Iíve had the Western Flyer for about a month. I bought it exclusively as my under-seat carryon in lieu of my Ego. I found the flap of the Ego got in the way of quick access in the cramped quarters of a plane, and the fact that its outer storage areas didnít zip shut entirely gave me pause.
Iíve been very happy with my purchase. I keep my Macbook in a Brain Cell along with a horizontal Freudian Slip and a magazine or journal in the back compartment. In the front compartment, the one thatís divided by a zipper, goes a Sigg water bottles and 3 or 4 Eagle Creek sacs. The other half of the zippered compartment holds a bulky noise-canceling headphone case and a padded bag with my small USB hub, thumb drives and a few short cables.
The outside zipper pockets hold an iPhone (lower) and a large travel wallet (upper) as well as a Ziplock with the few liquids I carry on board.
None of these compartments are close to being full, so itís easy to retrieve what I need during the flight.
I carry the bag by an Ultimate StrapóI havenít even tried the built-in sling strap. The small pull loops on each end of the bag are fabulous; they make bag retrieval very easy. As described Iíve had no problem fitting the bag under the seat of a United 757-300 and even the small aisle seat of a United 757-200. The real challenge will be the aisle seats on a United 777, which have a large annoying media box. I'm taking a few flights on those next month.
Gripes? A few small ones. The main handle feels one-sided, meaning itís asymmetric and thus more comfortable in one hand than the other. One of the key ring anchors is tucked up under a flap in an obscure location, and for my money there could be a few more of them. These things certainly arenít deal breakers, but given the care that goes into the design of these bags I was mildly surprised by the handle. Now I donít even notice it much.
I carry an empty Cafe Bag to use when I arrive at my destination. To me the Western Flyerís strengths on the plane are weaknesses on the ground and itís just too big for me to want to carry around daily when I donít need to carry my laptop.
I hope this is helpful to those of you who are considering the purchase of one of these bags.