Avoid paying for priority boarding on Ryanair & Wizz Air

If you've recently flown with Rynair or Wizz Air, you’ll be aware that the airlines no longer allow passengers to bring a standard cabin bag onboard, unless you pay for priority boarding or check in your bag. 

Our response was to design the Flight MATE – a bag small enough to comply with the airlines’ ‘small personal bag’ dimensions that is allowed onboard, yet intelligent enough to pack everything you’d need for a short trip – saving you the priority boarding fee.

Penny Go Lightly, a blogger covering how to live well for less, has given it a trial run. Here is what she had to say about the bag.

GATE8 Flight MATE multi-purpose tote cabin bag review

Small personal bag Ryanair Wizz Air

It seems as though the budget airlines are obsessed with finding new things to charge us for and their requirements change so often it sometimes makes my head spin. As part of this you have to keep up with their new announcements for luggage weights and bag sizes, as there can be fines for taking the wrong luggage that could potentially cost more than your flight itself. For example, did you know that Ryanair and Wizz Air no longer allow you to bring a cabin bag aboard free of charge, adding an additional layer of costs when you’re travelling hand-luggage-only? Outrageous!

For a short city break or business trip I prefer to travel as light as possible, saving time, hassle and cash by taking only hand luggage with me and thereby avoiding baggage check-ins, which is why I was very keen to try out the GATE8 cabin-approved Flight MATE, a multi-purpose tote that’s designed to be ‘small personal bag’ sized (i.e. you can bring it onboard without incurring a cabin bag fee). The company work with all the well known airlines in the UK to provide luggage to their staff and customers that’s up to date with the latest size requirements.

The Flight MATE is 40cm wide, 25cm tall and 20cm deep, and weighs 1.1kg. It’s robust, and also smart enough for a business trip. What I liked about it most was the attention to detail and the ergonomic design: there are plenty of pockets and pouches, making it easy to find everything you need and keep things organised, and I liked the little studs / legs underneath that protect the underside of the bag.

Some of my favourite features include:

  • Detachable and adjustable shoulder strap with a wide padded area for comfort.
  • Double hand straps with a padded fold-over Velcro area.
  • A padded laptop pouch that can take up to a 14″ laptop, plus storage nets for chargers, cables and other gadgets.
  • A decent-sized waterproof swim / gym pocket at the back of the main compartment (also ideal for use as a small laundry bag, or for a safe place to put your toiletries).
  • Cleverly designed, sturdy zips on the main compartment that have double rings you could slip a small padlock through, for extra security once you’re off the plane.
  • A front pouch that’s great for keeping your documents, papers, phone and other priority items in, with multiple zips, pockets and elasticated areas, and even a sewn in security clip / keyring so you’re less likely to mislay your essentials.

There’s also a pouch for a small water bottle, although of course you won’t be able to take water on most flights (it’s more for when you arrive at your destination), and a strong Velcro ‘quickloop’ on the back which allows you to hook it securely over the extended handle of a wheeled trolley bag in two seconds flat.

The fabric is sturdy ballistic nylon which is strong and hard wearing, and I also found it sponged clean very easily so it’s a hard-working and low-maintenance product that hopefully should last for a long time.

The latest version of the GATE8 Flight MATE has an RRP of £85, and is available direct from the manufacturer. It’s a nice, practical unisex bag and I think it’d be especially good if you travel for work.

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You can find Penny at www.pennygolightly.com, Twitter, Facebook or Instagram