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Away is having a sale: Here's a review of Away's The Bigger Carry-On

Nov. 19, 2022
10 min read
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  • The Away Carry-On and Away Bigger Carry-On offer higher-end luggage looks and features.
  • Standout features include a handy mesh laundry compartment, fun colors, optional ejectable battery and 360-degree spinner wheels.
  • However, the bag does scuff and there are some elements to be aware of before spending close to $300.

Since it debuted in 2015, Away has become a popular luggage company with bags that are often easy to spot in every corner of an airport, from airline lounges to baggage carousels. It's almost like the iPhone of carry-on bags — simple, stylish and priced in a way that walks that line of exclusivity while simultaneously feeling affordable enough for many frequent travelers. It likely doesn't hurt Away's popularity — and visibility — that a few times a year it unveils seasonally refreshed colors for its bags, too.

Personally, I've purchased three Away bags: two child-size bags (that are no longer available) and one adult carry-on size from a limited-edition collection inspired by the northern lights. Much to my surprise, my northern lights Away bag, which was beautiful when it first arrived at my door, hasn't held up very well.

Still, I was otherwise impressed with my purchase. Thinking my issue might be a result of a quirk tied to the special plastic coating of the northern lights bag instead of a larger design flaw, I wanted to give Away another shot. So, during the past few months, I decided to try out The Bigger Carry-On in the coast color, which Away provided for product testing.

Now that I've had some time with the bag, here's what I've learned about this Away carry-on option — and what I have to say about whether the brand's bags are worth buying.

Away bags limited-time sale: Until Nov. 28, 2022, get $50 off when you buy two Away suitcases or $100 off if you buy three.

Away The Bigger Carry-On. SUMMER HULL/THE POINTS GUY

What you should look for in a carry-on bag

The best carry-on bags have a few things in common. Notably, they have a sturdy handle and are easy to roll, not only on smooth airport surfaces but also on some slightly imperfect surfaces. Sometimes taking that train to the city center and walking the rest of the way to the hotel while pulling your bag is the best course of action — and your bag needs to be able to handle that journey.

Ideally, carry-on luggage has some compartments to help keep your belongings separated and make the act of physically closing and opening the bag a bit easier. No one wants all the items that were so carefully packed exploding everywhere thanks to gravity during the zipping and unzipping process.

Strong zips. (Photo by Isabelle Raphael/The Points Guy)
ISABELLE RAPHAEL/THE POINTS GUY

The best carry-on bags don't waste a ton of weight on the bag itself and fit in airline overhead bins, pushing right up to that maximum limit allowed so you have as much packing space as possible. They're also built to hold up to the harsh realities of frequently flying without becoming the ugly ducking at the baggage carousel shortly after buying them.

Related: Keep calm and carry on: TPG shares its favorite travel carry-on bags

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Why we like Away's The Bigger Carry-On

Spoiler alert: After a few months of using this Away carry-on, I'm a fan.

While I still love my Rimowa carry-on bags that I've used for almost a decade, there is no question that the Away bag is more functional in a few ways — which is why it is now heavily in my rotation.

The mesh, zippered laundry compartment on one side of the bag is one of my favorite components, as it is so useful for keeping things organized and in place. The other side of the bag can then be used for packing cubes and the like, making it easy to pack, unpack and keep everything together.

Purchase link: Away The Bigger Carry-On

Fits around 5 days of clothes and accessories. (Photo by Isabelle Raphael/The Points Guy)
ISABELLE RAPHAEL/THE POINTS GUY

The zippers themselves are strong and easy to move, even when you may have slightly overpacked and are leaning on the suitcase to get it to close while you zip it up.

TSA-approved lock. (Photo by Isabelle Raphael/The Points Guy)
ISABELLE RAPHAEL/THE POINTS GUY

The 360-degree spinner wheels have made moving through the airport, along sidewalks and more basically a dream, too.

Some of this perceived rolling improvement over what I've been using may be the function of the Away bag I'm testing being just a few months old versus the many years and miles I've logged on my Rimowa, but there's no question the Away bag is easy to maneuver.

SUMMER HULL/THE POINTS GUY

As someone who would rather drink cup after cup of yucky airplane coffee than check a bag, I'm particularly fond of the slightly larger size of Away's standard carry-on bag. The Bigger Carry-On allows you to add in an extra set or two of clothes or one more pair of shoes without having to drift into that "must check a bag" situation. We'll get more into the exact dimensions in a bit, but this little extra room makes a noticeable difference when packing.

Related: Carry-on luggage showdown: Away vs. Rimowa

Things to know about The Bigger Carry-On from Away

While this bag can be thrown in and out of a cab and dragged off a carousel without a worry in terms of functionality, be prepared for some scratches on the shell. (If you really want to see the durability in action, jump to the 3-minute mark of the "Kids Away Luggage review video" at the end of this article to see how we tried to destroy that bag.)

Even with normal wear and tear, scuffs can absolutely be seen on the matte material. I found some on my test bag after four flights and one train trip.

Additionally, I've discovered that this coast color is quite popular, as I've been in a few situations now where multiple people have had the exact same bag. Without something clearly identifying the bag as yours, you're risking bag mix-ups, so consider getting some sort of special identifier (such as a colorful luggage tag) and toss an Apple AirTag in for good measure, just in case. Or, simply choose a non-traditional color that fewer people will have.

Know, too, that with this bag, you'll have the option to add on an ejectable 37-watt lithium-ion battery located underneath the handle for $20. I'm not personally a fan of the feature, as I'm not organized enough with my life to remember to charge my bag's battery pack, so the one that came with my test bag was slightly wasted on me. I'd prefer to use that extra pound of weight for items I'm packing, so I've opted to pop the removable battery out and leave it at home instead of keeping it in the bag when I travel.

USB plugs on the ejectable battery that can charge any phone up to 5x. (Photo by Isabelle Raphael/The Points Guy)
ISABELLE RAPHAEL/THE POINTS GUY

Related: 15 packing hacks for traveling with just a carry-on

How Away's carry-on measures up

Regularly priced starting at $295, The Bigger Carry-On from Away is currently available in 13 colors and is sized to fit in the overhead bins on most airlines.

Some of the Away bag's features include:

  • Durable polycarbonate shell.
  • Leather detailing, including a black leather luggage tag.
  • TSA-approved combination lock for extra safety.
  • 360-degree spinner wheels that ensure a smooth ride.
  • Interior compression system.
  • Hidden laundry bag to keep dirty clothes separate.

The Bigger Carry-On that I've been trying out has the following measurements:

  • Exterior: 22.7 by 14.7 by 9.6 inches.
  • Interior: 21 by 14.5 inches.
  • Weight: 7.4 pounds.
  • Capacity: 47.9 liters.
SUMMER HULL/THE POINTS GUY

For reference, Delta Air Lines, American Airlines and United Airlines all have posted maximum carry-on sizes of 22 by 14 by 9 inches, which is technically a hair smaller than this bag on all sides.

In practice, on most flights, a bag that is a fraction of an inch over will still fit in the sizer and in the overhead bin, but do know that there is a possibility that you may need to gate-check your bag.

Southwest Airlines currently has a maximum carry-on size of 24 inches by 16 inches by 10 inches, which means this larger carry-on does officially comply with that carrier's baggage dimension limits.

Away The Carry-On vs. Away The Bigger Carry-On

The two main differences between The Carry-On from Away and The Bigger Carry-On from Away are price and size.

The standard Away carry-on bag is usually about $20 cheaper than the Bigger version, at $275 instead of $295. Additionally, the traditional Away Carry-On measures 21.7 by 13.7 by 9 inches, meaning it is smaller than the maximum carry-on size requirements for all major U.S. airlines, unlike the Bigger version. In the U.S., that difference isn't likely to cause issues most of the time, though it may be problematic when flying carriers internationally.

As someone who stuffs their carry-on to the brim, the additional capacity in The Bigger Carry-On is worth it. But if you don't find yourself needing every square inch in your carry-on, then getting The Carry-On will save you a few dollars and be sure to keep you within the posted airline carry-on size limits.

Away The Carry-On. ISABELLE RAPHAEL/THE POINTS GUY

Related: Carry-on vs. checked bags: Which is the better choice?

Overall impression

Even with the scuff marks, this suitcase looks pretty good. The handle isn't the sturdiest thing around, but the bag rolls well in most uses, and I am loving the extra space that comes with the slightly more voluminous Bigger version. I'm also a sucker for the zippered side of the bag that makes organizing — especially in conjunction with packing cubes — a cinch.

If you're still on the fence about buying the bag, know that there's a 100-day trial period, during which you can make a return with no questions asked. It might be just the excuse you need to take a chance on a new piece of luggage and see if it's the right fit for you.

Read on for more tips on finding the right piece of travel gear for you:

Additional reporting by Isabelle Raphael.

Featured image by SUMMER HULL/THE POINTS GUY
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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Cons

  • Steep annual fee
  • Difficulty meeting $15,000 welcome offer for smaller businesses
  • Limited high-bonus categories outside of travel
  • The Points Guy Exclusive Offer: Earn 150,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases with the Business Platinum Card® within the first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • Get 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com, and 1X points for each dollar you spend on eligible purchases.
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1X1X points for each dollar you spend on eligible purchases.
  • Intro Offer
    The Points Guy Exclusive Offer: Earn 150,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases with the Business Platinum Card® within the first 3 months of Card Membership.

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  • Annual Fee

    $695
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Good, Excellent

Why We Chose It

It's hard to find a card that competes with the mile-long list of benefits that come with the Amex Business Platinum. While it's certainly not the card for the average consumer, a business owner with tons of expenses -- especially related to travel -- will find this card incredibly valuable. This card is similar to the consumer version that Amex offers, but with more business-oriented perks around statement credits and earning rates that are a better fit for business owners.

Pros

  • An up to $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee every four to five years
  • Up to $400 annual credit for eligible U.S. Dell purchases (enrollment required)
  • Gold status at Marriott and Hilton hotels (enrollment required)
  • Access to the Fine Hotels & Resorts program and Hotel Collection
  • Extended warranty protection
  • International Airline Program and Cruise Privileges Program

Cons

  • Steep annual fee
  • Difficulty meeting $15,000 welcome offer for smaller businesses
  • Limited high-bonus categories outside of travel
  • The Points Guy Exclusive Offer: Earn 150,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases with the Business Platinum Card® within the first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • Get 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com, and 1X points for each dollar you spend on eligible purchases.
  • Earn 1.5X points (that’s an extra half point per dollar) on eligible purchases at US construction material & hardware suppliers, electronic goods retailers and software & cloud system providers, and shipping providers, as well as on purchases of $5,000 or more everywhere else, on up to $2 million of these purchases per calendar year.
  • Unlock over $1,000 in annual statement credits on a curation of business purchases, including select purchases made with Dell Technologies, Indeed, Adobe, and U.S. wireless service providers.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit: Get up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year for checked baggage fees, lounge day passes, and more at one selected airline.
  • $189 CLEAR® Credit: Use your Card and get up to $189 back per year on your CLEAR® membership. CLEAR® is available at more than 50 U.S. airports and stadiums.
  • The American Express Global Lounge Collection® can provide an escape at the airport. With more than 1,400 airport lounges across 140 countries and counting, you have more lounge location options than any other credit card on the market as of 9/2021.
  • $695 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.