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.
What’s the 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.
- IPAD/LAPTOP COMPATIBLE - It has a specially designed, airport check-point friendly protective pouch to hold an iPad, laptop computer or many other electronic flight bag devices.
- DURABLE FABRIC - Exterior of the cockpit travel bag is made of sail cloth making it water resistant.
- COMPACT & FUNCTIONAL - This flight cabin bag gives you the style, storage, organization, compact size and functionality like never offered before.
- MULTIPLE POCKETS - Storage for 2 headsets or overnight gear; side pocket is built to fit water bottle or hand-held radio.
- SPECIFICATIONS - Padded pocket designed to protect the iPad or other tabletsor a 16" laptop; pocket dimensions: Height: 16" x Width: 10" x Depth: 3"
- 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… anything that you could need for an overnighter
- Stylish, lightweight and very well thought out flight bag
- The B4 SWIFT is the perfect VFR flight bag. It's also an unbeatable daily bag for all your technology and personal stuff.
- Best of all, it's TWO bags for the price of one. You get both the B4 and the B0 SLIM (by removing the 4-inch center section).
- Includes the removable and interchangeable SIDE POCKET ALPHA and SIDE POCKET CHARLIE. Also includes the Main Handle, Shoulder Strap, and the Slim Handle Kit.
- Designed to hold one or two full-sized headsets. Easily carries BOTH a 13" laptop and an iPad (or other tablet).
- Fits full-sized documents, folders, clipboards, magazines. Or even a couple changes of clothes.
- 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!
What’s the best small briefcase for a pilot?
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”.
- Wrapped bale handles for comfort
- SmartPocket slides over upright handles for easy mobility
- Easy access quick stash front pocket
- Padded, removable adjustable shoulder strap
- Padded laptop compartment
- Dimensions: 17”x12.5”x5.5”
- This Samsonite classic briefcase has lots of compartments to hold all your essentials
- It’s perfect for those who are looking for something compact, but with a large capacity
- It’s made of durable ballistic nylon
- It has a handy pocket that slips over the handle of a carry-on suitcase, making it super convenient to carry 2 suitcases with one hand
Small briefcase alternatives
- Laptop briefcase with external USB port, power bank pocket, and RFID-blocking pocket
- Protects computer with padded laptop pocket and separate padded tablet sleeve
- Tough ballistic nylon with DuraGuard coating helps resist stains and abrasions
- Fits under the seat or in overhead bins on most major US airlines
- Carry-on bag measures 16-in. H x 12-in. L x 5.5-in. W; weighs 3.6 lbs
- Dimensions: 16”x12”x5.5”
- This briefcase includes a USB port to connect any device, and an RFID-blocking pocket to help protect credit cards
- It also includes the rear strap that slips over the extended handle of any spinner luggage
- It’s made of high-quality ballistic nylon to help resist stains and abrasions
- It’s a solid smart bag for those who intend to carry lots of items. If you love pockets and organization, this is your briefcase. It may be a bit small on the inside but it’s very, very well made.
- Depth: 7.25 inches
- Crafted of genuine leather
- Front, Pocket organization for all of your business needs
- Padded, removable shoulder strap adjusts for convenience
- Leather is made from hide or skin that has been split into layers or segments before or after tanning
- Dimensions: 16.8”x12.2”x7.2”
- This expandable leather briefcase fits a 15” laptop computer and the front and the back have small compartments to store all your accessories
- Highly recommended for those who are needing a little bit more space than a standard briefcase With the expandable option, it really can fit a lot.
- It also has a pocket that slips over the handle of a carry-on suitcase, making it super convenient to carry two suitcases with one hand.
- 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 2 fabrics: 400d Halcylon (a lighter weight option) or 1050d Ballistic Nylon if you want a super-tough fabric
What’s the best duffle bag for a pilot?
For those pilots who are looking for a handheld everyday bag with a larger capacity, we have found a few interesting options that are recommended by almost everyone in the industry.
- High quality ballistic nylon fabric with duraguard coating features stain and abrasion resistance
- Convenient control of charging electronics on the go via external USB port. Padded tablet sleeve offers protection for electronic essentials
- Slim, compact design makes this the ideal short business trip duffel. Integrated suiter system helps reduce wrinkling of business attire
- Backed by our built for a lifetime limited worry free warranty that covers the cost of repair for damage from airline or other common carrier for the first 3 years after registration under the trusted companion promise
- Dimensions H 13"x L 22" x W 9" weight 4.0 lbs ; Volume : 53.5 L
- Dimensions: 13”x22”x9”
- This bag will become one of your favorites because of how versatile it is. It’s excellent for an overnight layover or a longer stay
- It has a removable section to carry a suit, shirt or dress so they don’t get wrinkled.
- It’s made of a light, but sturdy ballistic nylon, durable and top quality material
- It features a padded sleeve with room for your iPad, cables and other accessories, a special pocket for your power bank and it also has a USB connection for charging electronics while traveling
- This is exactly what you need for your everyday use or for overnight trips to pack everything you need and keep your leisure clothes/uniform organized and wrinkle-free
Duffle bags alternatives
- SpeedThru pocket for quick storage of items at security checks
- Dual purpose slip-through back pocket allows bag to slide over the Outsider handle for easy transport
- Gusseted front zipper pocket designed to fit Briggs & Riley Compact Toiletry Kit (style 118). Features interior pocket for tickets, magazines, pens, keys, etc.
- Gusseted side zipper pockets for added organization. One side features an exterior slip pocket and zipper water bottle pocket. The opposite side has a larger slip pocket for magazines.
- Large U-shaped opening allows for easy access to contents
- Dimensions: 10.5”x16.5”x11.5”
- Exceptional Briggs & Riley quality. This brand is known for making top-quality luggage and offers a lifetime guarantee on all their bags. So it means that if your bag is ever broken or damaged they will repair at no cost
- This duffle bag is smaller than the Travelpro crew 11 but has many gusseted pockets and a roomy main compartment with a zippered mesh pocket for smaller items. It can be opened up from the top to make it easy to access important items while in the cockpit
- Recommended for pilots who enjoy having their items well organized and accessible
- If you need something bigger for a long layover, you can also fit this bag on the top of the Briggs & Riley Baseline Carry On Bag using the pocket on the back of the bag
- Rugged PVC armor base is water resistant
- Thick padding protects expensive headsets and electronics equipment
- Many pockets, slots and zones keep everything organized
- Light colored interior for easier visibility into the bag in low-light conditions
- 600D material is rugged and lightweight
- Dimensions: 16”x11.5”x9”
- Made of water-resistant, rugged PVC fabric
- Flyboy Large Crew bag is padded on all sides and it comes with removable interior dividers to allow you to set up the compartments the way you want or need
- The interior design in grey instead of black will help you find items easily in low light conditions
- In summary: this is a very well built bag with high capacity recommended for private pilots, student pilots or any commercial pilot looking for a durable bag with lots of compartments. Carry books, company manuals, headsets, iPad and you will still have room for personal items. The only downside of this bag is that it doesn’t have the rear strap that fits around the handle of a roller suitcase.
What’s the best backpack for a pilot?
Yes, I said backpack.
Pilots use their bags every single day, so there are pilots who prefer a backpack as a flight bag.
They are easier to carry through airports and more versatile than a normal flight bag.
- Executive laptop backpack with external USB port, power bank pocket, and RFID-blocking pocket
- Designed to let you pass through airport security without removing laptop or tablet
- Tough ballistic nylon with DuraGuard coating helps resist stains and abrasions
- Fits under seat or in overhead bins on most major US airlines
- Back pack measures 17-in. H x 13-in. L x 8-in. W; weighs 3.8 lbs ; VOLUME - 29L
- Dimensions: 17”x13”x8”
- This crew executive backpack includes a USB port to connect your devices, an RFID blocking pocket to protect your credit cards and a padded large compartment for laptops with separate sleeve for tablets
- It’s quite big, well thought out and has a lot of storage
- Very well made, with robust zippers and enough padding and high-quality ballistic nylon, it holds its shape, it doesn’t collapse and it stands on its own
- Another great product from Travelpro for any pilot looking for something functional and durable
- EXTERNAL FEATURES: Zip entry to main compartment, webbing top carry handle with leather accent, Add-a-bag sleeve, 2 front straight zipper pockets, front U-zip pocket, 2 side zip pockets (one with waterproof lining and air vent), back slip pocket with hidden magnetic snap
- INTERNAL FEATURES: 15-inch laptop compartment, iPad pocket, 1 zip pockets, 3 open pockets, 2 card pockets, TUMI Tracer, key leash, pen loop
- MATERIAL: Ballistic Nylon
- DIMENSIONS: Dimensions in inches: 17" x 14" x 8"; Weight in pounds: 3.2 lbs
- Dimensions: 17”x14”x8”
- Genius design, with multiple interior and exterior pockets. It has one waterproof pocket specially designed for a bottle or an umbrella, a hidden cell phone pocket, laptop and tablet compartment, a key leash, and zippered compartments
- This is a bag for those who want a top designer quality bag with plenty of useful storage
What’s the best pilot rolling briefcase?
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!
- Color: Black
- Size (W x H x D): 23 x 40 x 43cm
- Volume: 23L
- Weight: 3.5kg
- Material: Polycarbonate, polyester jacquard
- Dimensions: 9”x15.7”x16.9”
- Rimowa is one of the leaders in luxury luggage brands. The robustness of their products is guaranteed and the style combines the best functionality and comfort
- This Rimowa limited edition for Lufthansa is an almost indestructible design. Made of light and durable polycarbonate it’s the favorite hard-shelled bag in Asia
- It has a very well designed interior, with detachable compartments and a separate laptop pocket
- Good, smooth double rollers wheeling system
- It may be pricey, but it’s built to last
Hard case alternative
- Best In Class Functionality: Ideal for frequent business travelers who carry laptops, equipment, and files between locations. Removable pocket and file dividers for additional packing space. Also includes an integrated TSA lock that allows for the packing Class to be locked with a code.
- Innovation By Design: Packed with style and designed to last, TUMI V4 collection is lightweight, durable, and ready for the journey ahead. Made with multiple layers of polycarbonate. Raised channels for increased durability. Impact absorbing aircraft grade aluminum telescopic X-Brace 45 Handle System.
- Add-A-Bag Sleeve: Effortlessly carry items at the same time with one hand. The sleeve allows you to slide the compact bag onto the handle of another suitClass, condensing your load and making travel that much easier.
- Lightweight & Durable: The V4 collection is expertly crafted with multiple layers of polycarbonate while meeting Tumi's rigorous durability standards. This premium collection was engineered to withstand both carry-on and checked baggage environments.
- TUMI Tracer: The Tumi Tracer is an exclusive, complimentary program that helps reunite Tumi customers with their lost or stolen items. With a unique 20-digit product number assigned to each individual product, the owner's contact information is registered into the Tracer database. Any lost or stolen item that is reported to us can be reunited with the owner.
- Dimensions: 16”x15”x8.5”
- Very functional hard-side case. You can reconfigure the inside to suit your needs, it has plenty of room
- Features include a removable pocket and file dividers for additional packing space, retractable top and side carry handles, an integrated TSA lock, and a removable lock.
- The dual spinning wheel system ensures effortless maneuverability in every direction
- It’s super light, strong, durable yet very lightweight.made of polycarbonate alloy
- Probably the most durable and stylish wheeled briefcase
- Rolling Upright Bag: This swivel wheeled cabin bag features an aircraft-grade aluminum telescoping handle system. Outsider handle provides greater capacity and a flat interior surface for packing so clothing arrives wrinkle-free
- Durable Construction: Made with ballistic nylon outer fabric that resists wear, moisture, dirt and abrasion. Includes a zippered pocket for quick-access items, a water bottle zipper pocket and an organizer compartment with padded pocket for iPad or tablet
- 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
- Dimensions: 15.5”x9.8”x15.5”
- Made of the toughest kind of ballistic nylon. It resists wear, tear, and abrasions
- Very strong wheels, handles, and zippers
- Best lifetime warranty: will cover you for anything that happens to this luggage no matter how many years you have owned it.
- Multi-directional wheels allow you to spin and maneuver your bag easily
- You’ll find the handle on the outside of the bag to create more packing space and making a nice flat bottom
- Expensive, but worth it if you want superior quality
Soft case alternative
- Perfect fit adjustable laptop system provides custom fit for various size laptops
- Smartstrap slides over upright handles for easy mobility
- Organized interior with separate pocket with divided files and cross straps for overnighter capacity
- Four, multi-directional spinner wheels allow 360 degree upright rolling in multiple directions
- Push-button locking handle adjusts for convenience
- Dimensions: 16.25”x7.25”x13.25”
- You will be impressed with the quality of this bag: the wheels are sturdy, it has a nice tall telescopic handle and the outside is of good quality nylon
- It has plenty of pockets and zipper compartments, including a laptop compartment, big enough to fit whatever size laptop you have
- There is an accordion file folder case with 3 sections inside the main compartment which is ideal for papers and folders
- Useful strap to put your luggage on the top of other luggage
- It spins really nicely, making it easy to maneuver from gate to gate
- The only con is that it doesn’t have as much room for clothes compared to the Briggs bag because the handle goes inside and takes up storage space
What’s the best pilot traditional wheeled case?
If you are looking for a typical pilot bag, classic, durable and elegant, you’ll love these.
- Rolling Catalog Case: This wheeled bag features a hanging file system that fits foolscap size suspension files plus a removable fully padded 17.3” laptop sleeve that is checkpoint friendly for easy travel
- Work And Travel: This hard sided wheeled catalog case has a telescoping handle system, speed buckle locks, a sturdy carry handle and a full size front zip-down organizer section and file compartment
- Solo Has Your Back: We guarantee every bag to be free from defects in materials and craftsmanship for 5 years from the date of purchase, and every tablet case for 1 year from the date of purchase
- Keep Moving In Style: Our sustainably designed suitcases, carry on bags, rolling cases, backpacks, briefcases, messenger bags, hybrid bags, and more bring the dynamic spirit of New York to your commute
- Solo New York: Founded in 1940, our third generation family business is proud to represent the city that is our home. We combine a commitment to craftsmanship with a flair for urban, style savvy innovation
- 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, laptop, 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
- TSA APPROVED CARRY ON SIZE - Measurements 18” x 17” x 10.5” TSA approved carry-on size for all carriers. Inside measurements 17.25” x 13” x 6.5”
- LAPTOP PROTECTION - Removable padded computer sleeve holds 13” up to 17” notebook laptops.
- SMOOTH HANDLING - Push-button locking telescoping rolling handle system. Extremely maneuverable rubber wheels with curb impact protection frame.
- DURABLE CONSTRUCTION - Made with a sturdy hard sided frame to last, riveted attachments for all components like the handles and wheels. Tear and puncture resistant ballistic nylon outer material. Comes with Alpine Swiss manufacturer’s warranty.
- EASY ORGANIZATION - Classic catalog case design main section with a legal-size hanging file divider and removable laptop sleeve. Front flap organizer pocket fully zips down on both sides for easy access with card slots, pen holder and a slip pouch. Zip around front accordion file divider accommodates letter A4 or legal-size documents. Top Handle & lockable 1.5” side release buckles. Luggage locks not included.
- Dimensions: 10.5”x18”x17”
- Classic pilot case with a file divider and a removable laptop sleeve
- Simple and timeless sophisticated design
- Solid case, with lots of room and lots of compartments
- Made out of durable ballistic nylon
- Best quality and affordable price
What’s the best overnight carry-on bag?
If you have a medium-long layover, you’ll need to carry a wheeled carry on suitcase in addition to your pilot flight bag.
These bags are the ones used by any pilot, flight attendant or traveler for a weekend trip or a short getaway.
The toughest soft cases
- Dimensions: 22”x14”x8”
- 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
- This is the perfect choice for those needing ultra-durable luggage
- The only drawback: it’s a bit heavier than average
- Watertight, Crush-Proof and dust-proof. Lid depth: 1.79" (4.5 cm); bottom depth: 5.79" (14.7 cm); total depth: 7.58" (19.3 cm)
- Faa maximum carry on size and buoyancy is 64.15 pounds
- Open cell core with solid wall design to make a strong yet lightweight travel case
- Easy open double throw latches cover, O-Ring seal and a automatic pressure equalization valve.
- Lifetime guarantee of excellence. Interior (L x w x d): 19.75" X 11.00" X 7.60" (50.2 x 27.9 x 19.3 Exterior (L x w x d): 22.00" X 13.81" X 9.00" (55.9 x 35.1 x 22.9 cm).PURGE VENT: 3 Micron Hydrophobic Non-Woven
- Dimensions: 22”x13.81”x9”
- More than durable, this case is indestructible (The military, police and fire departments use these), You can throw it in the water or drop it, no worries
- Lifetime warranty
- The best to keep your camera, laptop or valuables safe
- Handles on two different sides allow for comfortable carrying
- The downside is that it’s a bit heavy for its size
- 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
- Dimensions: 20”x13.5”x9.5”/6.7lbs
- Spacious inside divided in two: a zipped upper lid compartment and a bottom one with straps to hold down clothes
- Extremely lightweight and tough
- 10 year warranty
- The 360º Spinner wheels make it easy to maneuver
- Flexible and durable hardshell designed to absorb impact and pop back into its original shape
- Reasonably priced and well-built suitcase
- High strength Makrolon 100 percent Virgin Polycarbonate hard case shell
- Packs easily with a traditional 80/20 lid opening
- Easy rolling dual wheels to help you maneuver over any surface
- Garment Carrier; Product dimensions: 9 x 15.5 x 21.5 inches
- Scratch-resistant textured case minimizes unwanted marks
- Dimensions: 9 x 15.5 x 21.5 inches
- Made of High strength Makrolon 100 % Polycarbonate, it’s designed to be sturdy but also have some flexibility
- Patented outside handle: Trolley bars on the outside of the bag for more space and flat packing inside the case.
- 4 swivel wheels allow for effortless maneuverability
- 80/20 lid opening: unlike standard hardside cases, Torq bags open like a traditional suitcase
- Indestructible product with Briggs and Riley lifetime warranty
- Travel with the same carry on innovations professional flight crews use including an external USB port for recharging any USB device from the dedicated charger pocket. Battery pack is not included
- High quality ballistic nylon construction, a stain and scratch resistant DuraGuard coating and damage resistant Supra zipper heads for long lasting durability. Premium leather low profile top and side carry handles, full length interior lid pocket, side mesh, wet pockets, adjustable straps, removable hanging garment bag
- 8 self aligning magnetic 360 degree dual spinner wheels for smooth, straight rolling without drifting and a PowerScope extension handle to minimize wobbling with stops at 38 inches, 40 inches and 42.5 inches
- Backed by our built for a lifetime limited worry free warranty that covers the cost of repair for damage from airline or other common carrier for the first 3 years after registration under the trusted companion promise
- Case Dimensions: 21 x 14 (can expand an extra 2”) x 9; Overall Dimensions: 23.5x14.5x9.5, Weight 7.2 pounds ; Volume: 46 litre
- Dimensions: 23.5”x14.5”x9.5”
- The most popular Travelpro design for crews Worldwide
- External USB port for powering up any USB device
- Made of high-quality ballistic nylon with a DuraGuard coating for stain and abrasion resistance
- 8 self-aligning spinner wheels
- Lifetime free warranty
- It expands 2 extra inches and offers a suiter to help keep your clothes wrinkle-free
- The top, side and bottom handles, make it easily carryable in any orientation
- THE CO-PILOT: An ultra light rolling clamshell suitcase with sleek styling
- KEEP IT ORGANIZED: Integrated ID window for fast, clear identification; Internal mesh divider keeps items separate and organized; Clamshell construction makes for easy packing and organizing; Expandable top compartment for quarantining shoes and toiletries
- CLEVER EXTRAS: Reinforced grab handles on all sides for an easy heave-ho; Removable skateboard wheels; This luggage roller features double-pole handle system; Bike-inspired comfort roller handle system; Padded front zippered pocket compatible with up to 13" laptop or tablet
- MATERIALS & FIT: Medium roller is 22" high and the domestic carry-on legal size; Small roller is 20" high and the international carry-on legal size; XL roller is 28" high and must be checked on flights; Main body material is rugged Reverse 600D Non-P
- LIFETIME WARRANTY: Timbuk2 stands behind the legendary quality and craftsmanship of all our products; We also embrace the wild, twisty ways of life; If there is a defect in the materials or workmanship we will repair the bag at our discretion for the lifetime of the product
- Dimensions: 20.1”x14.2”x9.1”
- Solid and lightweight
- You have handles on every side of the bag, including the bottom, so it makes it super easy to carry
- The Wheels are 2 skateboard wheels, so they very easy and cheap to replace
- The front pocket has a zipper that allows easy access to the main compartments while the bag is in the overhead bin
- The main compartment is divided into two halves, and it has a mesh flap for each side to separate items easily
- Best buy for any pilot
Complete 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:
Your flight bag must be lightweight, resistant and not too big.
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.
The last important feature is the size, the requirement is a small or not too big bag. At least that is more and more the tendency. For 3 obvious reasons:
- Dragging heavy and bulky luggage is not what you want
- The space inside the cockpit is limited
- Most of the pilots don’t need to carry much nowadays. Just license, passport, and iPad.
So the smaller the better.
Anyway, 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 type of pilot bag to choose?
It depends mainly on your preferences, what you need to pack (some pilots still carry a huge amount of manuals and charts) and the type of flying you do (schedules/routes you have).
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 . Very practical.”
So this type of bag will suit, short-haul or low-cost airline pilots, sport aviation pilots, flight instructors, tour pilots, etc
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.
If you have longer layovers, then you can add a big 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 else should you consider before buying your luggage?
Check if the luggage has a luggage strap to be able to attach it to the another suitcase handle and be able to carry both together with one single hand.
That, believe me, is really convenient.
Any luggage with Four wheels obviously has a big advantage in helping you tow around the airport. They will roll smoothly and be more stable.
Large capacity. Even though most pilots want small bags, they also want the largest storage capacity. So this should also be considered.
Many compartments: 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.
What to put in your 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
- Calculator (most people use their phone)
- Sunglasses: not polarized
- Chargers & Power bank
- Phone & iPad
- Food & Water
- Extra clothes
- Manuals: only if you don’t have your iPad or tablet
Which 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, Rimowa, Luggage Works.
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.
Last update on 2020-12-02 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API