The Best Luggage For Travel, According To Flight Attendants

Backpacks, carry-ons, duffel bags and more that all have the stamp of approval from aviation professionals.
Travel like a frequent flyer with this compression travel trunk, an expandable carry-on, this hard-shell checked suitcase and a ride-along carry-on made specifically for traveling with kids.
Briggs & Riley, Amazon, Rimowa, Nordstrom
Travel like a frequent flyer with this compression travel trunk, an expandable carry-on, this hard-shell checked suitcase and a ride-along carry-on made specifically for traveling with kids.

Navigating airport terminals, crowded gates and narrow plane aisles is arguably the most stressful aspect of air travel — an experience made even worse when you’re dragging around cumbersome luggage. It’s a scenario any harried traveler can relate to.

The only people who seem to be immune to clumsy baggage woes are flight attendants. Strolling along in their neat uniforms, these frequent-flyers seem to have mastered the art of streamlined travel and know just what to look for when it comes baggage that is functional, easy to maneuver and perpetually organized.

Lucky for us, a few flight attendants shared their secrets and divulged some of their favorite brands and luggage options for everything from carry-ons, checked bags and personal travel, as well as some other suitcase-related tips and tricks.

Read on to find hard-shell suitcases that glide like butter, a multi-compartment carry-on that holds more than you think, a sleek laptop tote that’s a must-have for business travel and the one piece of baggage you need when traveling with a kiddo.

HuffPost may receive a share from purchases made via links on this page. Every item is independently selected by the HuffPost Shopping team. Prices and availability are subject to change.

A lightweight duffel that folds away into a pouch
“I like K-Way," said Zamaphisa Mlambo, a travel enthusiast and flight attendant for British Airways. "It’s a good brand that’s durable, affordable and good quality for everyday use.”

This nylon duffel is lightweight and can easily fit into overhead compartments and beneath seats. It features a removable shoulder strap and multiple bag-side handles and, when not in use, can fold up into an included pouch that can itself fit into purses or other bags.
A durable hard-sided 360-degree spinning trunk for the frequent flyer
Deb Higgins, vice president of sales for SpeedBird, a private jet charter service headquartered in Orlando, told HuffPost that “good luggage is one that glides smoothly next to you and is easy to maneuver in tight spaces. I love 4- and 8-wheeler luggage, especially 360-degree spinners because they make moving luggage a breeze.”

Higgins recommended the brand Briggs & Riley. “They’ve got incredible compression technology that a lot of hard-sided luggage does not have," she said. "They’re also durable and have great spinner wheels for maneuverability. Though they’re quite expensive, I’d say they make sense if you travel a lot.”

This medium hard-side rolling trunk is made with three layers of polycarbonate material that's scratch-resistant, lightweight and resilient. The brand also offers a lifetime guarantee on all luggage.
An under-seat carry-on spinner bag with a USB port
Higgins also recommends Samsonite for durability and storage features. “[Their luggage] is stylish and elegant, giving a polished look that’s great for business purposes, but it also holds up long-term against wear and tear,” she said.

This carry-on bag from Samsonite is similar to what Higgins uses to carry all of her in-flight essentials. It has 360-degree spinner wheels for a functioning roll in all directions as well as an integrated USB port that lets you charge electronics on the go.
An expandable spinner suitcase with spacious compartments
Higgins prefers soft-sided luggage because it's flexible and typically has more options for inner-compartment storage. “Plus, you can overstuff [these bags] if you need to,” she pointed out.

Even though this lightweight and easy-to-maneuver suitcase by Samsonite seems simply designed, it’s an effective option for large-capacity needs at a relatively reasonable price. At 33 by 21 inches, it's a checked-only option, and can expand nearly an inch in width to accommodate extra clothing or shoes.
A medium-sized checked bag that was made for aviation professionals
“One of my favorite luggage brands is Travelpro,” Higgins said. “They’ve got great technology that makes frequent travel super-friendly, [like] sturdy handles with cushioning and self-aligning wheels that make it easy to roll luggage in any direction. They’re also super-expandable. I think they’re a must for people who fly a lot.”

A mid-sized checked bag option, the Travelpro Maxlite 25-inch suitcase is a lightweight choice that maximizes packing space.
A multi-compartment laptop tote ideal for business travel
Tumi is the brand of totes, briefcases and backpacks recommended by Deanna Castro, a major airline flight attendant of 16 years and creator of Future Flight Attendant, a platform designed to help aspiring flight attendants. “There are so many compartments to keep you organized,” she said of the brand's roomy totes.

On its exterior, the multi-compartment Sheryl tote has a padded pocket that accommodates laptops up to 14 inches, a slide-sleeve so the tote can sit securely on top of roll-along luggage, and an easy-access snap closure pocket with a key leash that's great for phones. On the inside, the tote features a variety of pockets for tablets, electronics, pens and cards and has a locking zipper for security.
A lightweight soft-sided carry-on that expands
Castro prefers soft-sided two-wheeled luggage for carry-ons because they tend to be less cumbersome than hard-sided spinner wheel bags. “Not only that, but two-wheeled luggage does not roll away when you let go of the handle like four-wheeled luggage can,” she said.

If you find you have trouble keeping two-wheeled luggage from tipping over, Castro says it's easy to balance properly: “If you hang a second smaller bag, like a tote or a purse off the front of the bag, two-wheeled luggage becomes super light and easy to pull through the terminal."

She personally uses a 19-inch carry-on-compliant roll-aboard bag by Travelpro, a Travelpro tote that she attaches to the front, and a Tumi briefcase that sits on top carrying all of her electronics. “It’s the perfect setup. It looks great, it’s enough room to pack for a week, and so easy to carry all over the world and through every airport,” she said.

This 22-inch version of her carry-on, also by Travelpro, is two-wheeled, ultra-lightweight and expandable up to two extra inches in width. Like the larger four-wheeled version above, this suitcase has spacious exterior pockets in addition to a tapered design that helps prevent tipping.
An internet-trending laptop bag specifically for travel
Chandler Jane, a flight attendant and travel influencer, recommended buzzy travel brand CalPak. “They are stylish, accessible and a relatively affordable brand. The colors and designs are modern and unique as well.”

You may have seen this boxy travel backpack, with its generous compartments and functional design, making the rounds on the internet. The interior is made up of two separate sections, including one that contains a padded pocket that accommodates a 15-inch laptop. It’s made from faux leather and has a back sleeve so it can be securely carried on top of rolling luggage.

CalPak also has a number of other travel essentials including garment bags, tech organizers, checked suitcases and carry-ons.
A luxury hard-shell suitcase that holds 10 days’ worth of clothes
According to Jane, a good checked bag is preferably hard-sided and brightly or uniquely colored to avoid any confusion at the luggage carousel. “[Hard-shell bags] are less likely to flip over when weight is added, and the durability of the shell will protect your belongings inside,” she explained.

One of her favorite brands, Rimowa, which Jane called “iconic,” has some of the most durable luggage available as well as a unique color selection. Both lightweight and strong, the Essentials check-in suitcase features stable ball-bearing-mounted wheels for optimal maneuverability and a flexible interior divider to keep packed items secure during transit.
A removable purse divider to keep things organized
Organization is key for Vanessa Settimi, a flight attendant and inflight instructor with Swoop, a low-airfare airline based in Canada.

“I think it is worth the investment to have a purse organizer or purse divider. This is a removable bag that goes right into your existing purse to create handy sections and pockets. When traveling, there’s always so many important things to keep track of, so when each item has its own place and I know exactly where everything is organized, it makes for a much more pleasant experience,” Settimi said.

This purse insert is made of soft and pliable felt that can easily mold to the interior of any existing tote or bag. It has multiple pockets to hold phones, wallets, keys, cosmetics and important travel documents, and the inner three compartments can also be removed depending on preference.
A three-in-one children’s ride-along carry-on suitcase
“If you are traveling with children, the handiest bags I’ve seen are the child ride-on carry-on bags [that] are designed for [kids] to sit on. They’re great for when you are traveling through an airport, when you’re waiting to board your flight and even when getting onto the aircraft, as they fit perfectly when being pulled down the aisle. They also have that added feature of making travel fun for kids,” Settimi said.

This 19-inch carry-on from Stokke allows kids between the ages of three and seven to ride on top while being pulled through the airport, and even transforms into a leg-rest or in-flight child's bed for maximum comfort travel.

Before You Go

A sustainably made Thousand Fell sneaker

19 Comfortable Shoes You'll Want To Pack On Your Next Trip

Popular in the Community


HuffPost Shopping’s Best Finds