. LUGGAGE THAT'S EASIER TO HANDLE | Meetings & Conventions


Meetings & Conventions: Planner's Portfolio July 1999 Current Issue

On Travel

By Roger Slavens


Designers cram innovations into the latest business-travel valises

Luggage manufacturers convened in Orlando in February to show off their newest and hottest products at the annual International Travelgoods, Leather and Accessories Show. The following bags are the ones that stood out from the crowd.

Most office-on-wheels bags tend to be carry-ons that push the airlines' sizing limits. Not a problem, says Briggs & Riley of its Baseline 18-inch Vertical Office. This bag features a fully organized interior with filing shelves, accessory pockets and a padded laptop carrier. A nifty side-entry pocket allows access to work materials without having to remove the bag from the overhead bin. A removable padded accessory pouch holds a Zip drive or CD player.

The Vertical Office also features B&R's exclusive locking handle system, mounted on the exterior for extra packing capacity. The large wheels are recessed, making the bag even more compact. The Vertical Office costs $400 (www.briggs-riley.com).

Samsonite's 550 Series Ultralite Garment Bag uses the company's new EZ Cart Four-Wheel system that puts the weight of the bag on the ground, not on the carrier's arm. It features Widetracker wheels and a telescoping handle for maximum stability. The garment bag, which has a book-opening design that makes it easy to live out of, costs $335 (www.samsonite.com).

Featuring "packing" and "suiter" sections, the Professional Series 26-inch and 30-inch Upright Suiters from Atlantic Luggage provide the best of both worlds. A divider separates the suitcase, allowing suits and dresses to be folded neatly inside one section, leaving ample room in the other for things that might not have to be packed so perfectly. The reverse side of the divider has an integrated pocket that holds shoes as well as enough ties or scarves for two weeks of travel.

The patented retractable handle system and oversize zipper pulls make the Professional Series bags frequent-flyer friendly. They cost $440 and $480 (www.atlanticluggage.com).

A similar line of versatile suiters comes from TravelPro. Its WalkAbout 26-inch and 29-inch Expandable Rollaboard Suiters feature a removable suit folder with hanger loop and wire frame for wrinkle-free packing. The expandable compartments offer more packing space than meets the eye.

Nice appointments include a protective skid pad on the bottom, handy ticket pocket, ribbed corner guards, three interior zippered mesh pockets, recessed handle well with a lock-down retractable handle and recessed in-line skate wheels. TravelPro's bags cost $340 and $360 (www.travelpro.com).

Traveling with golf clubs in tow has never been easy. Now the Seven Oars Golf Traveler simplifies the process by turning a golf bag into a luggage cart that can carry two more bags with a sophisticated system of clips and ties.

The bag can be pushed or pulled through the terminal on a patent-pending wheel system. The Golf Traveler is made of 1350 Denier ballistic nylon and provides ample protection for irons and woods; it costs $300 (www.sevenoars.com).

The research people at Badanco had a wrestler body-slam their new Handle Protection System luggage at the ITLA show just to prove how durable it is. The HPS is encased in a pendulum-type system that gives under pressure, protecting the handle within the unit until it bounces back. The Ventura Eclipse HPS line features 2050 Denier ballistic nylon, a honeycomb memory frame and in-line skate wheels. The line comprises 25- to 30-inch suitcases and 20-inch carry-ons for $125 to $400 (www.badanco.com).

ROGER SLAVENS was senior associate editor at Frequent Flyer magazine, a sister publication of M&C. This article was adapted from FF.

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