If you’re wondering what sort of luggage professional flight attendants use – because whatever choices we make, they’ve got to be good ones – then look no further. I’m a flight attendant and I will give you my best recommendations.
No time to read everything? Here are my top picks:
Table of Contents
Best Carry-on Overall
TravelPro Maxlite 5 expandable luggage
- Carry on bag is a half pound lighter than Maxlite 4, this ultra lightweight 21 inch carry on luggage meets carry on size restrictions for most domestic airlines. H20 Guard protects the interior lining from moisture
- This carry-on luggage has 4 wheel spinners that rotate 360 degree for a smooth roll. Lightweight, sturdy PowerScope handle stops at 38 inch and 42.5 inch features a patented contour grip with rubberized touch points for easy maneuvering. Unique bottom tray design increases durability for this soft sided luggage
- Carry on suitcase expands up to 2 inch to maximize packing capacity. Features low profile top, side and bottom carry handles, two exterior compartments, full length interior lid pocket, side accessory pocket and adjustable hold down straps for packing convenience
- Carryon luggage with spinner wheels has Limited Lifetime Coverage plus trusted companion promise, which covers the cost of repair for damage from airline or other common carrier for 1 year
- Carry-on luggage with spinner wheels: Case Dimensions: 21 inches x 14 inches x 9 inches; Overall Dimensions: 23 inches x 14.5 inches x 9 inches; Weight: 5.4 lbs, Volume : 46 liter
This puts the word light into the term lightweight. Travelpro has come up with a carry-on in their Maxlite range that features several improvements on previous models. With two exterior compartments and a side accessory pocket, this case has easy accessibility to those inflight things that you can’t survive the journey without.
Ranging from burgundy to sapphire blue, you are spoilt for color choices with this product.
- Weight: 6.25 lbs
- Interior dimension: 21 inches x 14 inches x 9 inches
- Rubberized contour grip on the telescopic handle
- High tensile zipper pulls
- Side carry handle for easy lifting
- Slanted top to prevent the ‘top heavy’ syndrome
- The expandable function can give you up to seven liters more packing space.
- Lifetime warranty
- Made of water and stain-resistant material
- Good storage capacity
- Patterned interior lining
- Side handles
- Expandable 2”
- Compact size
- Not many pockets
Best Hard Side Carry-on
Samsonite Winfield 2 Hardside Luggage
- Carry-On meets these airlines' size restrictions: United, American, Delta, Southwest, Allegiant
- 20 SPINNER LUGGAGE maximizes your packing power and meets most carry-on size restrictions for those traveling domestically and looking to stay light
- PACKING Dimensions: 20.0 x 13.5 x 9.5, OVERALL Dimensions: 23.0 x 14.5 x 9.5, Weight: 6.7 lbs.
- 10 YEAR LIMITED WARRANTY: Samsonite products are rigorously tested to ensure our products meet stringent standards. This bag comes with a 10-year warranty against defects in materials and workmanship.
- FOUR, MULTI-DIRECTIONAL SPINNER WHEELS for effortless mobility, re-engineered lightweight
Samsonite has been in the luggage game for a very long time. They have a huge range of products and all of them have been designed with style and elegance as a core values.
The Samsonite Winfield 2 is a very stylish piece of kit that combines basic functionality with a very sleek design. The clamshell design means that you get full access to your packing without fuss and struggle.
- Colors: Charcoal, Deep Blue, Orange, Purple, Brushed Anthracite
- Case Dimensions:
20” Spinner 20 x 13.5 x 9, 6.7 lbs.
24” Spinner 24 x 16.5 x 11, 9.3 lbs.
28” Spinner 28 x 19 x 12, 11.5 lbs. Weight: 7.2 lbs.
- Fully lined interior with cross straps for more secure packing
- Built-in combination lock ensures that the external zips can’t be undone
- Handle: telescopic with stops at 38”, 40” and 42.5” to prevent wobble or slippage.
- Clamshell design
- 10-year warranty
- TSA lock
- Sharp look and great construction
- Many organizational pockets
- Easy to spot at baggage claim
- Scratches easily
Best Affordable Carry-on
American Tourister 4 kix spinner suitcase
- 21" SPINNER LUGGAGE maximizes your packing power and meets most carry on size restrictions for those traveling domestically and looking to stay light
- PACKING Dimensions: 20.25" x 14.0" x 8.0", OVERALL Dimensions: 23.0" x 14.2" x 11.0", Weight: 7.1 pounds
- 10 YEAR LIMITED WARRANTY: American Tourister products are rigorously tested to ensure our products meet stringent standards; This bag comes with a 10 year warranty against defects in materials and workmanship
- FOUR MULTI DIRECTIONAL single spinner wheels allow 360 degree upright rolling so there is no weight on your arm or shoulder
- PUSH BUTTON locking handles provides easy maneuverability when extended out from the suitcase, and stores neatly inside when not in use
With over 75 years in the business, American Tourister is now one of the largest luggage brands in the world, with a huge range of stylish, practical, and well-thought-out products. They pride themselves on being not just for the business traveler, but for the family and for fun. Can’t argue with that.
This carry-on bag is all about lightness and internal packing space, and on those two criteria, it works very well. Perfect for that getaway trip of 2-3 days.
- Colors: teal, purple/pink, black/Grey
- Dimensions: 3 different sizes, 21”, 25” or 28”
- Weight: 7.1 pounds
- Push-button locking handle
- Internal compression straps to secure your packing
- 1.5” expansion to nudge out that extra bit of space
- 10-year warranty
- Convenient large exterior pockets for quick access
- Corner protector guards
- Expandable 1.5”
- Top and side carry handles
- Single Spinner wheels are not the best
Most Durable Carry-on
Briggs & Riley Uprights
- Expandable Luggage: This swivel wheeled bag expands 2.5 inches for up to 25% more packing space. Cinch-down mesh garment panels keep contents from shifting and minimize wrinkling, Outsider handle provides greater interior capacity. Free TSA lock included
- Durable Construction: Made with ballistic nylon outer fabric that resists wear, moisture, dirt and abrasion. A lockable double zipper pull keeps contents secure and SpeedThru pocket allows quick access to travel items at security checkpoints
- Lifetime Guarantee: We're the only luggage company that offers an unconditional lifetime guarantee. If your bag is ever broken or damaged, we'll repair it free of charge, no proof of purchase needed, no questions asked
- Explore Our Collection: We make a wide array of durable luggage including carry ons, duffels, rolling garment bags and hardside spinners, plus backpacks, briefcases, crossbody sling bags and much more
- Engineered for Reality: We craft luggage for real world needs to make travel easier, with innovative handles, pockets, wheels and expansion systems for high functionality and more storage space
Selling in more than 75 countries worldwide, Briggs & Riley takes enormous pride in their dedication to innovation. Their splendid lifetime warranty is a good testament to this winning approach.
The Baseline-Softside CX Expandable case has been designed with the belief that all of the insides of a suitcase should be packing space. It is lightweight, yet tough with a water-resistant nylon outer fabric. The compression packing system allows you to expand your bag up to 34 percent and then compress it back down to its original size.
- Colors: navy, olive and black
- Dimensions: 22” H x 14” W x 9” D
- CX technology provides the bag with up 25% increased packing space
- No internal bars for the carrier handle, meaning the interior is all suitcase
- Dual spinner wheels for ease of airport navigation
- Lifetime warranty
- CX Compression technology: Expandable but also compressible
- Rugged construction
- TSA lock included
- Built-in garment carrier to keep your suits wrinkle-free
- Flat packing surface on the inside: no bars
- Reinforced corner guards
- Can be a bit unstable
Best Luxury Carry-on
TUMI Voyageur rolling suitcase
- EXTERIOR FEATURES: 2 ways to access main compartment: split case double-zip entry and front lid double-zip entry; double-zip entry to U-zip pocket; straight zip pocket with locking zipper pull; adjustable-height telescoping handle; bottom grab handle; four recessed wheels; luuge ID tag; TUMI Tracer
- INTERIOR FEATURES: Zip pocket on lid; zipped section divider; compression straps; padded laptop pocket (14”); media pocket; card pocket; pen pocket
- Materials: Nylon
- DIMENSIONS: 21 x 14 x 8.5 inches / 53.5 x 35.5 x 21.5 cm; Weight: 7.63 lbs / 3.46 kg
TUMI anchors itself on five strong guiding principles, from design excellence to excellence in customer service. The name? It comes from Peru where the creator of the company was working with the Peace Corp in the ‘70s.
The TUMI Voyageur is a lightweight carrier bag that is designed as a no-fuss, easy to get into bag.
- TUMI Tracker – this complimentary system helps to locate the bag if it goes missing
- The zipper is puller is designed to break away if it gets snagged, saving the entire zip from being damaged
- Telescopic handle has a protective barrier to prevent damage
- Laptop pocket will take laptops up to 14”
- Colors: black or silver
- Dimensions: 21″ x 14″ x 8.5″
- Weight: 7.6 lbs.
- Innovative front lid to separate and easy access your items
- Multiple practical compartments
- Side and top handles
- TUMI tracer ID plate to help find if it gets lost or stolen
- Practical design
- Will not take larger laptops (14”)
- Limited color range
- No bracing so can’t be stacked on top of
Best Underseat Carry-on
Samsonite Underseat Spinner II USB port
- Fits Under Most Airline Seats for easy access to belongings en route, please check with your Airline for more information as under seat storage capacities and dimensions can vary
- 4, Multi directional spinner wheels allow for 360 rolling in multiple directions for easy mobility
- USB Port lets you charge electronics on the go (batteries not included)
- Ergonomic, Push Button Locking Handle is designed to fit comfortably in your hand
- Quick stash exterior pockets for increased packing organization of smaller items
This is a part of the Samsonite range and is as stylish as you would expect from this company. I guess with over a hundred years of doing what they do; Samsonite knows both what their customers want and how to give it to them.
Compact, nicely designed (the purple color is very fetching), this carry-on will fit easily in the overhead locker or under the seat. But its style has in no way been compromised by its small size.
- Colors: black, ocean, and purple
- Small enough to fit under the seat or in the overhead locker
- External USB port
- Packing dimensions: 15”x 13”x 8”
- Padded laptop compartment will take laptops up to 13.3 “
- Front and side external pockets
- Exterior Dimensions: 16.5″ x 13.5″ x 9″
- Small size and light
- USB port
- Good exterior zippered pockets
- Small laptop sleeve (14”) and tablet sleeve
- Roomy with multiple compartments
- 3-year warranty
- Can’t take larger laptops
Best Underseat Carry-on Tote Bag
TravelPro Luggage Maxlite 5 Tote
- This ultra lightweight, compact carry on tote; Case Dimensions: 11x18x8, Overall Dimensions: 11x18x8, Weight: 1.6 pounds
- Polyester fabric with stain resistant, water repellant duraguard coating and ergonomic, high tensile strength zipper pulls provide lasting durability
- Rear strap allows secure stacking, while top carry handle and removable padded shoulder strap offer carrying options; Front flap, roomy interior and built in pockets keep contents organized and accessible
- Limited lifetime coverage plus trusted companion promise, which covers the cost of repair for damage from airline or other common carrier for 1 year
- Easily fit in any domestic or international overhead bin and under the seat; Designed to let focus on the weight of the contents, not the weight of the bag; Volume is 61.73 pounds; Capacity: 28.0L
This tote comes in a range of colors that really compliment the stylishness of the bag. It is very lightweight and is designed to fit under the seat of most of the major airlines. The soft but durable fabric means it is flexible and will take all manner of reasonable handling.
This works very well as a one-case -carries- all for those short business trips or as an addition to your carry-on luggage for your inflight needs.
It’s also an attractive piece of kit to be carrying on your shoulder.
- Colors: black, dusty rose, azure blue, imperial purple, sapphire blue, and slate green
- Dimensions: 11”x18”x8”
- Weight: 1.6 lbs
- Rear strap for securing luggage stacking to your suitcase
- Padded shoulder strap
- Stain-resistant and water-repellant coating
- Good lifetime warranty
- Quick access front flap
- Rear strap to fit it on top of other luggage
- Good side pockets
- Fashionable range of colors
- Water and stain-resistant coating
- Shoulder strap padding a bit light
Best 2-piece Carry-on Set
World traveler embarque Lightweight
- 20-Inch carry-on upright: 20 inches high x 15 inches wide x 10 inches deep - 7.2 lb
- 16-Inch flight tote: 16 inches wide x 13 inches high x 8 inches deep - 1.4 lb
- Lightweight polyester shell with fully lined interiors
- 360-degree spinner wheels, a telescopic handle push-button trolley system and 17-inch laptop compartment
World Traveller was founded in 1989 during the explosion in the growth of international business and leisure travel. They started out making men’s travel accessories, but now boast a truly comprehensive range of luggage for those who share their enthusiasm for the pleasures of traveling.
When you have that extra packing that no amount of kneeling on will squash into your bag, here’s the solution. The separate tote bag gives you flexibility for your in-flight travel needs that other carry-ons don’t have.
- 16-inch flight tote to stow your laptop or other inflight needs
- Colors: black, navy and burgundy
- Dimensions: Suitcase: 20″ high x 15″ wide x 10″
- Flight Tote: 16″ wide x 13″ high x 8″ deep
- Weights: The suitcase weighs 7.2 lbs and the tote bag weighs 1.2. lbs
- Fully lined with large mesh lid pocket
- Tote bag easily attaches to the telescopic handle for easy handling
- Well designed
- Spinner works well
- Super lightweight
- Takes larger laptops
- Plenty of pockets
- 17” laptop compartment in the suitcase
- No USB port
- No extra padding for the laptop
What to look for in a carry-on bag?
This is a no-brainer. Airports can be stressful enough without having to wrestle with a bag that is even the slightest bit heavier than it needs to be. You’ll be lifting this bag above your head at least twice on your journey.
A good example of a good lightweight bag is the Travelpro Maxlite 5.
Your carry-on luggage is going to have to fit into the overhead locker. This is non-negotiable, so make sure that the one you choose will fit easily into where it’s supposed to go.
The luggage of a flight attendant has a pretty hard life, so what we look for first and foremost is something that will have a long life and is strong enough to stand up to the demands of our job. A warranty is also a must because quality doesn’t come cheap.
Travelpro Crew 11 and TravelPro Maxlite 5 and Briggs & Riley Baseline all offer a lifetime warranty, and Samsonite Winfield 2 and American Tourister 4 kix a 10-year warranty. Those are real signs of durability!
Some other aspects to look for:
Make sure that your carry-on suitcase has four wheels. Two simply aren’t enough to easily handle the weight of your case, and, importantly, four wheels makes it so much easier to maneuver when you’re in the hurly-burly of an airport. An excellent example of this is.
Quality & design
Always go for quality. There is a real false economy in going for the cheaper end of the market when buying luggage, especially if you are a frequent flyer.
The design is very important. Does it suit your needs? Is there room for your product samples, your large laptop, the tube for your architectural plans? Think about the things that you travel mostly with and choose your luggage accordingly.
Super important. Are there any among us who have not discovered that they badly need something during the flight and it’s packed at the bottom of the suitcase? So choose one that has enough pockets to easily access what you need from the outside. This means, of course, that you will need to make sure that you pack those things in those pockets before the flight.
What type of luggage do flight attendants use?
We normally carry two bags.
- The overnight carry-on suitcase, which is a suitcase to put all the stuff you will need at destination (like the ones we reviewed above)
- A crew bag, which is a smaller bag with the things we need during the flight so that they are handy.
What type of crew bag do flight attendants use?
Here is a list of some of the proven quality and ‘fit for purpose’ crew bags that we flight attendants use.
Travelpro Maxlite 5 Tote bag
- Padded laptop (up to 14”) and tablet sleeves offer protection for electronics. Organizational pockets store power cords, powerbanks and other essentials
- Quick access, magnetic front pocket is ideal for storing a cell phone or other essentials. Exterior side pocket holds a water bottle, compact umbrella or other accessories
- Polyester fabric with DuraGuard coating resists water and stains to keep luggage looking great. Unobtrusive rear strap fits around the extension handle of a Rollaboard or spinner suitcase for secure stacking and hands-free mobility
- Ergonomic, high-tensile-strength zipper pulls are tough yet easy on the hands
- Backed by Travelpro Built For A Lifetime Limited Warranty. Dimensions: 11 x 21x 5 inches weight: 1.4 lbs
Guess Avila Tote Bag
- Get your essentials ready for the weekend in the GUESS® Avila Strap Tote.
- Nylon construction with faux leather trim.
- Zipper closure.
- Dual flat handles with key-chain detail and removable cross-body.
- Exterior features brand logo with zipper and slip pockets. Lined interior includes slip pockets and roomy compartment. Flat bottom. Imported. Measurements: Bottom Width: 14 in Middle Width: 17 in Top Width: 16 in Depth: 6 3⁄4 in Height: 11 1⁄2 in Strap Length: 45 in Strap Drop: 21 in Handle Length: 24 in Handle Drop: 10 in Accessory Strap Length: 23 in Accessory Strap Drop: 9 in Weight: 1 lb 8 oz
Bagallini Avenue Tote Bag
- THE PERFECT CARRY-ON: With a lightweight, roomy design, Baggallini’s Avenue tote is the perfect bag for traveling or as a catch-all everyday purse.
- ZIPPERED POCKETS: A padded 10” by 13” laptop pocket keeps your computer safe, while other zippered pockets secure your must-have essentials so they’re ready to go.
- MACHINE WASHABLE: To wash in a washing machine, remove wristlet, place in a washing bag or pillowcase, and wash in warm water with mild detergent. Stuff pockets to maintain shape while air drying. Voila
- FITS ON LUGGAGE HANDLE: The Avenue tote has a sleeve that slips on the handle of your rolling suitcase for hands-free travel.
- LIGHTWEIGHT AND WATER RESISTANT: Our water-resistant travel tote weighs 1 lb., 4 oz. and measures 12” tall, 18” wide, and 5.5” deep with a 52” adjustable and removable strap.
TravelPro Crew Versapack Duffle Bag
- High-density ballistic nylon fabric with DuraGuard coating resists stains and abrasions. Quick-access front pocket includes a key fob and organizational compartments.
- SUPRA Zipper heads are engineered to resist damage from daily use and abuse
- Exterior side pocket is ideal for a water bottle or umbrella
- Rear strap fits around the extension handle of a Rollaboard or spinner suitcase for secure stacking and hands-free mobility
- Removable, adjustable shoulder strap offers hands-free carrying
Samsonite Silhouette Duffle Bag
- Large main compartment provides easy access to contents
- Convenient, fleece lined zippered side pocket for smartphone
- Front pocket organization for all of your travel needs. Telescoping handle. Zipper closures
- Removable shoulder strap and padded top carry-handle provide comfort in transport
- Exterior Dimension: 16.25 x 12 x 10.5 inches, Interior Dimension: 16 x 11 x 10 inches
Victorinox Unisex Traveler 6.0 Weekender bag
- BUILT FOR TRAVEL: For maximum agility when traveling the globe, count on the lightweight carry-on bags of Victorinox. Victorinox carry-ons have been designed to meet the requirements of most major airlines while exceeding your expectations.
- DURABLE MATERIALS: To provide even better protection for all that goes with you, we have evolved our luggage to be a light and resilient travel partner. Each piece is designed to handle the demands of intensive travel and stands out for it's highly developed technology, functionality, and durability. Each design endures as many as 30 rigorous tests, stimulating extreme scenarios and environmental conditions
- SAFETY: Travel with confidence knowing your luggage is equipped for anything. Heavy-duty zippers and an integrated TSA approved combination lock provide added security. Certain models include lockable zippers, our Access Lock Combination Recovery Program to recover forgotten lock combinations and/or our Swiss Tracker Bag Tracking Program featuring a unique tracking ID number and a 24–hour-a-day, 365-days-a-year number to return your bag to you quickly.
- TRUSTED QUALITY: Made in Switzerland; Victorinox provides a lifetime guarantee against defects in material and workmanship. Warranties range from 2-year, or 10+1 year guarantees based on collection. No assembly required, money back guarantee.
- DIMENSIONS: 9.4 x 22.8 x 14.2 in CAPACTITY: 43 l
Brands Flight Attendants Prefer
Normally the companies will provide bags of trusted brands like Travelpro, Samsonite, or World Traveler.
But Delsey, American Tourister, and Briggs & Riley are also very popular with flight attendants and pilots.
What things do flight attendants bring in their crew bags?
If you are about to start in this profession or you are curious about what’s in our bags, here is the list of the things we carry. Be prepared to be amazed.
- Little notebook: to keep track of all our flights, write down the flight info (flight times, estimated passengers, flight numbers, etc., or your colleague’s names)
- PA announcements booklet
- Clicker-Handheld counter: to count our section’s passengers
- Pens: Trust me, you’ll need more than one
- Makeup pouch: lipstick, concealer, lip balm, blush, and mascara, hair elastics
- Toiletry bag: toothbrush, hairbrush, hand lotion, hand sanitizer, earplugs, 8-hour cream skin protectant, facial mist…
- Passport cover: you can put your license, medical certificate and Passport inside
- FAK (first aid kit): Band-Aids and basic medicines
- Uniform clothes: Service apron, Hi-vis vest, extra tights, extra scarf, gloves
- Emergency sewing kit
- Drawstring bag: with our service shoes
- Wallet and keys
- Company tablet, charger, Powerbank
- Magazines for when you get bored
- Crew bag tags and crew badge
- Some also use a carry a cooler bag for the snacks or food they want during a flight, but I use a zipper bag to save space.
So, that’s the deep mystery of a flight attendant’s crew bag unraveled for you.
Tips for Buying Your Luggage
- 4 wheels so that it easily moves around the airport using less strength.
- Well-made and durable from a reputable company
- A good warranty. Some brands offer a lifetime warranty to repair or replace the case.
To us, flight attendants who move our luggage in a hectic and demanding environment, our choices are very important, and they are made with all the above points in mind.
Perhaps you should do the same?
So, my picks from the products I reviewed are TravelPro Maxlite 5 and Briggs & Riley Uprights.
Why? Because it ticks these very important boxes:
- Lifetime warranty
- An understanding of what the busy traveler needs from a carry-on bag
- Easy to maneuver in the madness of a busy airport