Suggestion to designers Sung Ha Lim and Hee Kyung Oh for their 5-wheel suitcase design (link)
Link to my detailed comment about the design of this 5-wheel suitcase is here: link
Originally posted here: link
Last May, Indian airline companies reduced the permissible weight limit on checked-in bags [domestic sector] to 15 kgs. The international limit ranges from 23 kgs (or lower?) to the more generous likes of Emirates that allows up to 30 kgs (Economy) and 50 kgs (First Class).
The average suitcase weighs between 3-6 kilos. What remains is what you get to fill. Now the lightest bags in the market are quite expensive. And not too rugged either. A few trips and you’ll know.
So while most of us feel restricted by the weight limit, I’m sure you’ve wished bags were light enough to allow you to carry stuff weighing exactly the permissible weight limit, if not more.
Wait. Carry more than weight limit? How’s that even possible? How could you carry over 23 kgs when the limit is 23, and yet not have to pay for it?
Before you read ahead, let me confess, I don’t have an answer for it yet, but I’m hoping this post will spark some genius in you to start working towards a solution to make bags and other things [try shoes, school bags, cars, anything] lighter. That would be useful, wouldn’t it?
Growing up, I often imagined the possibility of having bags lined with an airtight casing of a gas less dense than air. Hydrogen or Helium, for instance. Imagine being able to carry 30 kgs of your stuff, and the Hydrogen or Helium compensating to bring the final weight back down to 23 kgs.
Simple as it sounds, here’s why it isn’t possible. Hydrogen is extremely flammable and can diffuse easily [with the tiniest crack], making it extremely difficult to carry, and dangerous too.
Then there’s Helium. Helium is unfortunately too expensive to be a viable option. To put into perspective, you’d need 974.3 liters of it to lift 1000 grams (1kg). You’d be better of paying for excess baggage.
So, till we find a solution for it, stick to traveling light. And think of ways that bags and other things could be made lighter. You can’t imagine the things you could move around easily then. Imagine the energy and fuel that will be saved in doing so too.
Last afternoon, I was lucky to chance upon some great customer service.
I was at a station in Karnataka, heading back to Bombay with my mom. The indifferent railway staff hadn’t been clear about which platform the train would arrive on. After a long wait, the platform was announced. The person at the info desk said that coach and seat numbers (which we didn’t have at the time) would be put outside the coaches 15 minutes before the train left.
We had one heavy suitcase to lug, so we asked a porter to carry it across to the third platform (it meant crossing an overhead bridge). The few porters around, were all carrying luggage across the tracks (an extremely unsafe practice) instead of using the overhead bridge.
This porter took the bag across while mom took the long route via the bridge to get there. Once she’d reached the bag, I took the overhead bridge too.
The train had just entered the station. About 15 mins before the train was to leave, the porter waved out from nearby. He informed me that the charts had been put up on platform 1 (where we had just walked from) instead of on this platform. Not surprising, if you are familiar with the limitless extents of human stupidity.
While time on hand was about sufficient, it was still a walk you’d reconsider in that sweltering heat, and the fact that you had just done that stretch a few minutes ago.
I put our bag in the train and prepared to head to the other side to check the coach and seat details, unsure of when I might need to run back to make it to the train. As I started walking, the porter was there, just having crossed the tracks with someone else’s bags. He asked me to give him my ticket printout, which I did. He darted back, checked the charts, and came back, telling me both passenger names, coach and seat numbers. Impressive.
Sujit, the porter, unknowingly taught me a few things about what I call customer delight at the A-Team.
There was no haggling when trying to fix a price for carrying the bag. He said we could pay him whatever we felt like (Lesson: Enjoy what you do, and focus on the work at hand, and not too much on what you’ll earn from it). When I insisted on a specific fee, he said people usually give INR 30. (Lesson: Charge reasonably). Checking tickets wasn’t part of the deal. He could have as well gone looking for the next few customers (Lesson: offer increasing value to existing customers instead of constantly looking for new customers).
When I acknowledged his assistance, the chap just smiled and said it was his job. He even wished me and mom a happy journey. Now that isn’t something you hear often. (Lesson: You can never be too polite) And once I’d paid him, he took it with a smile, not bothering to check or count, and he vanished into the crowd to find more work.