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A typical suitcase used for traveling Rimowa Koffer (Topas).jpg
A typical suitcase used for traveling
Interior of a typical luggage suitcase -073 - Bags (25669085731).jpg
Interior of a typical luggage suitcase

Baggage or luggage consists of bags, cases, and containers which hold a traveller's personal articles while the traveler is in transit. [1] A modern traveller can be expected to have packages containing clothing, toiletries, small possessions, trip necessities. On the return trip, travelers may have souvenirs and gifts. For some people, luggage and the style thereof is representative of the owner's wealth and status. Luggage is constructed to protect the items during travel, either with a hard shell or a durable soft material. Luggage often has internal subdivisions or sections to aid in securing items. Handles are typically provided to facilitate carrying, and some luggage may have wheels and/or telescoping handles or leashes to make moving them easier.


Baggage (not luggage), [2] or baggage train, can also refer to the train of people and goods, both military and of a personal nature, which commonly followed pre-modern armies on campaign.


Luggage has changed over time. Historically the most common types of luggage were chests or trunks made of wood or other heavy materials. These would be shipped by professional movers. Since the Second World War smaller and more lightweight suitcases and bags that can be carried by an individual have become the main form of luggage.


According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the word baggage comes from Old French bagage (from baguer "tie up") or from bagues ("bundles"). It may also be related to the word bag. [3]

Also according to the Oxford English Dictionary, the word luggage originally meant inconveniently heavy baggage and comes from the verb lug and the suffix -age. [4]

Types of luggage

A set of custom made (bespoke) suitcases Suitcases-1.jpg
A set of custom made (bespoke) suitcases
Carpet bag Carpetbag.jpg
Carpet bag

Luggage features


Smaller pieces of luggage awaiting loading at airport Luggage awaiting loading at airport IMG 3140.JPG
Smaller pieces of luggage awaiting loading at airport
Shopping trolley (caddy) Carrets de la compra.jpg
Shopping trolley (caddy)

Luggage carriers – light-weight wheeled carts or harnesses on which luggage could be temporarily placed or that can be temporarily attached to luggage – date at least to the 1930s, such as in US patent 2,132,316 "Luggage carrier" by Anne W. Newton (filed 1937, published 1938). [5] These were refined over the following decades, as reflected in patents such as US patent US2509575A by Herbert Ernest Mingo - Device for the handling of trunks, suitcases, and the like. ( Filed 1948 published Device for the handling of trunks, suitcases, and the like)

2,650,105 A "Luggage carriage" (filed 1949, published 1953) [6] and US patent 2,670,969 "Luggage carriage harness, [7] both by Kent R. Costikyan. [8] However, the wheels were external to the suitcases. Patents were published for wheeled luggage – a wheeled trunk in 1887, and a wheeled suitcase in 1945 – but these were not successfully commercialized. [9]

The first commercially successful rolling suitcase was invented in 1970, when Bernard D. Sadow applied for a patent that was granted in 1972 as United States patent 3,653,474 for "Rolling Luggage". [10] The patent application cited the increase in air travel, and "baggage handling [having] become perhaps the single biggest difficulty encountered by an air passenger", as background of the invention. [11] Sadow's four-wheeled suitcases, pulled using a loose strap, were later surpassed in popularity by suitcases that feature two wheels and are pulled in an upright position using a long handle.

These were invented in 1987 by US pilot Robert Plath, and initially sold to crew members. Plath later commercialized them, after travelers became interested after seeing them in use by crew members, and founded the Travelpro company, which marketing the suitcases under the trademark "Rollaboard". [10] [12] [13] The terms rollaboard and roll-aboard are used generically, however. While initially designed for carry-on use (to navigate through a large terminal), as implied by the analogous name, similar designs are also used for checked baggage.

More recently, four-wheeled luggage with casters has become popular, notably since their use by Samsonite in the 2004 version of their signature Silhouette line. [14] These are otherwise similar in design to two-wheel roll-aboards, with a vertical orientation and a retracting handle, but are designed to be pushed beside or in front of the traveler, rather than pulled behind them. These are often referred to as "spinner" luggage, since they can spin about their vertical axis.

Sadow attributes the late invention of luggage on wheels to a "macho thing" where "men would not accept suitcases with wheels". [10] Others attribute the late invention to "the abundance of luggage porters with carts in the 1960s, the ease of curbside drop-offs at much smaller airports and the heavy iron casters then available." [15]

Hand luggage (carry-on)

Hand luggage compartments of an Airbus 340-600 aircraft (economy class) Luggage compartments Airbus.JPG
Hand luggage compartments of an Airbus 340-600 aircraft (economy class)

Passengers are allowed to carry a limited number of smaller bags with them in the vehicle, these are known as hand luggage (more commonly referred to as carry-on in North America), and contain valuables and items needed during the journey. There is normally storage space provided for hand luggage, either under seating, or in overhead lockers. Trains often have luggage racks at the ends of the carriage near the doors, or above the seats if there are compartments.

There are differing views between North America and Europe in relation to the rules concerning the amount of baggage carried on to aircraft. In North America there is considerable debate as to whether passengers carry too many bags on board and that their weight could be a risk to other passengers and flight safety. US airlines are beginning to introduce weight and size restrictions for carry-on baggage. Whereas in Europe, many airlines, especially low-cost airlines, impose what is commonly known as "the one-bag rule". This is a restriction imposed to stop excessive weight on board and airlines claim that this policy allows them to speed the boarding of the aircraft. Airports in Europe have mounted a campaign with the European Commission in an attempt to overturn these hand luggage regulations.[ citation needed ] They claim that it is affecting their duty-free and other airport retail sales and is reducing their revenues.

Smart luggage

Smart luggage is baggage that has a built-in or a removable battery within. It often includes features designed to help with travel, including GPS tracking and USB ports to charge electronics. [16] [17] Some bags include a WiFi hotspot and electric wheels for personal transportation. [18]

Several smart luggage companies have shut down as a result of a ban which came into effect in January 2018 on smart luggage with non-removable batteries being carried as check-in luggage on flights. [19] [20]

Baggage claim/reclaim

In airport terminals, a baggage claim or reclaim area is an area where arriving passengers claim checked-in baggage after disembarking from an airline flight. At most airports and many train stations, baggage is delivered to the passenger on a baggage carousel.

Left luggage

Left luggage, also luggage storage or bag storage, is a place where one can temporarily store one's luggage so as to not have to carry it. Left luggage is not synonymous with lost luggage. Often at an airport or train station there may be a staffed 'left luggage counter' or simply a coin-operated or automated locker system. While threats of terrorism all around the globe have caused this type of public storage to decrease over the past few decades, the sharing economy is causing a revival of the industry. Driven in part by the rapid growth of Airbnb [21] and homestay traveling in general, a number of services offering short-term luggage storage by utilizing unused space at local businesses such as hotels, restaurants and retail shops have emerged. [22] [23]

Luggage forwarding

Luggage forwarding, also known as luggage shipping or luggage logistics, is a type of speciality shipping service that has been available for approximately 10 years and has grown in demand, particularly after the September 11, 2001 attacks. Luggage forwarding is an alternative to checking in baggage during air travel. [ citation needed ]

Military baggage

Baggage can also refer to the train of people and goods, both military and of a personal nature, which commonly followed pre-modern armies on campaign. The baggage was considered a strategic resource and guarded by a rear guard. Its loss was considered to weaken and demoralize an army, leading to rearguard attacks such as that at the Battle of Agincourt.

See also

Related Research Articles

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A suitcase is a form of luggage. It is often a somewhat flat, rectangular-shaped bag with rounded square corners. Vinyl, leather or cloth suitcases may have a metal frame. Hardshell suitcases open on hinges like a door.

Checked baggage

Checked baggage is luggage delivered to an airline or train for transportation in the hold of an aircraft or baggage car of a passenger train. Checked baggage is inaccessible to the passenger during the flight or ride, as opposed to carry-on baggage.

Lost luggage

Lost luggage is luggage conveyed by a public carrier such as an airline, seafaring cruise ship, shipping company, or railway which fails to arrive at the correct destination with the passenger. In the United States, an average of 1 in 150 people have their checked baggage misdirected or left behind each year.

Baggage reclaim

In airport terminals, a baggage reclaim area is an area where arriving passengers claim checked-in baggage after disembarking from an airline flight. The alternative term baggage claim is used at airports in the US and some other airports internationally. Similar systems are also used at train stations served by companies that offer checked bags, such as Amtrak in the United States.

Baggage handler

In the airline industry, a baggage handler is a person who loads and unloads baggage, and other cargo for transport via aircraft. With most airlines, the formal job title is "fleet service agent/clerk", though the position is commonly known amongst airline employees as a "ramp agent", due to the job's location on the airport ramp (tarmac).

Hand luggage

The term hand luggage or cabin baggage refers to the type of luggage that passengers are allowed to carry along in the passenger compartment of a vehicle instead of a separate cargo compartment. Passengers are allowed to carry a limited number of smaller bags with them in the vehicle, which typically contain valuables and items needed during the journey. There is normally storage space provided for hand luggage, either under seating, or in overhead lockers. Trains usually have luggage racks above the seats and may also have luggage space between the backs of seats facing opposite directions, or in extra luggage racks, for example, at the ends of the carriage near the doors.

A skycap is a porter employed at an airport and provides the following services to airline passengers:

Bag tag Ticket attached to luggage for identification

Bag tags, also known as baggage tags, baggage checks or luggage tickets, have traditionally been used by bus, train, and airline carriers to route checked luggage to its final destination. The passenger stub is typically handed to the passenger or attached to the ticket envelope:

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Baggage handling system

A baggage handling system (BHS) is a type of conveyor system installed in airports that transports checked luggage from ticket counters to areas where the bags can be loaded onto airplanes. A BHS also transports checked baggage coming from airplanes to baggage claims or to an area where the bag can be loaded onto another airplane.

Ground support equipment

Ground support equipment (GSE) is the support equipment found at an airport, usually on the apron, the servicing area by the terminal. This equipment is used to service the aircraft between flights. As the name suggests, ground support equipment is there to support the operations of aircraft whilst on the ground. The role of this equipment generally involves ground power operations, aircraft mobility, and cargo/passenger loading operations.

Baggage cart

Baggage carts, luggage carts, luggage trolleys or trolleys are small vehicles pushed by travelers (human-powered) to carry individual luggage, mostly suitcases. There are two major sizes: One for big luggage and one for small luggage. Carts have usually two parts for carrying luggage: A small section (basket) for carry on luggage at the same level as the handle, and a lowered large section for suitcases a small and large bags.

Airport check-in

Airport check-in is the process whereby passengers are accepted by an airline at the airport prior to travel. The airlines typically use service counters found at airports. The check-in is normally handled by an airline itself or a handling agent working on behalf of an airline. Passengers usually hand over any baggage that they do not wish or are not allowed to carry in to the aircraft's cabin and receive a boarding pass before they can proceed to board their aircraft.

Baggage allowance

On the commercial transportation, mostly with airlines, the baggage allowance is the amount of checked baggage or hand/carry-on luggage the company will allow per passenger. There may be limits on the amount that is allowed free of charge, and hard limits on the amount that is allowed.

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Rimowa, often stylized as RIMOWA, is a high-quality luggage manufacturer. The company was founded in 1898, in Cologne, Germany.

Send My Bag

Send My Bag is a luggage shipping company for that aims to allow travelers to transport baggage, claiming a lower cost than airline baggage handling fees.

Gate check bags are travel bags specially designed for the transportation and storage of car seats and strollers or pushchairs. Generally used for airline travel, they also provide protection from dust when in storage for the occasional user. When used for airline travel the strollers and car seats are placed in gate check bags at the departure gate before boarding. The bags protect strollers and car seats from dirt whilst in the loading or cargo bay as well as from elements such as rain or snow if left on the tarmac.

Baggage sizer device to measure hand baggage

A baggage sizer, also known as a bag sizer, is a piece of furniture that is used primarily at airport check-in desks and boarding gates to assist and inform passengers and airport ground staff of baggage size limits for personal and cabin luggage or bags.


  1. "Luggage" is more or less a synonym of "baggage" but is normally used in relation to the personal baggage of a specific person or persons (e.g. I have lost my luggage, he has prepared his luggage, but not normally I have lost my baggage, he has prepared his baggage).
  2. "What's the Difference Between Luggage and Baggage?" . Retrieved 2016-10-13.
  3. "Baggage | Definition of Baggage by Oxford Dictionary on also meaning of Baggage". Lexico Dictionaries | English.
  4. "Luggage | Definition of Luggage by Oxford Dictionary on also meaning of Luggage". Lexico Dictionaries | English.
  5. "Luggage carrier".
  6. "Luggage carriage".
  7. "Luggage carriage harness".
  8. See citations at patents and US 3,532,355 for more.
  9. Daniel A. Gross (2014-05-09). "The History of the Humble Suitcase". Smithsonian.
  10. 1 2 3 Sharkey, Joe (4 October 2010). "Reinventing the Suitcase by Adding the Wheel". The New York Times . Retrieved 8 April 2015.
  11. "United States patent 3,653,474".
  12. Travelpro Staff (2010-06-17). "The History Of Rolling Luggage". Archived from the original on 2010-07-08.
  13. US Serial Number 74170453, US Registration Number 1706770
  14. Blane Bachelor (2014-05-30). "The history of luggage".
  15. Ridely, Matt (14 September 2012). "Don't Look for Inventions Before Their Time". The Wall Street Journal . Retrieved 8 April 2015.
  16. Hugo Martin (May 5, 2018). "Maker of smart luggage goes out of business after airlines ban bags with built-in batteries". Los Angeles Times.
  17. Debbi Kickman (June 27, 2018). "Popular Luggage Trends for 2018". Forbes.
  18. Jeff Balke (December 6, 2017). "Airlines Ban Smart Luggage! Wait, What's Smart Luggage?". Houston Press.
  19. Callum Tennent (June 6, 2018). "Big brands go bust as smart luggage is banned on major US airlines". Which.
  20. Grant Martin (January 18, 2018). "Airline Smart Luggage Ban Goes Into Effect". Forbes.
  21. "Airbnb Statistics [2021]: User & Market Growth Data". Retrieved 2021-04-20.
  22. Silver, Kate (2017-12-07). "Luggage weighing you down? Drop-off and pickup services can streamline your trip". Washington Post. ISSN   0190-8286 . Retrieved 2021-04-20.
  23. Rosenbloom, Stephanie (2018-03-02). "Check-in Time Hours Away? How to Ditch Those Annoying Bags". The New York Times. ISSN   0362-4331 . Retrieved 2021-04-20.