What to Look for When Buying Baggage

Before you buy a bag with wheels, test it on both carpeted and un-carpeted surfaces to check the glide, and turn corners to check balance.

The right baggage can allow you to move through check-in, security and boarding, and arrive at your destination, with ease in a timely manner. The wrong baggage could be refused carriage, cause unexpected fees, or see your personal goods damaged.

When it comes to air travel there are two types of baggage that you need to consider: carry-on and checked.

To help you make the right decision when purchasing or choosing baggage for your next trip away, we have pulled together a guide of key things to look for in carry-on and checked baggage.

Factors to consider when buying carry-on baggage

Considered to be a workhorse for the frequent traveller and a facilitator for the weekend holidayer, carry-on baggage requires good organisation; which can by actioned by an effective pocketing system. Easily accessible internal and external pockets make it simple to find the right item while on the goi.e. through security, in a taxi or on the plane. Hard cases don’t often include pocketing systems; as a result soft case bags are generally preferred by those who like to be organised.

To carry or not to carry is a big question concerning carry-on baggage. Carry-on is generally restricted to two options: a bag with a shoulder strap and top grip/or backpack straps; or a bag with wheels. While wheels are almost vital to have on checked baggage, they’re not as popular on carry-on baggage, as hand-held bags are often lighter, and more malleable in over-head spaces.

Factors to consider when buying checked baggage

Travelling with wheeled baggage can make in-transit situations almost effortless. Wheels that are built into the case are generally more durable than those attached to the outside of the case, and rubber wheels are known to last longer than plastic wheels. Two wheelers are usually lighter and don’t roll away on sloped surfaces; while four wheelers are steadier and can be moved with very little effort. Before you buy a bag with wheels, test it on both carpeted and un-carpeted surfaces to check the glide, and turn corners to check balance.

Checked baggage comes in three choices of outer shell: hard, soft and semi-soft. Hard cases are generally heavier than soft varieties; however they protect contents. Soft-sided cases are generally lighter and expandable, but less resistant to impact. Semi soft-sided cases combine the benefits of hard and soft stylesthey are lighter than hard cases, and give more protection than soft cases. If you plan to buy a soft suitcase, look for one made from ballistic nylon, or a nylon or polyester blend with a tight dense weave.

Dos and Don’ts

Do: Buy baggage with a warrantythe better the warranty, the better the craftsmanship and therefore the better the bag. Buy baggage that is distinguishable, so that you end up with your bag and not someone else’s. This can be made easy by choosing a bag with a bold print or material, or by simply attaching something like a ribbon or tag.

Don’t: Don’t overstuff  zippers break! Don’t pack more than 32kg, or your bag will have to be sent as freight. 

Words by Alice Nash - Published 18 May 2012
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