Luggage Culture

So, my flight from Minneapolis back to Boston happened to have a group of at least 50 Japanese students. While waiting for my checked baggage, I noticed something: the typical American traveler uses what I would call a roller bag (a few, like me, use duffels or rolling duffels), whereas all of these students had a hard-shell vertical suitcase.

The main design distinctions are that a roller bag is soft-sided and has an extensible handle and only two sets of wheels that require it to be tipped (with the handle at a natural dragging height) to roll, whereas these suitcases were made of heavy-duty plastic, had an older-style flip-up carrying handle, and four casters on the bottom.

It’s entirely possible that their group was specifically instructed to use that type of suitcase, but now I’m wondering what technological marvels of luggage Japan has been cooking up while our domestic luggage manufacturers have been stagnating.

Also, I am convinced that baggage handlers hate me and consistently put my bag on the conveyor last to spite me for all those times I go carry-on only. Perhaps I should make the relevant sacrifices to Hermes before every flight?

Also, helping one of said students get their large bag off of the carousel earned me an “arigato” and a “sumimasen” and a short, crisp bow. I thought “sumimasen” meant “sorry”, but apparently there’s more to it than that, so in that context, it made sense. This is what I get for knowing approximately three words in Japanese, I suppose.


3 responses to “Luggage Culture”

  1. “Sumimasen” does translate as “I’m sorry” or, more frequently, “excuse me”, and in context as “sorry to trouble you”.

    I have been told that the way to make absolutely sure your checked bag is not lost, delayed, or damaged, is to pack a starter’s pistol. You then have to declare it on check in, use a non-FAA approved lock, and then marvel as significant resources are devoted to tracking the hell out of your bag so that a gun doesn’t go on the loose in the secured part of the airport.

  2. The convenient thing about my roller bag, which I haven’t observed on those hard-shell vertical suitcases, is that it has handles on multiple sides. That makes it easy to grab off the carousel!

Nurd Up!