Galley Gossip: Crew luggage, rolling vs folding & lifting heavy bags

I just read the New York Times article about your packing advice for travelers. What is the brand and model of the carry-on luggage that you used in the slideshow? – Michelle

The bag featured in the article is a Travelpro 22″ flight crew series 3. My company also provides airline personnel with an 18″ rollaboard. For whatever reason neither one of the bags are featured on Travelpro’s website, but they do offer something similar – a 20″ and 22″ expandable rollaboard under the Crew 7 Series. If you’re looking to buy a new suticase, my advice is to play it safe and go with the smaller one. While I like my 22″ suiter and use it whenever I’m taking long trips, commuting to work for a week straight, or on vacation with another family member using only one bag, I prefer the smaller 18″ suitcase for the majority of my travel.

Savvy travelers know how to pack light. I do this by planning outfits around two pairs of shoes. While the suiter works well when I need it, it’s too big and bulky for shorter trips. Fully packed it doesn’t always fit inside overhead bins on smaller, older aircraft – at least that’s what I’ve been told. Though it does fit just fine on a 767. As for the 737, I’d been warned repeatedly by coworkers it wouldn’t fit, but I was able to get it inside both a regular and reconfigured overhead bin. That said, I didn’t have anything packed inside the suiter section of the bag. Who knows, maybe I got lucky. Maybe my colleagues pack too much. All I know is I got it inside the bin without a struggle and didn’t have to check it.

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Rolling is definitely better than folding, but I find that clothes which don’t need to be folded at all are better off packed flat. I usually pack everything flat except for pants and heavy shirts and sweaters. I make sure I’m wearing my heaviest clothing on the plane. Even thin shirts are packed more efficiently by lying flat and folding the sleeves over, alternating them north and south so the folded parts don’t bulk up. Of course, the rolling method is more convenient once you get there if you are going to be living out of your bag rather than operating from a base. Pulling out clothes packed flat is a pain – Ray

I, too, prefer folding my clothes to rolling on shorter trips because I have less clothing to pack. To avoid wrinkles, I lay uniform items flat in the bag, ends of the dress, pants, or blazer hanging out on one side. Then I’ll place folded items on top. When I’m done, I flip what was hanging out of the bag on top of the folded items. To give you a better idea of what I’m talking about check out photos 9-11 in The New York Times slideshow.

By using the rolling method I’m able to pack more inside my bag. This is why I always roll my clothes on longer trips. And just like you said, Ray, it is easier to get in and out of a bag when clothes have been rolled without creating a mess. As for avoiding wrinkles, make sure to roll your clothing really tight, pulling out the sides and then smoothing the material every three rolls. Or just pack clothes that don’t wrinkle easily. That’s what I do. Certain fabrics are your friend. Think cashmere and jersey. If I do end up with wrinkles, I’ll hang my clothes in the bathroom while I take a hot shower. If that doesn’t work, I’ll call down for an iron. Most hotels have them.

How much did your suitcase weigh when you had finished packing? Can you lift it into the overhead rack by yourself? Thanks. I look forward to reading your blog. – Nancy

I didn’t actually weigh the bag on a scale, but I can tell you this, Nancy, it was heavy, very very heavy! And yes, I could lift it by myself into the overhead bin. Though I’m not sure if anyone else could. For the record, I would never bring on board a bag I couldn’t lift on my own. Why should anyone other than myself be responsible for what I’ve packed? If for whatever reason I can’t lift my bag (like back when I was pregnant or when I broke my toe and wound up on crutches), I check it. Which brings me to a little pet peeve of mine – Flight attendant pet peeve #3: You want me to do what!

How to lift a heavy bag into an overhead bin:

1. Bend at the knee, using leg muscles not back muscles

2. Keep the bag close to your body, distributing the weight of the bag evenly on both sides.

3. Avoid twisting. Pivot with the feet instead

4. If possible, place bag flat on a seat back and then lift the bag using both hands into the bin.

Your bag looked big. It’s worth noting that International airlines have very restrictive weight limits for carry-ons – they range from 13 to 22 pounds – far less than the more liberal weights allowed in North America. – Steve

This is true. International carriers are a lot more strict with what passengers bring on board. But I’ve been pretty lucky in terms of traveling with my 22″ suiter overseas. Last year I visited Italy – Venice, Positano and Rome - with a bag just as full as it was on the slideshow, if not more so, and I was allowed to roll it on board both Ryan Air and Air One without a hassle. My husband takes it to London twice a year and he’s never had a problem either.

A miracle in a carry on – but no underwear? – Marie

I can not tell you how many people, complete strangers, have emailed me about my underwear! Or lack thereof. Even my own mother had something to say. Here’s the deal. I wear it. I pack it. I just didn’t want the entire world seeing it! I felt weird enough rolling a nightie, let alone my skivvies! Underwear is small and easy to pack so just throw it in and be done with it.