Has the ultrabook killed the traditional laptop bag?

By John Walton, February 9 2012
Has the ultrabook killed the traditional laptop bag?

For years, we've hankered after the perfect laptop bag for every situation -- light enough for nipping across town to a meeting, capacious enough for business trips to the other side of the world, plus a spot of working from home on a Friday.

But the newest batch of small, light ultrabook laptops, with their tiny screens starting around eleven inches, mean that your next laptop bag might not need to be a slightly newer version of that ballistic nylon roll-aboard carry-on trolley or over-the-shoulder messenger bag you've been using for years.

With a smaller laptop, you don't need a behemoth of a bag either.
With a smaller laptop, you don't need a behemoth of a bag either.

Most laptop luggage these days is created with a thirteen- to fifteen-inch laptop in mind. So, with a few inches either side for cushioning, that's how big the traditional laptop bag has been.

Of course, with a significantly smaller laptop, you can get away with a smaller bag. Your ultrabook will be rattling around inside the laptop slot of your rolling luggage, which makes that laptop slot seem a little superfluous.

Some MacBook Air owners don't even bother with a laptop bag of any kind...
Some MacBook Air owners don't even bother with a laptop bag of any kind...

Much more important in the ultrabook era is finding a bag that has the right spaces for your laptop, your power adapter and any other bits of kit you're carrying around -- that external DVD drive, perhaps, or a wireless router.

That might be a combination of bags, now that you can legitimately fit your laptop inside a bag that could qualify as a "personal item", which is often allowed in addition to your regular hand luggage.

Check our summary of the baggage rules for the major Australian airlines to find out what you're entitled to carry on for your flight.

We're noticing an increasing number of travellers skipping the traditional large roll-aboard wheeled carry-on bag in favour of a small over-the-shoulder bag containing nothing more than their ultrabook (or even just an iPad), plus a suit carrier or garment bag for clothes and a few necessaries.

Suit carriers aren't just useful for keeping wrinkles away from your clothes. They also give you more options on busy flights, since you can unfold them and lay them on top of a bin that wouldn't fit another 20-inch rollaboard -- or even ask the crew to hang them in a closet or on a coatrack.

How has your carry-on strategy changed with new, smaller laptops? Are you sporting a different laptop bag to carry your Ultrabook around? Share your tips and tricks with fellow AusBT readers in the comment section below!

John Walton

Aviation journalist and travel columnist John took his first long-haul flight when he was eight weeks old and hasn't looked back since. Well, except when facing rearwards in business class.

26 Sep 2011

Total posts 1

Yes I am very happy my new Mac Book Air. In the past my carry-on has been a backpack and a heavy laptop bag. I bought a Moleskin bag for my Mac and now I can just slip the whole thing into my backpack.

On another point I've just returned from an 8 week RTW trip and did take the laptop out of my back pack at security but I wasn't asked to take it out of its pouch once....

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

02 Aug 2011

Total posts 42

Call me lazy. but I've done away with a traditional laptop bag.

I recently bought some new carry on luggage which has a front, easily accessable pouch to store my MacBook Air, easy enough to whip out at security.

I find only travelling with one small bag (Not a Cabin Suticase, and a laptop bag) makes things much faster at the security checkpoint.


04 Nov 2010

Total posts 670

I still use my laptop bag for carryon but thats because I also have things like BOSE noice-cancelling headphones to carry, and my laptop bag wan't a big one to begin with anyway. But yes the days of those big fat black laptop bags for big fat black Thinkpads are long gone if you have an ultrabook.

27 Jan 2012

Total posts 118

if your still wanting the room for other files and documents, a breif case it still suitible, plus a little slot for the ultrabook or ipad.


15 Apr 2011

Total posts 580

I've also done away with an old bag dedicated just to the laptop and work bits and pieces - made the plunge almost 2 years ago now...

I just use a messenger style shoulder bag now, with the laptop in a neoprene sleeve and a small bag for cables, mouse and external harddrive etc. I try not to travel with paper any more, which makes a massive difference if you can do it. The bag is then big enough to fit a change of clothes, toiletries and other bits and pieces. 

So long as the laptop is on the top, security is a ten second ordeal with a single zipper to deal with (neoprene sleeves can stay on)...

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