How stressful is it standing by the baggage carousel at an airport somewhere in the world, watching the long line of varying, sizes, shapes and styles of suitcases and bags come rolling along, or in some places hurtling down off a conveyor, searching for your own and wondering if it held together, will it have been battered, or will your smashed bag with your underwear exposed suddenly appear down the conveyor … or will it simply not appear?
Whether it appears or not none of us can do much about except pray that the airline will find it and that is another story, but choosing the right luggage both checked and carry on today is a critical travel decision that can make or break a holiday or business trip.
I believe that it is something so important that I thought I would let you have some tips from my recent baggage choice experiences, made even more complicated by the confusing plethora of really strict checked and carry-on baggage size and weight rules we now all have to endure and comply with, or suffer the consequences, and the masses of really cheap and nasty baggage on the market.
For many, many years I travelled with rather old fashioned, traditional hard plastic sided cases that I really should have retired long ago, but they had served me well with never any issues, showing their well-travelled war wounds of scratches, dents and stickers, but they never let me down and they seemed to feel rather like long standing friends or family!
The challenge was that they weighed several kilos before I put anything in them, so every time I checked in for a flight, my heart was thumping with trepidation, peering at the read out on the scales to see if my checked baggage was too heavy, smiling very sweetly and using all the charm I could muster, praying that the person checking me in did not say anything … and that I would not have to pay those hefty excess charges, or even take something out and wear it. Also, now that airlines ask to weigh carry on, the same trepidation applied!
With baggage weight limitations of often only around 23kgs in economy for checked and 7kgs for carry on, the time had clearly come to reassess my baggage needs and move into the modern world of lighter checked suitcases and carry-on bags, so off I went, seeking out the best solution for me out of the masses of options out there, which turned out to be rather a bigger task than I thought!
Searching on line was no easier than going to a store, with wherever I looked, a massive fleet of soft and hard sided bags to choose from, some with names we have all heard of and others that I had never heard of, all claiming to be the best, but it quickly became clear, well to me at least, that there were some key criteria.
I have always had a fear of soft side checked bags being torn open in some dodgy airport, so they quickly went off the agenda, so at least I knew I wanted hard sided, apparently now called hard-shell checked baggage, that was as strong as possible, and that also to avoid excess baggage fees, as light as possible.
I had worked out that I needed one large checked bag for long trips and a smaller medium sized one for shorter trips, both with four wheels on the bottom when upright, which apparently are called spinner bags as they allow for 360 degree movement. I also wanted pull up handles to make moving them less strenuous, especially when the airport baggage trolley drought strikes and I needed US approved TSA locks so that our friends in the USA did not smash open the locks as happened to my old case recently flying out of Hawaii, with repairing the locks at my cost!
I checked masses of mind boggling reviews on line and web sites to check specifications, prices and more, but one thing was becoming clearer, that with today’s modern technology, the lightness and strength of some of the new hard sided or hard-shell suitcases was really quite amazing.
For carry on cabin baggage I also needed a bag that was as light and strong as possible, so that with my contents including cameras, it still came under 7kgs, also with spinner wheels and TSA locks and it had to fit in those awful size check things in airport, in addition to complying with the new carry on size limitations that it appears most airlines now apply.
I also wanted a slot on the outside of my carry on from which I could quickly extract my tablet and laptop at security and for work at the airport and in flight, without opening the main body of my bag.
So, without boring you too much any further and with a very loud roll of drums … after very exhaustive research, I decided that the checked and carry-on cabin baggage that suited me best and provided everything I was looking for, interestingly existed right here in Australia with local company Paklite.
I chose one each of the very smart Paklite Altitude range of strong, very light hard shell large and medium checked in suitcases, with both expandable for those additional things you pick up on trips, the large one weighing only 4.20kgs empty and the medium one 3.50kgs empty, yet they appear to be very strong.
I also chose Paklite’s very clever matching carry-on cabin bag which complied with all the airline rules, plus it weighed only 2.8kgs empty, with what I really liked being the very clever padded, hard pocket on the front, the only hard pocket carry on I found, providing very easy access to my laptop at security and preventing it from any damage – just perfect, with on my first trip to Dubai both appearing to have performed very well.
Check out these images with below from the left, the very clever padded hard tablet/notebook pocket on the Paklite Altitude carry on cabin bag, and the Paklite large hard shell pictured recently on check in at Dubai International Airport [Tip: I always add a colourful strap to make carousel identification easier!] and just for the record, the Paklite Altitude large hard shell case my wife chose in a very bright, but easily recognisable, brilliant orange!
Written by John Alwyn-Jones