|by Sean O'Neill||Packing, Safety and Security, Travel Gear||11|
USA Today published a particularly interesting story this morning. American Airlines' recently announced that on June 15 it will begin charging $15 for checked bags on U.S. flights for "non-elite" passengers. This new rule means that carry-on bags are more important than ever. So which new bags on the market are lightweight, well-designed, and affordable?
USA Today's Jayne Clark lists the pros, cons, and specs on five pieces of luggage that have appeared on shelves within the past year or so. (Clark has been going to the luggage makers' conventions to see new products for years and she frequently writes on the topic, so you should value her opinion.) Her implicit focus was on the needs of business travelers, I feel, so only two bags struck me as most interesting to budget-conscious leisure travelers:
Skyway's Montage 22-inch carry-on weight 7 pounds--about half of what carry-ons used to weigh back in 1990. (See an image at Skyway's website.) It comes with a water-resistant outer shell, a leak-proof-cosmetic bag, lots of pockets, and an interior shoe bag. Rates ranged this morning from $54 to $70.
Eagle Creek's Tarmac 22 weighs in at 8 pounds. Its expandable pockets allow you to add space when you need it. The reporter praises the Eagle Creek product for enabling you to keep your items well-organized. The bag even comes with a shoe box. The downside is that it was at a starting price this morning of $225 to $275 at online stores. But if you're the type of person who prefers to buy one bag to last a decade or more, then this might be the bag for you, given it comes with an "unconditional lifetime guarantee." See image at the manufacturer's website.
Probably coming within a few months: New "checkpoint-friendly" laptop cases. Kip Hawley, the chief of the TSA, is moving toward easing one of the largest airport security annoyances: forcing travelers take laptops out of cases at airport checkpoints, reports USA Today. Several manufacturers (including Targus and Skooba Design) are designing cases that can go through X-ray machines and quickly reveal what's inside to TSA inspectors. Old bags will still work, but you'll continue to have to remove laptops from those old bags.
Jaunted claims that the above expert's method is sexist. The blog came up with its own list of one-bag packing tips for ladies. Personally, I don't think OneBag's tips are sexist, and I think a few of Jaunted's tips are absurd, but I leave it for you to decide.