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Why is Luggage so Expensive?

You are not alone if you’ve ever done a double-take at the price tag on a suitcase or piece of luggage. The concept is simple — a container that can take essential travel items from point A to B and back again. So why is luggage so expensive? This brief article will unravel that mystery!

Compared to the cost of other everyday items, the price of luggage can feel unreasonable. However, delving into the factors determining luggage prices, like choice material, innovative design and brand reputation, reveals why prices can be so steep. Every detail adds to the cost, from zipper construction to multiple handles, wheels, expanding compartments, and technological innovations.

A brand history that signals quality, durability and style also significantly adds to the premium on certain luggage tags. But is expensive luggage worth the premium?

Knowing the average luggage cost can help inform your purchasing decisions, especially when weighing whether to spring for that top-tier piece. Our in-depth examination of luggage pricing reveals how much suitcases cost on average, providing the insights you need to make the best decision based on your travel style.

Here is a breakdown of everything you will learn on this page:

What Determines Luggage Prices?

Luggage Materials

  • Zippers: According to B for Bag, most luggage uses coil zippers, a luggage price comparison and advice site. Chain zippers are also used for their durability but are more expensive, which can add to the cost of a high-end suitcase.

  • Handles: Modern luggage includes collapsible and static handles, adding value and cost to suitcases. Travelpro invented the collapsible handle in the 1980s, which pairs well with fixed handles attached to bolts or rivets. Collapsible handles have internal spring-lock mechanisms and collapsible aluminum tubes. Today, most suitcases have both handle types, adding to the overall cost.

  • Wheels: Although the first patented wheeled suitcase invention was in 1945, according to Smithsonian Magazine, it didn’t catch on until Robert Plath, founder of Travelpro, added two wheels and a collapsible handle to a suitcase, thus inventing the Rollaboard bag. Now a standard feature on most suitcases, wheels still add to the cost.

  • Compartments: The more luggage pockets, compartments, padded laptop pockets, suiters, expandable panels or shelves a piece of luggage has, the more zippers, straps and fabric, thus, higher manufacturing cost and complexity. 

  • Technological Innovations: USB Charging ports, GPS tracking, keyless locks, built-in scales, RFID-blocking liners and Aluminum or Polycarbonate construction — these technological innovations make luggage more expensive. So-called smart bags with any feature beyond essential storage will cost a premium.

Brand Reputation Red Roller Luggage
Credit: Red Roller Luggage by Khunaspix via Dreamstime

Brand Reputation

In many consumer industries, brand reputation can play a significant role when determining price, and the luggage industry is no different. In the luggage industry, durability and design are the primary factors driving consumers to purchase more expensive suitcase brands. 

Design and style are more self-explanatory if you have any familiarity with the fashion industry. On the other hand, durability is a concern of quality and quality matters in luggage because if your suitcase malfunctions, there is often little you can do about it. In fact, durability is the single most important predictor of overall satisfaction with luggage, according to a survey conducted by Consumer Reports.

The top and, subsequently, most expensive luggage brands earn their reputation by having a history of producing quality, durable products that lead to higher perceived value and trust from consumers. Brands can measure this perceived value and adjust their pricing accordingly. 

Established luggage brands like Rimowa, Samsonite, Tumi (owned by Samsonite) and Travelpro all hold stock in this perception, which is why they are the most expensive brands on the market. Consumers’ demand supports the perceived value these companies add to the price, as with Samsonite — annual revenue is doing well.

Is the Price Right for Your Luggage?

Is Expensive Luggage Worth It?

The answer to the question, “Is expensive luggage worth it,” is another question — how much do you travel? Suppose you are a frequent traveler often utilizing travel products and services like travel credit cards, Trusted Traveler Programs or Priority Pass, and find these services worth your money. In that case, you will likely find a piece of durable luggage worthy of your investment and globetrotting. 

However, investing in an expensive piece of luggage could be overkill if you only take a few trips per year. Yes, you are far more likely to encounter luggage malfunctions with cheap or mid-tier suitcases, and you should consider that, but also keep in mind the value of spending a lot on something you only use once or twice a year. Mid-tier luggage used once or twice a year will last a while.

That being said, you can put a price on quality; durable suitcase makers do, and their products sell very well. It comes down to this: What type of person are you? Can you shell out hundreds for a high-end piece of luggage that might last the rest of your life and be happy with that? Or will you need to replace that suitcase in ten years to update your style, regardless of the piece’s condition? 

If fashion is your priority and keeping in style is paramount, then shelling out on name-brand luggage purely for looks is your prerogative. It’s only economical if you intend to see that suitcase to the end of its life.

How Much is a Suitcase? Roller Suitcase
Credit: Roller Suitcase by Ronstik via Dreamstime

How Much is a Suitcase?

The average price for the top 100 luggage on Amazon’s Best Sellers in Luggage list is $89.57. This calculation encompasses economy labels like Amazon Basics alongside mid-tier and upscale luggage brands like Travelpro

High-end brands on Amazon typically cost around $200, with economy and mid-range luggage starting at $50 and entering the premium bracket after exceeding $150 per piece.

Meanwhile, the mean cost for the top 500 suitcases listed in Walmart’s Top Rated Products in the Luggage category is $125.55. This figure reflects a diverse range of luggage options, similar to Amazon’s list, encompassing premium brands like Samsonite and more economical labels.

Many factors influence luggage cost — materials, design, brand reputation and technological innovations — each contributing to its overall value; the amount you choose to invest should align with your travel frequency, style and demand for durability.

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