Are Plastic Suitcases Durable? Here’s The Truth

When we are traveling on a plane, we want to make sure that we get to our destination as safely as possible. It’s also important to have our luggage arrive safely because it carries all of our important contents.

There has always been an argument as to whether you should choose plastic suitcases or fabric. To be honest, each of them has its own benefits and drawbacks, but when you get right down to it, plastic tends to come out on top. Are they also durable?

Plastic suitcases tend to be hard so they are able to absorb many of the bumps that will take place during travel. If you pack all of your belongings in a fabric suitcase, you are likely to have some damaged items on the inside.

It isn’t only what is on the inside that makes a difference, however, you also need to consider the shell itself. Plastic suitcases tend to be made from polypropylene or polycarbonate.

In either case, it forms a very durable protective shell that is still somewhat lightweight.

We will take a look deeper into the benefits of having a plastic suitcase and some of the specific points that need to be considered. There is something else that you need to think about, however, and it extends beyond the shell.

I’m talking about the wheels for the suitcase. Some of the best suitcase wheels are made of a type of plastic known as polyurethane. You should also choose a suitcase that has four wheels because they are easier to handle and can switch directions quickly.

There are other types of wheels that can be considered, including those that are made from plastic and rubber. More than likely, however, those wheels are not going to last as long as polyurethane and they will typically break on you at the worst possible time.

Are Plastic Suitcases Lighter Than Material Ones?

When you compare the types of suitcases you have available, the argument as to whether you should have material or plastic always comes up. One of the things that you need to compare is the weight, so what should you choose?

The weight of a material suitcase compared to a plastic suitcase is very similar. Although the material or fabric suitcase may be slightly lighter, it is not going to make a big enough difference unless you are right at the weight limit for your luggage.

You should not confuse the weight of the suitcase with the strength of the suitcase. There are some fabric suitcases out there that are very durable and they can last for quite some time and stand up to abuse. It is really what is on the inside of the bag that makes the difference.

You also have a variety of different types of materials that make up hard suitcases.

One of the lightest options for a plastic suitcase is ABS, although polycarbonate is a close second and it is not much heavier.

ABS tends to be good for any impact damage and it will not wear down much over time. Polycarbonate is the same, but you still have a slight weight difference that can put you over the limit so you could end up paying extra for your checked luggage.

Do Airlines Prefer Hard Or Soft Suitcases? (Will Baggage Handlers Hate Plastic?)

Although we have our personal preferences as to whether we should use hard or soft suitcases, it’s also a good idea to consider what baggage handlers want. Do they tend to prefer plastic or do they like fabric?

The majority of those who work for the airlines are going to use soft-sided luggage but then again, they tend to carry on the luggage rather than check it. In the end, there really isn’t a preference because both soft and hard luggage has their own benefits.

Hard luggage is easier to stack and you can fit it into a very specific arrangement. If you have a baggage handler who tends to like things just so, they will tend to prefer hard luggage with some soft luggage thrown into the mix for good measure.

By and large, however, the baggage handlers are not really going to think much about the luggage they are loading. They just want to get it on the conveyor belt as quickly as possible.

If you’ve ever looked outside of the airplane window while they are loading the luggage, you realize that they don’t take a lot of time to handle it. They lift it off of the trolley and throw it onto the conveyor belt and it rolls up into the belly of the plane.

Rather than considering what is best for the airline, consider what is best for you. Hard suitcases are always going to be more durable and the airlines are perfectly fine with them.

Believe me, if they didn’t want a particular type of luggage on the aircraft, they wouldn’t allow it.

Which Luggage Material Is The Most Durable?

Durability is also something to consider. Hard suitcases are always going to be more durable, but what is the most durable material?

The most durable type of hard shell luggage is made of polypropylene. It is extremely durable and when it gets an impact, either by being dropped or thrown, it will stand up to it.

Another type of hardshell luggage is made from polycarbonate. Although this is very similar to polypropylene, they are two different types of plastic and polypropylene comes out on top when it comes to durability and weight.

Another option that is not often seen is aluminum. It is going to be an extremely durable choice but you will have a difficult time finding an aluminum suitcase. More than likely, you would find some aluminum parts in your polypropylene suitcase.

My Suitcase!

What Is The Best Type Of Suitcase To Buy?

When you get right down to it, there has to be a clear winner when it comes to the right suitcase to purchase. What is the best type to buy?

The best suitcase for all-around use and airline travel is a hardshell suitcase made of polypropylene or aluminum with 4 polyurethane wheels. This will provide the durability necessary for frequent flyers and it will also protect your delicate items from damage.

That being said, there are times when hardshell suitcases crack and they can get damaged if they are not handled properly. Unfortunately, you don’t have any control over them once they leave your hands so the best you can do is complain if one of your suitcases comes up damaged.

Fabric luggage also has some benefits, especially if you have to pack odd items that are also going to stand up to some abuse. If you only have clothing and soft items, you can always throw them in the fabric bag and be on your way.