This Is the One Carry-On That Flight Attendants Swear By (It’s So Affordable!)

published Oct 16, 2023
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Credit: Daniel Kim/Stocksy

Travel season has a way of sneaking up on you before you know it. One of my biggest (and repeated) luggage headaches is forgetting to replace old, damaged, and close-to-unusable suitcases between big trips. It often resulted in borrowing better luggage from my parents or using the best of what I had and hoping it arrived at my destination in one piece. While my travel gear is of much better quality these days, I still like to stay on top of tried-and-true suitcase and carry-on options — just in case.

If you’ve ever felt the sting of shopping for last-minute luggage, the good news is that it can be avoided if you grab durable and long-lasting pieces. Who better to know what can stand up to multiple trips than those who travel for a living? I asked AT staffers what luggage they’ve been relying on for years, and found out that the Travelpro Maxlite 5 Softside Spinner Suitcase is highly recommended by flight attendants and editors alike.

What Is the Travelpro Maxlite 5 Softside Spinner Suitcase?

“I bought this roll-on suitcase over 10 years ago, and I still use it on every trip. I went into a luggage shop and told the salesman I wanted a suitcase that would always fit in every overhead. He immediately grabbed this bag and said it’s the one flight attendants use. Over 10 years later — and with confirmation from several flight attendants over the years — he’s still right. The newer models seem to have four spinning wheels, an upgrade from my two fixed casters. That would be nice to have, but my bag is still in great shape so I don’t see myself updating anytime soon.”

— Matt, AT Creative Studio Editorial Director

The Travelpro Maxlite 5 Softside Spinner Suitcase comes in four sizes, but the 21″ expandable carry-on is a standout. It’s lightweight and rolls smoothly on 360-degree rotating wheels in any direction. Not only is it equipped with a stain- and water-resistant coating on the outside, the suitcase’s interior lining is protected with H20 Guard that keeps moisture at bay. Its contoured pull handle has two stop points at 38″ and 42.5″ while providing a comfortable grip for easy maneuvering. When you inevitably need to lift it for storage in an overhead compartment, there’s a convenient low-profile handle to help you out as well as a handle at the bottom, giving you a solid hold, no matter which way you turn it.

If you’re the type to squeeze as much as possible into your carry-on (like me), you’ll be happy to know that this one has plenty of storage options. It expands two inches for extra packing space, and it also features two outside pockets. Inside, there are adjustable straps to keep your belongings stable while on the go. There’s also a mesh pocket and full-length interior lid pocket for additional organization needs. Lastly, to ensure that your clothing and accessories remain safe and sound on your trip, the carry-on has a bottom tray design for increased durability.

For those who are looking for more than one suitcase, this line of Travelpro luggage is available in two- and three-piece sets, all of which include the 21″ carry-on spinner.

What Amazon Reviewers Are Saying

“My wife and I have used Travelpro for years and just added to our collection for our dsughter. It is very durable and extremely light. Packs nicely. Good warranty, although we’ve never used it. Very reliable and nice to have. Happy Travels.” — bOLDER1

“I purchased this to replace another Travelpro suitcase that I loved for 30 years. I was blown away by how lightweight this is, ease to roll and turn and the simple but functional design.” — Ken

“This is a durable, light weight and easy to maneuver roll-aboard. I travel a lot for work. This carry-on fits easily into the overhead bins of every airline I travelled on over the past 3 months, including SWA, United, ANA, Cathay, TAP, Lufthansa and Qantas. It holds enough for 4-days of travel. The wheel system is excellent and the handle system is sturdy. At this time, the bag looks as good as it did the day I got it. Definitely worth the price. 5-stars!” — Amazon Customer

Buy: Travelpro Maxlite 5 Softside Spinner Suitcase, 21″, $135.99 (normally $144.49)