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I’m Breaking Up With My Roller Bag

When luggage and flying don't mix

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My favorite red roller bag


Let me start by saying that I do love my snazzy red roller bag. We’ve been together for about five years now, and it has done everything I’ve asked of it. It has glided over airport floors all over this country. But as of this December, I’m breaking up with my roller bag. And it really is a case of “it’s not you, it’s me.”

Why have I decided to leave my bright red beacon of a bag behind?


Other Airline Passengers

I know that I’m not the only one who has slogged through the lines at an airport, only to get to my seat and find that someone seated in the back of the plane has left their bag in the overhead compartment over my front-of-the-economy-section seat. It’s rude. It’s maddening. Flight attendants will call you out if they catch you, but they have much more serious safety concerns than dealing with your roller bag. Is it really that hard for you to bring your luggage forward with you when you deplane if you chose a seat in the back of the plane? Yes, I realize that we all only pay for our seats and not the overhead bins, but seriously, you are asking for at very least irate looks when you do that – especially during the holidays.


Other Airline Passengers Part 2

My happy red roller bag is actually smaller than most of the roller bags passengers try to wedge into overhead bins. Provided passengers from the back of the plane haven’t already filled the bins, I’ve got a shot at getting it in there. Right? Wrong. Despite flight attendants telling people not to put their coats or other small items in the overhead bins, invariably passengers do it anyway. I try to be polite about it and ask who owns the coat before I move it, but it is very rare when anyone confesses. I know it’s inconvenient to have to wear a heavy coat or suit jacket for a long-haul flight, but if that was your suit jacket that was crushed by the roller bags that came in after you put it up there – well, you probably should have listened to the flight attendants and waited until all the bags were loaded. Interestingly, this made the list for things Flight Attendants wish people would stop doing:


Changing Planes

Although I generally have a rule about only taking direct flights, there have been recent itineraries where that was not possible. Often the plane is changed to a smaller one on the short hop connections. They tell you as you are sitting in the waiting area that roller bags will not fit in the overhead compartments on the small planes. This is not a tragedy, and yet I saw some poor woman with a tight connection have to wait to get her gate-checked bag in Chicago, and she was NOT having a good time. Luckily, I had only taken a small “squish-able” carry-on on that trip and sailed onto and off of the plane.


Carry-On Charges

A recent article making the rounds has indicated that for people flying the cheapest economy seats on United, they can only bring aboard a bag that will fit under the seat come January 1. This means you’ll either have to pay to check those roller bags, or pay more for the premium “two carry-ons” seats. United is already on my “naughty” Christmas list for having the worst direct flights from Los Angeles to Cleveland (when Continental used to have fantastic schedules), and this doesn’t really endear me to them. It does, however, make me further commit to only choosing the soft-sided carry-on that can fit under my seat. That means creative packing, but so be it.




My temporary squish-able Tommy Bahama luggage


So, you see, my once beloved red roller bag is going to have to be relegated to road trips (or perhaps direct international flights). While I haven’t committed to a new bag yet, I have some options. If you have one that can be squished under the seat and that makes your heart sing, sound off in the comments. I’d love to hear what works for you!

22 Comments on I’m Breaking Up With My Roller Bag

  1. I’m a huge fan of Baggallini. I had a tote that I used as my “purse or other personal item” for squishing under the seat in front of me for over ten years. It rocked, but was starting to show its age, so I bought a new Baggallini and I’m loving it just as much. They have tons of pockets, are light weight and super durable. I have an actual Baggallini purse now too that I’m loving.

    • PatriciaSteffy // December 7, 2016 at 8:41 pm // Reply

      Oooh! I’m going off to check their luggage right now. I love anything that helps me with organization, and the light-weight is a must since I’ll be carrying rather than rolling it through airports. Thanks!

  2. I do find it super annoying when the bins are so rammed with rollers that it’s impossible to get anything else in. I’ve never come across people putting their bags further down the plane to avoid carrying them. Saying that I probably aren’t paying attention

    • PatriciaSteffy // December 7, 2016 at 11:03 pm // Reply

      It does feel like there has to be a better way. But with airlines charging so much for checked bags, I think people were more likely to try to cram even more in their roller bags.

  3. Sorry to hear about this situation that you’re in now. Anyway, when I travel I usually have my backpack and never had a chance to bring my roller bag. I agree with you, some passengers are not aware of some rules while on board and about their bags. I just don’t know as well why some planes are charging high on the luggage. Cathay Pacific is giving 30kls free baggage if you fly with them.

    • PatriciaSteffy // December 8, 2016 at 12:28 am // Reply

      I’m seriously considering getting a smaller frameless backpack. It will be easier to carry through airports, but still able to fit under the seat. That deal with Cathay Pacific is a good one! I’m going to have to start really looking at my options going forward.

  4. I heard about the new United carry-on rule and was so disappointed. I really hope other airlines don’t follow along cuz I hate checking in my luggage 🙁 I’m curious how much they are going to charge for the overhead bin space…

    • PatriciaSteffy // December 8, 2016 at 12:55 am // Reply

      I know that they already charge significantly more for the extra leg room seats (sometimes up to $80 per ticket). I’m betting that will be the level they choose to start the “two carry-on” bags at. I know they have fuel and weight issues, but I can’t see how this move doesn’t alienate passengers.

  5. United is totally on my naughty list as well! What the heck? Why are they making you pay more for your roller bag carry ons? I live in Asia which has some pretty strict regulations, but United is losing some customers by doing this!

    • PatriciaSteffy // December 8, 2016 at 3:46 pm // Reply

      I can’t believe they wouldn’t lose customers over this. I mean, people do have options most of the time. Why would they pick an airline that makes flying even more expensive or difficult?

  6. I choose my luggage based on how long I am going and connecting flights. I fly First class so overhead space is not an issue, but I really do not need to bring multiple large bags with me. My motto is pack smarter and lighter.

    • PatriciaSteffy // December 8, 2016 at 3:47 pm // Reply

      I’ve definitely gotten it down to a reasonable bag size now, but traveling in the winter to cold climates makes that more of a challenge. Going to have to switch to many light layers that roll! And I miss flying first class. I used to do it all the time when I was working full time, and it was so much better.

  7. I have broken up with my roller bag before too. But ended up back together again on recent flights as it is so much easier when I also have kids with me. All your points are valid, though. And if I have to start paying for overhead bin storage, I will definitely give my roller bag a pass.

    • PatriciaSteffy // December 8, 2016 at 5:02 pm // Reply

      My back will not thank me for reverting to an over-the-shoulder bag, but the overhead bin charges (or lack of space) will make me crazy. They really need to get teleporting working!

  8. I try to avoid having roller bags with me. I normally just have a tote bag with me carrying some essentials and my handbag

  9. Wow! I need my roller carry-on as I like travelling light. I’ve done 10-days in NYC with only a carry-on! 🙂 I do understand where you’re coming from. With all the increased baggage fees, passengers are getting crafty with the carry-on rules where they essentially have 2 bags (since 1 can be a personal item) and then they put both their luggage and their duffel “purse” into the overhead cabin. Ugh, pretty annoying as I like to wait for the queue to subside before embarking the plane and all of the space is usually taken. With that in mind… maybe I need to consider breaking up with my roller bag too. 😉

    • PatriciaSteffy // December 9, 2016 at 12:07 am // Reply

      I never check bags, so I hear you. But between the airline and other passengers, it’s getting harder and harder to fit the roller bags in.

  10. I hear you! One of my biggest annoyances when I travel is what people do with their oversized, and multiple pieces of onboard baggage. The “put it at the front” and sit at the back drives me nuts. Will be interesting to see how the United experiment goes and how many will follow.

    • PatriciaSteffy // December 9, 2016 at 12:06 am // Reply

      It’s so annoying! And I’m really curious about this United changed, too. I’m willing to be they won’t be the only ones.

  11. I totally feel you on the whole people putting their bags in your space thing. That is so infuriating! I had a really bad day once and I watched someone put their bag over my seat and walk back 8 or so rows with an empty bin, so I took their bag out, put mine where it belonged and sat their bag next to them in the aisle and said, I would greatly appreciate being able to use the space given to me over my seat. I was just so mad! I even had my canvas bag, but they had their massive roller bag right in my way. Grrr!

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