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Cyber Travel News & Reviews: The Right Luggage
Judith Albright

 Online luggage retailers and a suitcase security site can help you make the right choice.

You may not believe this, but for most trips, even those lasting up to a month, both men and women can easily manage with one checked bag and one carry-on. However, this works only if you have taken the time to select the right bag before you go. One suitcase can still be a nightmare if it is too large, too small, too unwieldy to manage, or too fragile to withstand the rigors of airline baggage systems. The right bag is one that is sturdy enough to withstand being dropped off conveyer belts or run over by baggage trucks, yet is lightweight, roomy and easy to handle. The ultimate consideration is whether or not the bag will meet airline size limitations and restrictions. Grandma’s old Samsonite that weighs 25 lb. empty is no longer a good choice.

If you are buying new luggage, what should you buy? Because of the size of airports and the distance that bags may have to be carried, luggage on wheels has almost become a necessity. Some types are more efficient than others. Wider, larger wheels are less likely to twist sideways or cause the bag to become unbalanced and tip over, a problem common to older styles of wheeled luggage.

Hardside or softside luggage is a matter of personal preference, however, hardside bags tend to fare better over the long haul. If softside is your preference, make certain that you choose material that will not easily sag or rip as it moves along airline conveyor belts. On hardside luggage, reliable locks are necessary to keep your bag closed, but do not rely on them for security. A key from one suitcase can always be used to open another made by the same manufacturer. To deter would-be pilferers, select hardside luggage with built-in combination locks. Portable combination locks are a must for softside bags with zippers (although these are most commonly slashed with knives to gain entry). No bag is impenetrable, and anyone determined to get into your bag will probably do so. There is, however, a new product on the market that detects and prevents baggage tampering. "Nanoseal" is a reusable, miniature sealing device that displays a random 4-digit number every time your bag is closed. The number changes if unauthorized entry occurs, and indicates the elapsed time since the luggage was last opened. To find out more, check out www.airsecurity.com.

How much luggage are you allowed? It depends on your destination. Although regulations vary by carrier and are not always strictly enforced, within the United States passengers are generally allowed two pieces of checked luggage that must meet the following criteria:

  • One piece weighing up to 70 lbs., the combined dimensions of which cannot exceed 62 inches (length + width + height)
  • One piece weighing up to 70 lbs., the total combined dimensions of which cannot exceed 55 inches (length + width + height)

You will be charged extra for additional and oversized pieces, including skis, golf clubs, and bicycles.

Carry-on bags are now restricted by most airlines to two bags per person. Purses, briefcases and laptops each count as one of the two. Bags too large to fit in the overhead bins or under the seat are no longer allowed in the cabin. Bringing oversize bags or other unwieldy items on board may result in immediate removal (of the item, not you), and having your bag and/or possessions sent to your destination on a different flight. Airlines will not deliver bags that have been removed from aircraft cabins due to size or number limitations. This can mean that you might have to make a separate trip to the airport at a later time to claim your confiscated belongings when they finally arrive.

If your old luggage needs to be replaced, there are many resources on the Internet that will deliver a new set right to your door. Check out Bentleyapostrophes Luggage and Gifts at www.bentleys.com, Le Travel Store at www.letravelstore.com and Travel Products.com at www.travel-accessories.com. TravelSmith, Magellans, Orvis, and LL Bean also have Web sites, and all are more than willing to help you avoid traffic, limited parking spaces, long walks, lines, and other shopping annoyances. Even better, you can find whatever you want without ever getting out of your pajamas!

Cyber Travel News & Reviews is a regular column by Judith Albright, publisher of Internet Travel Resources: A Comprehensive Guide to Travel Websites. For more information visit her web site at www.notebookpublications.com.