Hard-shelled bags, fabric bags, blue bags, pink bags – there are now Covid-19 free anti-microbial bags developed to address ongoing travel risk concerns

15 October, 2020

As you stand in the aircraft cabin waiting to disembark or at the baggage carrousel on arrival you can't help but admire the range of bags available to travellers. Large or small, hard-shelled or fabric, black, blue, green, pink or any other colour, the variety is amazing. Keeping yourself safe while travelling is just one part of the process, but now your luggage also needs to be kept Covid-19 free.

It is still a matter of debate whether it is safer in terms of Covid-19 to check in a bag when flying, or to carry it onto the aircraft. Those that claim check-in is better say that the less carry on items you have with you the better to speed up boarding and disembarkation and minimise the risk of transmission. Meanwhile, those that claim carry on bags are better say that lingering around busy carousels to collect check-in bags is something to be avoided, not to mention that the bag will have been touched by a number of different hands in the process.

Airlines generally charge to check-in a bag so from their perspective they would rather you checked in a bag to increase their revenue and decrease boarding time. For most business travellers, however, checking in a bag equates to more charges and longer waiting times at the airport so rarely do it. It's a Catch 22.

While this debate will no doubt continue, the baggage companies have been busy creating new anti-microbial luggage that actively protects bags against the growth of bacteria and mould, which will go a long way to address concerns about picking up the virus undetected while travelling.

Research carried out by AQUAINT found that luggage can encounter up to 80 million bacteria before it is even set down in a hotel room. This is down to the number of people and places it comes into contact with throughout a journey. For instance a couple of cab rides, airport staff, baggage handlers etc.

Samsara, the company that created aluminium bags with a built-in wifi hotspot and mobile phone connectivity, has created a weekend holdall that has been specially treated to dispel liquids and any bacteria. The Nano Bag has been treated with an antibacterial agent that actively stops bacteria sticking to it which makes it waterproof as well. The bag comes with a neat pack of essentials such as face mask, gloves, hand gel, disinfectant pads and a small essentials bag.

Samsonite Asia has partnered with Microban International to create the Antimicrobial Travel Essentials Collection. The range features accessories that have a Lycra or rPET microbial protection against the growth of bacteria and mould. Treated items include a zippered face mask pouch, luggage cover, backpack cover, packing cube set, neck pillow cover and luggage handle wrap set.

MyGoFlight bags, originally created to cater to pilots, have been cleverly designed with no zippers and therefore no areas where bacteria can lurk and where any airport sprays could dampen clothes. Instead the bags feature durable latches that have a silicone seal that presses neatly together to keep the contents safe and dry.

Wipe clean materials would seem to be the preferred route to go with new technology bound to follow soon. Whether the antimicrobial materials protect against Covid-19 has not been fully tested yet but it would appear that many companies are actively researching and developing new products. Tumi recently told CN Traveler that they continue to support customers "by exploring new materials and introducing new functionality" that not only protects customers' belongings, but also themselves.

Paravel is looking for new methods to keep their bags safe but in a way that is as environmental as possible. Paravel co-founder and co-CEO Indré Rockefeller recently said that germ-free solutions will play an important part of future travel, "but these solutions cannot come at the cost of further damage to the environment."

Whether you check your bag in or carry it onto the aircraft, you will need to feel secure that it is not going to be picking up Covid-19 to later transmit to you. It seems that luggage companies are working hard on finding the right solutions and no doubt Covid-19-dispelling clothes may well follow.

One word of advice though, having learnt that luggage can encounter up to 80 million bacteria before it is even set down in a hotel room, watch where you place your bags. Don't make the mistake of putting it on your hotel bed or chair, an error many of us have made while tired at the end of a long journey.