How one pilot changed how we travel forever.
In today’s world of travel, the origins of luggage are rarely ever thought of. It is these early conceptions that have helped create the modern suitcase of today. It all started back in the late 1800’s. Steamships were all the rage as the primary mode of leisure traveling. If you wanted to carry along your belongings on these voyages, a trunk made of wood, leather, metal bases and some waterproofing from canvas or tree sap was your only option. By the early 1900’s, the “suitcase” gained in popularity. Although the early renditions of the suitcase where just that, a case to hold your suits, the travel container business started to expand. From steam trunks, hat boxes, club bags and suitcases, baggage was no longer dominated only by just steam trunks. As mass tourism began to increase, so did the need for travelers to carry their own belongings longer distances and more often. The suitcase was lighter and more practical than trunks slowly making the steamer trunk, a thing of the past. Throughout the next few decades, the world experienced a boom in travel with the expansion of automobile, train and air travel. Unlike other mass transportation, air travel would require much more time one would be hauling their baggage themselves through the ever growing in size of airports. Furthermore, baggage now faced a new challenge as air transportation required baggage to be within certain size limits. (See, even back in the early 1900’s airlines were starting baggage restrictions) Around 1970, the suitcase finally got its wheels. These early models where horizontal in design with tiny wheels mounted to the bottoms and pulled by a tow leash from checkpoint to checkpoint through the airports. This became the norm for suitcase & travel baggage designs for many years. It wasn’t until 1987, when Robert Plath, a pilot for Northwest Airlines, recognized a problem with air traveling. Travelers where still carrying their luggage or wheeling it on bulky carts to get it in and out of the airport. Robert saw this as an opportunity to improve the travel experience. Robert’s idea was to tip the suitcase up on its side, add 2 larger wheels at the bottom and a telescoping extension handle at the top creating the first Rollaboard case very similar to what we use today. Right away Robert’s fellow crew members recognized the ease and convenience of this new Rollaboard and they wanted their own. It was at this time; Robert founded his own luggage company, Travelpro, and began production of the Rollaboard for airline personnel around the globe. The Rollaboard was such a big hit with the flight crews; by the early 1990’s, Travelpro launched the Rollaboard case in retail store locations for the general public. This was an even bigger success ranking Travelpro as one of the fastest growing privately owned companies by the mid 1990’s. The Rollaboard case has changed travel forever. The traditional, and practical, carry on was here to stay. More and more passengers choose to travel with just their Rollaboard carry on still to this day. Eventually Robert sold Travelpro in 1999 and semi-retired leaving an impact on everyone’s travel experience forever. Travelpro is still the first choice of flight crews from over 90 airlines. Travelpro is dedicated to building a lifelong relationship with its customers by consistently meeting and exceeding their expectations From the earliest days of the first 2 wheeled Rollaboard, the introduction of 4 & 8 wheel spinner cases, hard shell materials, zippered expansions, business cases, backpacks, duffels & kids luggage, Travelpro today is one of the world’s leading luggage brands, crafting the highest quality luggage for frequent travelers.