Meet my very smart suit­case

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - TRAVEL & INDULGENCE - GRA­HAM ERBACHER

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.

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