Meet my very smart suitcase
The truth is, my suitcase and I are not the best of travelling companions. The bag has a mind of its own and loves a game of airport hide and seek. It insists on being last one on to the luggage carousel, no matter whether I have checked-in early or late. What are the dynamics of loading the baggage hold, does anyone know? Pay to fly priority class, I guess.
My bag has been truly lost only once, after a Cairo to Sydney flight. I acknowledge I had behaved shamefully at the check-in desk after I was told I had been bumped off an overbooked plane home. Egypt had been the trip of a lifetime, but getting to the airport had been the ordeal of a lifetime too. I had no intention of going back into the city that night and repeating the exercise at an unspecified date. My protestations won me a seat, but lost me my bag. If I had been the check-in officer I would have sent it via the Moon too (although I make no accusations). Months later the poor thing limped home, pummelled and pillaged; it had made its final voyage.
Anyway, I have had enough of carousel heart-stoppers, so like to give my suitcase the flick in favour of a carry-on bag only, which has enforced an economy of packing. This is achievable for breaks of up to three nights away, but I acknowledge a few points in my favour, being an older male (that is, totally invisible and under no expectations of stylish wardrobe changes), bald (no products needed) and not likely to be invited to multi-themed fancy-dress parties any more. And it’s dawned on me I won’t get very far into that 1000-page novel, with the stiff competition of diverse in-flight entertainment. A suit bag can be a useful accessory, but I promise I’m not the one who bangs you on the head swinging all this into the overhead locker.
Thanks to an article in The New York Times on July 3 (Did you pack too much? Your suitcase knows ...), I now have to revise my thinking. We are entering the era of hitech suitcases in the first quantum leap since the innovation of built-in wheels and telescoping handles nearly 50 years ago. Can you believe it’s been that long, although those early, stubborn little wheels were utterly useless (today, demand “cobblestone friendly”).
The new breed of suitcase, I read, will always stay in touch on its whereabouts via your mobile, which will also lock and unlock it. Just don’t lose the phone or have it hacked. The bag will be equipped with a charger for digital devices, in-built scales to tell you if it’s over the weight limit and (somehow) a capacity to keep soiled clothes away from fresh (isn’t that what plastic bags are for?). There’s a version with flexible dimensions from carry-on to giant-size and even a motorised suitcase if you don’t mind looking the right galah as you ride it around the airport terminal (will a special licence be necessary?). One manufacturer calls the new product not a smart suitcase but a “thoughtful” one.
Gee, I wonder if I ask my bag very, very nicely, whether I might be allowed some say in where we’re off to.
Susan Kurosawa is on assignment.