Thursday, 23 October 2014

Type of Luggage & Baggage for Cavemen

Some people call it luggage and some call baggage, however both are referring to the same thing. Most airlines used the word "Baggage" in their terms & conditions, websites and even in their signboards at the airport. Hence please don't update in your Facebook status, saying, "I couldn't find anything related to luggage allowances in MAS website! I really wonder how they won the WTA (World Travel Awards) 2013 in Asia Leading Airline".

American actress Marlene Dietrich with her 33 pieces trunk luggages
while waiting to board French Line's S.S. Normandie - NYC 14th June 1938
credit to Travel Nostalgia

Enough said - this very first entry will talk about relevant and convenient - I repeat - RELEVANT and CONVENIENT type of luggages and baggages for a modern traveler.  Regardless the mode of transportation, either it is by flight, train, bus or cruise. By saying that, for those who daydream to be in a such splendor and classy way to travel like Kate Winslet in Titanic movie 1997 - 1 dedicated car only for your luggage trunks, hat and coat boxes and others - move on! The RMS Titanic sunk in the Atlantic Ocean on 15th April 1912 and your daydream should follow suit. Those vintage type of luggage i.e trunks are totally irrelevant in the modern world of traveling. Don't get me wrong, it is not because it is inconvenient to travel with - it just look stupid to hire a bus-load entourage just to carry the whole thing from airport drop point to the baggage check-in counter.

Credit to Titanic Film 1997
As a traveler myself, like all of you, which I mean most of us; minus Paris Hilton, the Kardaishians and as such , it really annoys me when it come to luggage allowances and rules as it is varies according to airline company. Some companies put on rules based on the weight  and some based on the quantity. So in this article, I will not only touch on the type of luggages and baggages; but also the acceptable allowances per passenger. 

Today, there are 4 types of luggages that commonly bought by any of modern-world travelers. There are the carry-onpersonal itemswheeled-suitcase and big duffel. No worries as I will briefly explain what are those together with the international baggage rules. However, I already plan to write a dedicated article for each type of luggages for the next month. This is due to the fact that every single one of them have a unique features and different criteria that you need to consider before make the purchase. as a traveler, your luggage is an investment. 


The whole world call it as Hand-Carry or Cabin-Baggage but it is referred to as Carry-On in North America. So fellow Malaysian, if any of you went to the States, please don't correct the custom officers by saying, "I don't have any carry-on, only 5 hand-luggages" and gave them your warmest bimbo-smile. Basically it is a type of luggage that passengers are allowed to carry on-board.

Carry-On design by Tokyoto. Price Euro 145.
Not included shipping fee.
credit to Tokyoto Luggage

The International Air Transport Association (IATA - yes it does exist and I'm not making this up) do set international guidelines for carry-on but however it is not mandatory to follow by all airlines. As a comparison towards the guideline : 
IATA Guideline   :  9" X 14" X 22" ( the symbol " referring to inches )
Surprisingly, both of our Airlines; Malaysia Airlines (MAS) and AirAsia comply to the IATA guideline. However, both of them add that a passenger's carry-on should not exceed 7 kilograms (KG). When AirAsia practice the policy of "1 carry-on per passenger", MAS allow 1st Class and Business Class passenger to bring along 2 carry-on of the same dimension and not exceeding 7KG each. Economy Class passengers - as the name of the seat is Economy -you are only allow for ONE carry-on.

Summary for dummies : 
  1. IATA guidelines :  9" X 14" X 22"
  2. AirAsia              :  9" X 14" X 22"; not exceeding 7KG; per passenger 
  3. MAS                 :   9" X 14" X 22"; not exceeding 7KG each carry-on; 1st & Business Class are allowed for an additional carry-on of the same dimensions.

Personal Items

Most airlines allow a passenger to bring one carry-on and one personal items. Ironically, most of them don't publish rules for personal items as specific like those rules for carry-on. It came to a indirect consensus between all airline company policy that when it come to personal items, think bag, not luggage.

Backpack, Laptop Sling Bag, Diaper Bag and a Baby Cot
Some example of Personal Items

Since the definition of personal items is so gray and vague so does its size allowances. The general rule of thumb is that your personal item should fit under the seat in front of you. To be on the safe side - just make sure that your personal item's size is about 9" X 10" X 17", the size of a normal school backpack.

Please take note and remember - personal items allowances is not an excuse to bring along a second carry-on. Seriously. My God, it really annoys me much as I see a lot of people do this and use two spots in the overhead bin. 

Summary for dummies :
  1. IATA guidelines :  fit under your seat; roughly around 9" X 10" X 17"
  2. AirAsia              :  either one of slim laptop bag or a handbag
  3. MAS             :  honestly, MAS define size of personal items based on this criteria; movement in and out of seat easier and cabin crew service along the aisle is not interrupted


Also referred as checked baggage. As stated above, carry-on and personal item have their own guidelines based on size and weight in order to ensure every passenger comfort of a well-kept cabin. Even though some budget airline resemble the size of mini bus foot space without any personal items and carry-on. 

Ironically, any design of luggage can be check-in as a checked baggage - and it doesn't mean any suitcase without a pair of wheel cannot be check-in. Since most major cities' airport are built quite far from the midtown area and many travelers will opt for a train ride to cities, it is advisable to have a wheeled suitcase. You don't want to build any excessive hand muscles as wearing a bikini with a slim model-like figure but a pair of hands like John Cena from WWF is not flattering go most of us.

Checked Baggage allowances for major Asia-Pacific airlines.
credit to Wall Street Journal

Summary for dummies : 
  1. IATA guidelines :  between 25KG to 32KG / 50lbs to 70lbs
  2. AirAsia           :  domestic route start with 15KG / 33lbsinternational route start with 20KG / 44lbs. Take note, your AirAsia ticket are NOT INCLUDED with a free checked baggage allowances. 
  3. MAS               :  regardless whether it is domestic or international route; 1st Class passengers not exceeding 50KG / 110lbsBusiness Class passengers not exceeding 40KG / 88lbs and Economy Class passengers not exceeding 30KG / 66lbs.

Big Duffel

For those who won't need a fourth bag for their trip; from the bottom of my heart I would say lucky you! Whenever I'm on my trip never ever I'm able to come back with the same amount of luggage that I have when I arrived! Like seriously, few months back  when I went to Hong Kong, I arrived in Hong Kong Airport with a small size Pedro sling bag, identical 26" wheeled-suitcase and a 20" carry-on luggage. After a week, yes I do mean SEVEN days later, I arrived in Kuala Lumpur Airport with a large Furla tote bad, the same identical 26" and 20" checked luggage (yes the carry-on is being check-in), 1 small box sized 10" X 10" X 5" full with new shoes and handbags and a new 20" carry-on luggage which is totally not identical with the other 2 luggage. Please don't ask how I manage to bring 1 carry-on and 2 personal items!

Since it is smaller than a carry-on luggage size, in most cases the airlines will accept it as
an additional item on top of your carry-on and a personal item.
credit to Nike

Based on my own experience, it is wise to have a duffel bag as your arsenal in a last resort for a long trip. The longer the trip is, the more shopping will be done. Seriously I'm not kidding! A duffel bag will give any traveler an opportunity to fully utilized the checked baggage allowances 25KG to clothes and other items. However this duffel bag is merely a suggestion. You don't want to have a specific monetary allocation  for excessive baggage weight penalty in your next trip.