A suitcase is a form of luggage. It is often a somewhat flat, rectangular-shaped bag with rounded square corners. Vinyl, leather or cloth suitcases may have a metal frame. Hardshell suitcases open on hinges like a door.
The original 'Halliburton' aluminum travel cases were handmade for Erle P. Halliburton's personal use in 1938. In 1950 Rimowa introduced the mass market aluminum suitcase based on the Junkers Ju 52 airplane shortly followed by Zero Halliburton.
The first suitcases made of polycarbonate were made in 2000 by the German luggage maker Rimowa. Most luggage manufacturers have made some suitcases from the material. There are many grades of polycarbonate. Both acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS), which was cheaper than polycarbonate, and polypropylene, which was lighter than polycarbonate, were introduced shortly after polycarbonate. Spinner style wheeled suitcases were introduced in 2004.
Bernard Sadow, who was at that time a vice president at a Massachusetts company that made luggage and coats, observed while traveling with his family in 1970 that people were struggling with luggage as airplanes replaced trains as the primary mode of long-distance travel. Sadow returned to work and attached four casters to a large standard suitcase together with a strap that allowed the traveler to tow the case behind them. He then patented the first wheeled luggage in 1972, under U.S. Patent 3,653,474. Sadow spent many months rolling his prototype bag on sales calls to department stores in New York and elsewhere with little success. He was frequently told that men would not accept suitcases with wheels. And the prevailing assumption in the travel industry at the time was that women didn't travel alone, and when they did, their husbands would carry suitcases. “It was a very macho thing,” he said. Eventually Macy’s ordered some, and the market grew quickly as Macy’s ads began promoting “the Luggage That Glides.”
The rollaboard was invented by Robert Plath, a Northwest Airlines 747 pilot and avid home workshop tinkerer in 1987. Plath's model affixed two wheels and a long handle to suitcases that rolled upright, rather than being towed flat on its front like Sadow’s four-wheeled models. Plath began selling his invention to fellow flight crew members and later left the airline to form Travelpro International. According to Richard Krulik, the chief executive of U.S. Luggage, “Travelpro really popularized the telescoping handle with the two wheels, after Plath got the flight attendants to start carrying them.”
As a growing number of people flew, airports became bigger and far more women began traveling alone, especially on business trips, the rollaboard became ubiquitous.
A smart suitcase can typically be controlled via a smartphone application and may have features like GPS, smart lock, and robotic auto-follow. In January 2017, all major airline carriers began forcing passengers remove the batteries that power their smart bags before they clear security. "The FAA has been very, very clear in its guidance to air carriers, that lithium-ion batteries stored in the cargo hold present an unacceptable risk,” FAA spokesman Gregory Martin stated.
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- Sharkey, Joe (October 4, 2010). "Reinventing the Suitcase by Adding the Wheel". New York Times. Retrieved 11 April 2021.
- Marçal, Katrine (2021-06-24). "Mystery of the wheelie suitcase: how gender stereotypes held back the history of invention". the Guardian. Retrieved 2021-07-23.
- Nast, Condé (2017-09-22). "30 Years Ago, One Suitcase Changed Everything". Condé Nast Traveler. Retrieved 2021-07-23.
- "CowaRobot Travel Suitcase". Flowily. 2016-08-06.
- ForwardX Ovis.
- Martyn, Amy. "FAA sets its sights on 'smart' suitcases". ConsumerAffairs. Consumers Unified LLC. Retrieved 11 April 2021.
- Media related to Suitcases at Wikimedia Commons