BULLETPROOF: Best Carry-on Bags For When Things Go Bad

Practically all the new carry-on bags claim to be as smart as a phone, or a watch. Some tell you how much they weigh. Some follow you through the airport. And some let you know your spouse is in Miami, not Milwaukee.

But the truly useful innovations are found in carry-on bags that are at their best when things go bad. Especially impressive, for instance, are the bags that can provide cover in case of gunfire.

A British firm, Terrapin Technology, produces bulletproof carry-on bags as part of their “Go Ballistic” line. For best results, you hold the bag up to your face and chest, as if in a cowering manner. A barrier of “military grade” ballistic-resistant material then helps protect you from 9 mm bullets, knife thrusts, and, if your day has really gotten off on to a bad start, “shrapnel from a bomb blast.”

Man riding carryon bag scooter
                                                                                     Micro Luggage Photo

Carry-on Bag Luggage Scooter

Travelers who routinely fly out of smaller, regional airports know that getting a good seat often requires a dash from the gate to the plane. Increase your odds of being first to arrive by using a luggage scooter from Micro Luggage. An extendable aluminum handle and kickboard allows you to ride your carry-on bag in a style acceptable to even the youngest teens in your party.

Woman on motorized, ride-able carry-on bag
                                                                       Modobag/Indiegogo Photo

Rideable Carry-on Bags

Need more getaway-speed than scooter-style carry-on bags can provide? What if, for instance, you have just used an emergency evacuation slide to exit an airplane you’d like to distance yourself from as quickly as possible? Then you might be ready for the Modobag. Billed as the world’s first ride-able, motorized, carry-on bag, it can reach speeds of up to 8 mph. Which is faster even than a man who has just noticed jet fuel leaking all over the tarmac can run.

Fire resistant Cardinal Bag Supplies Briefcase
                                              Cardinal Bag Supplies Photo

Fire-resistant Carry-on Bags

If you anticipate not being able to make a quick getaway, fire-resistant carry-on bags can be a good investment. Cardinal Bag Supplies makes briefcase-style carry-on bags that are fire resistant up to 2,500 degrees. It is necessary to point out, however, that if the bag is within your reach, temperatures much above 200 degrees will make the investment of interest primarily to your heirs.

Man blowing up floating carry-on bag
                                                                                       Capsula Bag Photo

Carry-on Bags That Float

What happens should your plane’s pilot misjudge, for example, the length of an aircraft carrier? You’ll want carry-on bags that are leak-resistant or, better yet, designed to float. Among the best we’ve found is the EL 22 Elite Carry-On, from Pelican, which has “passed submergence tests for an hour at a depth of one meter.” (Which is an industry standard, but, admittedly, didn’t impress us much, either.) More impressive is a line of bags from a new company, Capsula Bag, which actually float. You have to blow up an inner chamber, but we assume that given the right circumstances — such as an offshore current or circling sharks — most users would be okay with that.

Pelican submersible carry-on bag
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Impact-resistant Carry-on Bags

Ultimately, when things go bad the best of the new carry-on bags are those that are old-fashioned tough. Among the toughest, we have already mentioned the submergible EL 22 Elite. With double walls that won’t buckle under loads of up to 1,500 pounds, you could practically drop the Elite from cruising altitude without having to look for pieces.

Which would have made it a good choice for legendary, almost mythical, hijacker D. B. Cooper when he bailed out of a Boeing 727 somewhere over the Pacific Northwest in 1971. Unfortunately for Cooper, who was never heard from again, they found some of his $200,000 in ransom money scattered along the banks of the Columbia River, suggesting that his bag, at least, did not survive the jump.

 

BobCarriesOn editor-in-chief Bob Payne has never jumped from an airplane with a carry-on bag, containing ransom money.

 

Pat down other passengers? How much extra would you pay?

Following the TSA’s recent announcement of “enhanced security measures” that include a more invasive pat down, the media has responded in the strongest terms possible. Which is to say that the National Public Radio show Wait Wait . . . Don’t Tell Me has issued an enhanced put-down.

Asked to name the next change that will make air travel even worse, a panelist on the show predicted:  “Buyers of the new super saver economy no-frills tickets will have to pat down each other.”

Now, it may just be us, but we think many fliers would consider the opportunity to pat down other passengers a perk. One that  might well encourage them to choose the most no-frills option over others, and more than make up for having to pay for access to an exit row in the event of an emergency.

Perv Perks, the class could be called.  Which is certainly more respectable sounding, in the airline world, than Basic Economy.

Of course we also think the airlines would soon enough see Perv Perks as a new add-on fee opportunity, and start charging extra for the service.  No doubt, there would be a fee scale based on the level of invasiveness allowed, perhaps with the most expensive option — Perv Premium — permitting you to keep any weapons or other objects the pat down uncovered.

What do you think? How much extra would you pay to pat down other passengers?  How about if it were gloves-optional? Would you pay extra to have another passenger pat you down?

And what can you imagine as the next thing after more invasive pat-downs to make airline travel even worse?

Bob Payne, who is the editor in chief of the travel humor site BobCarriesOn, is often considered to be ahead of the curve on all travel-related issues. In fact,  he has already been reprimanded twice by TSA authorities for attempting to pat down fellow passengers.

Our stand on charging airline pilots for cockpit seat selection – a BobCarriesOn editorial

 

It is increasingly clear that the main role of the airline industry is no longer to provide air transportation but to identify ancillary fees that can become profit centers. The inevitable result, some industry observers believe, is that airlines will soon begin charging pilots for cockpit seat selection.

BobCarriesOn is opposed to this possibility.

By tradition, commercial airliners typically have two or three qualified pilots in the cockpit: the captain, who sits in the left-hand seat, the first officer, who sits in the right, and — if one is aboard — the flight engineer, who sits wherever is convenient should a flight attendant need help getting a malfunctioning overhead bin to close.

This seating arrangement is based on seniority, and because it clearly indicates where in the cockpit the most experienced pilot is to be found, it has long served the flying community well. However, fee-based seat selection would mean that any cockpit crewmember could claim the role of captain simply by booking early, and being willing to pay the extra fee.

We believe the safety issues that cockpit fee-based seat selection might raise far outweigh any bottom-line benefit to the airline and should be avoided except in special cases, such as when an airline’s profitability sinks below a level acceptable to its board of directors.

We have listened to the argument of supporters of cockpit seat selection. Which is that with the increasing level of aircraft automation, and the rising cost of aircraft operation, it makes economic sense to charge an ancillary fee for seats whose occupants no longer have any real role other than to act as authority figures until land-side law enforcement can arrive to remove disruptive passengers from a flight.

Our concern, though, is that if cockpit crewmembers are not treated with the respect they feel their seniority and experience have earned them, it will be disruptive pilots that law enforcement is having to remove.

 

Airlines introduce Mind Your Own Business Class

 

Desperate to discourage chatty fellow passengers? At times, not even responding to every attempt at conversation with, “Want to buy my toothbrush?” is enough. But help is on the way, as airlines introduce a new category of service. Mind Your Own Business Class

The premium-tier service offers the expected amenities. Among them are eyeshades, noise-canceling headphones, and monogramed airline socks primarily meant to serve as gags to quiet offending passengers. (In the event of an emergency, apply the gags to adults first, and then to children.)

But early users of Mind Your Own Business Class say there’s one thing they most appreciate.  The peace of mind that comes with knowing that specially trained members of the cabin crew are standing by to sew shut the lips of any especially annoying seat-mate.

“For an add-on fee, the cabin crew will even perform the operation on themselves,” said Bob Payne, head of surgical procedures for Air Bob, one of the first domestic carriers to introduce the service.

Payne said Mind Your Own Business Class is proving very popular with Air Bob passengers. So much so that some have begun arranging to fly with the more loquacious among family and friends just so they can surprise them with the lip operation.

The success of Mind Your Own Business Class has been so great, said Payne, that Air Bob is looking into the possibility of creating a similar economy class service.

“The only difference would be that in order to keep costs down, as each economy class passenger who opted for the service boards the aircraft the cabin crew would be standing by in order to surgically remove the tongue of passengers sitting around them,” said Payne.

When not performing surgery for Air Bob, Bob Payne serves as the Editor in Chief of BobCarriesOn.com, the travel humor website that has been offering travel news and advice since before Columbus landed at Plymouth Rock. 

Longest flights ranked by who sits next to you

 

Airlines, for reasons most people find incomprehensible, like to boast of record-setting non-stop flights, ranked by hours in the air. The longest flights are currently claimed to be around 17 hours, although as every passenger knows, the real duration of a flight is determined by who sits next to you. The very longest flights include those on which your seatmate is:

Positive you said you would shut the oven off.

Struggling with issues of bladder control.

Louder than an accompanying child.

Returning from a wedding, with photos.

Demonstrably capable of reciting pi to 3,764 places.

Attempting to assemble an unidentifiable electronic device.

Recently retired, from sumo wrestling.

Watching an X-rated movie, you’ve already seen.

Shackled, but not gagged.

Dead.

5 coolest places in America: The Lawsuit

We learned today that BobCarriesOn.com is facing a lawsuit by an irate reader who blames us for the severe frostbite he suffered while visiting, allegedly at our recommendation, one of the places featured in a story we recently ran, “The 5 coolest places in America.”

The reader maintains the story should have warned that in none of the places were open-toed sandals appropriate winter footwear. We maintain that he, like far too many Internet users, must have read no further than the headline.

If you missed the story, below are the places we mentioned. Before making plans to visit any of them, please read the descriptions carefully.

Prospect Creek Camp, Alaska

A work settlement during the construction of the Alaska Pipeline, the now abandoned Prospect Creek Camp holds the record for the lowest temperature ever recorded in the United States: -80 degrees F, on January 21, 1971. Tourist attractions include the pipeline’s Pump Station 5, two still-fluttering airstrip windsocks, and what is believed to be one of the largest collections of pre-Internet pornography ever assembled.

Rogers Pass, Montana

Located in a remote wilderness area on the Continental Divide, Rogers Pass holds the record for the coldest temperature ever recorded in the lower 48 states: -70 degrees F, on January 20, 1954. Tourist attractions include one of the largest remaining concentrations of grizzly bears in the lower 48, and various garments belonging to previous visitors who attempted to outrun them.

Peter Sinks, Utah

A basin-shaped natural depression allegedly named for a man who would have done well to look elsewhere for a homestead site, Peter Sinks holds the record for the coldest temperature ever recorded in Utah: -69.3 degrees F, on February 1, 1985. Tourist attractions include various locations where it is speculated the would-be homesteader may have succumbed to the elements during his first and only winter at the Sinks.

Riverside Ranger Station, Montana

Pay attention here, because the town of Riverside, Wyoming, is sometimes listed as holding the record for the coldest temperature every recorded in Wyoming: -66 degrees F, on February 9, 1933. But according to the weather website wunderground.com, that temperature was actually recorded at the now non-existent Riverside Ranger Station, which in 1933 was located where the town of West Yellowstone, Montana, now stands. Tourist attractions in the Wyoming town, which has a population of 53, include anybody who can give directions to West Yellowstone, a gateway to Yellowstone National Park, eight hours away.

Maybell, Colorado

Vail and Steamboat may have their après ski scenes, but the coolest place in Colorado is Maybell, population 72, which is home to the lowest temperature ever recorded in the state: −61 degrees F, on February 1, 1985. Tourist attractions include the restaurant, the gas station, the general store, and, during the spring, a depth of horse poop today found in few other American communities.

Bob Payne's travel news and advice since before Columbus landed at Plymouth Rock.

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