US 20080128231 A1
Dividable luggage comprising two similar luggage pieces that can be reversibly attached to each other at one edge by a flexible hinge in the manner of a book, or can be separated, or fully joined to form a larger, more nearly cubic, piece of unitary luggage, with a flat top for supporting an additional bag, according to the convenience of the traveler. In the fully joined form, the closures of both luggage pieces are hidden, and an optional cart is provided integral to one or both luggage pieces with feet for supporting the upright luggage and additional straps for ease of handling.
1. Dividable luggage comprising:
a first and a second luggage piece each comprising, a pair of sides, a pair of ends, a top, a bottom, and a handle;
each said top having the same shape and comprising four edges and a closure;
each said top comprising a first attachment means at a first edge for detachably attaching the first edges of the first and second luggage pieces in hinging relation; and
each said top further comprising a second attachment means at a second, third and fourth edge for detachably attaching the tops of the first and second luggage pieces in coplanar adjacent relation.
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The present invention relates to luggage, and more particularly to luggage that can be separated into parts, each part functioning independently as luggage.
Since Sep. 11, 2001, the luggage requirements of common carriers such as airlines, and particularly international airlines, have become more stringent and more diverse. This trend accelerated in 2006. Different common carriers often have mutually incompatible weight and size restrictions for checked and carry-on luggage and these requirements change frequently.
Since August 2006, certain items, such as liquid toiletries, drinks, and medicines, which were previously permitted in the cabins of aircraft, must now be checked. These requirements have become particularly restrictive for international flights. Passengers may be unaware of these restrictions, necessitating rapid repacking at the check-in counter.
In order to adapt luggage to these requirements, and also to adapt luggage to the many transitions inherent in traveling, such as changing airlines for different legs of a journey, traveling on trains and shuttle busses, climbing stairs, loading rental cars, and the like, various approaches are known. Modular luggage is known in which luggage can be joined in various configurations, for example several different sized pieces of luggage can be attached to a base luggage comprising a cart. Dresser luggage is also known in which smaller pieces of luggage are adapted to be enclosed within a larger base luggage. It is also known to use expanders or gussets to adjust the capacity of luggage to meet changing circumstances, or to use zippers or straps to connect smaller bags to a larger bag.
Information relevant to attempts to address the problem of adapting luggage to travelers' changing needs can be found in U.S. Pat. Nos. 1,510,815; 2,536,169; 3,726,329; 4,081,061; and U.S. patent application Publication Nos. U.S. 2005/0145458A1 and U.S. 2005/0077136A1. However, each of these references suffers from one or more of the following disadvantages:
the outer surface of the assembled modular luggage is not uniform in its dimensions, lacks an even surface, and includes projections and cavities that increase the likelihood of damage during transit and make the luggage awkward to handle in airports, on trains and busses, and on escalators;
the assembled modular luggage do not provide a flat, top surface for placing or securing smaller pieces of luggage when traversing airports, trains, and the like;
the modular luggage may comprise a container piece that functions only to contain other luggage, and which requires transportation even when empty;
federal regulations require checked luggage to be readily accessible for security checks and certain modular designs render inspection difficult;
the modular luggage is not easily reassembled. Thus, if the modular bag is separated for inspection, the bags may not be rejoined, increasing the risk that unlabelled bags may become separated and lost;
the luggage includes a large base luggage to which other bags can be attached, the large base being too bulky and cumbersome to be carried in the cabin of a commercial aircraft, through a train, or onto a shuttle bus;
the closures of the luggage are visible and exposed during transit, increasing the risk of theft;
certain modular luggage cannot be conveniently accessed while still attached to other luggage;
the bags comprising modular luggage may have a reduced luggage capacity when attached, reducing their usefulness;
the luggage is not readily adaptable to differing requirements among common carriers as to weight and size because the separated and combined modular bags are not all capable of being checked onto a commercial aircraft and, when attached, may not meet airline restrictions regarding overall dimensions;
the disclosed luggage may not contain fully separated compartments. Toiletries and other liquids are now mostly banned from aircraft cabins. Their storage with clothes in a single compartment increases the risk of damage from leakage; and
modular luggage may not be both readily separable and evenly balanced with respect to size and weight of its component parts. Thus, it may be impractical to quickly separate the luggage into smaller parts, for example to ascend stairs, and the parts may be unbalanced as to size and weight, producing an awkward and uneven weight distribution for hand carrying;
modular luggage may become unbalanced when assembled due to the various shapes and sizes of its component bags, making it unstable in an upright position when standing in line or riding an escalator;
modular luggage may have an irregular shape that is unwieldy and unduly wide, and does not provide a luggage volume commensurate with its width;
For the foregoing reasons, there is a need for luggage that: can be checked in both its separated and assembled forms with minimal risk of damage to the luggage during handling; can be easily accessed by authorities for inspection; contains compartments that are not diminished in capacity when joined; deters casual theft of its contents in its assembled form; comprises compartments that can be readily accessed even when the luggage is assembled; contains distinct compartments capable of fully separating liquids and clothes; provides balanced and even luggage when separated for ease of hand carriage; is stable when free-standing in an upright position; can be conveniently and easily maneuvered through the aisles of trains, busses, and the like; provides a flat top, which may be used to support and transport other luggage when walking through airports and traversing trains and shuttles; and permits the user to readily adapt to the different luggage requirements of different carriers with respect to weight, size and number of bags permitted.
The present invention is directed to dividable luggage that satisfies the aforementioned needs and more. In a first embodiment, the dividable luggage of the present invention comprises two luggage pieces, which can function in three distinct and useful modes and which can be readily interconverted. The modes are (a) fully assembled, (b) hingingly connected, and (c) separated. Each luggage piece comprises a pair of sides, a pair of ends, a top, a bottom, and a handle. The tops of the two pieces have four edges and the same shape and size. Each top further comprises a closure for accessing the interior of the luggage piece. First attachment means are independently provided at a first edge of each luggage piece for detachably attaching the first edges of the two luggage pieces. When attached by these means, the two luggage pieces are in hinging relation to one another and their interiors can be conveniently accessed while still partly connected in the manner of a book. The top of each luggage piece further comprises second attachment means at a second, third and fourth edge for detachably attaching the tops of the first and second luggage pieces, thereby holding the two tops in a coplanar relation adjacent to each other, or face-to-face.
In a second embodiment, the dividable luggage of the present invention optionally further comprises a cart comprising set of wheels and a handle, preferably a retractable handle or strap handle, disposed on one of the two luggage pieces, for pulling that luggage piece or the dividable luggage.
In a third embodiment, the dividable luggage comprises first attachment means that are flaps attached to the first edges of the luggage piece tops. The flaps comprise fasteners, such as zippers, snaps, eyelets and laces, Velcro, locking straps, a combination of these, or the like, for attaching the two flaps to each other.
In a fourth embodiment, the handles of the two luggage pieces of the dividable luggage are positioned to be adjacent in the fully assembled dividable luggage and are provided with a third attachment means, such as snaps, Velcro, or a flap, for joining the two handles for ease of handling.
In a fifth embodiment, the two luggage pieces are identical in size and shape, whereby a user hand-carrying the separated luggage pieces is benefited by carrying a balanced load, and the assembled luggage exhibits a high degree of stability when standing on end.
In a sixth embodiment, the maximum dimensions of the two luggage pieces are selected to conform to applicable common carrier regulations in order to increase the ways in which the luggage pieces can be used.
In a seventh embodiment, one of the luggage pieces is a foldable luggage piece such as, for example, a garment bag, wherein the packed luggage piece in its folded state is capable of being attached to another luggage piece to form the dividable luggage of the present invention.
It is an object of the invention to provide dividable luggage that can be used in three modes for maximum flexibility in adapting to the differing requirements of common carriers, and for ease in transporting.
It is a further object of the invention to provide dividable luggage that a user can quickly and easily adapt to the changing conditions of a journey such as escalators, stairs, aircraft, rental automobiles, shuttle busses, hotels, queuing, and the like.
It is a further object of the invention to provide dividable luggage with improved security against theft of contents in its attached state, while still providing adequate access for inspection by authorized government agencies.
It is a further object of the invention to provide dividable luggage comprising two fully separated compartments, whereby toiletries and other liquids can be separated from clothing to minimize risk of damage to the clothing, yet still be transported in the same luggage.
It is a further object of the invention to provide dividable luggage that can be checked as one piece to meet the requirements of an international air carrier, and later separated to meet the weight requirements of a different carrier.
It is a further object of the invention to provide dividable luggage comprising separate compartments that can hold business items such as samples, catalogs and the like, separate from personal belongings, whereby one luggage piece can be used when visiting a client or trade show, and the two luggage pieces can be joined for travel.
It is a further object of the invention to provide luggage comprising a flat top surface capable of securely supporting one or more smaller pieces of luggage.
It is yet a further object of the invention to provide dividable luggage in which the separated luggage pieces are ergonomically balanced, increasing the comfort and safety of a user when divided, and one stable, easy to handle, piece when joined as dividable luggage.
These and other features, aspects, and advantages of the present invention will become better understood with regard to the following description, appended claims, and accompanying drawings, where:
Detailed embodiments of the present invention are disclosed herein. However, it is to be understood that the disclosed embodiments are merely exemplary of the invention, which may be embodied in various forms. Therefore, specific structural and functional details disclosed herein are not to be interpreted as limiting, but merely as a basis for the claims and as a representative basis for teaching one that is skilled in the art to variously employ the present invention in virtually any appropriately detailed structure.
Reference is now made to the drawings wherein like characteristics and features of the present invention are shown in the various figures.
The term “hinging relation” as used herein means that two luggage pieces, secured along a common edge of their tops, directly or indirectly, can open with respect to each other with a range of motion encompassing at least a closed configuration in which the tops are coplanar and adjacent and a flat configuration in which the tops are coplanar and nonadjacent.
The term “coplanar adjacent relation” as used herein means that two luggage pieces are secured at their tops along three edges, the luggage pieces oriented so that the tops are adjacent and coplanar.
The term “hand luggage” refers to luggage of a size permitted to be carried in the cabin of a commercial air carrier.
Each luggage piece 102, 104 has a rectangular shape and can be constructed of any suitably durable material such as leather, a woven natural or artificial fabric, or a non-woven artificial fabric, and preferably ballistic nylon. Optionally, each luggage piece can further comprise one or more inserts, gussets, or molded pieces to preserve shape and provide reinforcement. In preferred embodiments comprising one or two carts, inserts or molded pieces are provided to stiffen and reinforce the portion of the luggage piece adjacent the wheels and feet, and between the wheels and feet, to provide a stable base for the wheels. The joints between a side, end, top, and bottom can also be reinforced with optional welting.
The size of each luggage piece is not particularly limited. Preferably, the size is chosen to be in accordance with prevailing common carrier requirements. In a preferred present embodiment, length, width, and height of the assembled dividable luggage are selected so that combined length, width, and height is less than 62 inches. Optionally, the length, width, and height of the assembled dividable luggage can be selected so that dividable luggage is approximately cubic. It should be noted that a cubic configuration provides, among rectilinear luggage, the maximum volume of luggage space for a given combined length, width, and height. An approximately cubic configuration is inherently stable and resists tipping over, and provides a stable upper surface for attaching or supporting items of hand luggage, such as when pulling the luggage through airports and traversing trains and shuttles. In another embodiment, the dimensions of each luggage piece are selected to constitute hand luggage.
The sides and ends of one or both luggage pieces can optionally be provided with a means for expanding the volume of the piece, such means for expanding luggage being well known in the art. The means for expanding the luggage can comprise, for example, a zipper disposed about the sides and ends of the luggage piece and operable connected to a gusset of a deformable material formed in the sides and ends, whereby one half of the zipper is attached to opposite edges of the gusset and closing the zipper brings the gusset edges together with an accompanying reduction in the volume of the luggage. The means for expanding the luggage can alternatively comprise, for example, a gusset and snaps, or a gusset and straps.
Closure 124 is preferably a zipper, but can also be any closure commonly known in the luggage art, such as for example, locking straps, or a flap comprising snaps or synthetic materials that adhere when pressed together, commonly sold under the trademark “Velcro.” Closure 124 is disposed within top 110 to provide access to the interior of the luggage piece. In preferred embodiments, the closure is a zipper disposed in a U-shaped proximal to three of the four edges of the top, and most preferably the second 118, third 120, and fourth 122 edges.
First attachment means 126 is constructed to join the two luggage pieces 102, 104 in hinging relation at the first edge 116 of each top 110. In preferred embodiments first attachment means 126 comprises a pair of flaps 130, 132 in which one flap is mounted to the first edge 116 of each top 110. The flaps are provided with complementary fasteners, such as zippers, locking straps, snaps, eyelets and laces, Velcro, a combination of these, or the like, to detachably attach one flap to the other.
Second attachment means 134 is constructed to join the two luggage pieces 102, 104 in coplanar adjacent relation. In preferred embodiments, second attachment means 134 comprises a zipper, one side of which is attached to each luggage piece at its second 118, third 120, and fourth 122 edges. Alternatively, second attachment means 134 can comprise snaps, straps, locking clamps, flaps equipped with a Velcro, or other fasteners commonly known in the art.
Optionally, the dividable luggage can be provided with additional pockets and compartments upon its exterior and/or interior as desired. For example, in the embodiment shown in
In use in tasks such as stair climbing, stowing the luggage into an automobile, or complying with an airline weight requirement, for which it may be desirable to separate the dividable luggage into its luggage pieces, this can be readily accomplished by detaching the first and second attachment means. In embodiments in which the first attachment means is a flap, the flap may be secured to the side of the luggage piece, for example as shown in
In use, the two luggage pieces of the dividable luggage can be attached in hinging relation using the first attachment means. In this relation, the dividable luggage may be set up on a rack, bed, or the like, in the manner of a book, and the interiors of both luggage pieces can be readily accessed. Alternatively, if space limitations or needs dictate, the luggage pieces can be fully separated.
In use for travel or storage, the dividable luggage can be put in coplanar adjacent relation using the second attachment means. In this relation, the dividable luggage comprises an even and continuous exterior, substantially devoid of gaps, protrusions and the like, thus reducing the likelihood that the dividable luggage will become worn or mutilated, marred, or torn during transport. This relation also obscures the closures within the dividable luggage, thereby reducing the risk of casual theft, while also providing adequate access to authorized officials for security screening.
The previously described versions of the present invention have many advantages, which include the even and continuous exteriors of both the dividable luggage and its separate luggage pieces. In the event, for example, that the dividable luggage is found to be too heavy to be checked with an airline, or would incur overweight penalties, the luggage pieces may be detached and checked separately.
Another advantage of the present invention is that it lacks a cumbersome base piece of luggage, common in modular luggage designs.
Another advantage of the present invention is that the dividable luggage is readily adaptable to differing rules and standards adopted by different airlines. Thus, in a trip comprising two or more legs using different airlines, the dividable luggage may be of an allowable size and weight as specified by the first airline, yet too large or overweight according to a second airline. In this situation, it would be a simple matter to detach the luggage pieces for the second leg, check them separately, and avoid penalties. Conversely, where an airline permits only one checked bag, the dividable luggage can be assembled and checked.
Yet another advantage of the present invention is that the dividable luggage provides two separate compartments, with two or more layers of exterior material separating the compartments, which may be used to separate liquids, toiletries, and other potentially damaging substances from clothing. Division of the interior of the luggage pieces into further compartments is of course also possible, but the separation of such compartments is less complete.
An additional benefit of the present invention is that the capacity of each luggage piece is not reduced by its attachment to the other luggage piece in the assembled dividable luggage.
A further benefit of the present invention is that it provides a flat, stable top surface or base to support hand luggage for transport through airports, trains, and the like.
Although the present invention has been described in considerable detail, with reference to certain preferred versions thereof, other versions are also possible. Therefore, the spirit and scope of the appended claims should not be limited to the description of the preferred versions contained herein.
Now that the invention has been described: