Gatwick Airport Still Using One Bag Rule

I can’t remember when they brought in the One Bag Rule in UK airports, but it was in response to some terrorist incident. It is always difficult to work out the rational that airport security uses these days, but I think this is to make the security lines move faster.

The first time we had to deal with this was last summer, flying through Gatwick to Geneva. At that time, if you were connecting in any UK airport, you were allowed only one carryon bag. If you flew to the UK and did not connect to another flight, you could have the normal two bags, but could only have one bag when returning via the UK airport.

I am a disorganized mess when I fly. Anyone looking at me would assume it was my first international flight because I obviously don’t know what I am doing. I get on the plane with computer equipment, piles of books and magazine, iPods, DVDs, a knitting project (heaven forbid that I be bored for one minute!), extra sweaters (what if I get cold?), a change of clothes (our luggage gets delayed one time in three when flying to Europe), a packed lunch in case they forget our vegetarian meals, and usually a work project that I am convinced I will do on the flight (I never do). Since December 2006, when those planes were kept on the runways for 8 – 10 hours and passangers had no food or water, I also carry a big bottle of water (purchased in the airport) and enough Granola bars to feed a large family.

Last summer I was prepared for the one bag rule, but it was pretty chaotic in the early morning at Gatwick, totally daze and jetlagged, trying to put everything into the one bag. Turns out you can have food items in a separate bag!

Coming home on that trip I had my wheeled carryon that fit within the required guidelines, but I had stuffed it full. They pulled me out of the security line and made me prove it would fit in that metal box thing that measures the bag. I thought “no problem – of course it will fit”, but it didn’t. They told me to take stuff out. What is the point of that I thought, but I took out a sweater and some of the magazines, then crammed that case into the metal holder, wrenching my back in the process, and it fit. And they let me go.

We fly out of Gatwick on Tuesday. Most other airports in the UK have removed the One Bag Rule, but not Gatwick.

From Gatwick Hand Baggage – One Bag Rule:
Hand baggage – one bag rule
Currently each passenger may take only ONE item of hand baggage through security control.
Cabin baggage must be no larger than:
56cm (22in) tall – 45cm (17.7in) wide – 25cm (10in) deep

Passengers arriving into Gatwick and connecting through Gatwick may travel with more than one piece of hand luggage (subject to the airline’s permission).

My suitcase fits in these requirements and this time I will be sure to not stuff it. (Briggs & Riley Transcend 20″ Carry-On, Size including wheels: 21″ x 14″ x 8.5″, Linear inches: 42.5″.) And I will measure it. Luckily I brought three tape measures with me on this trip (why? I have no idea, they all ended up in my knitting bag).

But I look around the cottage at all our stuff and wonder how I am going to get it back into the suitcases. I have not bought much here – just a few books, a bottle of Italian olive oil that Valerie and Bryan brought for us, a few maps. It should all fit.

Packing is the part of travel that I hate.

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Pauline Kenny

Pauline Kenny and Steve Cohen are US expats living in Dorset. We moved to the UK in 2010. Read about our move. If you would like to talk about travel, please join us on the Slow Europe Travel Forums.

7 thoughts on “Gatwick Airport Still Using One Bag Rule”

  1. Pauline and Steve, the time has gone so fast! I love this post as it made me laugh–particularly the description of what you take on the plane and knowing from whence you come. Of course, I always exercise self-discipline and never over do the carry-on stuff–except for electronics (computers, cameras, phones, GPS, IPOD DVD player, earphones–surely I have forgotten something), books, emergency clothes, medicines and child. At least you don’t have child to worry about!

    Have fun packing. Remember–whatever you leave behind, you can buy here.

  2. You are my idol when it comes to packing. I pack very similar. I try so hard to take less but never succeed. I don’t trust the airlines either after never seeing one of my bags with some of my favorite clothes inside when heading home from Rome one year and having a bag delayed two weeks another time.

    I carry on all my favorite clothes, food, water I now pay a ridiculous price for in the airport, an ipod, a camera, other electronic toys, batteries, etc. etc. Everyone just shakes their heads when they see all the stuff I carry on. I would never pass the one bag rule. Good thing I go to Italy instead of England.

    Good luck on the way home. Hope your bag passes the test.

    🙂 girasoli

  3. I wish I brought more knitting stuff with me! This has been a very successful knitting trip. I taught myself how to knit mittens – did the flat method with a seam, made two sets in the round one with thumb gussett, one without and decided that the best way to knit them is in the round with a thumb gussett. Then I found out that Jonathan’s wife Philippa is a master knitter and she inspired me to try a sock. I did one test sock and loved it! I now have some special Kaffe Fassett wool where you make the socks in the round and the wool is dyed so you get lovely striped socks! But right now I am making a crochet scarf with some lovely soft wool I brought and some silk Philippa gave me to try.

    Put in your requests for mittens now – I can make you some for next winter!!

    I am back to being passionate about knitting (I gave up knitting when SlowTrav took over all my time).

    Even with all the stuff I brought, after two months I am so sick of the clothes I have been wearing.

  4. Hi! Traveling with a friend once,to Winnipeg, he looked at all “Might-Need-Things” and said, “Of course, we’re going to the Jungle.” Rules are very strict since 9/11. Can’t carry anything liquid (even eye-drops), or sharp (even file-nail). It just get thrown away. Wish I was still a girl-guide with an extra shirt-jeans-underwear rolled in a sleeping bag!

  5. My mind was turning, turning with ideas for mittens to order when suddenly I realized it is not mittens I need, but socks. They simply do not recognize the importance of real wool in this country. I am afraid to walk in the few pairs I have brought with me, because not even the sports equipment people sell real wool socks.

    I have very small feet…

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