I've now had my empire builder just over 6 months, it has gone on a few trips with me. Large and small:
From Boston, MA USA:
Santa Clara, California
Saratoga Springs, NY
And I'm sure 1-2 more I forgot, never mind my daily trip to work.
As a "air travel" bag, it is wonderful. The small open pocket on the front sized for a ticket, and the zipper pocket sized for a passport is a perfect combo. All your documents are right there. I find it carries all the gear I should take with me to a conference easily, which includes, a 15" MBP Retina, 2 power supplies, and all the cables and do-hickeys you can imagine. (You have to be able to hook up to the projector... the conference organizers tend to get unhappy if you can't.)
I got a freudian slip for the bag, not sure how I'd like it. It has become one of my favorite features. A small space to stash receipts from my trip, papers I don't want to lose, whatever I need it seems to have a spot, even a few extra pens.
I probably ordered one keystrap too few. But overall, it feels like the bag is holding up to my use/abuse well.
The zippers still seem fairly splash proof, though the little rubber pieces don't go quite as far over the teeth as they used to, which is to be expected. When I have had the Empire Builder out in the rain any real duration, the bag has kept everything inside fine.
And while I know Tom's hatred of roll aboard luggage, thanks for putting it aside here and allowing us to put the Empire Builder on top of a roll aboard. It makes getting off a long exhausting flight much easier. Roll off, get to somewhere, where I can get out of the airport, get on with life.
As a day to day bag:
This is my "black bag". I carry it everywhere pretty much. It rarely leaves my side. If it began annoying me, it'd be replaced. (As the last one was.) The pouches mounted inside the main compartment help me keep it organized, along with the slip. I can carry medications, whatever.. and even if I have to open the bag, it looks professional. As it should. It is "just right" for a programmer on the go. I don't need leather, I need "it works."
Overall: I don't regret the purchase. It has accomplished its goal, it looks professional and keeps me organized and moving. I 100% believe the pictures of EBs that people show and say "This has been my bag for N years." You can usually barely tell it has been used.. or certainly not the length of time the poster says. My bag matches that pattern. Looks great, performs great.
Most importantly: Helps me perform great. I can find what I need, when I need it, and that's no small feat.