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Standardised airline luggage

Set an international standard for the size and shape of luggage
  (+37, -3)(+37, -3)(+37, -3)
(+37, -3)
  [vote for,

Each day, airlines are confronted by the bewildering array of sizes and shapes of luggage that passengers use. A lot of it requires human handling which is expensive and hard work for the guys who do it.

Why isn't there an international standard suitcase ? It has a fixed place for a barcode scannable lable for routing. It has moulded rails and strakes for mechanical handling. Most of all, it's sized so that it packs with 99% efficiency into a standard cargo pod.

It would save time and space loading and unloading aircraft. Passengers could be offered a small discount if the used standardised luggage; and probably get quicker service. Customisation would be through colours and badges and materials (plastic, aluminium, titanium) but the shape would be the same.

8th of 7, Jun 17 2002

Airline luggage guidelines http://www.harrison...age.com/airline.htm
Basic size and weight guidelines for carry-on and checked luggage with many airlines. [jurist, Jun 19 2002, last modified Oct 21 2004]


       Maybe not so much 1 standard suitcase, but a line of "airline standard" luggage would make sense.
dana_renay, Jun 17 2002

       Baked for carry-on luggage. Certain airlines often have a wee basket that your carry on luggage must be able to fit into if you want to take it on board.
[ sctld ], Jun 17 2002

       It seems reasonable enough; wouldn't it be awful if you had to guess whether a CD-ROM drive would be compatible with your computer?   

       The main obstacle is that airlines themselves make their own standards for space, although these tend to be similar from company to company. Therefore to implement standardized luggage, you would either have to make all airlines conform to the same standard, or have varying airline standards that luggage pieces could adhere to.
polartomato, Jun 17 2002

       I've seen many an airline in me time, but never an arline.
kaz, Jun 17 2002

       It is a very good Idea and simple too! Don't let the jerks discourage you with their need to point out the little inaccuracies in your spelling ...small thoughts from small minds...It is the idea that counts !!!They just like to hear themselves type .....
shradius, Jun 17 2002

       5 votes shradius already , give credit where its due.
po, Jun 17 2002

       [kaz] I've seen ..... never an arline.   

       One of my better friends in school was named Arline. Her parents gave her a set of luggage when she graduated.
trixie, Jun 17 2002

reensure, Jun 17 2002

       This is an absolutely wonderful idea. Some things should never be standardized, but luggage should be.   

       I agree with dana_renay that there should be at least a few "standard" sizes, as 7-footers like Michael Crichton shouldn't have to use the same size as, what's the pc term? - Little People.
tharsaile, Jun 17 2002

       It'll make it harder to tell which piece belongs to you....
phoenix, Jun 18 2002

       Good point, [phoenix]. I personally normally discern my luggage from the others on the conveyor by the big, irregular polka dots splattered over it and not by the specific shape of the bag, though.
jester, Jun 18 2002

       Phoenix: It could make it easier, because instead of a baggage carousel, you could have a luggage "dispenser". Go to the dipsenser; show it your baording card (barcoded); some machinery whirrs, and hey presto ! It spits out someone else's case (yours has gone to Wisconsin for a little holiday).   

       Recognition problems happen anyway when lots of people have veru similar Samosnite or Globetrotter suitcases. We've pulled the wrong one off the converyor before now. Hell, we're still wearing some of the shirts that were in it. Hence the colour/badge/sticker customisation options !!   

       Mrthingy: In our dictionary (OED) it's spelt with an "s". But the "z" spelling is considered acceptable.   

       Tharsaile: We too have no objection to tall people being trimmed to size.
8th of 7, Jun 18 2002

       Would you subsidise the cost of the luggage so everyone could afford it? Or would there be cheap and expensive versions?
pottedstu, Jun 18 2002

       [8/7] If you are going to make a practice of pointing out variant spellings to Mr. Thingy and others (even when they are correct in large parts of the world aside from your little corner), perhaps you should look first at some of your own intriguing variants: "carousel", "dipsenser", "baording", "veru", "Samosnite", "converyor". (And those were just the most obvious; I may have missed one or two.) Six or more typos (not to mention grammatical errors) in less than eight typed lines hardly qualifies you for the "Pedant of The Month" Award.
jurist, Jun 18 2002

       Jurist: Touche. We are duly admonished. We shall be more circumspect in future.   

       Sorry, mostly our processing system works rather faster than the interface to your crude technology can handle. Hence the many typos.   

       "s" versus "z" is a "Transatlantic" idiosyncracy anyway ....
8th of 7, Jun 18 2002

       Great idea, as long as what you want to carry fits into the standardised dimensions. Unfortunately we would very soon find that the airlines would charge extra for non-standard baggage even if was lightweight or lower in volume.
IvanIdea, Jun 18 2002

       Just didn't want you to think you weren't being paid proper attention, [8/7]. We all typo on occasion; It's generally just not a good idea to do it in the same breath that you're telling someone else that they are an ignoramus. 'Nuff said.
jurist, Jun 18 2002

       Pottedstu: The luggage would be produced by the existing commercial luggage vendors, to an internationally agreed and publicised licence-free specification. Variations in detail would be up to them.   

       The used of the standardised luggage would be effectively "subsidised" by the airlines and airports through the offer of small but useful discounts. After all, it benefits them as much as (or possibly more than) the passengers.   

       It would be like buying a mobile phone. Some have more features than others, or look fancy, but they all have to interwork on the same networks. The more features, the more you tend to pay.   

       Coaches, roofracks and car boots (trunks) could also be design-evolved over time to accommodate the standard format.
8th of 7, Jun 18 2002

       Inavidea: I agree that this situation is equally likely to arise - they start to charge more for non-standard instead of less for standard. But if the standardisation reduces "friction" though the system in terms of check in and baggage claim, this is surely a worthwhile tangible benefit ?
8th of 7, Jun 18 2002

       [8/7] You do realize (or "realise", if you prefer) that all of the specifications that you mention were determined and instituted by the major carriers of the day back in the 1940's, don't you? This is hardly a novel idea.
jurist, Jun 18 2002

       Oh yes 8th, I agree and award you a croissant for the idea. I'm just pointing out that what will be done to it by the money grubbers
IvanIdea, Jun 18 2002

       Jurist: So what went wrong ? If it was done, how did it come undone ? And why ? For our whole travelling life we have always been irked by the messy baggage claim process.
8th of 7, Jun 18 2002

       I'm not convinced this solves a problem. The luggage handlers will still have to do the same work. Barcode scannable labels are generally affixed to the handles of luggage, or adhered to boxes. I don't think there's a major problem to be solved with those.   

       And lastly, I doubt there would be much gained by having the luggage fit precisely into a cargo pod. This would only be true if the cargo on most flights already filled cargo areas to capacity, and I'm quite sure that's not the case.   

       I fail to see how any time and/or space would be saved, per your claim. I don't see any benefit.   

       {ot} At JFK on Saturday, I noticed the new signs indicating what items are now prohibited in carry-ons. Knives, obviously, but also such things as baseball bats, billiard cues, balls and racks, golf clubs, and hockey sticks. Not shown on the sign: guns.
waugsqueke, Jun 18 2002

       Aside from the normal luggage parameters, I guess for some reason certain people insist on bringing their skis, surfboards, AK47s, and shaggy pets on their annual getaways. For some reason, these items seem difficult to engineer into the average Samsonite clamshell. If you like, feel free to charge extra for each and every one of these items ( as I think most airlines already do) and have them loaded and off-loaded by entirely separate crews on entirely separate carrousels in entirely separate terminals (which, unfortunately, is not a universal practice).
jurist, Jun 18 2002

       Waugsqueke: You are right when you say that the dominant parameter is generally weight rather that volume.   

       However, if the volume varies over a wide range you have to reserve a large volume inside the aircraft to cope with variations. If you work on the assumption that 85% of the passengers will have luggage of known size, you don't have to allocate extra space - just a bit extra to cope with the "troublemakers" who insist on clinging to pathetic shreds of individuality. Then you could make the passenger cabin bigger. Or you would be sure to have plenty of space in the unheated, unpressurised hold for all those screaming kids that people insist on taking with them. What a bonus !   

       The idea of standard sized luggage is you completely remove the human baggage handlers and replace them with autoloaders and autostackers. A pod is rapidly and efficiently loaded, then quickly trundled to the wrong plane and loaded aboard. That way, everyone loses their luggage together - equality of a sort.   

       Jurist: We think you'll find that if you get the folding-stock variant of the AK80 and remove the magazine, it will fit neatly in most filthy corrupt infidel suitcases, along with your spare teatowels and your copy of Fly Civil Airliners For Fun and Prophet. We disagree with the "separate carousels at separate airports" assertion. Been to Heathrow recently ? We haven't, but our luggage has...   

       Blissmiss: We're wating for Jurist to post documentary verification; if he does, it's MFD time.
8th of 7, Jun 18 2002

       waugs, baggage is barcoded, but it boggles the mind to learn the extent to which the barcode is *not* used for such things as making sure bags don't get loaded onto the wrong planes. This could be fixed without resorting to standardized luggage. In fact it could be fixed so quickly and effortlessly that you have to wonder who's making a fortune by mis-routing luggage.   

       also, waugs, with regard to the banned items, has the airline industry hatched a nefarious plot against all forms of sport?   

       and re //"s" versus "z" is a "Transatlantic" idiosyncracy anyway ....//, I recognize that the dividing line is indeed between the U.S. and the rest of the English-speaking world, but when you think about the difference between "s" and "z," doesn't it make more sense that it should be a northern hemisphere vs. southern hemisphere thing?
beauxeault, Jun 18 2002

       // If you work on the assumption that 85% of the passengers will have luggage of known size, you don't have to allocate extra space... //   

       Well, I think that is the case now. There isn't that much variation. True, the sizes aren't matched to the millimeter, but there are only so many they need to allow for. I still believe the advantage is negligible.   

       beaux: I wonder how rampant the problem had been of passengers sneaking on hockey sticks in their carry-on.
waugsqueke, Jun 18 2002

       Beauxeault: Are you proposing to include U.S. citizens in the ranks of the English speaking world ? We ask merely for information .....
8th of 7, Jun 18 2002

       [Jurist] Yes for "some reason" certain people do. I regularly travel with ski's, snowboards,surfboards,paragliders, scuba equipment and even bicycles. On my return I often bring back carpets and other non samsonite shaped objects. I have never had to pay extra, someone tried to charge me for ski's once but they backed down when I pointed out that the flight had been chartered specifically by a ski travel company and what the hell did they think people would be bringing.
I deeply apologise for not fitting into a neat standardised pre-stamped samsonite world. However I challenge you to come up with any inconvenience that has been inflicted on your life, liberty or freedom by some ne'er-do-well with non standard luggage.
IvanIdea, Jun 18 2002

       I may owe 8/7 an apology since I haven't yet found a web reference that describes the history of airlines' luggage guidelines dating back to the 1940's, and I'm getting bored looking for one. You'll just have to accept my anecdotal assertion as remembered from personal experience in the 1950's (or not!) I did add a link that describes the general guidelines that many airlines use today, and regarding checked luggage I'd draw your attention to the general rule of thumb that states the first piece of checked luggage "should not exceed a dimension of 62 linear inches and a weight of 70 pounds." In practice, I think you'll find this works out to a practical maximum of 24x28x10, and the most common actual size is going to be pretty close to 20x26x9 in soft-sided luggage, which has the ability to expand slightly. I did speak too quickly regarding your specification for moulded rails and strakes, especially as those features might apply to soft-sided luggage (in fact, you sent me to the dictionary to confirm your meaning of "strakes" outside of a nautical context); For this oversight on my part, I do apologize, because the additional protection from damage potentially caused by mechanical handling equipment is probably a worthwhile idea, even at the expense of additional weight and bulkiness to the user. As for the bar code information location, I did think it was already pretty well standardized to tag that on the luggage handle.
jurist, Jun 19 2002

       Ivanidea: I was once held up for 90 minutes when someone's skis <held together by duct tape which did not survive the trip entirely> jammed the baggage belt so thoroughly they had to cut the skis to get them out.   

       Jurist: "Carousel" is the correct spelling, according to Merriam Webster online.
StarChaser, Jun 19 2002

       Jurist: No apology is necessary, we are sure your assertion was made in good faith. We will research it further myself via some old-timer pilots who may have come across the standard.   

       The "62 linear inches" is familiar to us and OK as far as it goes, but still allows for enough variation to make efficient mechanical handling and packing significantly less effective.   

       The idea of rails and strakes is taken from direct observation of robotized and palletized mechanical handling systems in use in many industrial plants and warehousing facilities. (With "z"s , to avoid much tedious etymological discourse).   

       Barcoding the label is OK but all too often a human has to align the label with a scanner. We've watched this happening many times. The standard luggage would have small key tabs on one of the rails so that its alignment could be determined and its orientation corrected if necessary. Then the barcodes could be quickly and simply scanned. They would always be in the same relative positions.   

       We anticipate two barcodes; a permanent one, with embedded owner information i.e. passport number, and a transient one, containing routing information for that flight. The two labels would be scanned concurrently or consecutively and then reconciled via a database to reduce the risk of misrouted luggage. Or the suitcase could contain a permanent embedded RFID tag. This information would be collected at check-in.   

       Airport baggage trolleys could be devised to take a set number of standard luggage items with clips to minimise the risk of things falling off. Small folding trolleys could likewise clip into the strakes and rails, removing the need for elasticated straps.
8th of 7, Jun 19 2002

       [StarChaser] Apparently, in the spirit of true variants, both spellings for carousel/carrousel are correct, depending on the dictionary you consult. Those that favor the French origin of the word (including my little desk-drawer version of Webster's) appear to prefer the double "R"; Ironically, my more American references (like The American Heritage Dictionary) appear to prefer the single "R", but acknowledge both spellings. You may delete my name from the highly- coveted Pedant of the Week Competitions for having overlooked the ambiguities.
jurist, Jun 19 2002

       Honestly, I've never before seen it with two R's. M-W.com says the original French had it, but doesn't list it even as a variant.
StarChaser, Jun 19 2002

       You learn something new every day. Thanks, UnaBubba. We too use the OED but have as yet not had time to peruse each and every entry.   

       PS are we talking tournament as in jousting ?
8th of 7, Jun 19 2002

       I think this is a fairly good idea. It is feasible and would have significant advantages. But it would not be very easy to identify your luggage in the baggage reclaim conveyor belt...
joarvat, Jun 19 2002

       Joarvat: That's the trick. You step up to a hatch and proffer your boarding card to a barcode reader. The system then automatically spits out your bag.
8th of 7, Jun 19 2002

       If GTR can't spell your name correctly, how do you expect him read an annotation correctly?
GoergeTheRobin, Jun 19 2002

       This is an excellent idea with but one flaw: many of the baggage containers I've seen aren't cubes , but cubes with a bit cut off to fit the inside of the plane's fuselage. Although the standard baggage would fit most of the container you'd still have to rely on us squashy luggage types to provide the fill-in material to use the space efficiently.
Gordon Comstock, Jun 19 2002

       If GTR gets run over by a car, would anyone call it an accident?
GoergeTheRobin, Jun 19 2002

       "So rude"   

GoergeTheRobin, Jun 19 2002

       I'm surprised so few halfbakers have opposed this attempt to stifle their originality and impose a soviet-style luggage conformity. It's our right to express ourselves with tetrahedral luggage if we want, and I'll fight to the death for that right. (Although I've given this a proud neutral vote coz I don't feel *that* strongly.)
pottedstu, Jun 19 2002

       I found it in a gutter
GoergeTheRobin, Jun 22 2002

       thats a clever trick, mispelling your own name.
po, Jun 22 2002

       [brackforn]: It's "Legos", not "Leggos."   

       I don't know what Leggos are, but I'd guess they were some sort of stackable, interlocking toaster waffle that could be used for constructing edible edifices, or for rewarding good ideas like this one.
Guncrazy, Jul 13 2002

       Great idea! When you patent it, please include a standard backback too, about the size and shape of mine :D
Mat-C, Jun 27 2005

       bonus: prepack the luggage in larger containers for fast loading and unloading and less lost baggage.
Voice, Dec 01 2012

       This would be even better if it were cube shaped, 20.6666 x 20.6666 X 20.6666 inches!
Kansan101, Dec 01 2012


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