These Gold Wings

Luggage & Carry-on Flight Attendants REALLY Use

flight attendant with her luggage
Photo credit: Jéssica Marques

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:

😍 TravelPro Maxlite 5
😮 Briggs & Riley Uprights

Best Carry-on Overall

TravelPro Maxlite 5 expandable luggage

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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
  • Light
  • 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

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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
  • Lightweight
  • TSA lock
  • Sharp look and great construction
  • Many organizational pockets
  • Easy to spot at baggage claim
  • Lightweight


  • Scratches easily

Best Affordable Carry-on

American Tourister 4 kix spinner suitcase

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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


  • Price
  • 10-year warranty
  • Lightweight
  • 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

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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


  • Expensive
  • Can be a bit unstable

Best Luxury Carry-on

TUMI Voyageur rolling suitcase

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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
  • Lightweight
  • 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

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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

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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
  • Ultralightweight
  • 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

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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
  • Expandable


  • No USB port
  • No extra padding for the laptop

Buying Guide

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.

External access

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.

flight attendant luggage before flying
This is my luggage in the morning just before departing for the airport

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

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Guess Avila Tote Bag

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Bagallini Avenue Tote Bag

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TravelPro Crew Versapack Duffle Bag

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Samsonite Silhouette Duffle Bag

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Victorinox Unisex Traveler 6.0 Weekender bag

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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
  • Sunglasses
  • Umbrella
  • 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:

  • Durability
  • 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
  • Appearance/style

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