Wizz Air passengers will now have to pay up to £22 extra if they want to take larger hand luggage bags into the cabin.

Under new rules, introduced yesterday, passengers will only be allowed to take a small bag into the cabin, which must fit under the seat in front of them, unless they pay extra to put a larger bag in the overhead locker.

The budget airline says the changes will ensure a smoother and faster boarding process, and are similar to hand luggage rules introduced by Ryanair in January.

For full help on cutting the cost of flying and mastering airlines' fees, see our Budget Flight Fee-Fighting guide.

What are the new rules?

Previously all passengers were allowed to take one piece of hand luggage, which weighed up to 10kg and was less than 55x40x23cm, into the cabin. Passengers who had paid for Wizz Priority were also able to take a second bag of up to 40x30x18cm into the cabin.

Now only those who pay for Wizz Priority boarding, which costs between €5 to €12 (£4 to £10) if bought online or €25 (£22) if bought at the airport, will be able to take larger hand luggage bags on board. Here are how the new rules work:

  • Passengers who haven't paid for Wizz Priority – are allowed one piece of hand luggage. If this is smaller than 40x30x18cm it can go under the seat in front of you, if it's larger than this (up to 55x40x23cm) it will be put in the hold free of charge.
  • Passengers who have paid for Wizz Priority – are allowed both a small piece of hand luggage, up to 40x30x18cm, and a larger piece, up to 55x40x23cm, in the cabin.

Wizz Air says that the exact amount you're charged for priority boarding depends on a number of factors including demand for a particular flight and the amount of luggage due to be brought by customers.

What if I've already booked my flights - do the rules apply to me?

The airline says that the changes will apply "immediately" to all flights booked to leave from UK airports - regardless of when you booked your tickets.

If you're unhappy about this change you can complain to Wizz Air.

Wizz Air told us that customers with flights departing over the next 10 days have been told about the change by email, along with notifications when passengers check in online.

What does Wizz Air say?

A Wizz Air spokesperson said: "Every basic fare ticket includes free hand luggage, however due to the limited space onboard not all passengers' hand luggage can fit in the cabin. With immediate effect, only passengers with Wizz Priority will be able to bring their hand luggage in the cabin.

"The hand luggage of passengers who have not purchased Wizz Priority will be placed into the cargo hold compartment of the aircraft free of charge and can be collected at the baggage belt at the arrival airport.

"The aim of this measure is to minimize hand luggage related delays and increase customer satisfaction."