Best Pilot Bags and Luggage: What Do Pilots Really Prefer?

pilot bags

When it comes to bags and suitcases nobody knows more about this topic than flight attendants and pilots.

We spend so much time packing, unpacking, and hauling our cases through busy terminals, that we’ve become experts in air travel luggage.

I have personally destroyed what I thought was a rugged roller bag in just a few weeks, so I have learned the hard way to tell at a glance what’s good or bad quality.

So, to help prevent you from making the same sort of mistake, here is a – based on pilots’ opinions –  compilation of the most durable and thoughtfully designed flight bags and suitcases available.

Let’s see a list of the most popular models sought after by pilots.

Best Luggage for Pilots

These luggage are the ones used by any pilot, flight attendant or traveler for everyday work, a weekend trip, or a short layover.

The best hard-shell luggage

35l cabin travel case

46 Reviews
Sterling Pacific 35L Cabin Carry-On Travel Case Luggage

  • Full-aluminum construction
  • Dual-wheel design
  • Reinforced A380 corners
  • Italian full-grain leather handles
  • Dimensions: 22.5″ x 14″ x 8.5″
  • Volume: 35L
  • Weight: 11.5 lbs
  • Maximum allowable cabin & carry-on size on major American airlines

Best features:

  • Dimensions: 22.5″ x 14″ x 8.5″
  • Full-aluminum construction makes it durable and long-lasting.
  • Dual-wheel design makes it easy to maneuver.
  • Reinforced A380 corners provide extra protection.
  • Italian full-grain leather handles add a touch of luxury.
  • Small batch production ensures obsessive attention to detail.
  • Lifetime Warranty & Repair Service ensuring durable quality and support throughout its lifespan.

Each case comes with an amenity and care kit. These include the case manual, amenity bag, aluminium pen, and so on.


  • It combines durability and beauty.
  • Its scratches clean up easily using polish or rotary.
  • The travel case enhances easy access and closure with comfortable leather handles.


  • Its cost is about twice the price of other aluminum suitcases.
  • There is no hanging hook for a computer bag.

Why we like it:

The Sterling Pacific Cabin Travel Case’s compact size makes it a suitable and convenient option for packing and accessing your essentials when manning the airplane. Although it is made from aluminum, the case is lightweight, and it is very functional and aesthetically pleasing.

The lightest luggage

➡️ Travelpro Maxlite 5


Searching for luggage that offers comfort mixed with class?

That’s what the Travelpro Maxlite 5 offers. Experience packing ease with two easily accessible front pockets, a spacious interior lid pocket, a side accessory pocket, and adjustable hold-down straps. This lightweight carry-on has been tested to fit in most major airlines’ overhead bins.

Best Features:

  • Dimensions:  21 in. x 14 in. x 9
  • Four-wheel spinners for easy maneuverability, like a Tesla car
  • Expandable main compartment for more items
  • Multiple exterior pockets for extra items
  • Light and durable


  • Multiple pockets for items
  • Customized TSA lock
  • Durability


  • It is smaller than the dimensions suggest.
  • Does not roll well on carpets and gets stuck in cracks.

Why we like it:

Travelpro Maxlite 5 is the lightest carry-on suitcase we suggest. It’s the perfect option for pilots in need of a durable and reliable bag that’s easy to carry and maneuver in any condition.

The toughest luggage

➡️ Luggageworks Stealth 22” Rolling Bag

luggageworks stealth 22


The Luggageworks Stealth 22″ Rolling Bag is a sleek and durable suitcase that’s perfect for flying aircrafts on both recreational and professional trips. It’s made with high-quality materials and features a variety of thoughtful design elements, such as a built-in TSA lock, a padded laptop compartment, and silent spinner wheels.

Best Features:

  • Very very popular among pilots in the US
  • This is really a tank, super rugged luggage
  • Plenty of pockets to carry everything you need and a hook to attach an additional bag
  • It has a solid metal frame, stainless steel retractable handle, and top quality wheels
  • Padded laptop compartment for up to a 17″ laptop for safety
  • Silent spinner wheels for smooth and quiet rolling, as its name implies.
  • Spacious main compartment with multiple pockets and organizers to keep items neat and tidy.


  • Ample Storage space
  • Quality and water resistant
  • Easy to maneuver in tight spaces


  •  The expandable compartment can make the bag difficult to fit under airline seats
  • Heavier than average

Why we like it:

We love the Luggageworks Stealth 22″ Rolling Bag for its sleek design, water resistant, durable construction, and thoughtful features. It’s the perfect suitcase for any commercial pilot seeking a resilient and functional travel companion.

The most durable luggage

➡️ Briggs and Riley Baseline 22”


Introducing the Briggs and Riley Baseline 22, a high-quality domestic carry-on designed for long-lasting performance. With the patented CX one-touch system, you can easily expand and compress the bag to fit your essentials in most US overhead bins. The exterior-mounted Outsider handle keeps your clothes wrinkle-free. Travel with ease using the Briggs and Riley Baseline 22, the perfect combination of durability and convenience.

Best Features:

  • PowerPocket: Conveniently store and charge your battery pack and cellphone on the go.
  • Self-Repairing YKK Zippers
  • Strategically Placed Mesh-Lid Zip Pockets
  • Cinch-down garment panels:
  • Built-in Garment Folder
  • CX Expansion System


  • Three-Sided Handles
  • Secure Retractable Tag
  • Bonus Pouch
  • Smooth and Sturdy Wheels


  • Limited Width in Suiter
  • Non-locking expansion mechanism.
  • Concealed luggage tag.

Why we like it:

Coupled with their quality designs and other useful features of the bag, Riley & Briggs is the only luggage company that offers a true lifetime guarantee. This means that if your bag ever needs repairing, they’ll always repair it for you free of charge, with no need for proof of purchase.

Best Flight Bag for Private and Commercial Pilots

It all depends on what you are wanting to use it for: daily VFR flying, short cross-country trips or a longer multi-day trip.

The best flight bag

➡️ BrightLine Bags B4 Swift


BrightLine Bags offer a durable and water-resistant exterior, ensuring your belongings are protected in any weather.

It has multiple compartments that make it easy for you to stay organized and quickly access your essential documents when traveling.

The dedicated laptop sleeve ensures the protection of your gadgets and enhances your overall carrying experience.

Best Features:

  • Dimensions: 14”x12”x5”
  • Brightline bags are super versatile. You can buy them preconfigured or pick the parts to customize  your bag
  • Brightline B4 is built for the VFR pilot needs, it has storage for one or two headsets, an iPad, a handheld radio, and any other little tech accessories
  • If you don’t want a backpack, the B4 Swift is everything you need. There’s a bigger preconfigured version Brightline Flex B7 Echo if you are looking at something with more capacity
  • You can remove the center section and end up with a smaller daily-use bag to organize your small stuff. You have two bags for the price of one.
  • Super practical – great bag for any pilot!


  • Very comfortable to carry
  • Thoughtful design features
  • Multiple pockets to make room for items
  • Durability


  • The laptop sleeve can only accommodate a 15-inch-sized laptop and below.

Why we like it:

It’s the perfect bag for everyday use, whether for toting flight documents, navigation charts, headsets, tablets, or personal belongings. Its versatility and durability are unmatched.

The runner up

➡️ Flight Outfitters Lift Flight Bag


The Flight Outfitters Lift Bag is a sleek and sturdy accessory designed for professional pilots and those who appreciate a subtle aesthetic. With its compact design, this bag efficiently carries your essentials while keeping you focused on your flight. Reinforced with steel handles and sides, it ensures durability for long-lasting use.

The bag features a spacious headset pocket, an iPad pocket, and a signature orange interior for easy organization even in low-light conditions.

With an exterior pocket for quick access to your backup radio, this bag is perfect for emergencies.

Best features:

  • External Dimensions: 12″H x 10.5″W x 9″D
  • Water bottle/backup radio pocket
  • Fuel tester pocket and two external chart pockets
  • Fleece-lined electronic accessory pockets for ADS-B/GPS/Iridium devices
  • 4 internal mesh organizers for cables and charging cords


  • This lift bag has room for all flight essentials


  • The cable handle interferes with accessibility to the center compartment

Why we like it:

The Flight Outfitters Lift Flight Bag is an excellent choice for pilots who are looking for a well-made, durable, and versatile bag to carry their flying essentials.

The best Duffel Bag for pilots

➡️ ASA Pro Flight Bag 2


The Asa Pro Flight Bag 2 embodies the spirit of aviation, where resilience and comfort intertwine.

Each bag is constructed from padded 600D polyester, renowned for its exceptional durability and ability to withstand the rigors of travel.

A non-slip detachable carry strap ensures effortless portability, while the connectable Comfort grip handles provide a secure and comfortable grip, even when carrying heavy loads.

Best features:

  • Spacious and well-organized
  • Durable and water-resistant
  • Comfortable to carry


  • Stylish and professional design
  • Can be used for multiple purposes like traveling, school, etc


  • High price, but worth every penny.

Why we like it:

The ASA Bag-Pro-1 Pro Flight Bag is a high-quality, durable, and well-organized bag that is perfect for pilots, flight students, and anyone else who needs a reliable bag to carry their flight essentials. The bag is also versatile and stylish, making it a great option for a variety of other uses as well.

The best backpack for pilots



The Mygoflight Flight Bag PLC Pro 2020 Edition is a durable and spacious flight bag that’s perfect for pilots, aviators, and travel enthusiasts.

It’s made with high-quality ballistic nylon, which is hard to come by, and features a variety of thoughtful design elements, such as multiple compartments, a padded laptop pocket, and a built-in headset pouch for entertainment.

Best features:

  • Dimensions: 16”x10”x3”
  • Designed by pilots to protect your gear while flying
  • It has a specially designed pouch to hold an iPad or laptop
  • Storage for 2 headsets, iPad, cables, EFB, books/charts, toiletries, flashlight, etc. anything that you could need for an overnighter
  • Stylish, lightweight, and very well-thought-out flight bag


  • Well Organized interior and spacious
  • Comfortable to carry
  • A competitive price is unmatched
  • Made from quality materials and thoughtful elements to give it a clean feel, both interior and exterior.


  • Often too heavy if fully loaded.

Why we like it:

Its spacious interior gives room for items to be desired. The Mygoflight Flight Bag PLC Pro is the most durable bag to handle all your traveling rigor and has plenty of space to store your essentials and gear like laptops, headsets, chargers, cooling fans, etc.

Best Small Briefcase for Pilots

I see more and more pilots carrying just a briefcase nowadays.

As Captain Mario Linares says: “If you are back in base each day, this type of bag is perfect”.

The best

➡️ Samsonite Classic Leather Toploader Briefcase


The Samsonite Classic Leather Toploader Briefcase seamlessly blends modern sensibilities with timeless elegance. Crafted from top-grain leather, each piece exudes sophistication while ensuring exceptional durability.

Best features:

  • Sleek and modern design
  • Durable top-grain leather construction
  • Dedicated laptop compartment (fits up to 15.6″ laptop)
  • Large front organizer pocket with tablet pocket, phone pockets, and pen pockets


  • Professional and stylish look
  • Well-organized interior with plenty of pockets for storage
  • Comfortable to carry with a padded top handle and adjustable shoulder strap
  • Durable construction


  • The price is high, but the quality justifies it.

Why we like it:

The Samsonite Classic Leather Toploader Briefcase is a great choice for pilots who are looking for a stylish, durable, and well-organized bag. It is a great investment for any pilot who is looking for a high-quality briefcase that will last for years to come.

The runner up

➡️ Tom Bihn Pilot Bag


A compact and versatile travel briefcase that seamlessly transitions from a briefcase to a shoulder bag, the Tom Bihn Pilot Bag is designed to accommodate your daily essentials while fitting comfortably under the seat in front of you on most airplanes.

Best features:

  • A small, versatile bag for the everyday items you use while flying
  • Made in the USA, it’s ultralight, easily accessible and it has many organizational pockets—a  very well-thought-out design
  • The top back pocket with a zipper is designed to allow you to slip the bag over the handle of rolling luggage
  • You can choose between two fabrics: 400d Halcylon (a lighter weight option) or 1050d Ballistic Nylon if you want a super-tough fabric


  • Aesthetic
  • Several pockets to carry all that you need
  • Very sturdy


  • It sags in places and falls to one side when fully loaded.
  • You’ve to fully unzip the front pockets to get some of your essential belongings out.

Why we like it:

Comfortability and durability are hard to come by with bags, and the Tom Bihn Pilot Bag offers that and more space without being heavy.

Best Rolling Briefcase for Pilots

I have included only spinner bags because they move easier in every direction and they require less effort when lugging them around.

Rolling briefcases are perfect for all pilots to carry for daily work or travel; everyone should have one!

Best soft shell rolling briefcase

➡️ Maxlite® 5 Carry-On Rolling Tote


The Travelpro Maxlite Lightweight Rolling Briefcase is a top choice for those looking for a reliable travel companion. Its water-resistant design ensures your belongings stay protected in various weather conditions.

The PowerScope Lite handle makes it easy for you to maneuver when on the go. The stain-resistant polyester fabric ensures durability while maintaining a polished appearance.

Best features:

  • Dimensions: 13.75 in. x 16 in. x 8.5 inches
  • Water-resistant
  • Damages caused by airlines or other common carriers are covered for 1 year when purchased as new and registered.
  • PowerScope Lite handle
  • Stain resistant Polyester fabric


  • Adjustable handle to fit your height.
  • It is suitable for office use, casual travel, or business trips with its adaptable design.
  • The bag is compact and lightweight.


  • Does not fit under the airplane seat.
  • Have a strong chemical odor.

Why we like it:

The Travelpro Luggage Maxlite Lightweight is a combination of durability, space, and lightweight to make piloting experiences worthwhile and comfort guaranteed. It’s an ideal choice for brief journeys.

Best hard shell rolling briefcase

➡️ TUPLUS Aluminum Suitcase Hard Shell Luggage


The Tuplus suitcase is an ultra-strong 100% polycarbonate hard shell briefcase with a double-sided flat design to make it durable and protected from scratches, complemented with a TSA lock to give maximum security for pilots that love having fun.

Best features:

  • Dimensions: 21.9×14.4×8.3 inches and 22.7×13.6×8.2 inches
  • Multi-functional design for keeping documents, gadgets, and personal items.
  • Stress-free mobility with 360-degree rotating wheels for easy navigation.
  • Enhances quick access to essential items like laptops and documents while standing.


  • Sturdy and high-quality design for enhanced protection of valuables during transit.
  • Spacious interior with well-segmented compartments for keeping various items when traveling.
  • Combination lock for added security.
  • Stylish and professional appearance.


  • The aluminum contributes to its overall weight, which may make it too heavy to carry on the plane.

Why we like it:

The TUPLUS hard shell rolling briefcase’s durability and versatility are perfect for work and leisure trips. Its attractive look and aesthetic features will make your colleagues jealous. Moreover, with its smooth-rolling wheels, TSA-approved lock, and telescopic handle, you can be sure to have a worthwhile travel companion.

Best pilot traditional wheeled case

➡️ Solo Morgan Rolling HardSide Catalog


The Solo Morgan Rolling HardSide Catalog and Laptop Case is a sleek and professional solution for pilots looking for a durable and functional case for their luggage.

The case has a sturdy hard side that ensures the safety of your personal belongings, aviation security pass, pilot license, and other professional items. Hence, it is perfect for those who prioritize the protection of their files without compromising on aesthetics.

Best features:

  • Dimensions: 17.5″ x 13.5″ x 7″ inches
  • Made of a sturdy, hard-sided frame and ballistic polyester material
  • Professional looking
  • Good for files, laptops, and accessories
  • Perfect size for everyday travel and to be taken inside the cockpit
  • Removable, fully padded laptop sleeve for a 17.3-inch laptop


  • The smooth-rolling wheels make it easy to move your belongings when traveling without straining your shoulders and back.
  • The sturdy, hard-sided design protects travelers’ laptops and documents from external impacts and potential damage during travel.
  • Its well-organized interior compartments and pockets enable users to keep everything in place


  • The case may be slightly heavier than soft-sided alternatives.
  • Its price is higher compared to some other options on the market.

Why we like it:

The Solo Morgan Rolling HardSide Catalog and Laptop Case has a perfect combination of durability, functionality, and a professional look.

The hard-sided design enhances the protection of the user’s valuables, such as laptops, documents, and so on. With its spacious interior, you can easily carry everything you need for your travels.

Its mobility, which’s powered by the wheeled design, also makes it a suitable option for pilots and professionals who are always on the move.

Comprehensive Buying Guide

With so many styles to choose from, deciding which one to choose can be really confusing.

So, here you’ll find all you need to know to help you select the best flight bag or suitcase for you.

What to look for in a flight bag?

We asked pilots in my company about their flight bags and most of them have their own important requirements and preferences, so it’s a very personal choice.

But there are a few features that are crucial to all of them:

1) Weight and Durability: Your flight bag must be lightweight and resistant

Keep in mind that this bag will have super intensive use, almost every day. You’ll lug it up and down flights, around the airport, city, and hotel, so it had better be light and strong.

And resistant, which means made of high-quality material. But this is subjective. Some pilots prefer a leather case, some people ballistic nylon, and some prefer aluminum.

2) Size: Opt for a small or reasonably sized bag

For 3 obvious reasons:

  • Dragging heavy and bulky luggage is not what you want
  • The space inside the cockpit is limited
  • Most pilots don’t need to carry much nowadays. Just license, passport, and iPad.

So the smaller the better. Don’t worry too much about the size, most of the luggage fit inside the cockpit. If it’s not next to the pilot’s seat, you can leave it behind. It’s mostly about what’s more convenient for you.

What else should you consider before buying your luggage?

Luggage Strap

This feature is highly convenient for ease of transportation.

Check for a Luggage Strap

Ensure the luggage includes a strap for attaching to another suitcase handle. Enables the possibility to carry both pieces with a single hand. That, believe me, is really convenient.

Wheel Configuration

Two Wheels vs. Four Wheels:

Consider the number of wheels on the luggage.

Four wheels offer a significant advantage in maneuverability and stability and in helping you tow around the airport. They will roll smoothly and be more stable.

Storage Capacity

Even though most pilots want small bags, they also want the largest storage capacity. So this should also be considered. You will always require a balance between a compact design and sufficient storage space.

Compartments for Organization

Explore luggage options with multiple compartments. You will find value in separate spaces for keys, wallets, magazines, laptops, or clothes.

After asking many people here in the industry, some of them told me they like to have separate compartments for keys, wallets, magazines, laptop or clothes.

It’s not really necessary but it can be decisive when choosing between two.

Price Factor

Consider your budget constraints and financial priorities. Price should align with your budget and the features offered by the luggage.


Check the duration and coverage details, keep in mind the manufacturer’s reputation and read user reviews for insights.

What type of pilot bag to choose?

Depends on personal preferences, packing needs -some pilots still carry a huge amount of manuals and charts- and the type of flying you do -schedules/routes you have-.


  • Suitable for those who return home daily.
  • Ideal for short-haul or low-cost airline pilots, flight instructors, etc.

Captain Mario Linares finds it practical for essentials and additional items when needed. If you always return back to your home base, which means that you sleep at home every night you just need a business briefcase.

Why more? Captain Mario Linares says: “I have everything I need with me: Passport, iPad, license, keys and wallet, and iPhone. In my case, I can even pack an extra shirt or a lunchbox when I need it. Very practical.

This type of bag will suit,  short-haul or low-cost airline pilots, sport aviation pilots, flight instructors, tour pilots, etc

Small Rolling Briefcase

  • Appropriate for pilots with short layovers or those who sleep at home but need contingency items.
  • Suited for cargo pilots, short-haul, low-cost, regional, and charter pilots.

If you normally have short layovers or you sleep at home but you want to carry something for those just-in-case moments, you may need a briefcase plus a small roller case. Or just a small roller case can work.

This type of bag will suit almost everyone: Cargo pilots, short-haul, low-cost, regional and charter pilot, etc.

Cabin size or medium size luggage

  • Recommended for pilots with longer layovers, spending several nights away from home.
  • Suitable for long-haul, charter, and corporate pilots.

If you have longer layovers, then you can add a suitcase. This type of bag will suit the ones that are spending several nights away from home: long haul pilots, charter and corporate pilots.

What to put in your pilot flight bag?

These are our top recommendations:

  • Documents:  Passport, airport ID, medical documents and  pilot certificate/license
  • Ear defenders: for your walkarounds
  • Alcohol wipes: To disinfect and sterilize inside the cockpit before you start flying
  • A torch: for your night walkarounds (provided by some companies)
  • Headsets: In many airlines, you’ll find them as equipment on the plane
  • Hi-viz: normally provided by the company
  • Toiletry kit: deodorant, toothbrush
  • Pens
  • Calculator (most people use their phone)
  • Sunglasses: not polarized
  • Logbook
  • Chargers & Power bank
  • Phone & iPad
  • Food & Water
  • Keys
  • Extra clothes
  • Wallet
  • Manuals: only if you don’t have your iPad or tablet

Which luggage brands do pilots prefer?

Some pilots prefer Luxury-Premium brands: Briggs & Riley or TUMI.

Some pilots prefer brands that make suitcases designed for flight crews: Travelpro, Luggage Works, Brightline.

And others will choose the best business traveler luggage: Samsonite, Swiss Alpine, American Tourister, Delsey.

Just make sure to pick a high-quality and trustable brand.

I have been using many different bags and there are really big differences between well-known luggage brands and low-budget brands.

Most of the cheap brands can work for an occasional traveler but not for flight crews. They will tear or break within a few months.

Remember, the ideal flight bag is a personal preference.

It really depends on what you want.

Just think about what you need and choose the best pilot flight bag for you.

Still searching for luggage? The preferred luggage of flight attendants article might help you.

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