Tumi Alpha Frequent Traveler Expandable Carry-on Review

By Jonathan Spira on 1 June 2010
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To many business travelers, luggage is luggage.  Indeed, when I needed a new 22” rolling suitcase, I thought I would just buy a bag, pack it up, and be on my merry way.  I was, however, mistaken.  By selecting a Tumi Alpha Frequent Traveler expandable carry-on, it turns out that I was also buying a relationship with the company

My original criteria were overall durability, ease of use, high quality materials, and the design of internal and external storage compartments.  This particular Tumi had met all of my criteria.  I knew from past experience with Tumi bags that the FXT ballistic nylon was tough and damage-proof (it’s also water resistant although I try not to test that aspect too much).

The Alpha Frequent Traveler is equipped with in-line skate wheels that provide a very smooth ride.  It has two generously-sized front zip pockets, a removable suit sleeve, and two internal zip pockets.  The bag itself is lightweight, weighing only 4.7 kg.

The internal layout was, in my opinion, ideal for packing as the handle’s sleeve does not intrude very much into the useable space.  The bag expandability has come in very handy on several business trips as I have returned home with more than I started with.

The most important feature, however, was the service aspect.  The bag has a five-year warranty and the first year includes any damage – even if it’s caused by an airline or the owner. Tumi will even pay for shipping costs both ways.  This sounds good on paper but what if something breaks during a trip.

In my case, as I was making my way to Munich, the collapsible handle refused to fully collapse  and this made finding space in the overhead bin a bit of a challenge.  Once I got to my destination, The Charles Hotel, one quick conversation with the concierge was all it took.  He spoke with the manager of Tumi’s Munich store and the bag was picked up, repaired, and returned, all within one day.

The hotel concierge’s comment to me, when I thanked him, was telling.  Translated from German, he said “Tumi provides the same high level of service to its customers that we provide to our guests.”

Tumi also includes one feature I hope I’ll never have to use:  the Tumi Tracer program. Included with every bag, this program provides owners with a unique serial number permanently affixed to the bag that can aid in the bag’s recovery if it is ever lost or stolen.

–Jonathan B. Spira is the Editor of Executive Road Warrior and Chief Analyst at Basex, a knowledge economy research firm.

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