hold before boarding but we see it often with wheeled suitcases. I guess because our soft bags can be squashed they cause less of a problem in overhead lockers. We adults always fly with checked luggage on long trips, we couldn’t and wouldn’t fly carry on only as our electronics alone would take up our weight and volume allowance, but for the kids, it’s what we do and it saves us a few dollars on most flights. In my heart I wanted to buy the Lowe Alpine, it’s a brand I use and trust, but the Osprey is beautiful bag. The fact that it was potentially too big for Air Asia made me nervous. Because it’s a hugely popular bag worried that airline staff look out for them and know they can charge an extra baggage fee should they choose to. In the end, all was fine, we bought the Osprey Farpoint 40 and have used it with no issues for the last couple of years.