I’ve just flown 15,000 kilometers (Manila to Miami, Florida) with my first intelligent suitcase.
Oh, but I can’t talk to my suitcase just yet, the way I can talk to my smartphones and my TV. I can ask my smartphone to do tasks for me or have a little chit-chat with my TV for travel recommendations.
But if my suitcase and I are parted inadvertently in the many transfers I go through – three, in the case of my latest trip – I can find it anywhere on earth. That’s a great convenience.
By the way, my newest travel companion, which retails for US$300, has the “IATA Cabin OK” logo. I got it during the International Air Transport Association (IATA)’s 71st Annual General Meeting in Miami last week.
It’s an offshoot of airlines addressing the carry-on bag dilemma by collaborating with over 500 luggage brands to create a standard suitcase that can be carried onboard and traced anywhere in the world.
Working with airline members of IATA and aircraft manufacturers, luggage makers came up with an optimum size guideline for carry-on bags to make the best use of cabin storage space.
Hence, my suitcase is 55 x 35 x 20 cm (or 21.5 x 13.5 x 7.5 inches). This size was calculated to make the best use of storage space in the cabin.
If fully embraced by passengers, everyone would have a chance to travel with their carry-on bags on board aircraft of 120 seats or larger even when the flight is full.
IATA also works with baggage tracking solutions provider Okoban so each bag meeting the dimensions of the specifications will carry a special joint label featuring IATA and Okoban as well as a unique identification code that signals to airline staff that the bag complies with the optimum size guidelines.
Suitcases carrying the “IATA Cabin OK” logo with varying prices are expected to hit retail shops later this year. Recognition of the IATA Cabin OK logo is expected to grow with time as more airlines opt-in to this IATA initiative.
Already, Travel Sentry and Okoban and the luggage industry has created a global standard for luggage locks now used in a quarter of the world’s airports. The system permits security officers to open and clear baggage without delay or damage, with some 300 million bags already in circulation from over half a thousand global luggage brands.
For its part, the new regulation carry-on is equipped with an Okoban luggage “license plate” that the owner can register online. The Okoban system is part of WorldTracer, the industry tracing system from SITA and IATA.
When a bag is lost, simply entering the unique ID into the WorldTracer system can enable Okoban to instantly contact the owner by Short Messaging System and email, taking workload off the baggage service officer helping to speed the recovery process and minimizing expense.
However, others took this development as something that bodes ill for their favorite carry-on bags.
This is because IATA’s Cabin OK guideline is smaller than the size set by most airlines as their maximum acceptable for carry-on baggage.
However, IATA clarified that the Cabin OK guideline is not a standard and is not the maximum size limit. The maximum size of cabin baggage is set individually by each airline. This is not affected by the Cabin OK initiative.
Hence, passengers can continue using carry-on baggage larger than the Cabin OK size provided it is within airline maximum size limits.
But because the Cabin OK guideline is smaller, passengers using this type of baggage can travel with a greater assurance that it will be acceptable across the different airline requirements.
And, when travelling on a participating airline there is a further benefit: those bags with a Cabin OK logo will have a priority (determined individually by each airline) for staying in the cabin should its cabin capacity be exceeded.
My Cabin OK suitcase suits me fine. It holds my laptop, my SLR camera plus all my precious gadgets, which are all that I need to carry with me in the plane. The rest of my stuff, I can cram in my backpack and dump in the hold.