U.S. Airlines, Airports Exploring Use of Self-Bag Drop

February 21, 2019 by · Leave a Comment 

Life is becoming more like The Jetsons all the time, especially around the airport. In a recent article, Travel Weekly told us about self-bag drop at some airports using machines by German vendor Materna.

While tighter security regulations have prevented unassisted self-bag drop machines in airports, U.S. airlines and airports are finally exploring the possibility of a rollout.

The self-bag drop at Incheon Airport in South Korea

The self-bag drop at Incheon Airport in South Korea

According to Stu Williams, Senior Vice President for Special Projects at the Denver Airport, nearly 200 Materna machines are being installed as part of a broader overhaul of the airport’s central Jeppesen Terminal. This means that by 2020 every bag drop location at the airport will enable flyers to self-check their baggage.

According to a study by SITA, another vendor of self-bag drop machines, 45% of airlines offer unassisted bag drop around the world. Passenger identity is typically agent-verified prior to accessing the bag drop machines for security purposes.

The machines can be time-savers, too. Once at the machines, passengers drop and weigh their bags, scan their bag tags and boarding passes, then they leave their bags to be routed to their flight, all without further agent contact. Some machines can accept payment for oversized baggage, and others offer biometric identity capabilities. Then the machine rolls to the baggage handlers who route it to the correct plane.

In addition to saving time, the machines provide substantial cost savings as agents can monitor up to 14 machines. But in the U.S., the TSA requires an agent manually verify passenger identification. The TSA has also pledged to speed up biometric development and released a road map for biometric expansion.

Several airlines like American, Alaska, Delta, and United, and airports in Minneapolis-St. Paul, Los Angeles, Atlanta, and Miami have begun using self-bag check as well. Meanwhile, at New York’s JFK Airport, JetBlue will begin testing biometric self-bag drop this month.

Will you use self-bag drop or are you a carry-on purist? Do you trust the technology to get your bag to your destination on time or do you want to hand it to a human being? Share your thoughts (or experiences) with us on our Facebook page, or on our Twitter stream.

Photo credit: hyolee2 (Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons 4.0)

Short-Term Repairs for a Broken Suitcase

December 9, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

It can happen when you least expect it or you can discover it when you’re retrieving it from the baggage carousel, but no matter how it happens, a broken suitcase has the potential to severely impact your travel experience. With a little bit of resourcefulness, you can get through your trip and back home. Here are some ways to address common problems, as well as some Travelpro® product features specially designed to help avoid on-the-road luggage disasters.

If your suitcase wheels stick, make sure there's nothing stuck in them.

If your suitcase wheels stick, check to see if anything is stuck in the housing.

If your telescoping handle sticks, apply a small amount of lubricant to literally grease the skids. See if you can track down some WD-40; if that’s not available, a little soap can help. If the handle is slightly bent, you may try manipulating it back into proper position. If it’s clearly broken, at least you have the other handles to carry the bag. An add-a-bag attachment strap, such as Travelpro® offers on many of its rolling products, would allow you to hook your broken bag onto another until you can address the issue.

If your wheels aren’t rolling smoothly, chances are there’s something stuck in them that’s inhibiting their movement. Wipe them with a damp cloth and look for anything that might be stuck in the wheel housing. If the wheels are wobbly, causing the bag not to pull straight behind you, the screws could be loose. Tighten them up – if you don’t have a screwdriver handy, call down to the front desk and ask for one. Travelpro designs its wheel systems with the frequent traveler in mind, subjecting their products to miles of rigorous testing. Our patented MagnaTrac™ Spinner wheels are self-aligning and have a specially designed housings to protect them from damage on baggage ramps and as they’re pulled over curbs and through terminals.
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Geneva Airport Begins Its Luggage Robot Bag Drop Trial

November 16, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Even with his vivid imagination, Leonardo Da Vinci, recognized for inventing the world’s first robot, could never have envisioned this application for his creation. Or that it would be used in coordination with another of his inventions, the flying machine.

Yet here we are, as Geneva Airport has been trying the world’s first fully autonomous, self-propelling baggage robot to assist travelers with their luggage. Working in collaboration with Swiss telecommunications company SITA and BlueBotics, a robotics company specializing in Autonomous Navigation Technology (ANT), the company has named their robot “Leo,” after the famed Italian inventor and artist.

Leo the luggage robot at the Geneva Airport in Switzerland

Leo the luggage robot at the Geneva Airport in Switzerland

Leo can check in luggage, print baggage tags, and transport the luggage to its designated baggage handling area using information gathered by scanning passengers’ boarding passes. After the bags are loaded into the robot’s compartment, Leo displays the boarding gate and departure time to the travelers. No one other than a baggage handler can reopen the compartment once it departs for its designated destination.

Massimo Gentile, head of IT at the airport, sees great potential for use of robots in the future. He told FutureTravelExperience.com, “The use of a robot such as Leo limits the number of bags in the airport terminal, helping us accommodate a growing number of passengers without compromising the airport experience inside the terminal. Leo also proves the case for increased use of robotics to make passengers’ journey a little more comfortable.”

Dave Bakker, president of the European division of SITA, agreed. “Leo demonstrates that robotics hold the key to more effective, secure and smarter baggage handling and is a major step towards further automating bag handling in airports. Leo also provides some insight into the potential use of robots across the passenger journey in future,” he told FutureTravelExperience.com

While some kinks remain to be worked out, such as scalability of the entire system, the capacity, both in size and weight that the robot can carry, and how it navigates in snowy conditions, this trial at Geneva’s airport makes it clear that ANT robotic assistance is here to stay.

What do you think? Would you trust a luggage-carrying robot with your bag? Or would you prefer to check your bag yourself? Share your thoughts in the comments below, on our Facebook page, or in our Twitter stream.

Photo credit: SITA (Used with permission)

Is Curbside Check-in the Best Perk You’re Not Using?

September 7, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

For some people, curbside check-in is a relic of the past that has somehow been overlooked in airport modernization. However, those of us in the know realize that the convenience and service make it the best little-known perk many travelers aren’t taking advantage of!

Curbside Check-in at Cairo's International Airport, Terminal 3

Curbside Check-in at Cairo’s International Airport, Terminal 3

For example, when I check my Crew 11 25-inch Spinner, I thoroughly enjoy the full-service process. There’s rarely a line deeper than one or two people, the skycaps are always helpful, all I have to do is present my driver’s license and credit card, and in seconds my boarding pass and bag tag are printed and I’m on my way straight to the security checkpoint.

The service can also be used to check bags that have already been accounted for during the online check-in process. Either way, the inside check-in lines are almost always longer, increasing the amount of time it will take you to get through security and to your gate.

(An interesting side note: according to Wikipedia, the skycap service evolved as commercial airline travel became more popular. Travelers were already used to redcaps — the porters who handled luggage on trains — and expected similar service at the airport.)

The demographic of those who utilize the convenience of curbside check-in falls into roughly three categories. 1) People traveling with small children may have carseats and strollers as well as luggage, so curbside allows them to offload all but the essentials for the trek to the gate. 2) People who are in a hurry use curbside as a way to minimize wait times, especially if they’re running late. And 3) people with mobility issues find that only having to maneuver their bags from the car to the skycap — who most likely will help with their bags, if asked — is the best way to navigate the airport.
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Shopping for Luggage: Hard-Sided Bag Materials

July 11, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

While the popularity of soft-sided luggage has boomed in recent years, many travelers prefer a hard-sided bag for its perceived durability and compression resistance. Travelpro provides several hard-sided options, but I want to talk about the three types generally available in the marketplace. We can think of them as good, better, and best.

Travelpro Maxlite Hardside Collection

Travelpro Maxlite Hardside Collection

GOOD: Polypropylene. This material is popular because of its price. It’s durable and flexible to some degree and is offered in a wide variety of colors. It is usually manufactured in solid colors with a matte finish and smooth texture.

BETTER: This next one is a mouthful: ABS (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene) is a hard-sided material that is thermalformed to add strength to the structure of the luggage. It is very durable and is the most popular and most affordable option offered by many companies. ABS bags can have a variety of looks, including textured patterns, embedded prints, and images, due to manufacturing processes that incorporate ABS and polycarbonate.
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What Exactly Are Packing Spaces Good For?

May 6, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Ever wonder what all those pockets and packing spaces have been designed for in your suitcase? While frequent travelers have developed a system for making the most of these spaces, those who don’t hit the road as often may struggle finding “a place for everything and everything in its place.”

Platinum Magna 2 bags

Platinum Magna 2 exterior Pockets

Let’s start with the exterior pockets. Travelpro Rollaboards typically have two exterior pockets on the lid of the suitcase. The large one allows the traveler to store a light jacket if you’re traveling to or from the cold, and you’ll only need your jacket for one leg of the trip. It also provides handy access to a sweater, a book, a newspaper or magazine, or a tablet. Storing electronics in this pocket is not recommended for checked baggage, as it affords the least amount of protection from possible damage.

The smaller exterior pocket is designed to provide storage for handheld electronics, power cords, and a boarding pass. This is especially helpful if you are traveling light and don’t have a separate purse or bag for such items.
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The Joys of Traveling without a Suitcase

March 28, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Some people wax rhapsodic about the joys of checking their suitcase and only traveling through the airport with a small personal bag or briefcase. While we’re not always big fans of letting someone else take our suitcase, we can see some of the benefits of checking your bag before your flight.

Atlantic 25 inch Compass Spinner

You’d need to check this Atlantic 25 inch Compass Spinner suitcase.

1. You can take everything you want and have options for clothes and souvenirs. If you’re taking an extra long trip, and you don’t want to wear the same pants five times, the big suitcase makes sense. It also leaves you plenty of room to pack souvenirs on the way home.

2. Once you check your bag, you’re FREE! No more wrestling your bag in the bathroom, or worrying somebody will shout “Abandoned bag! Abandoned bag!” when you step away to throw something in the trash can.
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Pros and Cons of Carry-ons vs Large Suitcases

March 23, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

One of the things you may not consider when planning a trip is which piece of luggage to use. Either you’re going to wait and see how much you have to take, and plan accordingly. Or you’re thinking about buying your first piece of luggage, and aren’t sure which one to get.

Today, we’re going to present the pros and cons of the carry-on and the pros and cons of the larger suitcase.

Platinum Magna 2 Collection

There’s a size in here for everyone — carry-on, large bag — but which is right for you?

Pros: Carry-Ons

The biggest pro for the carry-on centers around savings: saving money, saving time. If you’ve priced luggage, you’ll know that carry-ons are cheaper than check-in size suitcases. They also save you money because you don’t have to pay the checked bag fee suitcase users incur when they check their bag.
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Top Five Features of Your Next Piece of Luggage

March 4, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Luggage is a critical element to every successful trip. If you have a bad bag, chances are, you’ll have a less-than-enjoyable trip. Your luggage should be purchased, first and foremost, for its form and function. After all, you’d like to buy it once and buy it right, rather than buying a new suitcase or carry-on bag every three years.

Platinum Magna 2 luggageThere are five essential features you should look for in a well-constructed suitcase.

Zippers

Do not purchase any suitcase, duffel, or garment bag without checking the functionality of the zippers! These hold your items in the cavity of your case and must be made of high-quality materials and operate smoothly. I don’t know which would be worse, a zipper that won’t open, or one that won’t close. And if you get a cheap bag, there’s a good chance you could figure that one out for yourself. All TravelPro luggage features high quality zipper systems, so they open and close right every time.

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How to Clean the Interior of Your Suitcase

February 5, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Maybe you’ve never thought of this, until right this very second (you’re welcome): what happens to all the microbes, germs, and general dirt that we get on our clothes while we travel?

Especially when you put your dirty clothes into your suitcase for your return trip?

Do the germs evaporate? Remain on your clothes? Or do they somehow get transferred to the interior lining of your bag, leaving your clean clothes susceptible to germs, bugs, and cooties when you pack for your next trip?

We asked our service department for tips and suggestions about how to maintain or return your bag’s interior to the cleanest state possible.

Tpro Bold 2 Duffel

Our Tpro Bold 2 Duffel. Have you ever thought about how to clean the inside of this? It’s easy.

In travel, as in life, forewarned is forearmed. Choosing a bag that has been designed to help you manage soiled or wet items is the best plan. In many of our lines, we have taken the extra step to include either a wet pocket that is waterproof or apply an H2O Guard to the fabric of the entire interior lining that helps prevent stains or smells that come with possible spills or wet garment garment storage.

If your bag doesn’t have this built-in protection, use plastic bags, such as those provided at hotels for laundry service or from home, to separate your wet, dirty, or simply worn clothes from those that are still clean. Most bags have a mesh compartment in the interior lid or a zippered pocket on the exterior that can be used to store these if a plastic bag is not available. It won’t keep the cooties out, but it will separate things a bit.

If you find a spill or stain or smell in your bag’s lining, you can clean it by mixing equal parts of denatured alcohol (also called industrial alcohol), and water to form a solution. Use a damp towel or sponge to apply this, and thoroughly wipe out the interior. Do not soak the lining, but try repeated applications if the situation persists. Leave the bag open so the solution can dry completely.

If you want to deal with a spill or stain while you’re still traveling, disinfectant wipes or baby wipes can be used to mitigate the worst until you can fully attend to it.

Do you have any other suggestions? Leave us a comment below or on our Facebook page.

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