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  1. #1
    Forum Member Amy's Avatar
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    Aeronaut 30 vs Smart Alec (more ukulele ideas)

    I took my Smart Alec for its second plane trip this past week, in lieu of my usual Aeronaut 30. Here it is at Love Field Airport in Dallas:

    Aeronaut 30 vs Smart Alec (more ukulele ideas)-smartalec-ukulele-jpg

    A few observations:

    PROS:
    - Really comfortable walking around the airports. Felt more comfortable than the Aeronaut 30 when fully loaded.
    - Small, compact size made it easy to get on and off our stuffed flight. (I put it in the overhead bin but it could have fit under the seat if I really had to).
    - Great for adding last-minute purchases. I bought some gifts at the airport and was able to cram them in the top of the bag without any trouble. I liked that the huge space allows you to reconfigure the contents any way you want to allow for large items.
    - The option to strap stuff to the outside of the bag makes it more versatile than the Aeronaut 30. I carried my ukulele in the bungie cords!

    CONS:
    When I finally got to my destination and started to unload stuff, I realized why I love the Aeronaut 30 so much. It was a much bigger pain to get stuff in and out of the bag with only one top opening, and I found myself digging and unpacking over and over. I ended up transferring my packing cubes to a Sea to Summit duffel bag (the one I usually bring for dirty clothes) just so I could access everything horizontally and keep it contained. It was still messy and awkward. The whole week, I wished I'd brought the Aeronaut 30 so I could have been more organized and compact at my destination.

    Soo... I've decided that if I have to live out of the bag, with no drawers to unpack my stuff, then I'm definitely bringing the Aeronaut. Maybe I can attach a bungie cord to the outside of the Aeronaut, or slide the ukulele under the handle like I've seen some of you guys do with chairs, Gorilla pods, and jackets.
    Donít make something unless it is both necessary and useful; but if it is both necessary and useful, donít hesitate to make it beautiful. ó Shaker Philosophy

  2. #2
    Forum Member Rocks's Avatar
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    I love my Smart Alec, and would love to travel with it, but the Aeronaut 30 is so easy to live out of while traveling, especially if where you're staying doesn't have a dresser.

  3. #3
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    dedicated backpack vs a large travel duffel. just bring both, split the items and underpack the smart alec to personal size & aeronaut 30 as carry on! lol
    Currently Own:
    Shadow Guide [Black], Guide's Edition S25 [Black], Large Cafe Bag [Black Halcyon], Brain Bag [Grey/Steel]

    Shared:
    A45 [Nordic Halcyon], PCBP[Fjord Halcyon], Small Shop Bag [Original Black Dyneema]

  4. #4
    Forum Member brendabethman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fever39 View Post
    dedicated backpack vs a large travel duffel. just bring both, split the items and underpack the smart alec to personal size & aeronaut 30 as carry on! lol
    This is my plan for an upcoming trip. I'm pretty sure the SA will fit under the seat, so it should work.

  5. #5
    Forum Member Amy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fever39 View Post
    dedicated backpack vs a large travel duffel. just bring both, split the items and underpack the smart alec to personal size & aeronaut 30 as carry on! lol
    The Smart Alec's dimensions are too big for a personal item on many airlines. British Airways will be our next carrier and I am pretty sure they won't allow the Smart Alec as a personal item, as they have reduced the max size to 16 x 12 x 6, and the SA is 18.5 x 11.75 x 7.75. So I feel like I really need to choose one or the other as my main bag, and use a second smaller personal item, like the copilot.

    Next packing strategy for ukulele travel will be:

    - Aeronaut 30 as main bag, carried backpack style, with ukulele strapped under the handle. The whole thing can't exceed the BA max size of 22 x 18 x 10. The A30 alone is 19.7 x 12.6 x 7.9, so I shouldn't be hassled if I strap the ukulele to the outside of the bag, I hope.
    - copilot cross body as personal item
    - daylight backpack folded inside A30 to use at destination and to carry ukulele around, with top of ukulele poking out the top by a few inches (21" ukulele, dlbp 17.3").
    Donít make something unless it is both necessary and useful; but if it is both necessary and useful, donít hesitate to make it beautiful. ó Shaker Philosophy

  6. #6
    Forum Member Amy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by brendabethman View Post
    This is my plan for an upcoming trip. I'm pretty sure the SA will fit under the seat, so it should work.
    It definitely does fit under the seat, but it might still be too big to count as a personal item if they get picky. You should check with your airlines.
    Donít make something unless it is both necessary and useful; but if it is both necessary and useful, donít hesitate to make it beautiful. ó Shaker Philosophy

  7. #7
    Forum Member Amy's Avatar
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    Donít make something unless it is both necessary and useful; but if it is both necessary and useful, donít hesitate to make it beautiful. ó Shaker Philosophy

  8. #8
    Forum Member brendabethman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Amy View Post
    It definitely does fit under the seat, but it might still be too big to count as a personal item if they get picky. You should check with your airlines.
    That's what I've been trying to figure out, but both Southwest and Icelandair don't give dimensions for the personal item. I think if it's under packed and fits under the seat, it should be okay. The other options are pack the SA in the A45 on the way over and then check the A45 on the way back or just check the A30 both ways. Or use the Yeoman as my coming home bag, but I worry that could get too heavy.

    I suppose another option is to not buy a sweater and a ton of yarn in Iceland an Germany, but that's not going to happen :-)

  9. #9
    Forum Member brendabethman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Amy View Post
    Thanks! It does say that Southwest has no limit on the personal item size, so maybe I will carry the SA and A30 on Southwest to Minneapolis and then check the A30 on Icelandair for the Minneapolis-Reykjavik flight. I've got 5 hours to kill in MSP, so it may be nice not to have two bags to lug around.

  10. #10
    Forum Member bchaplin's Avatar
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    Great link, @Amy! Thanks! I've bookmarked it.
    The only "catch" is that weight limits are not listed. I almost want to re-make that graphic with those added in.

    Thanks for the travel report. The Aeronaut 30 and the Smart Alec are my two most common travel bags. I agree that there is something very nice about having everything horizontal and visually available. If my primary bag is carry on, it tends to be the A30 just because of the extra space. But if I pack a suitcase, I will take the Smart Alec with me, because it is more fun to carry and can fit in the seat in front of me when needed.

    I'm hoping that having the full set of the new Aether packing cubes will make traveling with either the A30 or SA even more organized. If there is space to lay out my things on a shelf, I now tend to leave them in or on top of the cube they "belong" to.

    I wish I traveled with something as cool as a ukelele! Alas, no musical abilities here.
    ----
    All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent.
    Edmund Burke

  11. #11
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    Re BA's carry-on bag limits-- my NFTD got the side-eye when checking in at LHR (and yes, it is ever so slightly over BA's personal item limit, since it is very boxy.) And I was checking the A45 anyway! Ultimately I got it on the plane, with a PCSB, but I'm very doubtful one could take a NFTD and an A30/A45. I had an exit row seat, so I can't really verify if the NFTD would have fit comfortably under the seat on BA, since there are a lot of IFE boxes taking away legroom, but the overhead bins were very full and even stuffing the NFTD was a bit stressful because I didn't want it above row 40 when I was in row 26 (without underseat storage.)

    A long-winded way of saying I think you shouldn't expect to be able to carry on both an A30/A45 and SA on BA. Then again, you might get on the plane just fine, but I'd be prepared to check one.

  12. #12
    Forum Member jess's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by brendabethman View Post
    I suppose another option is to not buy a sweater and a ton of yarn in Iceland an Germany, but that's not going to happen :-)
    Wait what? Why would that even be considered as an option? I'd pack disposable clothing before I'd go to Iceland or Germany without buying yarn
    Self-declared Captain of Team AUBERSKY

    Hoping for a return of Hunter and Sage...

  13. #13
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    Thanks for this info, everyone, especially, @Amy. I was hoping to manage the A30 (carry-on) + SA (personal item, cinched a little smaller) on American and Alaska Airlines. But I don't want to do last minute checking or gate-checking, so this probably isn't good/safe idea. Hmmm. OK, back to the drawing board. Thank you all!

  14. #14
    Forum Member brendabethman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jess View Post
    Wait what? Why would that even be considered as an option? I'd pack disposable clothing before I'd go to Iceland or Germany without buying yarn
    Clearly, it's not an option! Which is why I need to figure out a way to bring the SA as a second bag instead of just packing the DLBP into an Aeronaut as I normally would. The DLBP is not big enough for all the yarn I want to buy :-)

  15. #15
    Forum Member brendabethman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by doesntmakememadonna View Post
    Thanks for this info, everyone, especially, @Amy. I was hoping to manage the A30 (carry-on) + SA (personal item, cinched a little smaller) on American and Alaska Airlines. But I don't want to do last minute checking or gate-checking, so this probably isn't good/safe idea. Hmmm. OK, back to the drawing board. Thank you all!
    Alaska's not on that list, but if the SA fits under the seat (20 X 17 X 11, which is bigger than the SA dimensions), it's fine on American. In general, I think the A30/SA combo would work on most of the major U.S. carriers -- but for other carriers, like BA, Lufthansa, etc., it likely would not.

    One caveat, though -- the date on that blog post is a couple of years ago, so you should check the websites directly. What I find is that "personal item" gets pretty murky because a lot of airlines don't give you dimensions, they just say it needs to fit under the seat -- and it tends to be at the discretion of the boarding agents. So you might make it, you might not. This is why flying is so aggravating!

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