For many years, I used to buy mid-range luggage, and my loyalty to any given airline was abandoned if I could get cheaper tickets elsewhere. Both attitudes have changed, here is why.
[bctt tweet=”I tried Ryanair twice, the second time because I thought I had been extremely unlucky the first time”]
Let’s start with airlines. I tried Ryanair twice. The reason for the second try was that I thought I had been extremely unlucky the first time. Not so! I’ll spare you for the details.
Let’s just say that Ryanair might work if you do not mind getting lousy service at check-in, letting the airline take care of your seating – possibly being seated among a bunch of half drunk rednecks, you do not travel with checked luggage, and do not mind spending an hour extra commuting to and from the airport – all for saving the equivalent of less than $100.
My experience with other low-cost airlines is far from as bad as with Ryanair, but even if they fly to the city they advertise – and not a two-hour bus ride outside – they somehow have to make up for their low prices.
You will have to pay extra for luggage and seating, the maximum allowed luggage weight is a bit lower, maybe 20 vs 23 kg. They tend to have fewer people at the check-in counter, meaning that you will have to show up earlier at the airport.
When it finally is your turn to check in they are obsessive with the weight of your suitcase. In general, you are also treated with less compensation if your plane is delayed. What it all comes down to is how much of your time and comfort you are willing to trade for saving the cost of a few beers.
Loyalty has its benefits
If you find that it is worth to pay a bit more for comfort and convenience, loyalty has its benefits. Before choosing “your” airline, check out their bonus program. Most airlines have more than one way of letting you both earn and spend bonus points. Most bonus programs also include membership in a bonus network with other airlines, giving you more options on how to spend your bonus points.
Living in Norway it was most convenient for me to choose SAS. SAS is a part of the Star Alliance network. When it comes to earning points, my primary source is my DNB Saga Master Card. This gives me twice as much bonus as any other credit card.
Any form of travel will include at least one piece of luggage. I got tired of cheap luggage that looked 10 years old after three trips. It’s no fun dragging a taped-up suitcase trough the airport, and even less fun sitting on the plane thinking about how the luggage will look when you get it at back at your final destination.
When you come home with something close to a tennis elbow due to a defect wheel on a heavy suitcase, you start to think about the upside of hassle free luggage.
My first Samsonite
During a trip to Poland, I bought a Samsonite hard-shell and left my cheap suitcase at the hotel. Since then I have bought two soft-sides as well. I have a Samsonite Silhouette Sphere 2 29 Inch Spinner that’s my extended trip suitcase.
For trips that last a week or shorter, I have a Samsonite Silhouette Sphere 2 25 Inch Spinner. What I love about these spinners is that they are really light, have four wheels and that they come with a suit bag that keeps my suits wrinkle free. The four wheels really take the strain out of getting your luggage to and from the airport.
Why choose a two-wheel carry-on
Before buying a new carry-on, I did some extensive online research. I did not just want another carry-on, I wanted a piece of luggage that would hold the maximum volume for most airlines. The reason was that I wanted to avoid checked luggage on trips that lasted 2-3 days.
The first thing I learned was that, with the exception of Ryanair, most airlines will accept a 21-inch suitcase. To get the maximum volume for your stuff, you should go for an upright suitcase with inline wheels, like the one pictured here.
On a four-wheel spinner, you cannot utilize the room between the wheels. Yes – a two-wheeler would have to be dragged the old fashion way. You just have to decide if the two extra wheels are worth all the hassle of checking your luggage for a short trip.
In the end, I chose the Samsonite Aspire Gr8 Upright 21 inch This was, in my mind, the best combination of maximum volume and looking stylish.
Here we come to the incident that led me to write this blog post. Just before Easter, I was returning from a business trip to Hamburg, Germany. I was only gone for three days, so I had packed my 21-inch upright.
Back to my trip
The trip from Hamburg to Oslo was uneventful, but when I spotted my suitcase on the baggage belt, I knew that something really bad had happened. The suitcase looked like it had been rammed by a truck! The whole bottom was basically a 45-degree dent.
I was surprised that I did not smell the gin, which I was sure was broken. With a sigh of relief, I found that the gin, and the rest of my belongings, had made the trip without any damage. Still, I was really annoyed by the damage to my suitcase.
On my way over to the luggage service counter I was thinking about the earlier times I had gone the same route, only to get a voucher to get my luggage fixed at a local dealer.
More than 50% of the time the luggage ended up in the garage for such a long time that the voucher had expired before I could get myself to haul it to the store to get it fixed. Usually, the said luggage did not look good before the damage, and often I ended up buying a new one instead of fixing the old dented piece of crap. This time was the first time I had one of my Samsonite’s damaged, but it did not strike my mind that this was going to be any different.
Service with a smile
At the luggage service counter, I was met with a smile. I explained what had happened and when I said that I had a Samsonite suitcase the woman behind the counter told me that this was no problem. She made a damage report and told me to contact SAS Bag support.
Two days later I logged on to the website and filled out an online form, added some pictures of my suitcase and submitted my report. I did not know what to expect, but in the back of my mind, I suspected that this was just a fancy way of doing what I used to do at the counter in the airport.
I was very surprised when I received an answer within a couple of hours. Having read my report, and looked at the pictures, the Samsonite representative told me that they would like to replace my suitcase with a new one, delivered at my door, free of charge.
She just wanted the serial number on the suitcase, to make sure that I got the exact same model. I replied with the serial number and asked if it was possible to get it in the same blue color as my other suitcases, the damaged suitcase was light brown. No problem!
Looking at the bigger picture, you get what you pay for. I have chosen to pay a bit more for flying and for the luggage I’m bringing. What I get in return are a bit less hassle and a more comfortable life.
Now I’m just waiting for the delivery van.