I was watching Ben Stiller in Meet the Parents the other day. I hadn’t seen it in years and could only vaguely remember the plot. If you haven’t seen it, Ben’s character Greg ‘Gaylord’ Focker travels to meet his girlfriend Pam’s family before proposing. From the outset, things go wrong when the airline loses his suitcase containing all his clothes and the engagement ring. It’s the stuff of travel nightmares…in fact I once had a dream where I had to give a presentation to the whole company in my pyjamas!
I laughed out loud when Pam’s dad Jack (played by Robert De Niro) tells Greg that he should have taken his case as ‘carry-on’ rather than stowing it.
When I started travelling for work, an older, wiser colleague once told me that the best way of avoiding this age old problem was to take hand baggage instead. “It also means you don’t have to wait ages for it to arrive in baggage reclaim”. If you’re travelling with colleagues you should all co-ordinate beforehand. You don’t want to be the one who’s made you late for a meeting because you stowed and they didn’t!
There’s also the fact that many airlines charge to stow bags but not for hand baggage. Not a problem if you work for a large corporation but something worth considering if you run your own business.
The problem with ‘carry-on’ cases is their size.
You can just about fit an entire week’s worth of shirts, socks, pants and other essentials in to a cabin approved suitcase but only just. I once came up with a genius solution. I would take the bare-essentials and buy everything else whilst I was away. The only problem is bringing it all back in the same tiny suitcase.
In 2014, a BBC survey of 17 major European airlines, found that the Spanish carrier Iberia was the most generous for cabin baggage, and the UK airlines Thomas Cook and Thomson were the meanest, allowing only 5kg in a volume no bigger than 55 x 40 x 20 cm. The airlines seem to change these allowances all teh time so it really is worth checking on your airline's website before packing.
Occasionally when travelling for work, I will stow my bag if I’m travelling alone and not in a rush at the other end. I have no problem stowing all of my bags when I’m on holiday…the thought of losing my swimming shorts never crosses my mind.
I have never, touch wood, lost a suitcase whilst travelling. A few of my friends have. From what they’ve said it turns out that their experience was very similar to Greg’s in ‘Meet the Parents’. If you lose your case you have to spend hours filling out forms at the airport, you’ll need to be pretty good at chasing them constantly over the phone. One friend has lost a few bags over the years and recommends that you make a list of the contents before you leave home or at the very least take a photo just before you shut the case.
There’s a really good piece on IndependentTraveler.com about what to do if you do lose your case.
My favourite tip on the site says that you should head to the Baggage Reclaim area as soon as possible. The system is usually timed so that your cases arrive at the belt at the same time that you do. One friend said she’s never lost her case and thinks that’s because its bright pink.
“It’s easy to spot on the carousel and who would want to steal a bright pink suitcase!”
Of course, there are some very smart technological solutions on the market. One solution is RFID tracking tags. It means you will always know where your case is. My only problem with this is what happens if someone steals your suitcase? Do you get in a taxi and tell the driver to follow the thief. It’s not as though you can remotely tell the suitcase to self-destruct or at the very least put it into ‘Lost Mode’ like you can with an iPhone.
Of course, I’m not the only one to see this potential flaw. Airbus have come up with an awesome concept for the suitcase of the future. You don’t own it, you rent it from the airline. Someone delivers it to your door before you pack it and its taking away. It means all you have to do is turn up at the airport with the bare-essentials. After the flight someone will pick up the case and deliver to where you’re staying. There’s a great article on Geek.com that you can read here: http://www.geek.com/chips/smartphone-and-rfid-enabled-luggage-wont-ever-get-lost-at-the-airport-1557929/
Having done some research for this blog post my mind is full of even more imaginative ideas for solving the problem.
For example, why stop at renting a suitcase? Why not rent you entire travel wardrobe?
Imagine arriving at your hotel, no need to check in or to use a key…beacon technology or Bluetooth in your phone will talk to your room’s door and open as you approach.
You walk in to your room and peek inside the cupboard, everything you would have stuffed into your suitcase is hanging beautifully, crease free ready to wear.
When you’ve finished wearing your rentals – send it to the hotel laundry to be washed and returned to your room or back to the rental company – which you can decide using your smart phone.
Don’t like the idea of wearing rented clothes? Don’t worry with the aid of nanotechnology, clothes will come back from the laundry looking and smelling brand new.
Maybe I should start patenting some of these ideas now?
Until next time,