A Unique Carry-on Case with a Flip-up Table Built
Jul 28 '04 (Updated Jul 30 '04)
Author's Product Rating
The unique fold-out tabletop!, well-padded laptop
compartment, nice assortment of pockets
is vulnerable to scratches and not as stable as you'd like it to be
The Bottom Line
If you are both a traveler and a lover of
novelty items...it doesn’t get much better than this.
Note: I'm in the process of trying to get a product photo added
to this listing. A picture is truly worth a thousand words on this
one! For now, you can find numerous photos of the Flightable case at
When I came across this unusual “gadget” in a magazine blurb a
couple of years ago, the sight of it set my heart a-flutter. What
self-respecting gadgeteer wouldn’t swoon over this ingenious little
number! At first glance, the Flightable C-1000 looks pretty much
like any other piece of 22-inch, vertical carry-on luggage. But this
wheeled carry-on has a secret! It sports a hidden table which flips
out from the back of the case to create a small desktop or
general-purpose table for using your laptop, writing, or “dining” in
an airport waiting area...or wherever. I HAD to have it.
If you’re also smitten by the flip-up table gimmick, you should be
aware that Flightable carry-ons are also available in two other
“regular” models in addition to this C-1000 “Computer Pac” case
which includes a padded laptop compartment. Azpac International’s
two Flightable “Travel Pac” models--the V-2500E (currently $79) and
the V-1600E (currently $49)—are interesting, lower-cost options for
those who don’t need the built-in laptop storage. The Flightable
C-1000 Computer Pac model currently goes for $109 on the
First Things First…Does It Work?
At the time I parted with hard cash for the Flightable C-1000, I
feared in my raunchy little heart that this fold-out table business
was too good to be true. So DOES it really work? I have to say that,
yes, it does. The tabletop isn’t as solid and stable as I had
expected it to be. It definitely sways and moves a bit when in use.
But is it functional? Yes, definitely. For supporting lighter items,
like a couple of over-priced Big Macs and Diet Cokes from the
airport concourse shop, it’s just fine. Used for operating a laptop
or as a writing surface, it certainly doesn’t feel like your office
desk. As I said, it will sway some as you type or write. But you
will be able to use it effectively without a sudden need for
Dramamine. And, in my book, it certainly beats the alternative of
balancing a computer, writing tablet, or gooey Cinnabon on your lap.
But be forewarned that the Flightable won’t have a chance of working
at all if you don’t have enough space to set it up. For example, the
wingspan of the C-1000 with the table open is definitely going to be
wider than the width of a single seat in an airport waiting area.
So, if you’re traveling alone, stuck in a crowded waiting room, and
unable to hog two seats, you’re going to have a problem--unless you
can snag a seat at the end of a row or don’t mind setting up at a
more distant, less crowded gate area.
So as far as the Flightable’s unique table feature goes, I’d give it
a thumbs-up with the caveats noted above. As a straight carry-on
bag, the C-1000 model offers the following basic features:
Airline Requirements......Meets typical airline requirements for carry-on
Stowing Onboard......Fits in the overhead compartment or under the seat.
The first time I traveled by plane with my C-1000, I used the
overhead compartment but found that the bag would easily slip under
the seat of a Boeing 757. I guess the same is true for any vertical
carry-on which expands…but if you use the Flightable’s expandable
compartment and stuff it to the gills, you may have a problem with
that under-seat clearance.
Color......Available in black only
Dimensions......22 x 14 x 9 (my measurements of the case exterior,
unpacked). When the expander compartment is extended, the depth of
the case increases by about 2 3/4 inches (again, that’s unpacked).
Fabric......1500D Ballistic Polyester. Although this fabric is not ultra
top-quality material, I’ve found it to be completely durable for my
usage over the past 2 years. Bear in mind, however, that I don’t
travel very often and tend to baby this case because I like it so
Weight......The Flightable website does not provide a specific weight
figure for the C-1000 model; it only provides an average
weight for its 3 Flightable models--12 pounds. The presence of the
solid plastic tabletop device definitely makes this bag heavier than
most traditional 22-inch carry-ons, but I haven’t had any serious
problems handling it. However, when you’re traveling with a loaded
Flightable, you’ll be very thankful for its wheels and even more
thankful if you don’t encounter too many spots where you have to
lift this bag by hand.
Weight Supported By Table......55 lbs. according to the Flightable
website. I'm not sure I buy that spec, but I can tell you that the
table-top easily supports my 8 lb. laptop and an 8 lb. puppy in a
2-lb. Sherpa bag.
The Flightable C-1000 also offers other very decent features for a
wheeled carry-on case at this price point. For example, the capacity
of the case can be increased via the zippered expansion feature.
When the expander is unzipped and opened, the depth of this case is
increased by about 2 3/4 inches, as noted above.
Now I must say that because of the weight of this bag, I was a
little disappointed in the quality of the C-1000’s telescoping
handle. It is adequate, but not fabulous. The single-stage
handle extends up about 14 1/2 inches and is sturdy enough to get
the job done. Operation of the handle is fine but not totally
smooth. The handle does not have a button release; so you have to
yank it up with some force. And the handle also resists being pushed
back down. You can’t be shy. You’ve got to give it a firm shot to
get it to glide back to the down position.
I am pleased, however, with the decent-quality zippers on the
C-1000. The main compartment and the two main front pockets have
double-zippers; however, only the main compartment has a
double-zipper with the hardware feature that allows you to interlock
the zipper pulls and easily connect a padlock. So the C-1000 comes
with only one small padlock--a keyed lock, not a combination lock.
If you want to lock the front pockets, it is “do-able,” however. The
pewter-colored metal zipper pulls have holes on the ends that are
large enough to accommodate a luggage padlock (which you should be
able to find in any travel accessory department). The look won’t be
first-class, but your cell phone and laptop will be more secure.
I guess I’d award a B plus to the C-1000’s carry handles. There are
two soft plastic, flexible carry handles located on the top and
side of the case which flex up for carrying and down to be out of
the way and a little more flush to the case. The carry handles
aren’t padded, but they aren’t hard plastic either. So I’ve found
them to be fairly easy on the hands. And the handles do have finger
ridges underneath for a better grip and more comfortable toting.
The C-1000 also comes with a piggy-back strap for hooking on
an additional travel bag or purse. (The piggy-back mechanism is also
designed to double as a stabilizing device when the tabletop is open
and in use.)
And the Flightable C-1000 is also a lined case. The interior
lining is not luxurious, but the bag is fully lined. The lining is a
thin nylon material which is black with the Flightable logo visible
faintly in gray over the entire fabric.
Pockets and Main Compartment
I always love luggage with lots of interesting compartments, so I
was pleasantly surprised to find that the Flightable C-1000 was
equipped with a nice array of pockets for organizing my travel
goodies. The front of the bag features 2 zippered pockets: a small
upper pocket and a larger lower pocket which houses the laptop
compartment. Both pockets also have outer zipper compartments for
stowing things that you need to access quickly.
The interior of the upper pocket has these features: a hook
for your keys, an inner zippered pocket across the back of the
compartment for thinner things, a cell phone pocket, 2 nylon slots
for credit cards, 2 sturdier mesh slots, and 3 holders for pens or
The lower pocket is primarily for access to the laptop
compartment of the C-1000, but it also has 2 gusseted folder
separators for business paperwork, travel guides, or what-have-you.
And across the front of the computer compartment are 2 mesh pockets
with Velcro flaps for storing floppy disks, CDs, or DVDs.
Inside the main compartment of the C-1000, there are two
adjustable straps for lashing down your clothes and one zippered
compartment along the backside. When the bag is open, the back of
the laptop compartment is to one side of the bag’s top flap. On the
other side, you’ll find a fairly roomy nylon zippered compartment
for holding laptop accessories.
The Laptop Compartment
The problem with any computer case which has a fixed-size laptop
compartment is that the laptop you travel with may not fit the
compartment. And if the laptop you own now does fit, the new laptop
you buy in 3 years may not. A harsh reality.
So, for your reference, here are the rough dimensions of the
fixed-size laptop compartment of the C-1000 – 13.75” wide x 12.75”
tall x 2.25” deep. But don’t go by these dimensions alone! If your
laptop won’t fit through the front pocket opening to get INTO the
laptop compartment, you’ll be out of luck. For example, I
experienced great angst when I realized that my largest laptop--a
Fujitsu Lifebook with a large footprint (12” x 11.5” x 1.5”)—would
not quite fit through the front pocket of the C-1000 into the
computer compartment. I could clearly see that the Fujitsu would, in
fact, fit inside the compartment; but the laptop was just a
little too long and wide to make it past the curved upper edges of
that front pocket opening which provides the only access to the
computer compartment. (You cannot access the laptop compartment from
inside the main case.) So, that trip, I stowed my traveling
companion’s Apple I-Book in the laptop compartment. I purchased one
of those “form-fitting” padded sleeves for the large Fujitsu and
stored it in the main compartment of the C-1000.
But if you can get your laptop into the computer compartment of the
C-1000, you’ll appreciate how nicely-padded the compartment is. It
also has a padded top which can be secured down with two Velcro
strips—holding the laptop firmly inside.
And, finally, I should point out that you just can’t see the laptop
compartment in photographs of the C-1000. Again, it’s accessed
through the large lower front pocket of the Flightable; but it’s
recessed into the main compartment behind the folder separators
which are at the front of that lower front pocket.
A Few More Details on the Tabletop
Back to the nifty tabletop feature for a few more details. First,
you should know that the table device is really quite easy to open
and close. Pressing a button allows you to fold the tabletop up and
away from the back of the case and then swing the supporting brace
down into a vertical position. Pressing a second button on the
bracing leg allows you to extend the leg to full height. To further
stabilize the table, you then hook the curved plastic end of the
piggy-back device over the edge of the table nearest the bag. And
finally you reach around to the front of the bag and pull out a
small metal stabilizer bar that helps balance the entire set-up.
Very clever. You can find an animated graphic of how the table
unfolds on the Flightable website at http://www.flightable.com.
Click on the “How To Use” link on the left sidebar.
Once opened, the Flightable’s table is 26 inches high—a nice typing
height for laptop use. And the dimensions of the flat usable table
surface are 16.75” x 12.25”. The nice width of the tabletop is a big
plus for me because it’s just wide enough to accommodate a mouse and
my sawed-off mousepad alongside my large laptop. (Touchpads and
trackballs really slow me down.)
By the way, the two rods which house the telescoping handle of the
Flightable C-1000 are on the outside of this case allowing a
bit more packing room inside the bag. When the table device is in
the closed position, the tabletop covers and protects the rods.
However, because the tabletop is really the back of this bag, it can
get scratched fairly easily—for example, when you shove it into the
overhead compartment on an airplane.
Uses for the Flightable
The most obvious use for the Flightable case is, of course, in an
airport setting as noted above. The first time I used my Flightable
at the airport, I didn’t need it for my laptop. But it was a godsend
because, that day, my traveling companion and I were flying with a
puppy in tow. We had a long wait at the gate but couldn’t take the
pooch into any of the concourse restaurants to pass the time. So we
picked up sandwiches and drinks and had a fine little lunch on our
Flightable C-1000. The tabletop was also great for setting the
puppy’s carrier up at eye level where we could goo-goo Cinnamon
easily and constantly. And it really was awfully convenient in
general to have a table right there in front of us for setting down
coffee cups, purses, magazines, and other odds and ends. We also saw
some people traveling with infants that morning; and, boy, did they
need a Flightable! They had stuff spread all over the floor—bottles,
toys, pacifiers, etc.
On that same trip, we found another great application for the
Flightable in a hotel room setting. We were in a nicely furnished
suite at a Residence Inn; but, for some reason, there was no table
of any kind within reach of the armchair in the living room area.
Suffering from brain sieve, we searched the suite in frustration for
any kind of small table to use with the armchair—to no avail. It was
hours later that it finally dawned on me that we had the new
Flightable with us. Up it went, next to the armchair. Perfect.
From then on, I’ve taken the Flightable C-1000 whenever I
travel—whether by plane or by car. It has continued to come in handy
as an extra table to set things down on in hotel rooms or rental
condos. In fact, I’ve taken to using the Flightable in my office at
home as a portable table when I need a little more space to spread
out on temporarily.
The flightable.com website also suggests use of its Flightable cases
for athletic coaches, for sales reps working in a client’s office or
waiting room, for students, and for writers or reporters.
An Airport Security Issue?
Before ending this report, I should caution you that if you do use
the Flightable for air travel, you may encounter delays with airport
security when traveling with this case. On a trip from Boston to
Minneapolis/St. Paul, I passed through Boston’s Logan Airport
security without incident. On the return trip, I was plucked from
the line at the Minneapolis airport and experienced a significant
delay. Airport security in Minneapolis not only went through the
bag, they emptied it out completely and X-rayed the empty case.
Security equipment was clearly detecting the metal braces which
support the table, and the security officers apparently didn’t
realize that the table back could be opened up for their visual
inspection. After some time, I was finally allowed to move on and to
carry the Flightable onboard. But I’ve got to wonder in these post
9-11 times if the Flightable case might eventually be banned from
the airways as a carry-on bag.
First, a practical clarification. If you decide to investigate the
Flightable carry-on online, don’t become confused by the model
number for this bag as I initially did. This case is sometimes
referred to as Model C-1000 and sometimes, as Model C-1000E. They
are the same bag.
In closing, I definitely recommend this versatile Flightable case
for almost any traveler--whether you’re toting a laptop or not. If
you’re a frequent business traveler who works on the road, I can’t
imagine that this case wouldn’t be tremendously useful. Yes, I’m
definitely sold on this unusual product and haven’t been able to
find a similar case in all my searching. So I leave you with a
5-star rating on the Flightable C-1000 for the ingenuity of its
unique table design and its decent overall quality for the price.
Bon voyage, then. Enjoy your Happy Meal on the Flightable C-1000!
Amount Paid (US$): 139.00