Expert advice on how to choose the perfect suitcase for your travels

The correct suitcase can be your perfect travel companion. File image.

The correct suitcase can be your perfect travel companion. File image.

Published Apr 5, 2024


Many South Africans turn public holidays into long weekends and use it as an opportunity to travel.

But not using the correct travel bag for your holiday adventure could make your trip a challenge.

FlySafair says it could stand in the way of a seamless journey.

“Purchasing a new suitcase can be an exciting activity, bringing with it anticipation for all the travelling to come,” the airline said.

“But, with the hundreds of different options available at vastly differing price points, it can be tough to decide which one to pick.”

To help you find the perfect suitcase, FlySafair has shared advice on what to consider when shopping:

Aim for the middle

A suitcase has to go through several parts of the airport system before it is loaded on the aircraft.

“This system includes a number of conveyors and chutes, some of which involve falling from fair heights and other times being loaded on and off wagons by hand.”

For this reason, invest in a suitcase that can withstand a certain level of wear and tear.

Cheaper suitcases are often made of more brittle materials, which tend to snap and break easily. They also usually have slightly weaker extending handles, side handles and wheel assemblies, which are prone to damage.

“Cheaper hard-shell suitcases are especially prone to cracking, even more so when they’re packed to the brim.”

The correct suitcase can be your perfect travel companion. File image.


Wheels that protrude from your suitcase are at risk of snapping or breaking when moving through the mechanised conveyor systems in airport baggage sortation halls.

“The best solution is to find bags where the wheels stick out as little as possible.”

These are the most foolproof choice of luggage, even though these kinds of bags might limit your suitcase options.

Zips and locks

With the risk of theft ever-present, it is vital to ensure that your bag is as secure as it can be.

“Zips are very easy to break open, so the perfect bag would be one with latches that stick close to the sides of the bag,” the airline said.

Also consider choosing a bag that has an inbuilt zip lock.

Separate locks that hang off zippers can easily be broken off when moving between the rollers on the conveyor belts. Inbuilt zip locks makes resealing a bag much easier.

“If the zips cannot be moved, the zip will stay open, which could expose the crook.”

Name tags

Check-in agents place a sticker around the handle of a bag and place a separate pull-off barcode sticker onto its body when they check it.

“This is a backup in case your bag tag gets ripped off in the conveyor system.”

It is a great idea to give yourself a third layer of protection by choosing a bag that has space on which to write your name and contact details.

“Avoid tags that flap off your bag, as these can easily get snagged and result in damage.”

When to wrap your bag

Wrapping your luggage adds a layer of protection to it and makes it more difficult to tamper with.

“It also traps any loose straps or items that could get caught and torn on the conveyor belts.”

Most airports have suppliers that can wrap bags in plastic, but the more environmentally friendly option is to use reusable fabric covers that can be purchased from reputable luggage sellers.

Watch your weight

Most suitcases are designed to carry a specific expected weight, which is usually around the 25kg mark.

“The heavier you pack your suitcase, the harder it will fall and the more strain will be placed on the handles when it’s being loaded and unloaded.

“To protect your bag, try to keep your weight within reasonable limits.”