Smooth 360-degree double wheels
Expandable by 2 inches
Easy-access front compartment
Affordable price point
A little heavy for its size
Mirrored exterior shows scuffs easily
The case for dropping a lot of money on a suitcase usually involves some combination of functional features, materials used, and brand name recognition. But after testing Delsey’s AERO 19” Carry-on Expandable Luggage, we’d argue that you don’t actually have to spend a lot to get a lot. Between its solid construction and smooth portability, the hardshell carry-on rivals luxury luggage, and it can be found for under $200. We packed everything we’d need for a five-day business trip—clothes, toiletries, electronics, extra-strength aspirin—and took the AERO 19” around New York City for a week. Read our review of the rolling bag, a great gift idea that’s fit for business and holiday travelers alike.
Design: Small bag with big features
With a sleek, grooved polycarbonate exterior and a mirror finish, Delsey’s 19” AERO strikes a big pose in a little, airline-compliant package. The design is one of the latest iterations of Delsey’s AERO line, launched in 2012 as their lightest line of suitcases yet. Lightweight is, of course, relative. The carry-on weighs in at 8 pounds, which certainly isn’t the lightest suitcase we’ve carried, but you have to pay for storage features and convertibility somehow.
The carry-on weighs in at 8 pounds, which certainly isn’t the lightest suitcase we’ve carried, but you have to pay for storage features and convertibility somehow.
A good zipper is a heavy zipper, and there are three here—one that opens the front laptop compartment, a second for the main compartment, and a third that allows for up to 2 inches of extra expansion when unzipped. The expansion zipper has a red rubberized pull, while the other two are black; this took a while for us to notice, but it was super helpful in differentiating them once we figured it out.
The front compartment is our favorite feature on the AERO; it consists of two mesh pockets and a well-padded laptop pocket that fits up to a 15.6” computer. This compartment will probably be the most useful to a business traveler or a traveling parent who needs a tablet or hand wipes close at hand during a trip. Hook-and-loop fastener gussets give you the option of opening the compartment partially or laying it fully flat.
This compartment will probably be the most useful to a business traveler or a traveling parent who needs a tablet or hand wipes close at hand during a trip.
The computer pocket padding may be a bit overkill—padded laptop sleeves are already the norm—but it’s reassuring nonetheless, and it will protect any other electronics you toss in there, too. However, rather than a pocket snug against the suitcase body, the computer pocket of this suitcase is located on the inside of the shell (the part that unzips and opens up). We’d prefer if this pocket had been attached to the interior side of the front compartment instead, as we fear a heavy laptop could tip the whole thing over.
Portability: A true carry-on
As far as portability, the 19” AERO sails smoothly and silently on its doubled-up spinner wheels. The telescoping handle pulls up to snap securely into two height options and feels sturdy at both when the suitcase is fully loaded. The carry handles at the top and side both feature soft-touch rubber grips for comfortable overhead hoisting and stair maneuvering. We like that both flatten out nicely when not in use to prevent adding too many inches to the design.
The 19” AERO is named after the height of its body dimensions (19 x 13 x 9.5 inches). Please keep in mind that it’s the overall dimensions that airlines are concerned with, however, so you’re going to have to factor in handles and wheels when deciding if your suitcase is regulation-size. Delsey helpfully lists luggage restrictions by airline on its website, and this spinner’s total exterior dimensions (21.25 x 14 x 11.25 inches) fit into all but a few. KLM, United Airlines, and Alaska Airlines may be a stretch, but this AERO’s profile is very under the radar. When fully expanded, it may be harder to get past an eagle-eyed gate agent, but the worst you’ll have to do is gate-check.
Capacity: Small but workable
With a capacity of about 38 liters, the AERO is large enough for a lightly packed week-long trip, or a long weekend in a cold environment. We’re enthusiastic about strategic packing, though, so a well-planned wardrobe and some vital packing cubes could probably stretch the space out to ten days in a warm climate. Should you acquire some possessions along the way, the AERO features a zippered expansion panel that will give you up to 2 inches of extra space.
For our review, we packed two pairs of shoes, two pairs of pants, two dresses, four shirts, a sweater, underwear, and a small dopp kit into the AERO. The compression straps and zippered compartments in each side of the interior helped keep everything secure, but we needed every bit of the expanding space to fit it all in.
Durability: Quality materials
Our previous experiences with Delsey products have been great. Considering the very reasonable price point, their hard-side suitcases can take serious abuse, yet maintain their handsome looks and high-level performance for years.
Delsey proves that it isn’t necessary to pay a lot to get a great suitcase.
The AERO spinner is no different. The interior nylon lining is hefty, the body is made from extremely resilient polycarbonate, and the trim pieces (including the handles and zippers) are all of obviously good quality. Even the sturdiest nylon zipper will never endure the same tensile stress that a molded polycarbonate shell can, though, so maybe try to limit your overstuffing when the suitcase is fully expanded.
Something else to consider before you buy is that a solid-color mirror finish like the AERO’s is bound to get scuffed after a while. We accidentally drop-kicked ours on an uneven sidewalk and got a little one. It’s not very conspicuous, especially in the dark blue colorway we chose, but it’s something to keep in mind.
Price: A fantastic bargain
Suitcase shopping online can be difficult because of widely varying price points and puzzling (and expensive) features like brand-name wheels and proprietary locking systems. Delsey proves that it isn’t necessary to pay a lot to get a great suitcase, though. The AERO spinner features many of the same deluxe amenities luxury suitcases have, but ranging between $100 and $360, it retails for a fraction of their price.
Competition: What if you don’t want a front compartment?
If you’d prefer to lose the weight of the zipped front compartment but like the expandable option and mirror finish on the AERO, you might be interested in the Fortis 22” from eBags. The bag is aesthetically similar, but it weighs about 1.5 pounds less. That might not seem like much, but you’ll be thankful for the savings when you realize your Airbnb is actually a 4th-floor walkup.
SwissGear’s 7272 19” USB Energie Expandable Carry On is also a good option if you like the aesthetic and bright color choices that come with a Delsey but don’t really need the separate front compartment. What you lose in the front compartment, you gain in a design-integrated USB port. You’ll always have an outlet nearby, even when there isn’t an actual outlet free for gates and gates.
- Product Name AERO 19” Carry-on Expandable Rolling Luggage
- Product Brand Delsey Paris
- MPN 07640
- Price $360.00
- Weight 8 lbs.
- Product Dimensions 21.25 x 14 x 11.25 in.
- Color Dark blue, pink, red, purple, light blue, black
- Capacity 38 L
- Laptop Sleeve Capacity Up to 15.6-in. computer
- Warranty Limited 10 years