Ask the Expert: Travel & Luggage Specialist Raymond Durocher

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Photo courtesy of TravelPro.

Despite the fact that most airlines these days demand that you pay a fee to check your luggage, this doesn’t guarantee that your bags won’t go missing.

Misplaced, or damaged, luggage is a common travel tribulation associated with flying and can be costly for both passengers and airlines. With some 22.7 million bags mishandled in 2017, it can cost the industry upwards of $2.3 billion (USD).

But the good news is airlines have been losing less luggage, according a report last year from the airline information technology company, SITA.

Compared to a decade ago, airlines are 70 per cent less likely to lose your bags — and it might become even more unlikely with Resolution 753, a new rule implemented this past June by the International Air Transport Association (IATA). This groundbreaking guideline will require its airlines to keep track of every single bag at four vital checkpoints — check-in, aircraft loading, transfers between airplanes and final destination. Should your bag go missing, they will be able to track it in real time and pinpoint the exact location.

Hopefully, lost luggage will become a thing of the past and the day will come when passengers can gleefully check all their bags and roam the terminal hands-free. But until that day arrives, travellers will always have that tinge of anxiety at the airline check-in counter, as they watch their bags disappear down the conveyer belt, wondering when — or if — they will ever see it again.

When it comes to travel luggage and airlines, Raymond Durocher, is an veteran in this sector.  As president of the Montreal-based Holiday Group, one of the leading luggage companies in the world — with brands and licenses such as TravelPro, SwissGear and Roots 73 — he criss-crosses the globe frequently.

TravelPro, in particular, is a pioneer in the travel luggage industry, having designed the vertical wheeled carry-on case with the extendable handles.

Here, we ask Durocher to give us the low-down on luggage.

DERICK CHETTY: Do you think the IATA’s Resolution 753 will have an impact on the airline industry?

RAYMOND DUROCHER: “Because of the different touch points by the different airport organizations there will have to be some collaboration between these organizations to meet the tracking requirements of the Resolution. This process of getting everyone on the same page is complex, so at the start there may be some challenges and initial learning. In the long term, the improvement for airlines and passengers will be substantial. Missing luggage can be quickly identified at the different stages of the baggage journey, so this will help the passenger and airline in ensuring luggage is found quicker.”

DC: Is there anything a passenger can do to ensure their bags arrive at their destination the same time they do?

RD: “Once it’s in their hands, it’s out of your control. However, you should take a picture of your bag with your phone. Should your bag go missing it will really help with the descriptions required on the claim form.”

DC: What are some items you always take in your carry-on for in-flight?

RD: “A pair of good headsets — it helps with noise reduction. An iPad, with movies I’ve downloaded.

DC: Which is better: soft or hard suitcases?

RD: “It’s a matter of taste. The hard cases offer more vibrant colours and appealing prints. The soft cases have an outside pocket so you can stuff more things.

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DC: What’s the best luggage size for international flights?

RD: “Wheeled Totes or carry-on duffels are ideal pieces for people who are looking for a small carry-on. I find them to be ideal for an overnight trip. Most wheeled totes will fit under the seat — perfect if you are boarding closer to the end of the line — and are small enough to easily lift in and out of the overhead bin. Generally, luggage between 18” to 20” is considered to be the international carry on size.  This size would be ideal for a couple of days travel, keeping in mind that a two-wheeled luggage will offer slightly more packing capacity than a four-wheeled luggage.”

DC: Which is better and why: two-wheel luggage or four-wheel luggage?

RD: “This really comes down to personal preference and the length and type of your travel. Four-wheels requires very little effort to move the luggage. The ground supports the weight of the bag so you can push or pull it with very little effort. This is great if you suffer from shoulder problems because your arm will not be stressed from pulling behind your back. A four-wheel spinner rolls best on flat even surface like the airport terminal. The four-wheel spinner would not likely to tip over when you have additional baggage sitting on top of the luggage. As a carry-on luggage it would be easy to move through the aisle to your seat but keep in mind that the box (actual luggage excluding wheels and handle) will be smaller than a two-wheel luggage so will have slightly less packing capacity. The checked luggage is ideal for heavier luggage or for family travels.

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Two-wheels is better if you tend to be rushing to catch a plane or moving quickly even over uneven surfaces. The luggage tends to be lighter with larger wheels that maybe recessed in a protected wheel housing. The carry-on would be easier to fit into an overhead bin — provided it is an approved carry-on size — as the wheels do not protrude and you will have slightly more packing space as the box is a little larger than a four-wheel luggage. The checked-in luggage will also provide slightly more packing capacity but caution should be taking as it can tip over if over-packed.

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“Our Travelpro Platinum Elite collection offers both options of four-wheels and two-wheels in all sizes. Select carry-on size offers external USB port connection to help you keep connected. If you tend to be a heavier packer our Travelpro Maxlite 5 collection in both options of four-wheels and two-wheels would better fit your needs.”

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