Checkable Bag Luggage Issues
Comments from Travel Insider Readers
There was a time when bags
like this were state of the art.
But these days there are
massively better types of wheeled bags available; our reader
comments below help you better understand what is good and
what is not.
Part 3 of a 3 part introduction to
buying checked luggage - click for Parts
Should you get an expensive
bag or a cheap one? Is a new 'spinner' type bag a good
Read more of the comments and
suggestions from Travel Insider readers based on their own
This is the second page of two
pages with reader feedback, the first page about
with luggage is here.
In addition to Briggs and
Riley and Costco, other brands have been mentioned favorably by
For example, Lan likes
the Rick Steves bags and also points out the fallacy of buying
I've worn out more
briefcases and travel bags than I can remember (back in my 100k+
"Bargains" don't work as wheels fall off and zippers fail
at the most painful times (a wheel failed in the middle of one
'run' thru the stupid miles at O'Hare necessitating carrying a
bag heavily loaded with expectations of wheeling it.)
too heavy, much as I like the look and feel. Strong gauge
'ballistic' denier holds up, weighs less and costs less than
leather for both briefcases and bags.
The best carry-on bags I now
own are two from Rick Steves. My wife and I dragged (DRAGGED)
these well-wheeled bags through two European trips (we took
buses and trains not limo's on the 13 day and 21 day jaunts) and
the bags still look new. We now use both RS bag as combination
briefcase/bags with computer, supplies and clothes on business
trips and cant' seem to ding them. I've asked to be buried in it
in case the 'hereafter' requires travel with packing.
Thad also likes better
quality luggage, and points out that sometimes you can avoid
paying full price. That is certainly the case online at,
eg, eBags, and he points out some other 'bricks and mortar'
possible sources :
Just a quick note on the carry on baggage issue. I don’t go
for the cheap bags anymore as I do over 100k a year of
flying. I find that getting a better quality bag at a
discount place like TJ Max, Ross, or Marshalls lets you find
better quality and name brand bags for a lot less than
retail. They have performed better for me.
Carol points out another
discount source for some luggage
Ten years ago I bought a Samsonite Aeroliner roll-aboard for
about $40 [list was $150+] on Ubid.com.
But suggesting that not all
expensive bags are automatically better than cheap ones is this
note from Maureen
I received a new Hartman
small size suitcase as a gift. I checked it and they (the
airline baggage handlers) immediately got it absolutely filthy. They haven’t broken
it yet, but I know they will.
My thesis is buy cheap light
bags and throw them away when they die. It seems the cheapest
long term solution. Now, I wish they would make some really
light bags so that 7-10 pounds doesn’t go into the weight of the
suitcase. I know that a duffel does that, but they are not
particularly convenient if you keep changing hotels.
Jenny gives a very important
me, weight is going to be the key factor. A three
pound difference could make a big difference.
am considering buying a new bag, I bring my luggage scale to
the store and weigh the bag in question. The weight is
invariably different that that quoted in the luggage product
And, talking about tips,
Wheeled luggage needs to be
able to stand vertically without tipping over.
All luggage should have
secure inside and outside ID compartments for a business
card or equivalent. It should be covered.
Aron has a helpful
suggestion for securing luggage zippers
I take along
a handful of small plastic wire ties (any hardware store, Home
Depot, or Lowes has them) and use them as locks on my luggage.
TSA can open the bags easily if they need to, but the bags won't
unzip accidentally and the ties may serve as a bit of a
deterrent to would-be thieves. A nail clipper gets me into the
bags easily at our destination.
I prefer to check my luggage
on weekly or longer trips because it's easier to pack toiletries
without having to worry about the TSA restrictions on liquids.
and agrees about the weight
I'm finding it difficult to
get lightweight luggage. Every bag seems to be so heavy when
empty, so to pack and keep it under 50 lbs. becomes more and
more of a challenge.
I've had the experience at the airport
where I had to buy a carry on so I could take some things out of
my checked bag to avoid paying a $50 excess weight fee.
Alan takes a do-it-yourself
approach to luggage repairs
I travel with a 4 wheel
spinner upright by American Tourister – not the absolute
largest, but one size down and I have had it for 4 years and
each year hitting 120,000 – 175,000 miles.
The advantage to the
four wheel spinner is amazing. It has definitely made my life
easier on the road. Only one problem after all that time and
mileage. Two wheels started to get loose, but I unzipped the
liner, took a wrench and tightened up – ready for another half
An increasingly prevalent
choice is what is referred to as a 'spinner' - a suitcase with
four wheels on the base, each of which freely turns in all
This means you can roll the
bag by its handle without having to tilt it and perceive some
weight on the handle, but it is not a perfect solution - you
stress the handle considerably, and the usually small wheels
don't work as well for going over bumps or when you're on carpet
rather than a hard surface.
But the ability to maneuver
the bag through tighter spaces can be an advantage. For
example, Marjorie writes
All four wheels must work independently so that the suitcase
can move "turn on a dime" in any direction at any time.
It is immensely handy with large suitcases (especially if
the traveler is under 5'6" or so) because one almost never
needs to pull it with the handle. One simply pushes
the entire suitcase, maneuvering it around obstacles at
Kent points out the upsides
and downsides to a spinner type bag
Last year, I went from a
Samsonite pullman case, with wheels and a built-in pull strap,
to an American Tourister spinning roll aboard. The pullman case
was about 15 years old.
Unlike my wife, who has
softsided luggage, I went with hardsided. Her softsided luggage
takes a beating, and the material gets worn and stained. While hardsided gets scuffed, it doesn't attract dirt the way woven
material does. She bought her small roll aboard in 2004 and
replaced it last year. I'm planning to get 15 years out of mine.
The spinning feature is a
godsend. While pulling the pullman case was easier, it was a
pain to weave through crowds. The spinner is so easy. In a
crowd, I just lower the extension handle and walk with the case
at my side, holding on to one of the grab handles.
The problem is that on a
slanted surface, the spinner bag rolls away.
If I'm loading the trunk of my
car in the driveway, I have to set the case in the grass, or it
rolls into the street.
Rebecca is a convert to a
minimalist approach to luggage
I previously used high
quality, name-brand, expensive wheeled suitcases for checked
baggage, but I've converted to a large rolling duffle.
It is lightweight and holds
as much as two regular suitcases, so I avoid excess weight and
2nd bag fees. It's amazing, how much I can stuff in there.
I'm sure the $600 Tumi is
lovely, but I've been all over the world with my Tosca which was
less than $100. Seven years of rough handling, with at least 12
trips per year, and not even a snag in the fabric. The wheels,
zippers and velcro are all still in excellent condition.
Mine is black, which is
unfortunate... I much prefer a bag that is colored or patterned
so it's easier to spot. So, I've added a colorful luggage tag
and a ribbon firmly tied to one of the handles. Low-tech, no
glamour, but very effective. As an added bonus, nobody seems
interested in stealing it.
Barry has a suggestion for
managing luggage while on an extended tour
Last year my wife and I did
a month in Europe. Fourteen days on a river cruse France, Switzerland,
Germany, ending in Austria.
So as to travel as light as
possible, I shipped by FedEx, one LARGE suitcase to a hotel we'd
planned on staying at after our cruse, with instructions on the
outside of the bag, "Hold for arriving guest (last-name) and
date of arrival." Upon arrival I promptly emptied the bag and
refilled it with our soiled clothing, and requested a FedEx pick-up
the following day. Leaving the bag with the hotel desk, it was
picked up and returned to the US, arriving 3 days after we
The cost was somewhat steep,
but having to tote this bag would have been much worse.
Talking about cruising, Pat writes
Having just returned from a
10 day cruise for which we used new luggage the one comment I
would make is that the new spinner type wheels that will go in any direction
are worth their weight in gold.
Due to “weather” we arrived in
Miami at 3:12 needing to be on board ship by 4:15 for a 5
o’clock departure. We made it to the dock and started the check
in process only to have the driver run up to us and say you are
going to have to take your bags onboard yourself. If they hadn’t
had the new fangled wheels they might have killed us dead
especially since everyone else was in the passageways etc going
to the life boat drill!
Also go for the absolute lightest weight
bags that still have shape to them since the new weight
restrictions can cost you dearly if you have to pay for overage
($90 per bag on Delta even with credentials as a million miler).
Hugh has an interesting
approach - he has two of both his bags, so that one can always
be in the repair shop, leaving him with one still available for
have two Weekly Large Suitcases and 2 identical roller bag
briefcases. All four bags are Samsonite and the reason I
have mirrored bags is that when either of the bags I live on
the road with become damaged I drop the damaged bag at the
Samsonite Outlet store (along with $15) and use the other
bag until it breaks and then take it to the store to be
This way I am not stranded if bag breaks or is lost and
ongoing maintenance is relatively cheap. I have been on the
road more than 45 weeks a year and these four bags have
lasted me over 8 years right now.
Perhaps there's a reason why
so many people choose black bags. There is a potential
downside to getting brightly colored bags instead of generic
black ones. Carol writes
While it's great having bags that are a distinctive color,
they do pick up marks that black bags do not. Years
ago I had a Hartman carry-on (no wheels) with leather that
just looked better as it got more beat up.
Lastly, Doug has an interesting idea
which some entrepreneur might like to develop.
Which brings me to a product issue that I think needs to be
addressed. I think some one should market a light weight
inflatable pad that can be used to pack down a partially
full suitcase so that things don't get tossed around while
in the lightly loaded suitcase.
often bring home more than what we leave home with. By
packing lightly we can allow ourselves the room to bring
home that treasure purchased in far-away lands.
Many times in the past we have bought small duffels and
stuffed them with dirty laundry on the trip home so we could
have luggage space for our purchases. Not so anymore as we
will have to, depending on airline, pay for the extra bag.
a large, light, expandable bag with some sort of "balloon"
to keep things in place when lightly loaded is exactly what
I am now looking for. We have a long cruise (30 day) coming
up in September and the "one bag" rule applies to us when
travelling. I'm currently scouting the High Sierra rolling
duffel series but still looking for the good inflatable -
swim floats are a current option. Do you have any ideas?
Reader Carolyn has a couple
of suggestions for Doug
tend to save empty water bottles to fill in the corners that
are empty (either on the way home, ie when you have brought
a lot of papers for a presentation, or in advance, when you
are leaving space for new purchases). They are stiffer
than empty plastic bags (my other standby, leftovers from
the supermarket, and always handy).
Another thought, esp if you plan to send stuff home by post,
is a plastic bag full of (styrofoam) peanuts on the way
there, then use them in shipping fragile items, and you have
space for souvenirs on the return.
The first part of this two
page series of reader
comments about their luggage is here.
Read more in Parts 1 & 2
Part 1 we discuss more
to consider when choosing checked luggage, including a
discussion of cost, size and capacity.
Part 2 we detail many other
factors to consider when choosing carry-on luggage, including
weight, wheels, and overall construction.
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20 Mar 2009, last update
30 May 2021
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