Luggage Review: American Tourister (Under The Seat, \

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When Joe went on his (very first) business trip a while back, I decided to surprise him and show up at his hotel the day after he arrived. My goals were (A) to do it as cheaply as possible and (B) for him to be surprised and not find out ahead of time (which, under our circumstances, was not a simple task). I’m happy to say that both goals were accomplished ;-).

You can read about my entire planning process and how it all went if you’d like (I must say it was, to date, the best surprise I ever pulled off). But this post is moreso about the luggage I used during the trip.

My flight was on Frontier, which charges you for checked and carry-on luggage, but not for personal sized bags that go under the seat in front of you. I researched what the maximum size that was ( here are the measurements for all major U.S.-based airlines) and started a search for a bag that was that size or slightly smaller. Eventually, I found the American Tourister 4 Kix Rolling Tote, which is within the documented limitations for American, Frontier and Spirit.

The 4 Kix Collection Rolling Tote is the perfect carry on solution, offering security and easy portability. Have instant access to everything you need while traveling. Easily fits your belongs for a 1-2 day trips, including travel documents and even snacks with a quick access zip opening. It fits under most airline seats and it [sic] convenient for the modern traveler.
* Easy interior access zip opening.
* Large main compartment with color pop straps.
* Interior mesh pocket on front flat [sic].
* Color pop cross straps.
* Easy lift bail handles with velcro [sic] closure.
* Smart sleeve on back of tote to fit over larger suitcases.
* Smooth riding in line upright skate wheels.
* Easy grip soft molded kissing zipper pulls.
* Push button locking handle.

* Weight: 6.2 lbs.

Body Dimensions: 16.5″ x 13.8″ x 8.0″
Overall Dimensions: 18.0″ x 14.0″ x 8.0″

The bag is available in gray on black, gray on teal or pink on light purple. I chose the latter because it was a few dollars cheaper and I like bright colors (says she who drives a purple Jeep).

The Good

The bag held enough clothes, toiletries, etc. for me for 3 days. That being said, I’m not a good example, since I’m only 4’6″ tall LOL. But Joe, who is 6′ tall, recently used it on an overnight road trip with no problems, and he said he could easily have put in enough clothes for 2 nights, but probably not 3.

The zippers on the front pocket and the inside mesh portion were both easy to maneuver.

The plastic pulling handle lifted and retracted well and was comfortable when in use. It rolled well on its 2 wheels when pulled. The carrying handle (there’s only one on top, none on the sides), which was comprised of 2 handles coming up from the top front and back and then held together with Velcro, was nicely padded.

Size-wise, the bag got past the gate agent, both going there and coming home, without a second look. As opposed to when I took American… more than once.

I was able to slip the bag under the seat in front of me – no problems with it fitting, although it did stick out a little bit. I have very small feet, so that wasn’t an issue for me. I suspect it could cause problems with foot space for anyone with large feet.

The Bad

The bag is not flawless and its problems fit into 2 categories – quality and design.

Quality

As the old saying goes, “you get what you pay for.” I bought the bag on Amazon for about $50, so it was admittedly cheap. And so, of course, it was cheaply made.

The retractable handle is thin and wiggly. I’ve had some good, solidly-made bags with strong handles that lasted for 20+ years (R.I.P. my wonderful Samsonite Silhouette 6 EZ Cart) but I question how long this one will make it unbroken.

Having a carrying handle made of 2 straps and then Velcroed together is just a ticking time bomb. Velcro doesn’t last forever or even a very long time if it’s used often enough – it wears out and no longer stayed connected. Also, just having 1 carrying handle, not 2, is chintzy, in my opinion.

Design

If you keep the 2 straps connected so they don’t flop around, you have to pull them apart before you can unzipper the bag, which is just…annoying. And again, it’s going to affect the lifespan of the Velcro.

The zipper is not a straight run from one side to another – it’s got a curve on the short end, which makes zipping and unzipping awkward.

The zipper also starts and ends about 1.5″ from the corner, which makes for a rather odd “bend” in the flap. It also means if you have the bag flat and open, the flap doesn’t stay open. I’m also pretty sure that the forced “bend” is the cause for…

The Ugly

After just 2 round trips, without any abnormal use, I noticed the seam on the zipper was coming apart. I’m pretty sure the unnatural “bend” in the flap is to blame, since it’s almost centered in the seam split.

The bag is still under warranty, so I’m going to put in a claim. Stay tuned for another blog post on that 😉

My Recommendation

At this point, I wouldn’t recommend this bag. It’s not made well and the design is weird and inconvenient. If I had any doubts about not recommending it, the split zipper seam was the icing on the cake.

It’s admittedly convenient to have a suitcase that fits under the seat. To have one like this? Maybe not so much…

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