Baggage or luggage consists of bags, cases, and containers which hold a traveller's personal articles while the traveler is in transit. A modern traveller can be expected to have packages containing clothing, toiletries, small possessions, trip necessities. On the return trip, travelers may have souvenirs and gifts. For some people, luggage and the style thereof is representative of the owner's wealth and status. Luggage is constructed to protect the items during travel, either with a hard shell or a durable soft material. Luggage often has internal subdivisions or sections to aid in securing items. Handles are typically provided to facilitate carrying, and some luggage may have wheels and/or telescoping handles or leashes to make moving them easier.
Baggage (not luggage), or baggage train, can also refer to the train of people and goods, both military and of a personal nature, which commonly followed pre-modern armies on campaign.
Luggage has changed over time. Historically the most common types of luggage were chests or trunks made of wood or other heavy materials. These would be shipped by professional movers. Since the Second World War smaller and more lightweight suitcases and bags that can be carried by an individual have become the main form of luggage.
Also according to the Oxford English Dictionary, the word luggage originally meant inconveniently heavy baggage and comes from the verb lug and the suffix -age.
Luggage carriers – light-weight wheeled carts or harnesses on which luggage could be temporarily placed or that can be temporarily attached to luggage – date at least to the 1930s, such as in US patent 2,132,316 "Luggage carrier" by Anne W. Newton (filed 1937, published 1938). These were refined over the following decades, as reflected in patents such as a 1948 US patent by Herbert Ernest Mingo, for a "device for the handling of trunks, suitcases, and the like".
A US patent for a "luggage carriage" filed in 1949 (and published 1953), and another for a "luggage carriage harness", were both made by Kent R. Costikyan. However, the wheels were external to the suitcases. Patents had been published for wheeled luggage – a wheeled trunk in 1887, and a wheeled suitcase in 1945 – but these were not successfully commercialized.
The first commercially successful rolling suitcase was invented in 1970, when Bernard D. Sadow applied for a patent that was granted in 1972 as United States patent 3,653,474 for "Rolling Luggage". The patent application cited the increase in air travel, and "baggage handling [having] become perhaps the single biggest difficulty encountered by an air passenger", as background of the invention. Sadow's four-wheeled suitcases, pulled using a loose strap, were later surpassed in popularity by suitcases that feature two wheels and are pulled in an upright position using a long handle.
These were invented in 1987 by US pilot Robert Plath, and initially sold to crew members. Plath later commercialized them, after travelers became interested after seeing them in use by crew members, and founded the Travelpro company, which marketing the suitcases under the trademark "Rollaboard". The terms rollaboard and roll-aboard are used generically, however. While initially designed for carry-on use (to navigate through a large terminal), as implied by the analogous name, similar designs are also used for checked baggage.
More recently, four-wheeled luggage with casters has become popular, notably since their use by Samsonite in the 2004 version of their signature Silhouette line. These are otherwise similar in design to two-wheel roll-aboards, with a vertical orientation and a retracting handle, but are designed to be pushed beside or in front of the traveler, rather than pulled behind them. These are often referred to as "spinner" luggage, since they can spin about their vertical axis.
Sadow attributes the late invention of luggage on wheels to a "macho thing" where "men would not accept suitcases with wheels". Others attribute the late invention to "the abundance of luggage porters with carts in the 1960s, the ease of curbside drop-offs at much smaller airports and the heavy iron casters then available."
Passengers are allowed to carry a limited number of smaller bags with them in the vehicle, these are known as hand luggage (more commonly referred to as carry-on in North America), and contain valuables and items needed during the journey. There is normally storage space provided for hand luggage, either under seating, or in overhead lockers. Trains often have luggage racks at the ends of the carriage near the doors, or above the seats if there are compartments.
There are differing views between North America and Europe in relation to the rules concerning the amount of baggage carried on to aircraft. In North America there is considerable debate as to whether passengers carry too many bags on board and that their weight could be a risk to other passengers and flight safety. US airlines are beginning to introduce weight and size restrictions for carry-on baggage. Whereas in Europe, many airlines, especially low-cost airlines, impose what is commonly known as "the one-bag rule". This is a restriction imposed to stop excessive weight on board and airlines claim that this policy allows them to speed the boarding of the aircraft. Airports in Europe have mounted a campaign with the European Commission in an attempt to overturn these hand luggage regulations. They claim that it is affecting their duty-free and other airport retail sales and is reducing their revenues.
Smart luggage is baggage that has a built-in or a removable battery within. It often includes features designed to help with travel, including GPS tracking and USB ports to charge electronics. Some bags include a WiFi hotspot and electric wheels for personal transportation.
Several smart luggage companies have shut down as a result of a ban which came into effect in January 2018 on smart luggage with non-removable batteries being carried as check-in luggage on flights.
In airport terminals, a baggage claim or reclaim area is an area where arriving passengers claim checked-in baggage after disembarking from an airline flight. At most airports and many train stations, baggage is delivered to the passenger on a baggage carousel.
Left luggage, also luggage storage or bag storage, is a place where one can temporarily store one's luggage so as to not have to carry it. Left luggage is not synonymous with lost luggage. Often at an airport or train station there may be a staffed 'left luggage counter' or simply a coin-operated or automated locker system. While threats of terrorism all around the globe have caused this type of public storage to decrease over the past few decades, the sharing economy is causing a revival of the industry. Driven in part by the rapid growth of Airbnb and homestay traveling in general, a number of services offering short-term luggage storage by utilizing unused space at local businesses such as hotels, restaurants and retail shops have emerged.
Luggage forwarding, also known as luggage shipping or luggage logistics, is a type of speciality shipping service that has been available for approximately 10 years and has grown in demand, particularly after the September 11, 2001 attacks. Luggage forwarding is an alternative to checking in baggage during air travel.
Baggage can also refer to the train of people and goods, both military and of a personal nature, which commonly followed pre-modern armies on campaign. The baggage was considered a strategic resource and guarded by a rear guard. Its loss was considered to weaken and demoralize an army, leading to rearguard attacks such as that at the Battle of Agincourt.