“What Luggage do Airline Crews & Pilots use?” is a FAQ.
It is usually followed by the statement “I want that Luggage”!
It is a great question and although you have good intentions in asking, it can be difficult for us to answer. We would love to be able to give you a short yes/no answer. We understand completely that you just want a bag that will be tough, last for a long time, ultimately work perfectly and save you money. We understand, but the bags crew members use are not always the best choice for consumers. Let us explain…
Pilots and flight crew spend a lot of time walking through airports, up and down ramps, and across tarmacs, so they need a bag that lasts. You also must remember they carry a lot of stuff, from clothes and toiletries, to snacks and electronic devices, plus sometimes manuals, and guidelines. Their bags are their portable closet. They may have to just stay overnight or they may be gone for many days. But wait there’s more… They also need to plan for life’s little accidents and for situations that might happen in a foreign country.
This means the bags crew use, for the most part, are built a little different than the average consumer bag. These bags are stronger than most civilian bags, over-engineered to withstand the rigors of constant daily use aboard airplanes and going through airports. The bags typically have more pockets, dividers, and organizing areas that most travelers would never use. Because of this, like it or not, the bags they use sometimes are a different size than a consumer would be allowed to carry on.
If you have been looking at crew bags and fantasizing about owning one, it is possible, but here are some things you should also know. First, most crew bags are two-wheel bags, called Roller bags or Roll-A-Board. Having only two wheels allows the packing compartment to be bigger and hold more stuff. Yes, two wheels make it a little harder to maneuver than a spinner, but the crew is on the plane first and off last, so no other people to deal with… Lucky Them! There are a few spinner bags available but not many.
Next, you will note that Crew bags are black. They do not show dirt or wear and always look the same. The professional look of the crew, from uniforms to luggage, is important to the airlines. There is one company that does offer some of what we consider crew bags in different colors.
Another major difference is the cost. Yes, you get what you pay for. A suitcase from a Big-Box store or an online retailer that sells for $79 would never endure the life of a flight attendant or pilot. Expect to pay $200 – $600 for a good quality carry-on bag that is built to last.
Are “Airline Crew” Bags Worth It?
You bet! Crew luggage is built tough and built to be repaired and serviced in the event something goes wrong. For example, wheels on most can be replaced easily with a screwdriver or Allen wrench. The goal is to keep the crew flying and happy. What we consider normal crew luggage often has different warranties which include commercial warranty coverage and for some bags it includes lifetime repairs or replacement.
Traveling Bags Recommendations on Crew Bags
We recommend a few lines of bags that are worthy of being called “Crew Bags”. We have sold and/or repaired all of these at Traveling Bags.
Travelpro produces the most popular line of Crew Bags. Their latest line “FlightCrew5” has 17 pieces that include coolers, totes, as well as traditional rollaboard and carry-on luggage. Travelpro’s flight crew bags have been around for nearly 40 years. These bags work well and take the abuse. They are easy to repair if needed and most can be done by yourself if needed.
Travelpro does make three other consumer lines of luggage that are a great alternative to the Crew Bags, the Platinum Elite, the Crew Expert and the Crew Verspack lines. These bags are built with the consumer in mind, but with the same quality. Some of the lines also offer more colors and sizes than the Crew Bags.
The Platinum Elite bag has the ultimate Lifetime Limited Worry-Free Warranty which includes the cost of repair for damage caused by an airline, or other common carrier, for the life of the bag. You must register the item under the New Trusted Companion Promise for the warranty to be valid.
The Crew Expert line was inspired by Travelpro’s professional luggage with extreme durability to match. This bag is built for the road warrior in mind. Tested to meet the same durability and quality standards as professional-grade luggage and backed by a Built For a Lifetime Limited Warranty with a 5 year Trusted Companion Promise.
The Crew Versa pack has a limited lifetime warranty and now includes cost of repairs for damage caused by an airline or other common carrier for the first 3 years of lifetime warranty after registration under the New Trusted Companion Promise.
Briggs & Riley is the Gold standard of luggage. There are no special Crew Bags, but they do not need it. These bags are truly ranked as the best carry-on bag by numerous publications and consumer reports. Every bag in the Briggs & Riley line comes with a no hassle repair or replace warranty that covers everything. This bag is more expensive, but as we said earlier, you get what you pay for and this will be the last bag you will ever have to buy. The other great thing about Briggs is that, in addition to great carry-on bags, they have match items that are made to the same high quality standards in a variety of sizes, colors and with a wide range of features that no other companies offer when it comes to their crew bag offerings. At Traveling Bags we stock a large variety of colors, sizes and styles of these bags. We are also an authorized service center if you happen to ever need a repair. On average, we don’t generally see a Briggs & Riley bag for repair until it is 15 years old. We have done repairs for as early as 8 years, but some we repaired are over 20 and still going strong!
This is a line of luggage we do not stock or sell. It is built like a tank and they feel like it too! They are heavy and have an external metal frame. They are super tough but not really a bag for most people, or even most pilots. They are sold in just a few airports and dedicated stores around the USA. They are also available from the factory directly on-line. Repairs are easy to accomplish, but the aluminum outer frame can take a beating. The bag loses some of it looks as every bag that we have seen has paint scratched and worn off.
As you can see there is great luggage out there that, in the long run, will save you money, hassles and time. Selecting the right bag is tough. If you are truly in the market for this type of bag, talk to a luggage professional and they will help you find the right bag to match your needs and budget. Olivia, Charlotte, and/or Liam at a Big- Box or department store is not the person to help you. They are there to stock shelves and sell you anything and everything. The quickest way to find out if the person knows what they are talking about is to ask them to explain what is and isn’t covered by the warranty.