Looking Good For Lots Less
A Little Bit About Luggage, Part II
By James F. Brown
Jan 31, 2009 - 4:31:43 PM


— Dress Like A Fortune 500 CEO On A Mailroom Budget!


In the previous column, I discussed my system for checked baggage. Now I’ll talk about carry-on.

Airlines permit two pieces of carry-on luggage: one that fits into the overhead bin, and one that fits under the seat in front. Size restrictions limit these two items.

The first carry-on luggage I travel with is a small, soft-sided, sport-type bag with looped handles. It zips at the top and also has two separate compartments at each end. Mine is leather, but cordura is also an excellent choice. A removable shoulder strap is stored in one of the end compartments. This goes under the seat in front, with the top zipper facing me for easy access to the main compartment.

I carry cameras, GPS, MP3 player, headphones, cell phone, and other valuable electronic equipment in this bag. Passport (if needed), airline ticket, boarding pass, books, magazines, and important documents are also stored in this bag. Metal objects such as keys, coin purse, and glasses are put into one of the end compartments before going through the security screening so I won’t set off the magnetic sensors.

I also have chewing gum (to help pop my ears during altitude changes), snacks, and usually a sandwich, fruit, and a candy bar. In coach class these days, no food is free. And what the airlines provide is both skimpy and costly. Bringing my own edibles saves money, plus I can eat whenever I want without waiting for the snack cart.

Luggage and Snacks. Photo by Jocelyn Holt

By the way, exit row seats have more legroom than other rows. If you’re physically able to assist others in an emergency, always request an exit row seat. However, seats in rows ahead of an exit row cannot be reclined, so avoid these if possible.

My other carry-on luggage is a backpack designed to carry a laptop and accessories. I’ve found this to be far more convenient than a briefcase type of laptop bag. The backpack goes in the overhead, either at my row or ahead of it so I can grab it while exiting the plane. You can choose which bag to put in the overhead and which to put under the seat, depending on your needs. But don’t be a dope and put items in the overhead behind your row; you’ll be fighting against the tide of people anxious to deplane at the gate.

On arrival, after retrieving my checked wheeled suitcase, I pop out its telescoping handle, place the sport bag on top of the suitcase, loop its two handles through the telescoped handle, and carry the laptop pack on my back. This way, I’m rolling the suitcase and sport bag without having to carry their weight, and I still have one hand free. It’s an easy and efficient luggage system that’s worked well for me. Feel free to modify it to meet your own travel needs.


James F. Brown is a business consultant and expert on professional attire.


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