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Seasoned Air Travelers - Best Luggage? #5362950 02/29/20 01:02 AM
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john_pifer Offline OP
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So, some of y'all may have seen my thread on honeymoon destinations. Well, thanks to input from you guys, we decided on Costa Rica! We'll be flying down for 7 nights there (we're renting an SUV and staying at 3 different resorts, each in different regions of the country, while there). So, thanks for the suggestions in that thread!

Now we find ourselves thinking about luggage. Neither of us is experienced in air travel; most of our trips are by car, and we have some duffel bags, etc. that we usually just throw our things into. Neither of us has actual luggage.

But, with this being a bit of a longer trip, and the fact that we'll be going through 4 different airports, as well as transitioning through 3 different resorts down in Costa Rica, we're thinking that we're going to need some good luggage. And, of course, we'll be taking many more trips in the years to come.

I know from following this board for so long that many of you travel quite frequently for work and pleasure, so I thought I'd post up and see if some of you guys would mind sharing about what luggage has served you well.

I'm assuming something with a hard shell, and wheels, will be the way to go? I'm thinking we'll each take a good-sized checked bag, and a carry-on.


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Re: Seasoned Air Travelers - Best Luggage? [Re: john_pifer] #5362961 02/29/20 01:37 AM
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c502cid Offline
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2.5mm biz traveler here. So many variables. The checked bag is going to take a lot more abuse than the carry on. For many years I used Colorado made Samsonite because the warranty was so good. When they went overseas I switched to Tumi and never looked back, but even so, all luggage will wear out with use. Really put some thought to how much you are going to travel and what you are comfortable spending, then start looking at the size you'll need. I fly mostly on United and I know what will fit in the overheads, a luggage store rarely will, they just quote the airlines standards. Like i said, lots of variables. I'm sure there will be many more solid responses offering good advice...



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Re: Seasoned Air Travelers - Best Luggage? [Re: john_pifer] #5362966 02/29/20 01:44 AM
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E365 Offline
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LuggageWorks are the ones most US airline pilots use for roller bags/carry-on. The higher-end product lines (like the Stealth Series) are FAR better quality than most anything you’ll find in a department store. Plus the service department is very good and replacement parts are available for pretty much the whole bag.


https://luggageworks.com/


Whatever's on sale...
Re: Seasoned Air Travelers - Best Luggage? [Re: john_pifer] #5362969 02/29/20 02:20 AM
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ecotourist Offline
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I think you'll find that the most experienced travelers take the least luggage. When we see a traveler struggling with several large fancy bags we have to smile. Nowadays the 2 of us mostly travel with 2 carry-ons or at most 1 additional medium sized checked bag (for 2 persons).

Different airlines have different size limits, so check several that you might fly with and note all the maximum sizes. Using the strictest size for each dimension will give you a good idea of what size carry-on to get. Some airlines watch the weight of your carry-ons like hawks too, so light weight is hugely advantageous. And you'll want durable construction of course.

I don't actually care for hard sided luggage. I think modern high quality fabrics are better, but that's just my opinion. I also believe in 2 wheel rollies, rather than 4. They tend to come with larger wheels which is an advantage on rough ground.

Some experienced travelers suggest going with the convertible back pack/carry-on suitcase type. We haven't done that but it would be worth exploring.

We have Travel Pro luggage and have been quite happy with them. Not high end, but reasonably priced and good quality.


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Re: Seasoned Air Travelers - Best Luggage? [Re: john_pifer] #5362970 02/29/20 02:26 AM
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I don't have much to add, other than congrats to you both and I'll keep my jealousy at forums-length (about the trip, not the marriage... no offense).

Without knowing what you guys plan to do while on vacation, all I can say is I manage to take 5-6 day domestic vacations with nothing more than a laptop bag and occasionally a carry-on size suitcase. I can fit an amazing about of clothes in my laptop bag when packed properly, and I have no issue gate-checking my "carry-on" for free as I never need anything from it in-flight.

In fact, if I do need to bring more than my laptop bag I'll proactively approach the desk pre-boarding and ask the GA if they need volunteers to check bags, as well as ask if they need volunteers to be VDB'd due to oversell. The answer to the bag question is 99% YES! Almost as if you're doing them a favor. As far as I'm concerned, I get a free checked bag that I didn't need anyways and I don't have to lug it onto the plane. Granted, this doesn't work in every situation but most of my flying is domestic and non-stop.

Just to add to the VDB comment... remember, it doesn't hurt to ask. When you volunteer, the GA will be able to tell you the alternative flights and timing. If it doesn't work, fine. If it will, go for it. It could land you cold, hard cash in your pocket to spend on your trip, possibly for nothing more than landing a few hours later.


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Re: Seasoned Air Travelers - Best Luggage? [Re: john_pifer] #5362990 02/29/20 04:47 AM
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whatnext Offline
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For the several foreign and domestic trips trips we do each year, carry ons don’t cut it for us. Luggage gets the crap beaten out of them so don’t spend for them to look pretty. The 4 swiveling wheel style is the easiest to roll around. But the wheel quality is the deciding factor for us as we have worn the wheels on several and even the replacement wheels on one.Yeah we roll them around that much. These were a set of Swiss Gear which otherwise look like good quality. My engineering judgement on the wheel wear was the frame/wheel support shifted resulting in a slight wheel camber even though it wasn’t visible unless really looking for it and there wasn’t anything loose. How do we find luggage with better wheels? My wife has been successful via the online reviews and the resulting TravelPro seems to be holding up.

Re: Seasoned Air Travelers - Best Luggage? [Re: ecotourist] #5363003 02/29/20 05:54 AM
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Originally Posted by ecotourist
I think you'll find that the most experienced travelers take the least luggage. When we see a traveler struggling with several large fancy bags we have to smile. Nowadays the 2 of us mostly travel with 2 carry-ons or at most 1 additional medium sized checked bag (for 2 persons).

Different airlines have different size limits, so check several that you might fly with and note all the maximum sizes. Using the strictest size for each dimension will give you a good idea of what size carry-on to get. Some airlines watch the weight of your carry-ons like hawks too, so light weight is hugely advantageous. And you'll want durable construction of course.

I don't actually care for hard sided luggage. I think modern high quality fabrics are better, but that's just my opinion. I also believe in 2 wheel rollies, rather than 4. They tend to come with larger wheels which is an advantage on rough ground.

Some experienced travelers suggest going with the convertible back pack/carry-on suitcase type. We haven't done that but it would be worth exploring.

We have Travel Pro luggage and have been quite happy with them. Not high end, but reasonably priced and good quality.



Some good points. Know your airlines' size and weight limits (they vary by region), and pack light. Also keep in mind that a nice, but heavy piece of luggage eats into the weight of the contents it can carry, and overweight fees aren't cheap.

After mostly using a two-wheel, I got a four-wheel "spinner" for my last trip, and while they're great on smooth ground, they're not as well-suited for rough ground. I imagine most people's use case for luggage involves going short distances from their home, to a vehicle, to the check-in counter, to the hotel desk, or some variation thereof; mostly smooth surfaces. Take that spinner on old sidewalks, cobblestone streets, or other rough pavement, and it's akin to driving your lowered sports car on an unpaved road. Doable, but hardly the optimum. Caster-style wheels are also more exposed, and at greater risk of damage than recessed wheels,, and can also eat into capacity, which is compensated for by making the compartment smaller, and the overall physical dimensions larger. The market has spoken, and spinners now dominate, but IMO, they're a mixed bag and it would be better to have more of a choice.

Most brand name luggage is now cranked out by factories in Asia, with big companies like Samsonite (which owns Tumi) using branding, and small feature additions to differentiate between lines. As with vehicles, the base "chassis" is pretty much the same, but there aren't huge jumps in quality unless one make an obvious jump in price, and even then the differences aren't great. Slightly better zippers, thicker material, more reinforcements, additional pockets, etc.

Luggage handling will damage even the nicest bags, so what the high end brands get you is repairability and service. Damage that $500 Briggs & Riley, they can fix it, and it goes back into service to further amortize the cost. Damage the $100 Samsonite, Swissgear, or whatever, and it becomes a decision whether to fix it or trash it, despite the warranty, because it can cost you much of the same as a new bag to send it to the depot and have it repaired. That warranty also has a lot of exclusions in the fine print.

Also keep in mind that the size classes are rough guidelines, and two "24/25/26 inch" bags can have different exterior as well as interior dimension that can affect utility. I found a 25-in bag that was narrower (easier to handle) but deeper preferable to a 26-in bag that was wider, but shallower. And two "25 inch" bags where one was smaller than the other.

Lastly, when shopping around, you'll probably find that buying online, or at a discount store like Ross/TJ Maxx provides much better value than a normal department store, even a Kohl's. For a casual traveler, the Ross/TJM options can result in a pretty decent option for not a lot of money.

Re: Seasoned Air Travelers - Best Luggage? [Re: john_pifer] #5363019 02/29/20 06:22 AM
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I have a couple of Tom Bihn bags. Both are excellent and have handled many trips across the Pacific and all throughout Asia. They are built very well and show no wear. Made in Seattle.


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Re: Seasoned Air Travelers - Best Luggage? [Re: john_pifer] #5363024 02/29/20 06:31 AM
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My parents have always just used middle of the road luggage with yearly/ bi yearly flying. I can’t think of an actual failure aside from the plastics deteriorating from age.

One thing I like is a buckle strap around the bag. Not only does it help with identification, but it also keeps the load and beatings off the zipper during handling. Mom bought us bright orange straps for Christmas and they helped a lot.

Last edited by dlundblad; 02/29/20 06:32 AM.

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Re: Seasoned Air Travelers - Best Luggage? [Re: john_pifer] #5363079 02/29/20 08:30 AM
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I have a soft sided 2 wheeler Samsonite that I always check (i.e. never carry on) and it has held up well over 2 years of business travel.

Not exactly on topic but when the 2 wheels wore out I replaced them with roller blade wheels. Now I zip through the airports like OJ Simpson in the old Avis commercials.....


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Re: Seasoned Air Travelers - Best Luggage? [Re: john_pifer] #5363093 02/29/20 08:39 AM
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It looks like Briggs & Riley was top rated by Consumer Reports for both carry on and checked bags. Rimowa and Away both had strong showings as well.

Re: Seasoned Air Travelers - Best Luggage? [Re: john_pifer] #5363098 02/29/20 08:46 AM
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I travel often … went from cheap to Tumi but it felt bad watching such nice and expensive cases beat up so quickly.
Have settled on Wenger. (the Swiss Army knife/watch company).
They are mid priced dual wheel (8) “spinners” even in the larger sizes. If you are coming home with more than you left with … they zip open wider to help with that.

Re: Seasoned Air Travelers - Best Luggage? [Re: john_pifer] #5363117 02/29/20 09:04 AM
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Are you planning to become traveling people? Unless you're sure, don't spend the big bucks on Tumi or other premium luggage. Seasoned travelers do carry ons. It's your honeymoon. Check your bags unless you're minimalist people. The hard sided bags they sell at Marshall's or Ross or TJ Max worked well for my wife and I on multiple international trips. Delsys and IT are both brands we've had good luck with. I prefer the two wheel luggage but 4 wheel is fine if that's all you see. If you get black, put a scarf or ribbon on it so you can identify it easily. All the black bags look alike.

We always check in with the skycap just outside the airport doors. Tip them a couple bucks.


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Re: Seasoned Air Travelers - Best Luggage? [Re: john_pifer] #5363237 02/29/20 10:48 AM
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We've gone to Briggs & Riley and Travelpro softsides for our trips. Previously had Samsonite hardsides, but the luggage gorillas did a job on them, over time.

Re: Seasoned Air Travelers - Best Luggage? [Re: john_pifer] #5363258 02/29/20 11:09 AM
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I used to use Travelpro but found it hard to repair wheels. I now love my $90 Costco Kirkland 2 wheel carry on for the oversized rubber wheels which are good for Asia /Europe cobble surfaces. I prefer 2 wheel over 4 wheel spinners due to more room and better rough surface handling.

I talked to a guy at my company who travels a lot and he switched to Amazon Basics carry on luggage. (Nobody checks bags for 1 week Int’l biz trips). He said they hold up just as long as the high end brands but costs a fraction of Tumi / TP etc.


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