Travelpro’s Platinum line of luggage has held our top pick for almost every iteration of this carry-on luggage review because it addresses the concerns of most travelers at an affordable price: It features smooth-rolling, user-replaceable wheels; solid and comfortable, telescoping handles; and a hard-wearing nylon exterior propped up by a solid internal chassis, all backed by a lifetime warranty that covers airline damage and shipping to the repair facility (as long as you register the luggage within 120 days of purchase, which is easy to do on any smartphone), along with a full catalog of other user-replaceable parts. The Elite only improves on past iterations in the Platinum line by reducing the size of the stowed handle (which used to jut out about an inch) and adding a second zippered, exterior pocket for easy access on the go and a USB pass-through extension that lets you insert your own battery pack for charging your phone. And at 7.8 pounds when empty, this carry-on bag is about half a pound lighter than its predecessor.
The spinner luggage configuration stands out in particular because of its MagnaTrac wheels, which magnetically snap into a forward position when the bag is moved. The small tracking assistance makes a large difference when you’re navigating the Elite through a crowded airport or down a busy street. It also has an easy-to-use, removable garment bag. If you prefer more packing capacity (the equivalent of squeezing in two more sweatshirts), larger wheels that run more smoothly over rough terrain, and a more protective built-in garment folder, we also like the two-wheeled 22-inch version, especially for longer trips. But after several years of testing experience, we think the superior maneuverability of spinner luggage, along with improvements in manufacturing processes, make four-wheel bags a better choice for most people.
Measuring 23 by 13.5 by 9 inches, the Elite carry-on bag (in either wheel configuration) hits the upper margins of actual carry-on size limits and could get you gate-checked by an overzealous agent. However, it fits into most standard-size baggage caddies at check-in, including American’s and United’s. I’ve personally traveled with a Platinum line bag this size for more than 45,000 miles spread across 50 flights, from regional to long-haul to international routes, and never had an issue fitting within gate-side luggage sizers. If you’re nervous about getting caught at the gate or often fly in very small regional planes, Travelpro also makes a slightly smaller, 20-inch Platinum Elite as well as a slimmer International configuration, but these hold less (naturally) and lack a suiter insert.
If you are a frequent flyer and willing to invest in a higher-quality product for your home away from home, we recommend the Briggs & Riley Baseline Domestic Carry-On Expandable Spinner (also available in a two-wheeled version with more capacity). Every detail of this top-rated bag, from the zippers to the wheels to the wrinkle-resistant suit compartment, is made to the highest standards, and we found it has a higher proportion of usable space than any other spinner bag we tested. This is further boosted by the uniquely effective ratcheting CX compression system that allows travelers to fit an entire extra outfit into the same external dimensions as most other carry-ons. The Baseline Domestic is also the only spinner luggage model we tested with a built-in garment folder, which helps shirts and pants stay wrinkle-free if you pack them well. And although the wheels don’t snap into alignment, they are exceptionally smooth rolling and easy to maneuver.
In luggage reviews, the most common complaint about Briggs & Riley suitcases is that the handle seems loose, but this is by design. Other than wheels, the handle is the component most likely to break on any bag, and looser handles have a little more tolerance to wiggle within their tubes, so they are less likely to bend and get stuck. While a tighter fit feels more reassuring, it takes just a couple of trips to get used to the handle. If things go awry, user-replaceable parts and a network of repair centers located around the world make quick fixes easy, and the reliable lifetime warranty covers repairs for airline damage.
Away The Carry-On
This great-looking and relatively resilient piece of hard-sided luggage has top-of-the-line components—including wheels as smooth-rolling as any we’ve tested.
Soft-sided carry-ons last the longest and show the least wear, but if you prefer the look of a hard-sided bag, the Away Carry-On is our choice. Like our other picks, this bag stood out for its high-end components, such as sturdy zippers and wheels that moved as smoothly as those on our soft-sided top picks. Away’s carry-on also comes in a wider variety of colors than our soft-sided luggage picks. Its strong yet flexible polycarbonate shell does show more wear than our soft-sided picks. But after six years of testing multiple models, our testers have found that the Away is capable of enduring most of the trials of travel with fewer scratches than the other polycarbonate models we’ve tested. Similar to our soft-sided top picks, Away bags are backed by a limited lifetime warranty.
In addition to our main picks, we’ve found the international versions of our picks, where available.