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The last time I was in an airport lounge, I decided to do some research for my guides to the best carry-on suitcases and best luggage by taking stock of what bag was most popular with frequent travelers. As I wandered around the room making note of what bags elite fliers were carrying, one clear pattern emerged: more than 50% of lounge occupants were carrying a Travelpro bag and, most frequently, the Travelpro Platinum Elite Expandable Carry-On

We're no strangers to the hype; the Travelpro Platinum Elite has topped our guide to the best carry-on bag for many years. It may not be as flashy as Instagram-popular picks like Away and Monos, but every last detail of this bag is clearly well thought out to deliver a seamless travel experience. It offers exceptional quality for the price and comes with some handy extras that help set it apart. Read on for experience testing the Travelpro Platinum Elite Carry-On, and why we think it's a favorite of airline crew and frequent fliers.

Design and specs

When it comes to choosing a carry-on, it's key to make sure it will meet most airline regulations for carry-on sizing so you don't get stuck checking your bag last minute. The Platinum Elite Expandable Carry-On is marketed as 21 inches, but that doesn't include the wheels. When I measured, the full exterior came to just about 23 inches, which just barely goes over the usual sizing guidelines of 22 inches.

However, that actually tends to be the case for most standard-size carry-ons. While this bag may not fit on planes with just two seats per side or on smaller international planes, it will easily fit overhead on most major US airlines. That said, when fully packed with the expansion option, it can quickly go over the allotted bin size if you're not careful.

This soft-sided carry-on is made from high-density nylon fabric that is highly durable and stain-resistant. The detailing and handles are made from premium leather, which makes lifting the bag comfortable and also adds a more sophisticated and elegant look to the overall design.

The bag holds up to 46 liters, which is a good amount of space, especially when compared with many smaller carry-ons, making it ideal for medium-length trips. At 7.8 pounds, it's on the heavier side of normal for carry-ons, but I have no trouble lifting this bag over my head even when fully packed. 

Additionally, the chrome zippers are easy to grip and unzip and the four PrecisionGlide wheels handle effortlessly on every surface I tested, including thick carpet.

This bag comes in eight color options: Shadow Black, Intrigue Black (a more textured look), Rich Espresso, Vintage Grey, Bordeaux, True Navy, Olive Green, and Coastal Blue.

What it's like to use 

So far, this bag has held up extremely well, and no tears or marks of any kind are apparent (even after throwing the bag around as part of durability testing).

The eight MagnaTrac wheels are self-aligning and some of the best of any suitcase I've tried. The bag easily pulls along behind me, in front of me, or beside me. 

Similarly, the adjustable handle is very sturdy. It features a contoured grip, which my smaller hands find more comfortable (but that my fiancé has noted makes it less comfortable for him to pull).

Like most soft-side bags, the main compartment has one deep side and a smaller zipper compartment on the opposite side that is half mesh, which is nice for some breathability. While the handle poles do take up some interior space, this bag is deep enough that it really doesn't matter too much. There are also two additional zippered pockets on the buckles of the deeper side that are ideal for holding small items like socks or bathing suits. 

With soft-side bags like this one, I pack almost all of my shoes and clothes in the deep compartment and use the mesh pocket mainly for smaller or more delicate items. That means that if you're someone who prefers separating shoes from clothes, you may prefer a hard-side option.

As long as you don't try to over-stuff, this bag packs well, and the super sturdy buckles that pull tight really help compress down bulkier items like sweaters. I also particularly like the front-most pocket that nicely fits my laptop and is easily accessible.

This bag also comes with several additional extras that are truly handy. While it doesn't come with its own battery pack, it does have a built-in USB port so you can easily slip one in and out, per Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations (remember to remove the battery should you need to check this bag). Unfortunately, the bag only accommodates USB-A ports, as opposed to the now more common USB-C ports. I'd love to see this updated in the bag.

It also comes with a clear plastic bag attached to the side for holding toiletries. The bag easily zips out so you can take it with you to the vanity at a hotel and it was easy to clean after some of my lotion spilled in it, which is also a nice example of why this feature proves especially useful.   

Finally, you also get a nice garment bag. While I typically take this out for most of my travels, it's a nice option if you happen to be traveling with a special dress or suit that you want to keep protected. 

What makes it stand out    

Travelpro was originally pioneered by a pilot, and it's clear in every last detail of the Platinum Elite Expandable Carry-On that the company has truly thought through what travelers need for a seamless experience and incorporated this into the design. 

At $365 this bag isn't cheap, but it's an excellent value for the quality of the materials and the added amenities that come with it. Travelpro products are known to hold up well and come with a lifetime warranty. Should anything break, all you have to do is submit a repair request through the website, and the company will cover return shipping. If you're hesitant about committing, this suitcase also comes with a 100-day trial period.   

Cons to consider

As mentioned, one downside of most soft-sided bags, including this suitcase, is that they are very easy to stuff too much into and overpack. With the 2-inch expansion option and three additional front pockets, that's especially true of this bag. When packed to the gills with the front pockets full, this bag will not fit into overhead bins. It shouldn't be an issue as long as you are mindful of this when packing and ensure you're not cramming extras into every inch of usable space.

Also, while I have no issues with the 7.8-pound weight, you may prefer a lighter option if you often have trouble lifting a suitcase. 

What are your alternatives?

Travelpro also makes a pared down version of this suitcase called the Crew Classic that we've tested and love. At $235, it's over $100 cheaper than the Platinum Elite bag and has many of the same features, including the lifetime warranty. If you don't mind sacrificing some exterior storage pockets, leather detailing, and a USB charging pocket, the Crew Classic is a great, less expensive alternative. 

If you want to go even cheaper, we also like the AmazonBasics Softside Carry-On Spinner ($85), but it isn't likely to last nearly as long and won't come with any of the additional perks that set the Travelpro apart.

On the other end of the spectrum, there are also more premium soft-side options available, like the Briggs & Riley Baseline Domestic Carry-On ($699) that uses materials like ballistic nylon and fiberglass frames if you want a truly rugged luxury bag. 

The bottom line

The Travelpro Platinum Elite Expandable Carry-On is an excellent option for a high-quality bag that should last you years. Falling smack in the mid-range of luggage prices, it offers a ton of features that similarly-priced bags don't, like exceptional interior storage, self-aligning wheels, and a lifetime warranty. This bag is a choice of frequent fliers and cabin crew for good reason, and the Platinum Elite remains our very top pick for carry-on luggage.

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2024-01-26T16:56:18Z dg43tfdfdgfd