Travelpro FlightCrew 5 22″ Expandable Rollaboard – The Best Suitcase Under $200 (a review)

travelpro flightcrew 5 22"

Travelpro FlightCrew 5 has arrived

It’s better than ever!! Has Travelpro gotten its mojo back?!

This was my first impression of the FlightCrew 5 when I first saw it. 

Can you tell how excited I am?
I haven’t been this excited about a suitcase in years (not since I got my Louis Vuitton Eole 50).

I could tell that this bad boy was going to be a promising suitcase by just looking at the pictures.

The FlightCrew 5 22” Expandable Rollaboard that I ordered arrived from the US so let’s check it out.

This is probably going to be the first review of the FlighCrew 5 in Japan!

Travelpro box

 

My Thoughts on Travelpro

They used to be cool. Can Travelpro shine again?

I wrote about some of the Travelpros I owned in the past in previous posts (Crew 8 and Platinum 7).

I try them out and think they’re great at first but I end up letting them go.

Ever since I saw George Clooney’s movie “Up in the Air“, I’ve wanted to make a Travelpro my main go-to carry-on.

I end up letting them go regardless because:

  • the design gets boring rather quickly
  • looks and feels cheap

Because of the boring design and cheap look, I don’t get excited using the suitcase.
That’s why after a few flights with the Travelpro, I revert back to my Rimowa Topas Titanium Cabin Trolley, which is a nice looking suitcase.

rimowa topas titanium cabin trolley

Travelpro used to make cool carry-ons back in the day.

The Crew 4 George Clooney used in “Up in the Air” was good looking and the Crew 5 was my personal favorite.
It’s too bad these models are discontinued.

The FlightCrew 5 kind of reminds me of the older Travelpro models.

Maybe the designer changed? I don’t know, but any change towards the better is welcome!

 

 

What is the FlightCrew line?

FlightCrew models are made for pilots and flight attendants

The FlightCrew series is a special line among the Travelpro models.

What sets it apart is:

  • It’s not made for the average consumer (that’s the regular Crew series)
  • Not listed on Travelpro’s website
  • Can’t get it from retailers like AMAZON US

The characteristics of the bags in the FlightCrew lineup are:

  • No extra frills, serious simple design
  • Functionality centered
  • Price is very reasonable (the 22″ is like $160)
  • New models don’t come out often

What’s ironic is if you get rid of the extra frills and focus on the functionality, there’s a good chance you end up with a good looking product.

I used to own the FlightCrew 4 22″ Expandable and I liked that model the best out of all the Travelpros that I owned.

travelpro flightcrew 5

The FlightCrew 5 is an update to the FlightCrew 4.
In my opinion, the design got better and the quality of the material improved.

It seemed like every time Travelpro came out with a new model, costs were being cut.
With the FlightCrew 5, it seems like they’ve reversed the trend and are using more cost to build a better product.

Let’s take a look at the actual product!

 

 

FlightCrew 5 22” Expandable Rollaboard

Carry-on size model with expand functionality

The model that I got was the 22″ carry-on size.

The official specs are:

56cm x 36cm x 23cm (22 x 14 x 9 inches)


March 27, 2017 update

I measured the true dimensions:

56cm x 36cm x 28cm

If you compress the bag, you can bring the 28cm down to 23cm .


The length of the case exceeds ANA/JAL’s limit of 55㎝ by 1㎝.
That shouldn’t be a big problem nowadays.

As you can tell from the picture, its got more depth compared to the Briggs & Riley.
This gives off the impression that it’s a rather large bag.

flightcrew 5 compared with briggs and riley

 

Design

travelpro flightcrew 5 from the front

I like it!

It’s got the same no frills design as the FlightCrew 4 but it just looks better.

I wonder why that is?

I got it!

The zippers on the FlightCrew 4 were silver but the ones on the FlightCrew 5 are darker and blends with the body better and makes it look sleek.

travelpro flightcrew 5 zippers

 

Sound

Just like other Travelpro models, the wheels are as smooth as butter.

travelpro flightcrew 5 feet

the legs act as a hand grip for easy maneuver.

 

Weight

Again, just like other Travelpro models, its light.
Its lighter than the Briggs & Riley Baseline.

 

Outer pocket

The pockets are really good on this bag.

There are three outer pockets:

  1. Pocket for tablets, magazines (padded)
  2. Top pocket for travel wallets and small items
  3. Larger pocket for laptops and magazines (padded)

This layout makes access to items on the go a breeze.

I noticed one design consideration that’s made here.

When you look at the bag from the side, can you tell how the outer pockets get thinner as you go towards the bottom?

The depth of the pockets are intentionally kept short so it doesn’t go all the way to the bottom.

Access to items become easier by making the depth of the pockets shorter.
But I think another aim is to prevent the bottom of the pockets from bulking up when you put stuff into the pockets.

This should work in theory but I’ll have to check it it works in practice.

 

Handle

The handle is long and easy to use.
The handle on the Briggs & Riley Baseline is a tad longer but about the same length.

travelpro flightcrew 5 handle

The handle on the FlightCrew 5 is also improved from the FlightCrew 4.

First, the shape of the shaft is a little unique and this is supposed to add strength to the shaft.

The grip is also curved so that it fits nicely into the hand.
It fits so nicely that I don’t wanna let go!

travelpro flightcrew 5 from the top

I’ll have to check this out too if it works on long distance walks.

 

Main Compartment

The inside material on the FlightCrew 5 looks better than those on the FlightCrew 4.
No complaints here.

travelpro flightcrew 5 main compartment

I think I’ll be putting shoes or laundry in the net pockets on the sides.

There’s a net pocket on towards the top where you can put the hook attachment for an extra bag.
The position of this net pocket is well thought out.
By putting the pocket here, you can access the hook by opening the main compartment a little bit and sticking you hand in to grab the hook.
Putting a dedicated pocket for the hook on the outside like the Briggs & Riley Baseline is one way to do it, but this makes carrying around the hook a feasible option.

The suiter is gone from the FlightCrew 5 line up.

travelpro flightcrew 5 main compartment

This might be a problem for users of the suiter function.

I wasn’t using the suiter function recently because I kept getting wrinkles on my suits.
I’m using a large zip lock back for my suits now (which I put into the main compartment) so I’m not affected much with this change.

 

Backside pocket

It isn’t a FlightCrew without a backside pocket.

travelpro flightcrew 5 back pocket

You could expand the backside pocket on the FlightCrew 4 but no longer on the FlightCrew 5.
Some people may miss the expandable functionality, but not so much for me.
You weren’t able to lay the bag down flat on its back with the backside pocket extended so I never really used it expanded.
I use the backside pocket for emergencies or for keeping something thin like a magazine or book.

 

 

Final remarks

It’s been about a week since the FlightCrew 5 arrived in the mail but I held back from doing a review until I got over the initial excitement.
Well, its been a week, I’ve calmed down, but I still have good thoughts about the bag.

I want to see how it holds up in action before I give my final verdict so I am currently planning a short trip.

I’ll be doing a follow up review so stay tuned!

 

 

 

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6 Responses to “Travelpro FlightCrew 5 22″ Expandable Rollaboard – The Best Suitcase Under $200 (a review)

  • Loren Pechtel
    3 years ago

    You give the official dimensions but what are the true dimensions including wheels and handle?

    • Hi there! The true dimensions are pretty close to the official at 56cm x 36cm x 28cm.
      If you compress the bag, you can bring the 28cm down to 23cm.

      • Patrick McDermott
        2 years ago

        So if I understand correctly, 56cm includes the wheels? Thanks!

  • I am curious to learn what your experiences were after traveling with the bag. I assume you have also used the baseline in travels. Perhaps you can offer comparisons between them? I am looking at both bags for a near-term purchase. Your review was helpful. Thank you.

    • Hi John,
      That is a super good question, one that I have been asking myself the past few days actually, which is the better carry-on.
      I can go on forever on this but I’ll try to keep it in a paragraph or two.
      Yes, I have used the FlightCrew 5 since I bought it and though the Baseline has more miles on it, I can compare the two.
      For some, price can be a determining factor.
      With the Baseline at $500 and the FlightCrew 5 at under $200, the value per dollar is definitely higher with the FlightCrew 5.
      I still stand behind the FlightCrew 5 when I say that it is the best carry-on under $200.

      If price isn’t a concern, I would say that the Baseline can do what the FlightCrew 5 does, only “better”.
      I personally like the looks of the FlightCrew 5 better and I also like the outer pockets better (especially the laptop compartment), but other than that, I’ll have to give it to the Baseline.
      It’s easier to pack thanks to the flat surface, and the expansion system is awesome cause you can cinch it down to get an exact fit.

      But for me, the biggest reason that I am still holding on to the Baseline is this:
      You Baseline won’t tip over no matter how you pack it, but the FlightCrew will.
      This is a big thing for me because it is so annoying when suitcases fall forward.
      FlightCrew isn’t the worst, definitely better than the Tumis, but still, if you stuff it up and expand it and dock a brief case on the handle, it will fall forward eventually.
      I knew this was going to happen, wished there was some engineering secret that went into the design to prevent it, but unfortunately, it happens.
      This is what I figured out, the difference between the two is how the legs are attached to the body.
      With the FlightCrew, you have the wheels, then the legs, and from there, the body expands outward.
      With the Baseline, the body expands between the wheels and the legs so as the bag expands outward, so do the legs.
      The Baseline is going to have better footing because its got a stronger base.

      To summarize, disregarding price, and looks (again, I like the looks of the FC5 better), I think the baseline is a better suitcase.
      To be honest, I am biased towards Travelpro cause of its legacy and because not that many people know about the FlightCrew, but honestly, the Baseline is a really good carry-on bag.

      I hope that was helpful.
      If you have any specific questions, feel free to ask away!
      Let me know which suitcase you ended up getting and how you like it!

      Have a happy new year!

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