3 Small Spinner Suitcases for Business Travel

What are some good options for small spinner suitcases? Reader M asks….

Hi RW. I have gotten better and better at packing light over the years. I’m ready to downsize my suitcase to a smaller size than the regular 21” carry-on. A lot of the ones you recommend look good but due to some back issues I need a spinner. Do you have any you can suggest?

My larger suitcase, the 21” Travelpro Crew 11, is a spinner and I LOVE it. However I really only use it for trips longer than three days. The bag I use the most is the Eagle Creek Adventure Pop Top, which I also love, but I would love it just a *tiny* bit more if it had spinners.

Now, I fully recognize that spinners aren’t for everyone. But if you have back problems and can’t pull a heavy rollaboard a spinner can make travel far easier. Here are a few small spinner suitcases that readers have recommended over the years (and that I have my eye on for a future purchase!):

Samsonite Wheeled Underseater. Plenty of compartments, pockets, and space for a short business trip. It fits under the seat of most planes, and has a handy trolley strap if you’re traveling with a bigger bag. Available in multiple colors, $77.

Travelpro Maxlite 5 International Spinner Carry-on. The smaller, newer version of readers’ favorite Maxlite 4 21”, the International version fits within the carry-on guidelines of even the most stringent international carryer. According to the reviews it includes all of the great features one expects from Travelpro: comfortable handle, ultra-light, easily maneuverable. Available in multiple colors, $119.

Briggs & Riley Baseline Cabin Spinner. (Pictured) If you feel like being spendy, this is a good option. The reviews are consistent: smart design, handles well, holds a surprising amount. And of course, the B&R warranty is second to none. Available in black and olive, $399.

Readers, do you have a small spinner? How often do you use it?

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  1. I went through this process last year. I travel on the small regional planes, and wanted an option that did not require me to gate check a bag. I tried several small spinners and I still had to check some. I bought this one: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0773FJH25/ref=oh_aui_search_detailpage?ie=UTF8&psc=1 which is perfect, and then I use the OG. The two together give me plenty of room; either one fit under the tiny seat, and the other fits in the overhead bin (if you can call those small, small areas a bin). It’s always very sturdy.

  2. Jeannine, I actually have that one too. It’s perfect when I’m on a large plane, or if I don’t have a tight connection. I had to gate check this one multiple times on tiny regionals.

  3. It sounds to me like Reader M just wants to downsize a bit, not necessarily go from 21” to an under seat bag. Though some airlines allow under seat bags as long as 18”, since I travel both domestically and internationally, I try to keep my bags as versatile as possible. That means a slightly shorter spinner in the overhead and a smallish underseater.

    Since I’ve found most international airlines are sticklers more about weight than size, I go for the lightest suitcase I can find. I can’t believe manufacturers have the gall to call 7 pounds plus a lightweight suitcase. Even 6 pounds is unnecessarily heavy. I bought a high quality expandable 21” American Tourister spinner in London that weighed only 4.4 pounds.

    Now that I’m downsizing, as well, I’ve chosen the 2.2 pound Samsonite Silhouette Sphere 2 Spinner Boarding Bag to go in the overhead. It’s 19” y’all overall and the body is 17” tall.

    https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00RDN0V2Y/ref=ox_sc_act_title_1?smid=A323QY0JRVHFN1&psc=1

    For under the seat, I bought this 2 pound 15” tall Olympia.

    https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B076BRDSW6/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o02_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

    The Samsonite is an inch to deep for Ryanair, the Olympia about 1.25” too tall AND a hair too deep . But I find that they don’t even look twice at my bags if they are just slightly too big, when I buy priority boarding and a seat, which – together – cost less than checking a bag.

    Both bags are 14” wide, which acceptable on most airlines. It’s not even close to Ryanair’s stated underseat dimensions, but I have never seen them enforce these except for length. So if the Olympia sticks out too far from the seat in front of me, it will need to be replaced. It is also too wide for United, which has a ridiculous 10” wide maximum. But I refuse to fly that airline, so it doesn’t matter to me. It is also an inch too wide for Jet Blue, which I haven’t needed to fly in years. But I like them, and if I need to fly them in the future, I’ll try to slide by with the extra inch.

    I have never once been asked to put my bag in a sizer bin, yet I have often overstuffed my bags so that they were at least slightly oversized. In my experience, anything oversized by an inch or so in one direction will slide by, especially if you are well below the maximum in another direction, such as with the overhead bin bag. I also find that if you have a smaller bag to put in the overhead, they are more lenient about your underseat bag.

    So, I am hoping these two will get me on all planes without issue. Even if they only make me check a bag once or twice, these will be worth it too me. However, the underseat bag I really wanted was the 14.5”x 14” x 7” Atlantic Ultra Lite, but it “usually ships within 1 to 2 months”, and I don’t have that kind of time frame to play with. It also lists a weight of 4.5 pounds, which is way too heavy for an underseat bag, but it’s been my experience that the weights listed on Amazon are notoriously wrong. So I was willing to give it a shot.

    Both of the bags I have chosen have the same one flaw…inefficient handles. The Samsonite doesn’t have a side handle, which makes carrying up stairs problematic for a short person like me. And the Olympia only has straps, which are a pain compared to a handle…though at least they are short, and not that weird length which is too short to put on your shoulder but long enough to be a pain carrying the bag up stairs. I spend a lot of time in places without elevators, so carrying bags upstairs is a factor for me.

    As a constant traveler, my suitcases are as important to me as a living space is to most people, in that it has to hold all of my stuff comfortably. I can’t tell you how many combinations of bags I’ve tried in the last few years, trying to find two bags that will allow me travel without issues on airlines in as many countries as possible. I believe these two will work, but I always have my eyes out for even a slightly better configuration – like better handles.

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