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« Underseat bags »

I have seen in stores some bags made by London Fog & some other luggage manufacturers that say they fit under the seat. I was wondering if anyone had actually taken one of these bags on an international flight??? If we are to take only carryon bags on RS tours, these smaller bags ( which look like they hold a lot) would be helpful IF they really do fit under the seat. One could pack an empty day pack or crossbody in the carryon.

Posted by
1516 posts

Please note that "carry on only" is not enforced on a RS tour. It is highly encouraged and many tour takers highly recommend it. But you don't have to pack in a bag that fits under the seat, and you can take two bags: one carry on and one personal item.

I personally travel with an Osprey 46L backpack that isn't packed full and a Tom Bihn medium cafe bag. I put my airplane comfort items in the cafe bag so that I don't need to access the backpack during the flight. I pack an empty small nylon duffel that I use as a "bus bag". In this bag I put my neck pillow, snacks, water, reading material, etc. This bag stays on the bus during any day stops. Anything that I want to carry with me goes in my neck wallet or cafe bag. I would also use this bag as overflow and check it on the way home if needed, although I don't purchase much on trips. This system works well for me.

Happy Travels.

Posted by
2482 posts

Agree with what vandrabrud said.

My larger bag is carryon size, but I check it, and use a slightly smaller rolling backpack as my carryon. Every RS tour I have been on has included a few people with larger cases. The most important thing is that you need to be able to handle your own luggage.

Posted by
31 posts

Thanks for the input. I’m not much of a backpack person. I have a RS carryon to put in the overhead bin, and I’m assuming that if backpacks fit under the seat in front, a bag labeled as « underseat » will also. I have a Baggalini crossbody for everyday use.
Addressing the carryon requirement, this is the wording:
Pack light: Each tour member is allowed to bring just one airline carry-on-size piece of luggage (approximately 21" x 14" x 9") plus a small day pack or shoulder bag.
It doesn’t look like this is a suggestion. I will check with the office, though. It would be lovely not to wait at the baggage carousel.

Posted by
7410 posts

Remember that the longer the flight, the more you will want that underseat room for your feet. I’ve had some flights where the spacing isn’t evenly divided across the three spaces in a row, also.

I bring a carry on roller bag that goes in the overhead bin and the LLBean Stowaway Day Pack to sit by my feet. I’m always glad to not be lugging around anymore weight than those two hold. (Multiple 3-week trip’s experiences)

Posted by
7410 posts

And I love those Baggalini crossbody purses, too! I just place it in my suitcase until we’ve checked into a hotel. Then it’s what I carry during the day.

Posted by
202 posts

You have the right idea, RD, for how one wants to make one’s way ‘round airports. My RST experience x7 has full spectrum of bags and baggage among the faithful. I am in the minimalist camp for toting my stuff wherever it is I am happily, gladly wandering about. My goal for the journey thru the airport is to make it less about struggling with whatever I’m bringing onboard and more of how easily and nicely my bag choice(s) does the job. Things contained therein have to be easily reachable, it must be comfortable for me to shoulder/heft, bag size needs to allow space for my feet once my way down the aisle (heading cheerfully/hopefully to sardine class) has been made. A tote has often been the shape that works well for me. Straps have to be right for length and comfort and I always do my level best to fill just right with all the necessities/niceties that make the air travel portion as palatable as possible. Happy airport experiences, one and all!

Posted by
2788 posts

We have taken 16 RS tours and always take our 21/22" RS roller bags and check them in as they contain some things that we can not take onto the plane. We also take our RS day bags onto the plane containing everything we do not want to loose, like cameras, plus all of our medications, plus stuff to use on the flight like noise cancelling head phones and reading material. On all of our RS tours we have seldom seen anyone bringing a large suitcase but in each case that we have seen that, the owner seemed unaware that they were going to be responsible for transporting it from bus to hotel and to their room. I can only guess that a few people are taking RS tours who either do not read the fine print on the RS literature or have forgotten about it. As RS says "pack light".

Posted by
11403 posts

The area under the seat is variable, depending on the seat configuration and what equipment the airline puts there.

If what you are looking at is a 'fixed' dimension bag, I would not count on it fitting under every seat.

I just took a flight where the middle seat had a space that was more than twice the area of the aisle seat and about a third larger than the window seat.

Posted by
1194 posts

I use this as my bus bag and also on occasion my underseat bag.

Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil sling bag (2.24 oz). (Review here)

It will hold my cross body bag, comfort kit, etc. When I’m at my destination I slip it into my cross body bag.

I use it for groceries, dirty laundry, bus bag, whatever.

The sling bag works great with a travel pack like the Rick Steves bag. You can wear it crosswise over or under the larger bag.

The other alternative is to use your day pack as the personal item. Why pack it when you can use it?

The problem with specialized under seat bags is their sizing. They are usually sized for US large body aircraft. They won’t work for regional jets etc. They are big and heavy. I think they are a marketing gimmick to get money from the less experienced.

Posted by
788 posts

I’ve also been curious about some of the “underseat” bags, but most of the ones I’ve looked at have been structured bags that wouldn’t leave room for my feet. I have to be able to stretch, even if just a few inches under the seat.

I use the RS Euro Flight Bag, which is far from perfect, but is soft and squishy. So if I don’t jam it full l still have some foot and leg room.

Posted by
14177 posts

Which tour are you considering taking?

Yes, the verbiage does say that about luggage but in reality you can take all you can handle on your own. Trust us on this! I've done 10 RS tours and never had a guide bat an eye at luggage.

The bus you'll be on is a full size bus so there is a huge amount of room in the luggage bay but only 25 or so tour members (room for 50 on the bus). The issue is the bus may not be able to get right to the front door of your lodging so you might have to walk 1/4 a mile or so to get from the bus to the hotel. Your hotel may not have an elevator. If you are taking a tour that includes Venice you'll be off and on vaporettos from the bus parking lot and if you are going to stay in Cinque Terre you'll handle your luggage off/on the train. You'd need to handle your bag in these situations, so your limitation is really what you can manage up or down a flight of stairs or over 1/4 mile or so to a hotel.

One thing to consider about the underseat bag is wheels. On my last RS tour to S. England, a family member had a regular 22" rolling bag and also had the smaller underseat bag that had rollers. That bag did not fit well on the 22" roller handle and she also had trouble rolling the carryon in concert with the 22 incher when she tried pulling them. IF you go with this combination, I'd suggest you pack them both up and head to an empty parking lot and see how they wind up rolling together.

BTW, you don't HAVE to carry on luggage on your flight. You can if you want to or you can check your bag. I've done both and have decided if I have several days ahead of the tour at the same hotel I'm comfortable checking my bag which is Rick's smaller roller bag (21 inch). I have been on several tours where people's luggage did not arrive with them but was delivered several days into the tour.

(PS The bus luggage bay is big enough that some bus drivers have a bicycle stowed under there for them to get some exercise on their days off! One, who was a very sharp dresser, also had a rack fixed up for hanging his shirts! Others will have a big cardboard box for deep storage - think the size an appliance like a washer or dryer comes in - so people can stow purchases in their as the tour progresses!)

Posted by
31 posts

I’m taking the Village Italy tour in April. I’m traveling solo- from DFW to LHR, spending the night at a hotel within the Heathrow area, then flying to Venice the next day. I’m already a little stressed at getting around in Heathrow & to the hotel ( & back again the next day), but there won’t be a rush to get anywhere& it will all be ok. I think I have to figure out the Hoppa bus. I choose to fly premium economy because I get leg cramps and fidget- expensive but keeps me from jumping out the window with restless legs!. Last spring I took my 1st RS tour & took a 24 » bag- it was too heavy. Lesson learned-don’t buy & lug around a bunch of guide books ( like books from museums). Sorry to bore you with these details. I’m so looking forward to this trip. I will push apprehension aside about getting to & from. It will all be fine-

Posted by
7410 posts

Hi, two comments that might help you enjoy your next trip:

To prevent your leg cramps - I will get them if I’m low on magnesium and/or dehydrated. I buy a bottle of water or juice at the airport and refill on the plane throughout the trip. Rolands is an easy way to have magnesium handy. And walk to the bathroom on the plane every couple of hours just to be moving your legs.

Heavy museum books- I have purchased some museum books of locations I will be traveling from Amazon before my trips. I don’t need to carry the books during the trip (yes, lesson learned!), plus there’s the anticipation from reading them ahead of time.

Posted by
6364 posts

reynolds-denise, never worry about boring us with details. We love details. Not only do they help us answer your questions, they also help give us ideas for our own travel situations.

I think you are referring to the "underseat" rolling bags with pull handles. I would not use this bag unless it was my primary piece of luggage for a weekend trip or a suitcase for a child. Then, I would put it in the overhead plane bin.
You never know how much "underseat" space you will have. I have been on flights with ample underseat space and Alitalia with zero underseat space. Have your main piece of carry-on luggage in the overhead bin. Then - use a small, squishable bag for flight comforts as an underseat bag. You can use your underseat bag as a day pack/bag while traveling or as a simple tote for dirty laundry, groceries, shopping, etc..
For your main bag - get something in the 40 liter range which is just a bit larger than an "underseat" bag. You will need it.

Posted by
14177 posts

OK! Village Italy is FUN! You do need to be mindful of the weight of your bags on this tour. I took it in 2014 so some of the places have changed. The longest walk we had was where we stayed in Montone and I don't think they overnight there any more. The next longest was probably Levanto where you have to pull your luggage thru town. The bus parks at the train station and you'll probably stay closer to the beach.

If you are overnighting in the Heathrow area you ~can~ take a Hoppa Bus (really easy and the drivers are pretty nice and helpful altho I've only gone from the hotel TO the airport) or you can take a cab. It wouldn't be much.

In your situation, I'd probably want to do carry-on at least going.

The rolling underseat bag may be a PIA since you've got some locations where you'll have to manage both bags. Depending on what you need in the bag, you might consider a larger tote bag like the LeSportSac Medium tote with a shoulder strap. Of course you'd have to have that over your shoulder so if you have back or neck issues that might not work for you.

https://tinyurl.com/ydgrobdp
(Editing to add I don't see this bag on the LeSportSac website any more. I just linked this to show you the style but I see it's shipped from a 3rd party - I have no idea about them, just the product!)

I like to have a "bus bag" on the RS tours. Something I can have on the seat next to me with my jacket, guidebooks, snacks, water, kindle, etc.

I agree with Jane, by the way (well, I always do, lol!!). Details help us give you tailored advice and they are not boring to me!

Posted by
173 posts

I use a 17" rolling backpack on international flights. It holds my valuables, onboard essentials, and change of clothes and shoes. It has fit under all seats so far. Since I am short, extra legroom is not an issue, and it makes a nice foot rest. It also gives me great flexibility. I can attach it to my rolling suitcase with an add-a-bag strap or wear it on my back, so that I am rolling only one bag. This combination works very well for me. Mine is an older model by Vera Bradley. I love it and it has held up very well. Happy travels!

Posted by
3521 posts

The wording about what luggage you are allowed may not be worded that way, but it is only a firm suggestion. Take anything you want -- just understand that YOU are the only one who will be wheeling /dragging it to and from the bus and up and down from your room.

I have done 10 tours with RS so far and have managed to have everything I need in one original RS convertible bags without wheels. Never an issue for space and fits in the cary on dimensions of the airlines I fly with no complaints.

Posted by
66 posts

I have a couple ‘underseat bags’ but as noted they don’t always fit under the seat. When I use one, it is my main or only piece of rolling luggage and I expect to stow it in the overhead. If you are a ‘pack light’ devotee these bags are often big enough. I also always wear a backpack that contains things like my meds, my glasses, my phone and iPad and other things I want access to on the plane. I have a couple, the Bug from eagle creek and a 15L secure bag from Pacsafe, if I’m going overseas I generally use the Pacsafe as I think there is greater chance of pickpockets in Europe. You didn’t ask about this but I’ll throw it in. In recent years I have to travel with a C-Pap machine. I found that the eBags Crew Cooler (intended to be for big lunch box use) is a perfect fit for my machine, and has a separate compartment on the top of the bag that can hold snacks. A bag for medical equipment doesn’t count as one iof your two carryon bags, and I can also carry snacks. So now my underseat bag, and my backpack after I retrieve my iPad, go in the overhead and the crew cooler goes under the seat with my snacks right on top..

Posted by
156 posts

I’m very skeptical overall of wheeled “underseat” bags. I’ve got the Samsonite 17 inch model, and while it’s fine for some seats (example: I fly Southwest often, and the thing fits under the middle seat of their 737s, but not an aisle seat), there’s so much variance among airlines and aircraft that I’m not sure you can buy one that will pass muster on all or most of them. Obviously open to correction here, but that’s just my experience.

Then there are the budget carriers like Spirit which are pretty restrictive, as well as the seats that have electronics gear under them which restrict access. I love that Samsonite bag, but I’m always ready to stow it in the overhead. Great little bag for a weekend trip.

Posted by
996 posts

I've been following this thread with interest. I have two bags which were purchased with the 'fits under the seat' wording in the description. While both of them will fit underneath SOME seats, neither of them will fit underneath every seat due to variations in airplane configuration.

Posted by
156 posts

A decent guide for underseat dimensions is in The Carryon Guy website. The author lists the airline dimension limits for pet carriers to be stowed under the seat. The weakness there is that a lot of pet carriers are somewhat flexible as opposed to the typical wheeled bags, which due to the wheel assembly are not. And you can still run into the electronics box issue on some planes. So you might have some wiggle room to avoid squashing your Maltese but not be able to fit your own bag. Very inexact science. ;)

Posted by
427 posts

I'm interested in this topic as I have just bought an 'underseat bag' but haven't yet used it on a trip. I damaged my back at Easter last year and it was still painful when I went on holiday in July. Previously I had always travelled with hand luggage only - small case on rollers (which I had to keep uner 7kg), and a capacious Baggalini 'handbag' in which I packed heavier items and also used under the seat in front as a footrest (I am just a little over 5ft tall). So this time I put a little more in the suitcase and checked it in, and then the Baggalini bag was lighter. Problem was that I still found it very heavy when trudging through security queues and walking seemingly endless corridors to distant gates at airports. Everyone else seemed to have wheels on thir bags.

Hence my 'wheeled underseat' purchase. I bought it online as the model I wanted wasn't available in Australia, and I was disappointed to find how heavy it was. Not too worried about the rigid frame as I have booked Premium Economy for my long-haul flights, and it will be good not to have to ask someone else to put my case in the overhead compartment as i used to have to do because I can't reach. But now I'd better see how I manage handling both the to-be-checked-in roller case and this new one at the same time: that's something I hadn't thought through, so thank you to whoever it was above who mentioned that.

Posted by
8600 posts

I wouldn't trust any luggage with any sort of frame, stiff construction, wheels or handles, to fit under a seat. Too many variables. It needs to be a soft bag that can be "smooshed" into the available space, by foot if necessary.

Posted by
14177 posts

"But now I'd better see how I manage handling both the to-be-checked-in roller case and this new one at the same time: that's something I hadn't thought through, so thank you to whoever it was above who mentioned that."

cgichard - You are welcome! It's not something I might have thought of until I watched the family member struggle. It was like herding cats and this was on the smooth flooring at Heathrow...much worse when we got off the coach at Victoria Coach station and walked just the half a block to the hotel. By the time we were to the point in our trip that we arrived in Canterbury and had to walk about 1/2 mile from the station to the hotel...I personally would have thrown the underseat bag in the nearest river and headed for a store to purchase something different. We all had roller bags so handing off to one of us really wouldn't have helped. Two of the 3 of us had back issues as well so couldn't really load it on someone's back and head off. Since you know how much max weight you have, I'd load that amount in the bags for your trial run. Now we need pictures of you on your local walking trail, lol!!