1) Material. A hard shell offers good protection, but a cracked or dented case is beyond repair. “Plastic cracks too easily,” says Saks. Polycarbonate is lightweight and less likely to crack but is more susceptible to dents. Flight attendants, aren’t fond of hard-case carry-ons, which are difficult to store in overhead bins. Soft nylon bags are lighter and can often squeeze into tight spaces. They can be torn but are easy to repair (common damage includes broken zippers and impacted corners, says Saks). Ballistic nylon is denser and hardier than nylon, which gives it a slight advantage on the belt.
2) Handles. A broken handle is one of the most frequently seen repair jobs. “Airline workers will throw the bags by the handle and crack them,” says Saks. A two-bar construction is sturdier than the one-bar handle. Be sure to examine the bag’s interior: A good handle system will use minimal space and give you more packing room.
3) Zippers. Ramp workers often find zipper pulls on the floor. “Bags are being made more cheaply, and the zippers don’t hold up,” says Smith. Metal zippers look sleek but can snag easily. All zippers leave bags vulnerable to water damage when they’re left out in the rain on a coverless trolley. A hard case with a latch system is dust-tight, watertight, and more resistant to humidity and fluctuating temperatures.
4) Wheels. Flight attendants love four-wheeled suitcases that glide. “They can go down the aisle sideways,” says Engasser, making it easier for passengers to board and deplane. But two wheels are best for larger cases. Says Saks, “They’re easier to maneuver, plus there’s less to break.”
5) Shape. According to Smith, a baggage handler’s worst nightmare is cases that are hard-sided in the back and soft in the front, which are more likely to be crushed in storage. The ideal bag to check, according to several airport workers, is a trunk. It’s tough and, thanks to its size and shape, perfect for stacking in a cargo hold. A suitcase with a sleek frame and hard-boxed shape is less likely to be damaged during loading.
6) Storage. Fragile items do best in a hard case—there’s no fear of crushing—and clothes might see less creasing, according to Saks. Soft cases offer expandability, but baggage handlers urge caution: “We’d rather load two 40-pound bags than one big one,” says Smith. “One of our major problems is people overstuffing their bags. The bag will break when the zippers fail.”
7) Cost. “Once you hit a certain price, you’re not necessarily going to get something much better no matter what you pay,” says Saks, who adds that $150 is the most you should pay for durable well-sized suitcases, which are often on sale. A $25 bag is certainly of lower quality but will do the trick for three to four years for the average traveler, he says. “When it breaks, you buy a new one at little cost.”
Titel original: http://www.cntraveler.com/stories/2012-06-27/travel-tips-best-baggage-luggage-suitcase