Feature Article - November/December 2015

Moving Right Along

New Innovations in Luggage & Travel Goods

By Emily Tipping

Smoother Sailing

Regulations put in place by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) as well as airline restrictions on checked and carry-on luggage have further complicated travel. Luggage manufacturers have responded with pieces that are lightweight and more maneuverable—in effect, designing carry-on luggage that is easier to get through the airport and lighter so you can pack more, while also creating checked bags that are secure and will help passengers avoid exceeding the 50-pound limit, and the extra fees that go with it.

Cassius summarized the effect of some of these trends, saying they've led to more effective spinner wheels, lighter weights and new set configurations.

"When I talk about new set configurations," he explained, "that might involve getting rid of the 25-inch bag in a set, and instead offering a 19-, 20- or 21-inch carry-on, and then a 28- and 32-inch case. Not every company is doing this, but with more people looking to fit more into a checked bag, this new set configuration is becoming more popular."

And, in fact, the Earth Gear/U.S. Traveler collection is a three-piece set featuring a 28-inch Expandable spinner, a 21-inch Expandable Rolling Suitcase and a 16-inch Boarding Tote Bag. Pop color accents add a distinctive touch to the set, making it easier to find your luggage at the baggage claim. The expansion gusset on each case means you don't have to worry about running out of room.

Landry explained that carry-on sizes continue to be the most popular, largely because of travelers' desire to simplify their air travel. "Carry-ons remain number one in terms of silhouettes by units, far and away," he said. "It costs money to check a bag, but you also lose control of your bag. It also makes you less adaptable, meaning you can't get a later or earlier flight. And there's the looming possibility that the airline's going to lose your bag. Airlines are getting good at keeping track of bags, so loss is very infrequent, but it if happens, it's a nightmare."

"The biggest trend in luggage has been smaller, more lightweight carry-on bags, due to new airline regulations," said Kenneth Fishman, purchasing manager for Rymax. "Consumers are looking for luggage items that meet the updated restrictions, but also have plenty of storage space for traveling. Many manufacturers are redesigning how the wheels are configured to reduce the exterior size of the carry-on so that it can fit in overhead bins easily."

Landry added that two-wheeled bags are becoming less and less common. "Four-wheeled bags are now the norm as opposed to the exception," he said.

Featuring lightweight construction, along with an elegant, classic design, the Hartmann Herringbone Luxe Collection, available through Samsonite, is available in softside or hardside, with a carry-on frame constructed of polypropylene housings, braced with lightweight steel coil and fiberglass rods. Smooth-rolling wheels and a comfortable trolley handle lend ease of transit. An integrated TSA lock provides easily assessable security for belongings.

The Bob Mackie Four Wheeler LITE, available through PremiumBag, is the newest generation of lightweight luggage with the carry-on weighing less than 5 pounds, and the combined set weighing less than 18 pounds combined. The upright Pullmans are designed with side bound construction and 360-degree spinner wheels for extra mobility and easy movement over any surface. Each piece is made from a lightweight, durable fabric and features a fully lined interior with a clear waterproof removable pocket.

The Earth Gear/Travelpro T-Pro Bold 2 22-inch Rollaboard is lightweight at just 7.4 pounds and features a rugged, high-density polyester fabric with water-repellent coating for greater stain resistance. It features high-performance ball-bearing inline skate wheels and protective reinforced wheel housings and skid guards. Additional features include rubberized finish buckles on compression straps, strong telescoping aircraft-grade aluminum handle system, neoprene cushioned carry handles, interior mesh pocket, large zippered wet pocket and more.