How to pack your carry-on like a flight attendant

By danwarne, April 11 2011
How to pack your carry-on like a flight attendant

We've recently written about the virtues of rolling your clothes to save space in luggage, but nobody has illustrated this as well as flight attendant Heather Poole.

Poole, who has worked for an unnamed major US airline for 14 years, flying back and forth between New York and Los Angeles (where she lives), manages to fit enough clothes for 10 days into a regulation carry-on cube roll-aboard.

The trick to Poole's tactic — as related to the New York Times? Roll the clothes, but don't immediately stack them in the bag. Stack the heaviest-weight clothes in first, followed by lighter items near the top, because they compress down more easily when it comes to zipping the case closed.

According to the Times article, she manages to squeeze in:

three pairs of shorts, three pairs of dress pants, one skirt, three pairs of casual pants or jeans, three nightgowns, three bathing suits, one sarong, three lightweight sweaters, four dresses, 10 casual shirts, six dress shirts, a clutch, toiletries and two pairs of shoes. She’ll wear the third pair of shoes, as well as jeans and a longer sweater.

There's no way the same clothes folded will fit in the same bag, she says.

Some people have smelled a rat with Poole's technique, commenting, "I notice the list of clothes and items didn’t include underwear and bras for 10 days?" but Poole confessed, "Basically – just didn’t want the whole world seeing it! That’s all. I wear it. I pack it. It’s small, so throw it in and be done with it."

Another flight attendant posting on the topic today advocates the use of vacuum space saver bags that allow the air to be sucked out of clothing before being put into the roll-aboard — but doesn't explain how the bag is re-vacuumed at the other end, sans vacuum cleaner.

There's even a brand of luggage specially designed to encourage you to roll your clothes, with a wrap-around garment bag that allows suits and dresses to be transported (relatively) flat rather than tightly rolled as with the rest of the items.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

01 May 2011

Total posts 3

I can vouch for this approach - a combination of (i) a smaller women has less material in aggregate, (ii) judicious selection of fabrics (poly-cotton shirts, very fine wool/silk pants, skirts & tops), (iii) packing technique. I can do a 2-3 week trip, including carrying papers, with carry-on (+ washing powder).

The only real problem is what to do with steelcaps - wear and take off at security, checked baggage or tie on to outside of carry-on? Steelcaps are important for a whole cohort of business travellers!

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