I hate air travel but I love airports. There’s no better people-watching than what you’ll find at a major terminal, and yesterday, I traveled through two of the world’s busiest: Hartsfield-Jackson in Atlanta and JFK in New York. I’m a steadfast early arriver when it comes to flying, so I usually have plenty of time to find a seat and observe the action happening around me, and naturally, I tend to look at what people are carrying while they travel.

Even though the two airports I’ve been through in the past 24 hours are global hubs that service lots of international travelers and luxury vacationers (and both of those pursuits bring with them more wealthy people than your average airport might see), I didn’t see any luxury luggage. Some people had fancy carry-on totes, of course (including two Birkins on my flight to New York, which seemed fitting when you consider the idea for the bag was conceived from air travel frustrations), but as far as rolling bags and pieces designed specifically for travel, I didn’t see anything designer. Not even any Louis Vuitton!

That’s at odds with all the new brands that have starting making travel pieces lately, including a ton of designers selling rolling carry-on suitcases that have never before dipped their toes in the serious luggage waters. So where are all those suitcases going? Who’s buying them?

It’s impossible to tell very much from a couple trips through two airports, so I thought I’d turn the conversation over to you: when it comes time to travel, do you splurge on luggage, and if you do, is that luggage from a designer brand or is it just top-of-the-line travel gear from a company dedicated to it, like Tumi or Globetrotter?

If you like the vintage-looking Gucci suitcase above, you can pick it up for $2,480 via Gucci.

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Share Your Thoughts With Us

  • Harry

    I have both. I take my nicer pieces on short domestic flights and save my Tumi for everything else. The idea of a nice piece of designer luggage getting gate checked scares me to death though so sometimes I don’t even take it! Kind of insane right?!?

    • Ballets&Bows

      This is how I feel as well! I’m afraid it will make my luggage more of a target to get stolen!

  • Ballets&Bows

    Good morning! This is a great question that I am always curious about as well. I LOVE splurging on handbags but I have never bought designer luggage. This could be because if I have the extra cash, I want to buy a bag or a pair of shoes (something I will most likely get a decent amount of wear out of). But also, if I spend money on designer luggage, I would have a hard time handing it over to be stowed in the bottom of an airplane. Maybe I’ll spend money on designer luggage when I hit private plane status ;)
    – Cheyanne

  • ECooper

    Sadly, I love designer luggage but you cannot check it with confidence that you will get it back in good condition or at all. And now with the smaller aircraft operating out of my home city’s terminal, even small carry-ons must be checked at the gate sometimes. Designer pieces are just too risky to let out of your possession. I have several LV pieces and a Gucci but they are mid -size and I can keep them with me. I think people are taking the larger pieces in their car or on private planes.

    • Sparky

      Agree. I think they are meant for private planes or boats.

  • Sandy

    I would really like some nice luggage. I will probably not invest in any because it would make it more of a target for theft. The other reason is checking it, it would not be taken care of and I could not stand to have it scuffed and ruined by the luggage handlers. I thought I would get a carry on but sometimes the airline makes you check your carry on. Tumi is tough so I will stick with that.

  • Amazona

    The only splurge I ever made was 320 € on a Tiger of Sweden weekender. It’s a similar size&style than Mulberry Piccadilly. I think that’s it for me – I have my trusty Samsonite trolley, Benetton hand luggage size trooley, the Tiger and a CabinMax backpack. That pretty much covers all bases.

  • manolos21

    I would only buy designer luggage for carry on purposes (I have a LV keepall, which I love). With the way TSA handles luggage, I would NEVER buy expensive luggage that has to be checked.

  • psny15

    for carry ons, i prefer longchamp – very easy and convenient (more so than my LV duffel)

  • chae

    No. Never. I do not want to be a target when traveling overseas.

  • No, I wouldn’t want anything that would draw too much attention to myself

  • crescent

    I’ve seen a lot of Rimowa luggages in my neck of the woods.
    Me? I use a weekender bag from LeSportsac for my carryon.

  • Sparky

    No. My mother said avoid flashy or expensive luggage. People might assume the contents are valuable and target the cases for theft.

  • pixiegirlie

    I personally can’t justify the cost of designer luggage, I only travel a few times a year. If I were to splurge I’d go for a carry on piece because I’d be too afraid to check it for one of two reasons either tsa ruins it or it might be a walking target for theft. The only luxury luggage I’ve ever seen at the airport is LV and rimowa.

  • Vicky

    No. I don’t. I can admire from afar, but I don’t see any point in splurging in designer luggage unless I’m flying a private jet. My luggage may get damaged from hauling and I don’t want to get robbed from the airport thief. Besides, if it ever get lost, I doubt I’ll get it back. So it’s a no from me.

  • It’s a no for me. I’m a happy samsonite user.

  • Susie

    I have a LV keepall that I only use on road trips.

  • Pat

    I recently purchased a Louis Vuitton luggage (Pegase 55) while on vacation. With that said, I’ve only used it once. It’s the biggest piece LV makes that is allowed for carry-on. I would NEVER check it in. I justified my purchase based on the idea that this would be my main luggage piece to last a lifetime (hopefully). Also since I am a male, I don’t find myself splurging on handbags or anything other than small leather goods so I figure why not treat myself? ?

  • MissDemeanor

    Not if you travel through Rome airport you don’t! I think luggage there goes through a ritualistic beating before it goes on the carousel. Unless you travel first class (even then not a guarantee) , I wouldn’t risk it. I’d rather spend my money on handbags (purses).

  • Kimberley

    I have a Vuitton Zephyr set that I use for private jets domestically. I have a Delsey HardCase set ($250 for two pieces)I use when I fly on Southwest and United. It’s the intelligent thing to do. Do not draw attention to yourself when traveling alone and luxury luggage often gets stolen or have you followed. It is crass and tacky especially in the midst of the public. But when I fly alone and in a particular context (private plans or a driver) then yes the Zephyrs are something I use and admire.

  • Pamela

    I love my samsonite luggage. I want to try an away bag/ Raden high tech bag next. I also am getting a Tumi book bag. There’s no point in getting fancy luggage if you’re checking in. Carry on is different but id rather splurge on an upgrade my flight. There is no need for a $5,000 luggage.

  • greenATT

    Well, I have my big Rimowa which is very low profile.
    All I have to do is clean it up a few and its brand new again for each flight as it came frist right from the store

  • Alicia

    Omg yes! My husband and I both pack light and carry LV keepalls on our flights. He has the Keepall 55 in Utah leather and I have the Astralis 50 in Taurillon leather in the Galet colour. We never check them of course, because as another poster said you can’t guarantee what’s going to happen to it. Neither of these pieces have any obvious branding either to keep it more low radar.

  • Rama

    Rimowa Salsa Air, the maximum size before it becomes oversized. That’s the perfect check in luggage. Mine are going on 6 years old and absolutely no problem with zippers or wheels or handles falling off. Bought them in Bonn where I believe the cheapest ones are, less tax, sooo much value for money.

  • reality_watcher

    Late to the party! I traveled several times internationally this year. A couple of times to ritzy, fancy places (went skiing in Zermatt over the holidays. It’s takes planes, trains and automobiles to get there, but it’s a pretty fancy town) and I saw not one luxury checked bag. Not. One. A crap ton of luxury handbags, ladies in full fur coats, Chanel on the slopes (NOOO! The Snow!!!!!), but very sensible actual luggage choices. When you travel, even a little bit, you know how banged up your stuff can get, even at the best of airports. And everyone mentioned the theft. I just don’t get the point of spending two, three, four, five thousand on a bag that may get irreparably damaged on 1 unlucky flight. Quite possibly the first one you use it on. Even when I went to LAX, I didn’t see one. Though, I also didn’t see a celeb, so maybe I missed it. I’d expect to see them there more than anywhere else.

  • B77

    I travel a lot for work,

  • AChi

    My family has a Louis Vuitton Suitcase, a very beautiful iconic suitcase I think it was a Pegasus maybe. My mother so far has only used it once, because you really get a lot of attention and likely it’s pretty exhausting thinking who’s looking at your suitcase, who’s following you or targeting you possibly. It just gives people the sign that you are a rich person and whatnot, especially with the economy like this and all that has been going on, I doubt I’d be using the LV suitcase anytime soon.