Make your bag stand out – Airplane tip

Make your luggage stand out! Customizing your luggage prevents others from mistakenly picking it up and helps you spot your luggage faster.

Customizing your luggage need not be expensive. Inexpensive options include:

  • tieing brightly-colored ribbons to the handles of each piece of luggage;
  • affixing bumper stickers to the hard, external parts of bags;
  • wrapping multi-colored duct tape to the outside of a piece of luggage;
  • monogram-stenciling the bag with paint;
  • attaching unbreakable holiday ornaments to a bag’s handles.

Congress to investigate airline fees … but not for your benefit

Congress is digging into all those new airline fees. Extra bags, special check-in situations … you name it. Before you start cheering on our lawmakers, though, you should know that they aren’t doing this from a sense of consumer advocacy. Frankly, Congress doesn’t give a damn how much you pay for air travel. But, it does care how you pay. Why? A cash-strapped government is wondering if it’s leaving money on the table.

When you look at your receipt, the line with “taxes” has never been lost on you, right? Well, the add-ons aren’t included in this number: Congress has a tax on airfare, not all the other stuff. So, for the airlines, this has been a tax-free revenue stream, one that’s been crucial to helping the already bruised airlines survive the current recession.

Yet, is it really just airfare in another form? That’s what Congress wants to know. Even if this is a different form of revenue, do you think it will be left untouched? Of course not! The government needs money, and there’s nothing stopping it from passing a new bill to tax the extra services. How much resistance would be raised?

Think about it.

The average person, even if traveling frequently for personal reasons, wouldn’t be hit too hard by the tax on the fees. If a $10 bag surcharge were taxed at 30% (just to pick a random and unreasonably ugly number) and a passenger flew weekly, he’d rack up $152 in taxes on the additional fees … and that’s assuming he needs to check the extra bag and did so every week. If faced with this or a higher income tax, how would you ask your congressman to vote?

Add it all up, and there’s some tax money to be had. The airline industry has pulled in more than $3 billion this year from the extra fees we all love to hate. If they were taxed at the same rate as fares — a much more reasonable 7.5% — $225 million in tax revenue would be generated. That’s not a trivial number.

The fees aren’t going to go away, and if all goes as it seems, a new tax will be here to stay, as well.

Gadling gear review – Joey Totes durable reusable bags

In this brief Gadling gear review, I’m going to introduce you to Joey Totes. These good looking bags are made of rip-stop nylon, the kind of material most commonly used in outdoor apparel (and very similar to parachute fabric). The bags caught my attention for a number of reasons – they fold up into themselves, they are extremely durable, and they are environmentally friendly (making them a great fit for our Green travel month!).
Joey Totes come in two sizes – small (8″ x 4″) and large (9.5″ x 5″). The large bag is spacious enough for several pairs of shoes, or a weeks collection of dirty laundry. The small bag is the perfect size for the kind of stuff you’d carry on a day trip or if you want to carry a spare pair of shoes on an excursion.

As I mentioned in the intro, the bags fold up neatly into themselves, and once folded up, you can actually store two bags inside the pouch of the large bag. When folded up, they can easily fit inside a purse, or even your jacket pocket.

When I took the bags for a spin on a trip this past weekend, I was quite impressed with them. The large bag was roomy enough for several towels and other pool items, and the small bag held dirty laundry for the return trip. The straps on the large bag are long enough to use the bag on your shoulder, and they actually look pretty cool.

Like many green travel products, being environmentally friendly does come at a price – the combination of the large bag with two small bags costs $20 (if you only need one Joey Tote, you can order the large for $8.50 or the small for $7.00).That said – I think it is fairly easy to make a case for the convenience of being able to carry not one, but three handy bags in your luggage, without having to resort to plastic bags or disposable canvas bags.

The Joey Totes are extremely compact when folded up, and they weigh next to nothing. Virtually no bag on the market can replicate this (with the possible exception of plastic grocery bags). The bags can be machine or hand washed, and the double reinforced handles can carry up to 40lbs – perfect if you went a little berserk in the tax free shop.

You’ll find the Joey Totes on the web site of the designer, where you’ll also learn a little bit about the story behind the bags, and how they came up with the cool name.

New from Tom Bihn bags – the Tri-Star

Darcy over at Tom Bihn bags has been teasing me for over 2 months about a new bag Tom has been working on.

The only speck of information they were willing to reveal about the Tri-Star was that it would be a three compartment bag, and that its size would fall between their Western Flyer and Aeronaut bags.

This afternoon, they finally revealed the product, and posted a bunch of photos (with Tom Bihn himself modeling his creation).

Thanks to its compartmental design, the Tri-Star can hold your laptop, and all the clothes and smaller items you’ll need for a short trip. Like the Aeronaut, the Tri-Star can be carried as a regular bag, as a shoulder bag, or as a backpack.

After reading the product description I’m convinced that this is a dream come true for the kind of traveler that carries too much stuff, and tries to avoid checking a bag. Pockets, some more pockets, and then even more pockets. In fact, the Tom Bihn blog needed 1390 words to describe all the various features found on this bag.

Also, as a first for Tom Bihn, this bag will be available in blue (they call it Indigo) ballistic nylon, which looks pretty damn cool if you ask me.

The new Tri-Star will start shipping in late June, but can be pre-ordered on their site right now. The basic bag costs just $240, but a fully tricked out Tri-Star with their amazing Absolute shoulder strap, internal laptop case, Freudian Slip organzier and waist strap will run you $370. Still, if it delivers the kind of convenience I think it will, that may be a small price to pay.

Recycled leather unisex carry-on by Ashley Watson

Ashley Watson CormorantMaybe fashion is the last thing you think about when you’re going to the airport — or maybe it’s the second to last thing, right before the environment.

Well, if you’re cool enough to read Gadling, then you’re cool enough to travel in style, and why not be eco-conscious about it while you’re at it?

Pictured at right is the Ashley Watson Cormorant — a unisex, totally gorgeous 11″ x 16.5″ recycled leather masterpiece. The bag features soft, luxurious recycled leather in a rich brown, a comfy adjustable strap and handle, and a full hemp and cotton twill lining.

Ashley Watson designs, which we spotted at the Bagtrends Green Arm Candy Party in NYC, are made mostly from recycled leather jackets, and she incorporates the jacket details into the designs — very cool.

You can get the Ashley Watson Cormorant for $418 here, and check out these stores for more options!