My husband and I have a few small boarding bags, but I have never been happy with their design, having the zipper around the front perimeter makes it difficult to open and retrieve items while on board an aircraft.
When our local Fred Meyer store had these boarding bags on sale for 50% off before Christmas, I purchased one on a whim, and after using it on a recent trip, I can say I am very pleased with it’s design and user friendliness.


The American Tourister iLite XL Boarding Bag measures 16″ high by 8″ deep and 12″ in length. They were available in colors black, blue and red, and I purchased the blue.

The bag is made of a soft, pliable fabric, one that is both lightweight and extremely durable. The front section has a large zippered compartment, and the main zipper is on the top, with dual zippers that extend from the back ends, along the sides, and meet in the front of the bag. This bag features American Tourister’s “co-molded zipper pulls” which provide a secure grip.

There are short handles that come from the front and back, meet in the middle and are secured together with a hook and loop style closure. If you want to carry this bag over your shoulder, it also comes with a longer strap that clips to the sides of the bag.

Four feet are connected to the bottom of the bag, lifting it off the floor in order to keep it clean and scuff free. The interior compartment is spacious, but there are no additional zippered sections.

My Experience

I definitely prefer this style of boarding/travel bag as a carry on when flying. In the past, I always had a hard time getting items out of my baggage when on the airplane, but this bag fits comfortably under the seat or in the overhead compartments, and is super easy to access its contents.

The short top carrying handles need to be pulled back from the top, and then the entire top opens up for easy access. This bag was large enough to carry my curling iron, hair dryer, an extra set of clothing, a book, medications, and all of our toiletries.

Now that the NTSB requires that all liquids 3 ounces and under be placed in a quart sized zip style plastic bag, the front zippered compartment works perfect for holding these items for easy removal. We also placed our boarding passes in this zippered section, so we could get to them easily without getting into the main area of the boarding bag.

When loaded up, this bag was a little on the heavy size, it weighs just over 2 pounds when empty. Of course that is all relative, you can pack light or load it up, depending on your need. I always put a lot of items in my carry on bags, since airlines now charge you excessive fees for first bags weighing more than 50 pounds, and still higher fees for second or third bags.

The wrap that secures the two top handles together is nice and wide so that I could carry this bag without this area digging into my hands, and it’s not very cumbersome while carrying in a crowded airport.

American Tourister is known for their “Gorilla Tough” quality, the tags on my bag show a gorilla holding an American Tourister bag. They also come with a 10 year warranty, and according to my hang tag, American Tourister tests its products, fully loaded, in real-world conditions (…and with “our toughest baggage handler”) for durability, strength, and dependability. This tag even includes the toll free American Tourister customer service phone number.

With the sale price, this boarding bag was only $20, and I consider this bag an excellent value for the price. I would gladly purchase another just like it if the need arose. The only thing I would add is a zippered compartment in the interior of the bag.