views updated May 18 2018



NAICS: 31-6991 Luggage Manufacturing

SIC: 3161 Luggage Manufacturing

NAICS-Based Product Codes: 31-69910 through 31-699101F4


Luggage refers to the various types of bags and containers that travelers use to transport their belongings. The term includes suitcases, backpacks, computer cases, briefcases, tote bags, carry-on bags, and garment bags. Suitcases are usually rectangular bags 24 to 36 inches in height that open on hinges like a clamshell. They may be manufactured from leather, metal, plastic, or textiles; the material will dictate if the suitcase is hard-sided, soft-sided, or semi-soft sided. Suitcases have a handle so they may be carried; many have wheels, which means a particularly heavy bag may be rolled. Some suitcases possess locks, which may be opened with keys or a combination. Suitcases are sometimes referred to as Pullmans or Pullman cases. This term was used in the early days of mass travel, when suitcases were designed to fit under seats in Pullman sleeping cars—George Pullman invented the railroad sleeping car in 1857; the cars held his name until 1980.

A garment bag typically holds one or two items on hangers, while a garment carrier holds three or four. Tote bags are small bags worn around the shoulder; they are often sold as accessory pieces within larger luggage collections. Carry-ons are less than 22 inches tall and can be easily stored under an airline, train, or bus seat. Sports bags may vary in size; designs vary based on their function. A briefcase is a small, flat case originally designed to carry important papers. Backpacks are small- to medium-sized bags with two shoulder straps with which the bag can be carried on the back; backpacks are popular with students and campers. Computer cases are used to hold laptops and other portable electronic devices. All of these products may be manufactured from leather, but other textiles and metals are proving to be popular because they offer a weight advantage, are attractive, and are durable.

Early History

The word luggage first appears in English in 1596, according to The Oxford English Dictionary. It comes from the word lug, which means to haul or to drag. Such a word is appropriate for the earliest forms of luggage. Trunks and cases are some of the oldest methods of transporting belongings; their origins go back thousands of years in China and Egypt. Early travelers would have transported their belongings in heavy trunks for their ocean trips or in carts and caravans across long distances. Trunks were typically made of wood with metal trim. The interior was lined with paper; by the early nineteenth century, fabric was used. The trunk proved durable on long journeys. There are a number of trunk styles, including Jenny-Lid trunks, steamer trunks, Barrel-Staves, Bevel-tops, and Dome-Top trunks. The flat-top lid style was the most popular; one explanation for this is that ship, stagecoach, and train porters could not properly stack the trunks with curved lids. Flat-top trunks could be slid in and out of baggage holds and not be damaged.

Trunk manufacturers in the early twentieth century were small, regional operations with just a handful of em-ployees. A few of the prominent makers were M.M. Secor, Seward Trunk & Bag Co., Louis Vuitton, Hartmann, and Shwayder Trunk Manufacturing Company (predecessor to luggage industry leader, Samsonite). Some of these companies expanded into side industries, such as making small bags, cases, and related leather goods.

Post World War II

The luggage industry is, for obvious reasons, deeply tied to the travel industry. Changes in the United States after World War II benefited both industries. By the 1950s couples were getting married and moving to the suburbs; people were starting to live further away from family members. Wages increased, which granted consumers more disposable income. The overall leisure and vacation industry in the United States became much more robust. This decade also marked the beginning of America's love affair with the automobile. Travel in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries meant an expensive, difficult trip by rail or ship. In the post World War II period, Americans could pack their bags and take to the open road.

Increasingly, Americans were taking to the open skies as well. Commercial air travel existed before World War II but was out of reach for the vast majority. Commercial airlines were helped along in the 1950s and 1960s by technological improvements in jet-engine design, improvements that grew out of lessons learned by the airforce during the war. Airlines offered air coach class seating to compete with coach seating in the rail industry.

The newness of air travel lent it an air of sophistication, which further made it desirable to many Americans. By the 1970s larger aircraft were being used, helping bring down ticket prices and making air travel more affordable. The largest aircraft of the time, the Boeing 747, was first flown commercially in 1970. It was the first aircraft designed with overhead compartments for luggage storage.

Business travel was on the rise as well during this period. The economic expansion that began in the United States after World War II continued through the 1960s. As the economy and population expanded, so too did companies. The decade of the 1960s is often seen as the birth of modern Corporate America. Novels such as The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit dramatize the situation many men found themselves in at this time: going off to work every day in their gray flannel suit, briefcase in hand, and conforming to a professional standard. Briefcases began to sell well during this period, as did luggage in general. Quantus Airlines of Australia was the first airline, in 1971, to introduce a business class section on its planes.

In response to this growing market, luggage makers began offering new suitcase designs and styles. Suitcases were typically constructed using heavy metals and woods. Manufacturers now experimented with lighter woods and metal-blends to help make suitcases lighter. They also explored new colors, although black and gray remained the most popular. Samsonite released the first suitcase with wheels in 1975.

Luggage makers typically extolled the durability of their products. "Tough Enough to Stand On" was the slogan used by Shwayder in some early advertisements for his suitcases; the slogan ran with a picture of Shwayder, his father, and his three brothers standing on one of the company's suitcases. But in the 1950s and 1960s luggage makers started copying larger advertising trends and marketed their products as being part of a consumer lifestyle. A Hartmann luggage ad from 1968 shows a sharply dressed woman with matching luggage and the suggestion: "Maybe we should call ourselves Hartwomann." Hartwomann is a play on the company name, of course, but the we asks the female viewer to make the same identification: I, too, am a Hartwomann. Another advertisement followed that was even edgier, featuring an attractive woman with her luggage and the line "Hartmann Will Never Be an Old Bag."

In another example of how luggage advertising was trying to attract new consumers is a Samsonite advertisement of the time in which an array of suitcases appears beneath the suggestion "Choose Your Luggage like You Would Your China." The message behind such advertising is clear: luggage is increasingly a necessity not a luxury for the American home.

The 1980s and Beyond

The late 1970s were a hard period for the luggage business. Sudden increases in oil prices caused an economic slowdown and airline hijacking put an additional burden on all travel related businesses. It was not until the mid-1980s that the economy began to grow again and it did at a rapid pace, ushering in a period of economic growth that lasted in the United States until the end of the century, with only minor slowdowns in the early 1990s.

These economic cycles were important in driving for the luggage industry. The baby boom generation reached adulthood during the 1970s and 1980s. This led to an increase in the number of people likely to travel, with disposable income enough to travel for leisure as well as for work. In addition, members of this age group were more likely than their parents to purchase luggage for their children, for example, as a college graduation gift.

Producers of luxury goods, including high-end luggage makers, saw what was happening: there was a growing market of consumers who could afford luxury products, many of whom wished to buy products as a status symbol. The luxury goods industry boomed. A product becomes a luxury good because it has a design, a level of durability, and an overall quality that is superior to the equivalent mass market product. With this status also comes a higher degree of desirability among many shoppers.

Some luxury goods makers ventured into the luggage market for the first time during this period. Montblanc, known for its luxury pens, did so in 1995. Established luggage firms enjoyed improved sales. Trunk maker Louis Vuitton advertised its handmade suitcases and monogrammed specially numbered trunks. Luxury firms began selling suitcases in eye-catching styles, colors, and expensive fabrics. They also offered clever features such as better storage and recessed locks, features that other luggage makers would copy. Even established luggage makers recognized consumers' desire for products that combined function and fashion. Hartmann Inc. recruited fashion designers Gloria Vanderbilt and Roy Halston to design luggage for them.

Luggage makers were increasingly aiming products at women. They had several reasons for doing so. Women were believed to make 80 percent of all luggage purchases. Women generally spend more money on luxury items than men do. But it was also recognition of women's growing role in the business world. More women were executives and were traveling for business. They were willing to buy luggage that was marketed to them and addressed their specific needs. The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit with his briefcase of the 1960s had, to some extent, changed into the Woman with the Louis Vuitton luggage by the late 1980s.

The luggage industry, along with other manufacturing industries in the United States, went through a great deal of change in the 1990s. The industry saw a number of sales and consolidations. Hartmann Inc. was bought by Browns-Forman, known for its alcoholic beverage products. Samsonite struggled after its parent company declared bankruptcy. The American Tourister name remains an important brand name with the American public, but the company was bought out by Samsonite. Atlantic Luggage was taken over by Travelpro International. Luxury luggage makers such as Victorinox and Tumi have moved into department stores (a market once dominated by Atlantic Luggage) and taken market share.

The manufacturing of luggage began to move out of the United States during the 1990s as did manufacturing activities generally. The industry was struck hard by the downturn in traveling which occurred after the terrorist attacks against the United States in September 2001. Industry sales in the United States declined in both 2002 and 2003, rebounding slightly in the following years.

The luggage industry remains intrinsically tied to the overall travel industry. Globalization is a driving force behind growth in the travel industry. However, the industry faces many challenges as well; challenges which make the future difficult to predict. The travel industry continues to struggle with how to ensure passenger security, how to respond to terrorist attacks, how to handle possible pandemics, and how to manage volatile fuel costs.


A report from Global Industry Analysts estimated the global retail bag and luggage market to have been worth $20.8 billion in 2004. The source expects the industry to grow 4 to 5 percent annually through 2010 and thus reach $27 billion in 2010. Growth will be dependent on the stability of the travel industry, the affordability of air travel, the development of new air routes, and the health of the overall economy.

Suitcases, Pullman cases, casual bags, and garment bags represented approximately half of global luggage sales in 2004. Sports bags, backpacks, and daypacks accounted for another 27 percent of sales. Fifteen percent of sales were sales of business bags, which include briefcases and laptop cases. Other types of luggage accounted for the remaining 8 percent of sales. The United States was the largest market worldwide for luggage with sales of $7.8 billion (38% of the global market). Figure 126 presents global luggage sales by region in 2004.

The luggage market is very fragmented. Samsonite has been a leader in the industry for many years in each of the major markets, followed by regional players that have single digit market shares. These smaller companies are often successful by appealing to some niche category in the field, such as the luxury sector, or the travel-retail sector.

Samsonite claimed a 27 percent share of the luggage market in the United States in 2004, based on sales of hardside and softside luggage and garment bags. Other players were Travelpro, Atlantic Luggage, Jansport, Tar-gus, Tumi, Swiss Army, and East Pak. The United States is the largest consumer market for luggage on the global stage and it imports an increasing proportion of its luggage requirements from abroad. In the late 1990s, 53 percent of the leather and leather products sold in the United States were imported, according to the Census Bureau. By the early twenty-first century, imports were estimated to make up over 90 percent of luggage sold in the United States. In 2006, 81 percent of those imports were coming from China.

The luggage industry can be difficult to track using government figures. One must look at the general luggage category (bags made of leather) but also consider cases made of metals and textiles to get a truly accurate picture. The leather luggage industry was in decline for much of the late 1990s. The Census Bureau reported 230 establishments devoted to leather luggage manufacturing in 2002, down from 278 in 1997. The value of shipments fell as well. Luggage manufacturers shipped $1 billion worth of goods in 1997; by 2002, that value was nearly cut in half. Shipments of textile-based suitcases fell 78 percent between 1997 and 2002, and textile-based garment bags fell 84 percent. Leather-based business cases fell 62 percent. Luggage shipments fell to a recent low of $492.1 million in 2003. There are several reasons for this decline. The industry was simply following larger manufacturing trends and consolidating operations and moving operations out of the United States. As well, the industry was suffering the effects of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. The overall travel industry would not begin to return to pre-2001 levels until 2004. In 2005 U.S. luggage shipments were valued at $639.1 million.


The largest luggage manufacturer worldwide is Samsonite which had 20 percent of the global market in the early 2000s, based on industry sources. VIP was second largest with a 6 percent share of the market. By luggage category, Samsonite claimed to control 22 percent of hard and soft luggage and garment bag sales in Europe. Samsonite is the leading luggage player in France, Germany, and the United Kingdom. Other players include Antler, Delsey, Roncato, Stratic, and Rimova. In the Asian Pacific market, Samonsite again had a leading position, with a 27.5 percent share of soft and hard luggage and casual bag sales. Major players in this region include VIP, Eminent, and Crown. Profiles on Samsonite and three other prominent players in the luggage industry follow.

Samsonite Corporation

This industry leader was the largest producer of luggage, computer cases, outdoor and casual bags worldwide in 2004. The company licenses its brand names to third parties for use on products that include travel accessories, leather goods, handbags, clothing, and furniture. The company also manufactures products under various brand names, including Samsonite, American Tourister, Lacoste, and Samsonite Black Label. The company was incorporated in 1987 and is headquartered in Denver, Colorado.

Samsonite was started by Jesse Shwayder. He founded the Shwayder Trunk Manufacturing Company in Denver, Colorado in 1910. Shwayder and his ten employees marketed trunks and small hand luggage in the Western United States. Jesse Shwayder introduced a new style of luggage, Samsonite Streamlite, in 1941. The product was named after the Biblical giant and was intended to convey the product's strength and resilience. Streamlite luggage was tapered in shape and was made by covering a wooden frame with vulcanized fiber. The company had made suitcases for many years. It was not until this period of time that the company changed its manufacturing process to help make suitcases that were identical in design. In short, Shwayder Trunk finally started making sets of luggage.

Shwayder thought it time to update the look of the suitcase to capitalize on the growing air travel market of the late 1950s. Consumers were interested in light cases, as were airlines. He abandoned the typical wood construction in favor of sheet metal and magnesium combined with injection moulded ethyl cellulose. In 1958 he created the Silohuette. It was far lighter than a wooden suitcase and more sleekly designed. It also possessed some sensible features, such as recessed hardware to protect the locks and hinges from the wear and tear that all bags receive during travel. The company marketed the Classic Attaché in the early 1960s, which was a hit with businessmen. In 1965 Shwayder officially changed the company name to Samsonite. Firmly established as the leading maker of hard luggage and briefcases, the company expanded into the soft luggage market in the 1970s. The company made several noteworthy acquisitions in the 1980s. In 1993, Samsonite acquired American Tourister, another prominent name in the luggage field.

American Tourister

Sol Koffler started the company in 1933, and at the time it was called the American Luggage Works. The Rhode Island-based company sold 5,000 suit-cases in its first year. A few years later, Koffler used new machinery to streamline the manufacturing process to produce a suitcase that was more uniform in construction. The process allowed the suitcase to be more easily shaped and increased its durability. Koffler's new suitcase called the American Tourister proved to be very successful. The company made other innovative manufacturing changes in the coming decades; Koffler was the first luggage maker to produce an all-vinyl case. In 1954 it improved the chemical manufacturing process so that American Tourister cases were virtually indestructible. Such claims were used in the company's advertising, and were boosted by reports of American Tourister luggage surviving accidents intact. American Tourister produced a series of highly successful television commercials which featured owner testimonials interspersed with shots of a gorilla kicking and stomping on the suitcases to prove their durability.

Koffler sold the company in 1978 to Hillenbrand Industries. It was sold again in 1993 to holding company Astrium International, which also owned Samsonite. Efforts were made to keep these two companies separate. This was feasible because Samsonite's target audience was interested in hard-luggage and briefcases while American Tourister products performed well in the soft-luggage sector. In 1995 Astrum split into Samsonite and Culligan Water Technologies Inc. Samsonite took American Tourister with it. Samsonite consolidated much of American Tourister's operations. As of the late 1990s, American Tourister has existed as a brand only.

Travelpro International

Founded in 1987 and headquartered in Florida, this company is best known for its Rol-laboard product. Rollaboards are the small carry-on bags with telescoping (collapsible) handles that can be wheeled easily through airports and onto planes. The rollaboards were invented by Bob Plath, company founder and former Northwest Airlines pilot. Travelpro luggage was reportedly used by over 425,000 airport personnel worldwide. Travelpro gained more control of the market with its merger with Atlantic Luggage.

Hartmann, Inc.

Bavarian Trunk maker Joseph Hartmann founded this company in Wisconsin in 1877 and moved it from Milwaukee to Racine a few years later. In 1905 Hartmann announced plans to build luggage so fine it would stand as a symbol of excellence. By the 1930s the company offered over 800 different styles of trunks and suitcases. The company started releasing lighter luggage in the 1940s and 1950s after switching from aluminum and steel to basswood framing. Lenox Incorporated purchased Hartmann, Inc. in 1983; Lenox was then acquired by Browns-Forman the same year. Browns-Forman had a number of subsidiaries, and Hartmann makes up around 2 percent of the company's revenue. In early 2007 there were persistent rumors that the company was once again going to be sold.

Louis Vuitton

A young Loius Vuitton apprenticed himself to Monsieur Marechal in 1835, who was making trunks for the court of Empress Eugenie, wife of Napoleon III. Louis Vuitton started his trunk manufacturing business in 1854; he would expand into London in 1885. The company advertised the craftsmanship of the trunks they offered and such trunks became popular with the public. The company would expand into luggage and handbags in the 1930s. Louis Vuitton developed the distinctive LV monogram after his products began to be copied by counterfeiters; fake Vuitton luggage and leather goods are still regularly seized by U.S. Customs officials. In the twenty-first century the company still manufactures its products much as it did in the nineteenth century; a suitcase reportedly takes 15 hours to produce and a trunk 60 hours. The Louis Vuitton brand is one of the most recognizable brands in the luxury goods industry more than 150 years after the founding of the company.


The luggage industry uses a variety of leathers, textiles, metals, and plastics in the manufacturing process. Piece fabrics are used to manufacture the case. Metals are needed for locks, zippers, and hardware. Plastics might also be needed for hardware or linings. Various chemicals are also needed to treat the fabrics to increase their durability.

In the 1990s the luggage industry, like most manufacturing industries, was looking for ways to cut costs. Luggage manufacturing is costly in part because it is labor-intensive, much like the larger apparel and leather industries to which it belongs. But the cost of raw materials used in the manufacturing process is also an important contributor to overall cost. Basic commodity prices have been on the rise during the period from the late 1990s through 2005. The expansion of industrialization around the world through the growth of globalization has caused demand for raw materials to rise sharply. This, in turn, has caused prices for those materials to become volatile causing sourcing problems for many manufacturing industries, luggage being one of them.

Leather luggage makers spent $572 million on materials used in manufacturing in 1997 to produce shipments valued at $1.43 billion. Materials consumed represented 40 percent of shipment values that year. In 2002 materials consumed had fallen as a percentage of the value of shipments to 27 percent or $154.9 million for shipments valued at $571.9 million. Although the value of shipments of leather luggage was down considerably (−60%) between 1997 and 2002, the cost of the materials consumed in the production of those shipments was down even further (−73%).


Luggage makers started moving operations out of the United States in the 1990s. Overseas operations were attractive to companies because overall manufacturing costs were cheaper than in the United States: reasons for this include lower wages to workers, cheaper and more accessible materials, and lower rents on facilities. U.S. luggage and leather makers also moved into overseas markets because the developing countries into which they were moving offered new markets into which to sell their products. China, India, and Indonesia are a few of the countries that have growing numbers of wealthy citizens. These affluent individuals are hungry for high-end electronics, automobiles, and leather goods.

Far less manufacturing of luggage was done in the United States in the early twenty-first century than had been done during the twentieth century. U.S. luggage makers import much of their product from third-party manufacturers in Asia and Europe. Luggage companies then market these goods under various labels to appeal to a certain demographic: affluent travelers or young, price-conscious shoppers, for example. The Travel Goods Association, in analyzing Census figures, estimates that 96 percent of luggage, briefcases and computer cases, 97 percent of travel and sports bags, and 98 percent of luggage locks sold in the United States are imported.

Samsonite, as the largest luggage maker and the only one with a real global presence, has the most mature distribution networks. In fiscal year 2006 Samsonite reported purchasing 89 percent of its soft-sided goods from third-party retailers in Eastern Europe and Asia. The remaining 11 percent came from company-operated facilities. The company sells in stores across the globe, and is available in all retail channels. It also sells products through approximately 284 Samsonite-operated retail stores in North America, Europe, Asia, and Latin America; 150 shop-in-shop corners principally in Asia; and 173 franchised retail stores principally in India.

The luggage industry is labor-intensive, but not capital-intensive; in other words, it is not difficult to enter the market if one has access to enough workers and the textiles and fabrics needed for the manufacturing process. This is a major reason for the number of small, niche-market players in many countries. Small companies have the ability to stake out a place in the market but lack the distribution networks that Samsonite has to become a global player. This situation creates a competitive market, but it creates problems as well. For example, India has a growing class of young people who are well educated and wealthy (much of this wealth, it should be noted, has been generated through outsourcing contracts with the United States). Its luggage market was forecasted to grow approximately 50 percent between 2007 and 2010. Nearly half of its luggage market is, however, unorganized (generic suitcases), while prominent firms such as VIP and Samsonite control the organized sector. Luggage is sold through small, mom and pop stores; high-end leather and luggage retailers hesitate to open stores in India because of uncertainty in the country's distribution networks.

Luxury goods makers started to diversify in the 1990s. They began to sell through a wider range of retail channels. The luggage retail picture became even more complex when some leather and luggage goods makers opened stores selling their own branded goods. Specialty retailing became very popular during the 1990s (specialty stores carry limited merchandise devoted a particular industry or a series of related ones). Leather accessories maker Coach opened stores to sell its handbags and leather goods. Wilson Leather was formed in 1988, and opened outlets in many malls. Samsonite opened its own stores as well. Consumers can now purchase luggage online through the online version of popular retailers or through independent vendors such as eBags or

There were 1,977 luggage and leather goods stores in the United States in 2002, according to the Census Bureau. These stores employed more than 12,000 people. According to Market Share Reporter 2007, Coach stores held the largest market share (30%) for luggage and leather goods sold in specialty stores during 2003. Figure 127 presents the leaders in specialty store sales of luggage and leather goods for that year. Market research firm, IBISWorld estimated that revenues for these retail outlets would climb from $1.6 billion in 2003 to $1.9 billion in 2010.


Travelers are, of course, the key users of luggage. After the terrorist attacks against the United States in 2001 and subsequent attacks in Europe the following year, the travel industry experienced a severe downturn. Recovery began in 2003. The Travel Industry Association estimated that 168 million business trips were made in the United States in 2004 and 490 million leisure trips. In both categories travel was up over levels seen in 2002. But the way Americans spend their leisure time has changed in recent years. More people take vacations closer to home rather than flying to distant locations, shunning airport delays and expenses. Part of this shift has to do with a decline in the number of Americans taking the traditional two-week vacation every year. According to the Travel Industry Association, Americans are much more likely to take a number of long weekend trips during the year instead of a single, longer trip. There were 225 million weekend leisure trips made in 2005, up 10 percent over the previous five years. This trend has helped shape the luggage industry. Consumers want small, easy-to-carry, overnight bags, not large, heavy suitcases.

Another user group of products produced by the luggage industry is children. The growing number of school-age children in the United States means increased sales for backpacks and bookbags. Business travelers are another user group upon which the industry relies. The improvement in the business travel category may translate into higher garment bag sales while business travelers also use computer cases for laptops that they take on trips of all kinds, whether by air or simply on foot down to the local coffee shop.


The travel industry is the driver behind luggage manufacturing. There were 806 million international tourist arrivals around the world in 2005, the third year of increase in a row, according to the World Tourism Organization. Africa increased the most over 2004, up 9 percent, followed by Asia and the Middle East with 8 percent each. Tourist arrivals were up only 6 percent in the Americas. Balancing national security with international tourism has been problematic for the United States. In January 2007 travel industry officials met with the Bush administration to ask that the government revise its policies regarding international travel to the United States. They noted that the United States will need to stop "treating tourists like terrorists" if it wishes to see tourism increase. Overseas travel to the United States fell 17 percent from 2002 to 2007; the country's share of the international travel business has fallen from 9 percent to 6 percent. In another report on the travel business, Euromonitor's World Travel Market 2006 found that total business arrivals to the United States fell by 10 percent to 7 million over the 2004 to 2005 period. Over the same period the number of business visitors to Europe grew by 8 percent to 84 million.

The luggage industry is also part of the larger leather goods market. According to the Census Bureau, manufacturers of all leather goods shipped $2 billion worth of goods annually from 2002 to 2005. Leather goods include apparel accessories, handbags, and footwear. High-end items are part of the luxury market. The industry still performs well, although it is down from the levels in enjoyed in the 1980s. According to studies done by Bain & Company, the luxury goods market globally was worth around $200 billion in 2006. Global leather goods sales jumped 18 percent in 2005.


Consumers of luggage in the early twenty-first century wanted bigger, leaner, and lighter. Manufacturers are experimenting with various materials and designs in the hope of producing a product that can offer great storage options while maintaining a sleek profile and being as lightweight as possible.

New models of luggage released in early 2007 offer clever tweaks to recent luggage designs. One model allows a suitcase to be wheeled at a traveler's side rather than behind him or her, producing less stress on the shoulder. Another suitcase had a built-in seat that could be pulled from its side. A traveler with this piece of luggage can turn his suitcase into a stool, perfect for more comfortably weathering the long lines at airport check-in counters. Suitcases that can be wheeled are very common. However, in new models the wheels are covered to protect them from damage and work is ongoing to find ever more flexible wheel designs.

Adding features is another way in which manufacturers work to improve their products. One example of such features is a model that includes built-in speakers and an iPod port. Several luggage makers also offer combination garment bag/suitcases, in which the garment bag is rolled around a hard case. Manufacturers are experimenting with microchips and special ID tags to track lost luggage. With airline security a continuing issue, some makers are exploring security alarms for suitcases. One European suitcase model, used to transport rare materials, features a strong deterrent to potential thieves: an 80,000 volt shock to anyone who tampers with it.


In December 1972 the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued security guidelines to screen passengers and luggage. Passengers would soon be walking through metal detectors and have their carry-on baggage x-rayed. These measures were instituted to combat the rising number of hijackings worldwide during the 1970s. Early airport security equipment could screen for a gun or knife, but they did not have the ability to screen for explosives or possible toxins that a terrorist might try to bring aboard.

The issue of airline security drew national attention after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Among the efforts to tighten national security in the aftermath of these attacks was a mandate by the American Transportation and Safety Board that all baggage be screened for explosives by December 31, 2002. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) had not, as of early 2007, met this goal for a number of reasons: expense, lack of manpower, and poor training of TSA personnel. Explosive detection equipment has been installed in some airports, but the equipment is expensive, bulky, and time-consuming to operate.

The TSA issued stricter guidelines regarding carry-on luggage in August 2006. Airlines are trying to enforce baggage restrictions; the maximum size carry-on bag for most airlines is 45 linear inches (the total of the height, width, and depth of the bag). This creates occasional conflicts because some passengers are forced to check oversized bags at the gate. With tighter rules in place, passengers are now checking 20 percent more luggage than they did prior to 2001. With this increase in checked luggage has come an increase in lost and delayed luggage. This irksome situation, however, may have a silver lining for some entrepreneurial individuals. David Sempler, president of the Air Travelers Association, noted that the delivery of mishandled luggage has the potential to fuel growing businesses. Universal Express and Luggage Express are two firms that contract with airlines to deliver recovered bags to passengers' homes and hotels.


Luggage manufacturers market a number of labels to appeal to different categories of customers. Samsonite, for example, markets its signature Samsonite label to middle and upper income shoppers. Samsonite's Lark brand is aimed at the executive traveler. Lacoste is aimed at affluent customers. Samsonite's American Tourister label is aimed at lower and middle-income shoppers. Its Trunk & Co. brand is aimed at young people.

Other companies also offer different luggage lines to different customer groups. Atlantic Luggage claims to be the largest supplier to the department store channel; its luggage is aimed at those who are looking for quality items that are reasonably priced. Travelpro has a loyal following among airline personnel because of its Rollaboard product.

Tumi is a leading manufacturer of luxury bags and travel accessories. Most of its revenue comes from its airport locations. The company targets professionals between the age of 30 and 55, men 20 to 35 years of age and women who use luxury items. The company claimed that 65 to 70 percent of its luggage was sold to men. It, too, offers a number of products to compete in various markets. They include the T-Tech (urban-casual-business, day and travel bags for young professionals), Couriers (day, business, and travel bags for professional women), Accent (mixed-material briefcases for young men) and Superlights (nylon briefcases for young men).


American Dealers Luggage Association,

National Luggage Dealers Association,

Travel Goods Association,

Travel Industry Association,


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views updated Jun 08 2018

bag·gage / ˈbagij/ • n. personal belongings packed in suitcases for traveling; luggage. ∎ fig. past experiences or long-held ideas regarded as burdens and impediments: the emotional baggage I'm hauling around.


views updated May 21 2018

baggage portable property XV; worthless person XVI; young woman XVII. — OF. bagage, f. baguer tie up, or f. bagues (pl.) bundles; see BAG and -AGE.


views updated May 23 2018

lug·gage / ˈləgij/ • n. suitcases or other bags in which to pack personal belongings for traveling.


views updated May 23 2018

luggage XVI. f. LUG1 + -AGE, after baggage.