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Choosing Your Luggage

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Gone are the days of one suitcase being pretty much like another. There is a huge variation nowadays so read on if you are having difficulty deciding what to buy. Most of us are now converts to the idea of having a suitcase that can be wheeled and the decision is now whether to go for a two-wheeled or a four-wheeled case. If you do not intend wheeling your case over uneven ground then the four-wheeled style is your best bet. Four-wheelers carry the entire weight of the bag whereas two-wheelers share the load between the wheels and the handle meaning that you will be bearing some of the weight yourself. Two-wheelers, though, offer more stability over rough ground. The larger the wheels the easier the case will be to pull on rough ground and up and down curbs. For the best of both worlds opt for the four-wheeler that can be tipped and wheeled like a two-wheeler. If you want the best in maneuverability (e.g. down narrow aisles on aircraft) the four-wheeler that can be rotated 360 degrees is a good buy. Most wheeled suitcases have handles that retract to save them being broken by luggage handlers. If space in your case is an issue, it is advisable to have a look inside the case to see how much room the retracted handle takes up. Some handles are height adjustable so if you are particularly tall or short, this could make pulling easier for you.

If you plan on pulling your case a long distance, you might like to consider a case with a wide padded handle or one that is ergonomically designed to make pulling more comfortable. If you are looking for durability, make sure the handle is firmly attached to the case; it should not feel loose or rattle. Size of suitcase is a big deciding factor. With many airlines, especially the no-frills carriers, charging hefty fees to check luggage into the hold, many of us are trying to make do with hand luggage. A soft case is the least heavy and most flexible, but on the downside it is most likely to be damaged so if you are carrying fragile items take extra care to avoid knocks. If your airline operates a weight policy for carry-on luggage, then a hard suitcase may weigh too much when full. Materials such as polycarbonate, however, allow cases to be light as well as offering good protection for your belongings. The only drawback is that polycarbonate can be susceptible to denting. Hard carry-on luggage can be tricky to squeeze into the overhead locker on a full flight so be prepared for dirty looks from the flight attendant!

Families might be tempted to buy a couple of superlarge cases that will take the whole family's belongings, but bear in mind that airlines operate a maximum weight policy and you may not be able to pool the family's luggage allowance. Even airlines that allow pooling will still stipulate a maximum weight for health and safety reasons (often 32kg). When standing at the luggage carousel you quickly realise that the vast majority of cases are black or dark blue. If being able to spot your case a mile off is important to you but you're not quite brave enough to go for the fluorescent green spotty look, then tie a brightly coloured ribbon round the side handle instead.

Cabin / Carryon Baggage Allowance according to Airline

Airline: American Airlines
Dimensions: The size limitation of allowed luggage is calculated by adding the total outside
dimensions of each bag(length + width + height). Please check with the airline.

Airline: US Airways Dimensions: One personal item, 91 cm (total dimensions); one carryon
bag, 115 cm (total dimensions). No larger than 56cm long, 36cm wide, and 23cm high.

Airline: Virgin Atlantic
Max Weight: 10kg
Dimensions: 23cm x 36cm x 56cm (plus small handbag)

Airline: British Airways
Max Weight: 23kg
Dimensions: 56cm x 45cm x 25cm (plus handbag/laptop bag/briefcase)

Airline: easyJet
Max Weight: No weight limit
Dimensions: 50cm x 40cm x 20cm (slightly larger bag allowed if flight not full)

Airline: Ryanair
Max Weight: 10kg
Dimensions: 55cm x 40cm x 20cm

Hold / Checked Baggage Allowance according to Airline

Airline: American Airlines
Max Weight: 23kg
Dimensions: Up to 158cm (total dimensions)

Airline: Virgin Atlantic
Max Weight: 23kg
Dimensions: 90cm x 75cm x 43cm

Airline: British Airways
Max Weight: 23kg
Dimensions: 90cm x 75cm x 43cm (charge for larger bag up to 190cm x 75cm x 43cm currently waived)

Airline: easyJet
Max Weight: 20kg (charge payable for all hold baggage)
Dimensions: Length + width + height not more than 275cm

Rules governing sports equipment, musical instruments, pushchairs and mobility aids vary according to the airline, so make sure you check the website of your airline well before your date of travel..

These tips were provided by Airport Packing Shop UK's oldest airport parking comparison site.