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Air travel has become a very popular mode of transport these days, and increasing numbers of people are travelling between countries for commercial reasons. Indeed, cheap air travel came to the fore with the advent of the package holiday in the 1970’s, which saw average families suddenly able to travel to exotic-sounding foreign climes, rather than having to spend their summer family holiday in Wales or Skegness.
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|Name||Size in litres|
|Aerolite Super Lightweight Hard Shell||33L|
|5 Cities Cabin Approved Trolley Bag||42L|
|Merax Super Lightweight ABS||33L|
|Aerolite Super Lightweight Carry-On||33L|
|Aerolite Maximum Allowance||42L|
In the last couple of decades, the prevalence of budget airlines such as EasyJet and Ryanair has made life even easier for both holidaymakers and the business traveller, and there are more flights now than ever before. Of course, the dreaded spectre of security has made life much more tiresome at the airport than it ever has been. Unlike a train, where you turn up minutes before and get on, you have to be ready at the airport and have your luggage checked in a long time in advance.
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Then there are the current rules about what you can take on board with you, which is where cabin luggage comes into the equation. As you are only permitted luggage up to a certain weight and size as hand luggage, you need to be sure that the case you choose to take with you is acceptable. The luggage manufacturers responded to the needs of passengers very quickly, and have provided a great range of quality luggage that is approved by the major airlines.
We took a look at the ten of the best cabin luggage available right now so that you can make a choice and get hold of the right case at the right price, but what should you be looking for, and what are the rules? Let’s have a look in a little more detail.
A cabin bag also needs to be robust for carrying around, and easy to move about – most have wheels for convenience – and you also want one that is able to be secured with a lock. So, without any further ado, here is our list of the top 10 best carry on cabin luggage options available right now, and at the end, we will give you a brief summary of which we think is the best value for you.
Table of Contents
- Best Cabin Luggage UK
- 1: Aerolite Super Lightweight Hard Shell
- 2: 5 Cities Cabin Approved Trolley Bag
- 3: Merax Super Lightweight ABS
- 4: Aerolite Super Lightweight Carry-On
- 5: Aerolite Maximum Allowance
- 6: 5 Cities Lightweight ABS Hard Shell
- 7: 5 Cities Maximum Size
- 8: Karabar Monaco Hard Suitcase
- 9: Borderline Hand Luggage
- 10: iN Travel Lightweight Cabin Bag
- What is Carry on/Cabin Luggage?
- Important Features to Look For
- Let’s Sum It Up!
Best Cabin Luggage UK
1: Aerolite Super Lightweight Hard Shell
Our first choice on our list of best cabin luggage comes from Aerolite; we make no excuses when saying you are going to hear a lot about them during this review! Aerolite is a market-leading company in the world of cabin luggage with a wide variety of cases across its range, so there is bound to be one here to suit you. This one is a hard-shell model, which we would recommend is the desired option, and it is the regulation size of 55x35x20cm.
It comes with an extendable handle, four wheels with a 360-degree spin action for ease of use, and when empty weighs just 2.5kg. The 33litre capacity is adequate if not great, it has a 3-digit security lock, and you get a 5-year warranty for peace of mind. This one is approved for use by British Airways, EasyJet, Ryanair, Virgin Atlantic and at least 15 other major airlines.
Unlike that above, this one is a soft-case design with some hard panels, but it does have some interesting attributes. First, it comes with a series of pockets on the outside which are handy for storing items you might want to get at without having to open your bag. Also, it offers 42L capacity, which is not the biggest on this list but is decent enough. It comes with zips and a padlock, so is perhaps not the most secure in terms of locking either.
This one has two wheels and a telescopic handle, plus it has a carry handle on the side and one on the top for added convenience. It is very light when empty at just 1.40kg and measures within the 55x35x20cm required dimensions for the major airlines. It’s good, but we have reservations about the material, and it is approved for cabin use by all of the major airlines and budget providers.
This cabin bag is very similar to the first one that we listed, being the same size – the regulation 55x35x20cm – and also offering 33L capacity. Indeed, this capacity seems to be a standard for some of the hard-case designs – of which this is one – although we have seen bigger in other designs (see above). It’s finished in a nice grey/silver look and is very light at just 2.6kg, and comes with a 3-position handle for ease of use by anyone in the family.
We prefer the hard case models as they provide added protection for what is inside, although they are not as easy to get into as the soft models. For security, this one comes with a three-digit code lock, which again is pretty much a standard for these items. It has 4 wheels, is easy to move around and will make an excellent travel case for the business user.
There are two types of cabin luggage: the hard case, and the soft material versions. This one, from market-leaders Aerolite, is one of the latter, but it is worth having a look at. It is 55x35x20cm overall, so exactly within the airline requirements, and is made from a very tough material that the makers say is durable and strong. It looks the part and has an adjustable handle, and has two large pockets on the front for easy access.
This one weighs just 1.85kg unladen, so is very light indeed, but is only a 33L capacity design. However, it is very well made, comes with four wheels for easy movability, and is built to last – a 10-year warranty is proof of this. You also get a 3-digit combination code lock, and it is approved for cabin use by just about every airline you can think of including the major transatlantic carriers and the budget lines.
So far, the models we have reviewed from Aerolite have all been of the IATA recommended size; this one goes a step bigger and is designed to meet the maximum cabin luggage dimensions for Ryanair flights, which are mirrored by a number of other airlines. This one measures 55X40x20cm, slightly larger than the norm, and as a result packs in 42Litres capacity. It is, however, a soft-body design, which is not our preferred option for one of these.
Nevertheless, it is by Aerolite so quality is guaranteed, and it is made from very strong material and comes with a 10-year warranty. Empty, it weighs just 2.1kg, which is very light for a bag of this size. You also get a 3-digit combination lock, two handy pockets for those much-needed items, and it has two wheels. It’s approved for Ryanair, British Airways, Lufthansa and easyJet among others, but check with your airline before you fly.
This is another model of the hard-shell variety and is the regulation 55x35x20cm, and offering 32L capacity. It is therefore not the biggest model here, but should not be dismissed as it does have some interesting attributes. It’s finished in a nice grey/silver look and is very light at just 2.5kg, and comes with a 3-position handle for ease of use by anyone in the family. It’s approved for use on Virgin Atlantic, Ryanair, British Airways and more, so check with your airline before travelling.
We prefer the hard case models as they provide added protection for what is inside, although they are not as easy to get into as the soft models. For security, this one comes with a three-digit code lock, which again is pretty much a standard for these items. It has 4 wheels, is easy to move around and will make for an excellent travel case for the business user.
This is another from the 5 Cities brand – another of the market leaders in this field – and it is one that is specifically designed to fit the maximum cabin luggage size for easyJet, British Airways and Jet2, as well as a few others. It measures 56x45x25cm, and provides a massive 60L of capacity, but be aware it is a soft-case bag. You do get a handy front compartment for those often-needed items, and it comes with a 2-year warranty – not the best, but not bad.
This one weighs just 1.95kg to begin with, so is very light for the size, and has clever ball-type wheels on the bottom and an adjustable handle. It has only two wheels, however, so you might find it hard to move at full capacity. Nevertheless, it’s a well-made bag from a maker with a strong reputation.
This very attractive model is from Karabar, not one of the popular makers on here, and it is a standard hard-shell type with all the usual features. It fits within the regulation cabin luggage size at 54x34x20cm, is nice and light at 2.2kg when empty, has four wheels and an adjustable handle, and is easy to use with lockable zips. It is well-made and durable, and will do the job. It also comes with a 10-year warranty.
But, and it does make it stand out in this company, it only offers 31Litres of capacity from its small size, and that may be the clincher for some. That’s the smallest of all those on this list so far. It’s approved for use by all the major airlines and is a nice model, but we can’t help feeling it is going to be overlooked for another hard-case model.
Nearing the end of our list now, and the similarities between the different models are coming to the fore. This one is 55x35x20cm overall, so exactly within the airline requirements, and is made from a very tough material that the makers say is durable and strong.be aware it is a soft-case bag. It looks the part and has an adjustable handle, and has two large pockets on the front for easy access.
This one weighs just 1.9kg unladen, so is very light, but is only a 33L capacity design. However, it is very well made, comes with four wheels for easy movability, and is built to last – a 10-year warranty is proof of this. It is approved for cabin use by just about every airline you can think of including the major transatlantic carriers and the budget lines.
This model, one of the soft variety, measures 50x35x25cm, and provides an adequate 44L of capacity. You do get a handy front compartment for those often-needed items, and it comes with a 2-year warranty – not the best, but not bad. It is well made from soft but durable material, and is approved for use on just about every major airline and the budget carriers. It is neat design, but not the best we have seen.
This one weighs just 2kg to begin with, so is very light for the size, and has clever ball-type wheels on the bottom and an adjustable handle. It has only two wheels, however, so you might find it hard to move at full capacity. There’s no reason why this perfectly good bag should not be on your shortlist of best cabin luggage as it does do a decent job, but it isn’t the most sturdy we’ve seen and doesn’t come with the best locks.
That’s our list of the top 10 best cabin luggage options available to you right now, so before we sum up, let’s have a look at the factors you need to consider.
What is Carry on/Cabin Luggage?
Recent concerns regarding flight security led to a raft of new regulations being put into place limiting what you can and cannot take on board a plane. There are many items that are prohibited, but what we are talking about here is the limited amount of hand luggage that you can carry on board.
Now, while there are set regulations laid down by the relevant authorities, the actual allowances may differ between airlines, so it is vital that you check out the information provided by that which you are flying with before you buy your best cabin luggage and head for the airport.
The recommended size of cabin bag – by the industry-governing IATA – is 55x35x20cm, and while some airlines allow bigger than this, you will generally find you are permitted only a single cabin bag, plus – in some instances – a personal item that you can carry in addition. Also, you need to check the weight allowance.
Some airlines have no weight allowance, only a size restriction, while others apply an allowance of anywhere between 5kg to as much as 23kg (allowed by British Airways) with the norm being around 7-10kg maximum. Once again, you should check with your airline before you take your bag to the airport.
Important Features to Look For
As we have made clear, cabin luggage is governed by IATA regulations as well as those laid down by individual airlines, so there are some quite specific things to look for when buying one of these.
Size – the IATA recommended size of 55x35x20cm is the guideline to look for, but some airlines allow for slightly bigger bags. This is why you should check carefully with your chosen airline before you turn up with your bag ready to board, as you may find it is too large.
Capacity – most of the above will handle 33litres; this is the standard for a bag such as this, but some offer considerably greater capacity. What you really need to be working to is the airline’s weight limit, as this will determine whether your bag is too heavy to take on board. Usually, this is around 7-10kg, but again, check in advance.
Hard or Soft – there are benefits to both; hard-case bags are more durable and provide greater protection, soft-case bags are easier to handle and often come with pockets for added convenience. The choice is yours as to what you want to buy.
Wheels – 4 or 2 is the usual choice; you should go for 4 is you want the bag that is easiest to move around.
As all of these have adjustable handles we will leave that out, and price is only a defining point if you are worried about paying over £30 which is about the maximum here. So, which would we recommend?
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Let’s Sum It Up!
On the face of it, any of these bags is good enough for the job, and if you want a true budget model – perhaps for one-off use – look at any of those that come in at less than £20 for quite amazing value.
However, we must say we like the Aerolite models for their quality and style, as well as the locking system that comes with most of them. For a hard-case model, the first on our list is a worthy choice as it is not too big and should suit most users. For a soft-case model, have a look at the Aerolite Maximum Allowance – number 5 on the list – which should do the job for anyone.
We hope this has been of some use in finding you the best cabin luggage, so happy travelling!