Tag Archives: bags

Bags of the Future (Are They Four Wheel Bags?)

I have a confession to make.

I switched from my Briggs and Riley two wheel 20-inch carry-on bag to one of the four wheel bags: the Samsonite spinner.  I made this move because I didn’t want to pull my bag around the airport when I could have it ride by my side in the four-wheel mode.  The four-wheel mode changed my life from zipping through airports to walking to train stations.  Everything became easier unless there was carpet.  Agghh.  Carpet is your enemy with the four-wheel bag.

Frankly, four wheel bags have a few issues.

On a trip from Tel Aviv to London, I was waiting in the jet way that has a little tilt to it, and somebody behind me asked a question.  I took my hand off of my bag, which also had my Tumi backpack perched on top, and as my hand left the bag, the bag took off.  I looked around in horror as a poor woman was attacked by my bag.  The heavy four-wheeler knocked her completely over.  I tried to hold her up but if that was not enough, her glasses flew off, her hands were flailing, her passport dropped on the floor, and my backpack finished the job as it landed straight on top of her head.  If I had been driving in traffic, I would have been arrested for failing to be in control of my vehicle.  As it was, I helped her back to a standing position feeling really embarrassed and told her that it was all my bag’s fault.  I felt a sense of shared responsibility.

These bags do roll around.  If you are in a train, they roll away from you, if you’re in the bus connecting around the airport, they are unreliable.  I figured to myself that there must be a bag that has brakes.  In the meantime, I had dusted off my Briggs and Riley bag and much to my bags surprise I gave it a second chance.  Yeah my arm is hurting me a little more but the danger of uncontrolled roll with the four-wheeler is not there.

So I did some research. The only bag that I could find that had the potential to not move in its standing position with spinner wheels is the unbelievably overpriced Rimowa luggage.  When I say overpriced, I mean the 21-inch multi-wheel bag is a cool $850.  Yes, I know that this provides “a sublime fusion of fashion and lightweight durability” plus apparently it has “intelligent interior design to make it an indispensable travel companion.” But the key feature here is that it has protective feet to guarantee that the suitcase will stay in place when you prop it up right.  No hit and run problems!

My only question is that when I buy a car with four-wheel drive, frankly it has brakes just like the two-wheel models.

Usually there is not an extra surcharge for brakes; it’s just part of the deal.

So why is it that for the added brakes and to look maybe like a movie star, I have to spend $850 on a piece of baggage that really has little interest for me beyond storage capability and ease of movement through an airport?  Just a question desperately looking for answers and remembering with horror the incident in the Tel Aviv airport when my four-wheel vehicle went out of control on the jet way.

Alaska Airlines Pietro Place Peter Jones

The Revolution

The Revolution

You know that moment when some unbelievably smart person figured out that a suitcase with wheels actually could be turned so that the wheels went on the widest part not the narrowest part?  It was one of the great game changers in travel.  Then the bag moved to a 4-wheel option and you could maneuver your bag like a Mini Cooper through a city; holding it tight to your body but always upright in a busy airport.  Yet still, you have the hassle of either being the first person on the plane, paying the extra bucks for first class, or sweating that your bag is going to get dumped down below in the hold where you will have to “check and pay”.  The worst of all nightmares since you may never see the bag again. The cost of bag check-in on a budget flight can often be more than the flight itself.  Then there is that resentment of all of the people who got on before you that stuck their bags in the overhead bins.

Now there’s a solution and it’s a revolution. Overhead baggage compartments are being redesigned and refitted as we speak with a view to increasing the depth by a few more inches so that the bags can be pushed in vertically on their sides.  It is literally doubling the possibility for carry-on baggage.  Alaska Airlines is leading the way.  Partnering with Boeing, Alaska were the first people to understand that change was not just a good idea, but a necessary idea.  The sacrifice?  Two inches of head room.  There is even room on top of the bags to put tiny bags, coats, or you name it.  The time that it takes for an airline to be fully ready to fly and passengers to be comfortably seated with bags all set, is projected to greatly decrease.  In other words, departure times are going to improve!  Yay!  Tempers won’t get frayed (as much) and flight attendants won’t have to break the bad news to a disgruntled passenger who simply cannot bear the thought of checking in their bag.  All great news.

Now the re-fit begins.  Pretty soon there will be sleeping compartments up there too!

The Revolution Alaska Airlines Pietro Place Peter Jones

Bags to Check

I never like to check bags unless I am skiing. I have had the experience of losing too many bags for weeks at a time. This simply becomes a huge inconvenience and it is costly. Airlines provide you with barely enough compensation to buy a pair of underpants and socks.

So that is my rule. In addition, there always seems to be a hopeless wait time over busy periods for the ground staff to get your bags from plane to carousel. Of course, there are good airports and bad airports. Good airlines and bad airlines. But the golden rule I use is always to hide my bag behind a post if the plane is full and small. This has easily checked out before.

When the check-in attendant asks you if you have any more bags than your simple carry on, I always state that this is it. When you get to the gate, and the bag happens to be too big and they spot it as a rebel carry on, they take it from you. But, at least you have minimized half the risk because you know now that the bag will be on the plane as it’s checked at the gangway entrance. Now you only have the receiving airports ground staff as your final obstacle. This happened to me on my recent flight from Lyon to Rome. And of course, what could be worse than Aeroporti di Roma for that final possible glitch. Yes, the delightful Fiumicino Airport lost my bag.

bag carousel

I reported it lost after waiting endlessly for the carousel to churn around. That sinking feeling you get. The quick check to ensure you have your baggage receipt. Then the forms and the bureaucracy. The absolute lack of enthusiasm to find your bag. One of the three people sitting doing absolutely nothing and telling you, “It’s here, but it’s busy, and we don’t know where it is!” LBS or “lost bag syndrome” can haunt you for days, affect your sleep, and cause hyperventilation. They have got my Paul Smith suit!

So, if you have to check a bag, make sure you have a backup of sorts. Mine turned up the next day. I actually thought to myself that things maybe had improved dramatically at Fiumicino and that it was a new world where bags didn’t get lost, toilets were always available and clean in arrivals, and taxi drivers weren’t looking to rip you off as you wearily exited the doors. Maybe aliens had taken over the country after all. A new prime minister, a new world order. Nah, Italy wouldn’t feel the same.

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