Title:
METHOD AND APPARATUS FOR THE TRANSPORT OF BOTTLED LIQUIDS
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A luggage carrier for transporting a plurality of beverage bottles, including a substantially rectangular-shaped housing including a bottom panel, a top panel, a front panel, a back panel, a right panel and a left panel that define an interior hollow compartment having an interior length, width and height. The luggage carrier further includes a pre-formed bottle shipping container having an exterior length, width and height substantially equal to the interior length, width and height of the interior hollow compartment. The pre-formed bottle shipping container is positioned within the interior hollow compartment. The pre-formed bottle shipping container contains a plurality of cavities each configured and dimensioned to accept a beverage bottle. A method of transporting a plurality of beverage bottles is also disclosed.



Inventors:
Hansen, Shawnda (Glen Ellen, CA, US)
French, Todd (Dana Point, CA, US)
Application Number:
13/100025
Publication Date:
11/03/2011
Filing Date:
05/03/2011
Assignee:
The Wine Check (Glen Ellen, CA, US)
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
53/467, 53/475, 190/110, 190/115, 190/121
International Classes:
A45C13/02; A45C5/14; A45C13/06; B65B5/06; B65B7/00
View Patent Images:
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Other References:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Balikbayan_box
Primary Examiner:
MAI, TRI M
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
VENABLE LLP (WASHINGTON, DC, US)
Claims:
What is claimed:

1. A luggage carrier for transporting a plurality of beverage bottles, comprising: a substantially rectangular-shaped housing comprising a bottom panel, a top panel, a front panel, a back panel, a right panel and a left panel that define an interior hollow compartment having an interior length, width and height; a pre-formed bottle shipping container having an exterior length, width and height substantially equal to the interior length, width and height of the interior hollow compartment, wherein the pre-formed bottle shipping container is positioned within the interior hollow compartment, and wherein the pre-formed bottle shipping container contains a plurality of cavities each configured and dimensioned to accept a beverage bottle.

2. The luggage carrier of claim 1, wherein the front panel of the housing includes a zipperable opening for the insertion or removal of the pre-formed bottle shipping container into and out of the interior hollow compartment.

3. The luggage carrier of claim 2, wherein the front panel includes four sides, and the zipperable opening extends along at least three of the four sides of the front panel.

4. The luggage carrier of claim 1, further comprising a first wheel and a second wheel each attached to the substantially rectangular-shaped housing at an intersection of the back panel and the bottom panel.

5. The luggage carrier of claim 4, further comprising a pulling device attached to the front panel of the substantially rectangular-shaped housing.

6. The luggage carrier of claim 5, wherein the pulling device is positioned substantially at a lower one-third of the top panel of the substantially rectangular-shaped housing to engage the first and second wheels for transport when pulled.

7. The luggage carrier of claim 1, wherein interior length of the interior hollow compartment is about 19 inches, the interior width of the interior hollow compartment is about 14 inches, and the interior height of the interior hollow compartment is about 15.5 inches.

8. The luggage carrier of claim 1, wherein the pre-formed bottle shipping container comprises a Styrofoam wine bottle shipper.

9. The luggage carrier of claim 8, wherein the pre-formed bottle shipping container further includes a cardboard box surrounding the Styrofoam wine bottle shipper.

10. The luggage carrier of claim 1, wherein at least one of the bottom panel, top panel, front panel, back panel, right panel and left panel of the substantially rectangular-shaped housing comprises a first fabric wall and a second fabric wall surrounding a foam insert.

11. The luggage carrier of claim 1, further comprising a first handle attached to the top panel of the substantially rectangular-shaped housing and a second handle attached to the bottom surface of the substantially rectangular-shaped housing, wherein the first handle and the second handle are substantially parallel to one another on opposite sides of the internal hollow compartment.

12. A method for transporting a plurality of beverage bottles, comprising the steps of: placing the plurality of beverage bottles in respective cavities of a pre-formed beverage shipping container, the pre-formed beverage shipping container defining an exterior length, width and height; opening a front panel of a substantially rectangular-shaped housing a zipper device, the substantially rectangular-shaped housing including a bottom panel, a top panel, a front panel, a back panel, a right panel and a left panel that define an interior hollow compartment having an interior length, width and height; placing the pre-formed beverage shipping container into the interior hollow compartment of the substantially rectangular-shaped housing, wherein the interior length, width and height of the interior hollow compartment is substantially equal to the external length, width and height of the pre-formed beverage shipping container; and closing the front panel of the substantially-rectangular shaped housing the zipper device.

13. The method of claim 12, further comprising the steps of: placing the pre-formed beverage shipping container into a cardboard box, wherein the interior length, width and height of the cardboard box is substantially equal to the exterior length, width and height of the pre-formed beverage shipping container; and placing the cardboard box into the substantially rectangular-shaped housing, wherein the interior length, width and height of the internal hollow compartment is substantially equal to an external length, width and height of the cardboard box.

14. The method of claim 12, further comprising the steps of: pulling a pull strap attached to the front panel of the substantially-rectangular shaped housing; and thereby rolling the substantially-rectangular shaped housing on a first wheel and a second wheel, wherein the first wheel and the second wheel are each attached to the substantially rectangular-shaped housing at an intersection of the back panel and the bottom panel.

15. The method of claim 12, further comprising the steps of: folding the bottom panel, top panel, right panel and left panel; and thereby collapsing the front panel in towards the back panel for storage of the substantially rectangular-shaped housing.

16. A luggage carrier for transporting a plurality of beverage bottles, comprising: a substantially rectangular-shaped housing comprising a bottom panel, a top panel, a front panel, a back panel, a right panel and a left panel that define an interior hollow compartment, the interior hollow compartment defining an interior length, width and height that are substantially equal to an exterior length, width and height of a pre-formed bottle shipping container; a zipperable opening located along at least three of the four sides of the front panel of the substantially rectangular-shaped housing for the insertion or removal of the pre-formed bottle shipping container into or out of the interior hollow compartment, and wherein the bottom panel, top panel, right panel and left panel are flexible such that the front panel collapses towards the back panel for storage of the substantially rectangular-shaped housing.

17. The luggage carrier of claim 16, further comprising a first wheel and a second wheel each attached to the substantially rectangular-shaped housing at an intersection of the back panel and the bottom panel.

18. The luggage carrier of claim 17, further comprising a pulling device attached to the front panel of the substantially rectangular-shaped housing.

19. The luggage carrier of claim 18, wherein the pulling device is positioned substantially at a lower one-third of the top panel of the substantially rectangular-shaped housing to engage the first and second wheels for transport when pulled.

20. The luggage carrier of claim 16, wherein the interior length of the interior hollow compartment is about 19 inches, the interior width of the interior hollow compartment is about 14 inches, and the interior height of the interior hollow compartment is about 15.5 inches.

21. The luggage carrier of claim 16, wherein at least one of the bottom panel, top panel, front panel, back panel, right panel and left panel of the substantially rectangular-shaped housing comprises a first fabric wall and a second fabric wall surrounding a foam insert.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

The present application claims the benefit under 35 U.S.C. §119(e) of U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 61/330,493, filed on May 3, 2010. The contents of the foregoing application is expressly incorporated herein by reference in its entirety.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

This patent application relates generally to a method and apparatus for the transport of bottled liquids. More specifically, this patent application relates to a luggage carrier adapted for airline transport of a wine shipper box containing a plurality of sealed wine bottles.

There are extensive limitations to the various methods of transporting wine. In many areas of the country, such as Napa, Calif., shipping wine is not possible for half of the year due to weather, lest the contents of the box be damaged. Shipping of alcohol is prohibitive in many states and can be very expensive. Adult signatures are required to ship alcohol, and can result in additional delays, which, when combined with the general inefficiencies of shipping, can result in damage to the valuable and expensive contents.

Wine purchased in various wine-making regions of the world is often transported in what is known as a “wine shipper.” A wine shipper is typically a cardboard box containing an insert of shaped Styrofoam, formed paper pulp, or some other shaped or formed protection container for the plurality of bottles contained inside. Typically these boxes and their inserts hold 3, 4, 6 or 12 bottles of wine. These boxes can be shipped or checked as luggage in an airport. However, checking a wine shipper at the airport requires that the owner sign a waiver that releases the airline from any damage or loss. These boxes, when full of wine, weigh in at 40 pounds or more, and are cumbersome and extremely heavy to carry and transport.

SUMMARY

According to an embodiment, a luggage carrier may transport a plurality of beverage bottles. The luggage carrier may include a substantially rectangular-shaped housing having a bottom panel, a top panel, a front panel, a back panel, a right panel and a left panel that define an interior hollow compartment having an interior length, width and height. The luggage carrier may further include a pre-formed bottle shipping container having an exterior length, width and height substantially equal to the interior length, width and height of the interior hollow compartment. The pre-formed bottle shipping container may be positioned within the interior hollow compartment. The pre-formed bottle shipping container may contain a plurality of cavities each configured and dimensioned to accept a beverage bottle.

According to another embodiment, a method for transporting a plurality of beverage bottles may include the step of placing the plurality of beverage bottles in respective cavities of a pre-formed beverage shipping container, the pre-formed beverage shipping container defining an exterior length, width and height. The method may include the step of opening a front panel of a substantially rectangular-shaped housing a zipper device, the substantially rectangular-shaped housing including a bottom panel, a top panel, a front panel, a back panel, a right panel and a left panel that define an interior hollow compartment having an interior length, width and height. The method may include the step of placing the pre-formed beverage shipping container into the interior hollow compartment of the substantially rectangular-shaped housing, wherein the interior length, width and height of the interior hollow compartment is substantially equal to the external length, width and height of the pre-formed beverage shipping container. The method may include the step of closing the front panel of the substantially-rectangular shaped housing the zipper device.

According to an embodiment, a luggage carrier may transport a plurality of beverage bottles. The luggage carrier may include a substantially rectangular-shaped housing having a bottom panel, a top panel, a front panel, a back panel, a right panel and a left panel that define an interior hollow compartment, the interior hollow compartment defining an interior length, width and height that are substantially equal to an exterior length, width and height of a pre-formed bottle shipping container. The luggage carrier may include a zipperable opening located along at least three of the four sides of the front panel of the substantially rectangular-shaped housing for the insertion or removal of the pre-formed bottle shipping container into or out of the interior hollow compartment. The bottom panel, top panel, right panel and left panel may be flexible such that the front panel collapses towards the back panel for storage of the substantially rectangular-shaped housing.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The foregoing and other features and advantages will be apparent from the following, more particular, description of various exemplary embodiments including a preferred embodiment, as illustrated in the accompanying drawings, wherein like reference numbers generally indicate identical, functionally similar, and/or structurally similar elements.

FIG. 1 depicts a left-front-top perspective view of a luggage carrier for transporting a plurality of beverage containers, according to an exemplary embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 2 depicts a front view of the luggage carrier of FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 depicts a rear view of the luggage carrier of FIG. 1;

FIG. 4 depicts a left side view of the luggage carrier of FIG. 1;

FIG. 5 depicts a right side view of the luggage carrier of FIG. 1;

FIG. 6 depicts a top view of the luggage carrier of FIG. 1;

FIG. 7 depicts a bottom view of the luggage carrier of FIG. 1;

FIG. 8 depicts a front view of the luggage carrier with a front panel opened for insertion of a pre-formed bottle shipping container into an internal hollow compartment of the luggage carrier housing, according to an exemplary embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 9 depicts a front view of the luggage carrier with the front panel opened and a bottom portion of a pre-formed bottle shipping container positioned within the internal hollow container, according to an exemplary embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 9A depicts a front view of the luggage carrier with the front panel opened and a cardboard box housing bottom portion of a pre-formed bottle shipping container positioned within the internal hollow container, according to an exemplary embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 10 depicts a front view of the luggage carrier with the front panel opened and a top and bottom portion of a pre-formed bottle shipping container positioned within the internal hollow container, according to an exemplary embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 11 depicts a collapsed view of the luggage carrier for storage, according to an exemplary embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 12A depicts a collapsed view of the luggage carrier prior to use, according to an exemplary embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 12B depicts a front view of the luggage carrier in a “ready-to-use” position where the front panel has been unzipped, according to an exemplary embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 12C depicts a front view of the luggage carrier where a bottom portion of the pre-formed bottle shipping container is positioned within the internal hollow compartment, according to an exemplary embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 12D depicts a front view of luggage carrier in which beverage bottles have been placed inside the bottom portion of the pre-formed bottle shipping container, according to an exemplary embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 12E depicts a front view of the luggage carrier where the top portion of the pre-formed bottle shipping container has been positioned over the bottom portion in the internal hollow compartment, according to an exemplary embodiment of the present invention; and

FIG. 12F depicts a front view of the luggage carrier that has been closed and sealed by a zipper device, according to an exemplary embodiment of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

Various exemplary embodiments of the invention including preferred embodiments are discussed in detail below. While specific exemplary embodiments are discussed, it should be understood that this is done for illustration purposes only. A person skilled in the relevant art will recognize that other components and configurations can be used without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention.

FIGS. 1-7 depict various views of a luggage carrier 100 for transporting a plurality of beverage containers (not shown), according to an exemplary embodiment of the present invention. The luggage carrier 100 may include a substantially rectangular-shaped housing 10 having a bottom panel 12, a top panel 14, a front panel 16, a back panel 18, a right panel 20, and a left panel 22 that define an interior hollow compartment 24 (See FIG. 8).

According to an embodiment, the panels of housing 10 may be made of a polyester and/or nylon fabric material. According to another embodiment, the fabric material may be woven into a ballistic type of fabric on the exterior of the housing 10. According to a further embodiment, at least one of the panels of housing 10 may include an insert (not shown) of foam or other material to provide additional support and cushioning of the beverage bottles during transport. For example, the insert may be approximately ⅝ inch to 1 inch foam padding or an open cell foam. The insert may have insulating properties that help maintain the temperature of liquids stored in the interior hollow compartment 24 within a desired range.

According to another embodiment, housing 10 does not contain a rigid interior support or skeletal structure. This embodiment may allow the luggage carrier 100 to be lightweight and semi-collapsible so that it can be packed and stored to be used again as needed. Additionally, the light weight nature of luggage carrier 100 may allow it to remain light enough to satisfy typical airline requirements for checked bag weight.

According to an embodiment, at least one panel of housing 10 may be openable to provide user access into the interior hollow compartment 24. This may alternatively be referred to as a “flap top.” For example, as shown in FIG. 1, a zipper 26 may extend along at least one edge of the front panel 16 to allow access into the interior hollow compartment 24. In this embodiment, the zipper 26 may extend along three of four sides of the front panel 16, including the sides neighboring the left panel 22, top panel 14 and right panel 20. The front panel 16 may remain permanently attached to the housing 10 along an edge neighboring bottom panel 12. This configuration may allow the three edges of the front panel 16 to be un-zippered and pulled away from the housing 10 to expose the interior hollow compartment 24 underneath.

As seen in FIG. 7, the zipper 26 may further extend along a portion of the side edges of bottom panel 12 to allow for additional access to and maneuverability within the interior hollow compartment 24 space when the front panel 16 is pulled back.

According to a further embodiment, a zippered pocket may be included on at least one of the panels of housing 10 for additional storage. As shown in FIG. 1, a zippered pocket 28 is incorporated into the front panel 16 of the housing 10. The zippered pocket 28 may be used, for example, to store smaller flat travel items, such as plane tickets, a book, or a map.

According to an embodiment, the housing 10 may include at least one handle for lifting the luggage carrier 100 during transport. As shown in FIG. 6, a handle 30 may be positioned on the top panel 14 of the housing 10. The handle 30 may include two connecting portions 32 and a hand grip 34. The two connecting portions 32 may be made of, for example, nylon or another durable material. The hand grip 34 may be made of, for example, folded nylon, plastic or rubber. A support strap 36 may fasten the handle 30 to the top panel 14 of the housing 10. In the embodiment shown in FIG. 6, the ends of each connecting portion 32 may be positioned between the exterior surface of the top panel 14 and the bottom surface of the support strap 36. Durable thread stitching of the three layers may fasten the top 14, the connecting portions 32, and the support strap 36 together in overlapping regions 38. Additional thread stitching may be used to reinforce the support strap 36 to the exterior surface of the top panel 14. The support strap 36 may be made of, for example, nylon or the same material as is used for the connecting portions 32. The support strap 36 may span across a width of the top panel 14.

As shown in FIG. 7, an additional handle 40 may be positioned on the bottom panel 12 of the housing 10. The handle 40 may include two connecting portions 42 and a hand grip 44. A support strap 46 may attach the connecting portions 42 of handle 40 to the bottom panel 12 of the housing 10 at an overlapping region 48 in a similar manner to that described above. In this embodiment, the support strap 46 may be positioned just beneath the ends of zipper 26. Additional stitching may be provided around the perimeter of the support strap 46 and through the wall and foam insert (not shown) of the bottom panel 12. The separated area defined by this additional stitching may produce a flexible bending region 50 on the inside wall of the bottom panel 12, as shown in FIG. 8. The flexible bending region 50 may facilitate a fold of the front panel 16, and thus a wider opening into the interior hollow compartment 24, when the front panel 16 is un-zipped and folded away from the housing 10.

According to an embodiment, the handles 30, 40 may be positioned substantially parallel to one another on opposite ends of the housing 10, for example, as shown in FIG. 2. The handles 30, 40 may be positioned so that a user can lift the luggage carrier 100 from a position above the housing 10.

According to another embodiment, the front panel 16 may include a logo 52 to enhance the decorative appearance of the luggage carrier 100. The logo 52, in this embodiment, shaped in part as a wine bottle, may also alert airline employees that the contents of the luggage carrier 100 are glass bottles and, thus, breakable. The logo 52 may alternatively be any design.

As shown in FIGS. 3 and 7, a pair of wheels 54 may be attached to the housing 10 at an intersection between the rear and bottom panels 18, 12. The wheels 54 may be attached to the housing 10 via two wheel casings 56. According to an embodiment, each wheel 54 may be riveted onto a solid, rigid backing of respective wheel casing 56, having an I-shaped plastic support panel.

According to another embodiment, the wheels 54 may be made of polyurethane and the wheel casings 56 may be ball bearing cassettes. Additionally, the wheels 54 may be semi-recessed into the wheel casings 56. As seen in FIGS. 3 and 8, the wheel casings 56 may attach to the corners of the rear and bottom panels 18, 12 of the housing 10 by a plurality of fasteners 58, such as rivets. Reinforcement tabs 60 may be positioned between the fasteners 58 and the interior surfaces of the rear and bottom panels 18, 12, as shown in FIG. 8 to prevent damage to or tearing of the interior panel surfaces by the fasteners 58 during transportation. The reinforcement straps 60 may, for example, be made of a nylon strap material.

As shown in FIG. 6, the top panel 14 may include an adjustable pull strap 62 to pull the luggage carrier 100 forward onto wheels 54 for transportation. The pull strap 62 may include two connecting portions 64 and a hand grip 66. The two connecting portions 64 may be made of, for example, nylon or other another durable material. The hand grip 66 may be made of, for example, folded nylon, plastic or rubber. A support strap 68 may attach the connecting portions 64 of handle 62 to the top panel 14 of the housing 10 at an overlapping region 70 in a similar manner to that described above with respect to handles 30, 40. Alternatively, the connecting portions 64 may attach to the support strap 68 via a D-ring hook 69 or other fastening device, as shown in FIG. 2. The pull strap 62 may be adjustable to a length that will enable a user to easily pull the luggage carrier 100 forward to roll on wheels 54 for transport. When not in use or during flight, the adjustable pull strap 62 may be removed and stored in zippered pocket 28.

According to one embodiment, the adjustable pull strap 62 may be positioned to transfer the weight of the contents of the luggage carrier 100 to the wheels 54 for transportation by rolling. For example, the pull straps 62 may be positioned along the lower third of the top panel 14 so that when lifted, the weight shift is sufficient to relieve the individual from bearing the full weight of the load. Alternatively, the adjustable pull strap 62 may be positioned substantially parallel to the wheels 54 at opposite ends of the housing 10.

FIG. 8 depicts a front view of the luggage carrier 100 with the front panel 16 opened for insertion of a pre-formed bottle shipping container (See FIG. 9) into the internal hollow compartment 24 of the housing 10, according to an exemplary embodiment of the present invention. The interior hollow compartment 24 includes an interior length LI, width WI and height HI that may be substantially equal to the exterior length, width and height of the pre-formed bottle shipping container. According to an embodiment, the interior length LI of the interior hollow compartment 24 may be about 19 inches, the interior width WI of the interior hollow compartment 24 may be about 14 inches, and the interior height HI of the interior hollow compartment 24 may be about 15.5 inches.

FIG. 9 depicts a front view of the luggage carrier 100 with the front panel 16 opened and a bottom portion 72 of the pre-formed bottle shipping container positioned within the internal hollow compartment 24, according to an exemplary embodiment of the present invention. The bottom portion 72 of the pre-formed bottle shipping container includes a plurality of cavities 74 each configured and dimensioned to hold a bottled beverage, such as a glass bottle of wine. The bottom portion 72 of the pre-formed bottle shipping container may fit tight within the internal hollow compartment 24 to prevent movement or damage of the beverage bottles during transportation. According to an embodiment, about one-half inch to about two inches of space should exist between the exterior of the pre-formed bottle shipping container and the interior panels of the housing 10. According to alternative embodiments, additional space can exist between the pre-formed bottle shipping container and the interior panels of the housing 10 to allow for extra storage space for items such as clothes or reading materials.

As shown in FIG. 9A, the pre-formed bottle shipping container may further be placed within a cardboard box 75 prior to being placed within the internal hollow compartment 24 of the luggage carrier 100 housing 10. This adds additional padding and prevents the top and bottom portions 72, 76 of the pre-formed bottle shipping container from shifting during transport within the luggage carrier 100. In this embodiment, the interior length, width and height of the cardboard box may be substantially equal to the exterior length, width and height of the pre-formed beverage shipping container. Similarly, the interior length LI, width WI and height HI of the internal hollow compartment 24 may be substantially equal to an external length, width and height of the cardboard box.

FIG. 10 depicts a front view of the luggage carrier 100 with the front panel 16 opened and a top and bottom portion 76, 72 of a pre-formed bottle shipping container positioned within the internal hollow compartment 24, according to an exemplary embodiment of the present invention. The top portion 76 of the pre-formed bottle shipping container includes a plurality of cavities (not shown) that correspond to the cavities 74 of the bottom portion 72 to store a plurality of bottled beverages. The distance between the cavities 74 of the pre-formed bottle shipping container may, for example, be approximately a half-inch to one-inch variance to pad each of the bottled beverages.

According to an embodiment, the pre-formed bottle shipping container may be a 3-, 6-, or 12-bottle Styrofoam wine shipper. The external dimensions of wine shippers vary and may include, for example, any one of the following approximate dimensions:

Number
of bottlesLengthWidthHeight
 3-bottle5.25 inches16.25 inches13.25 inches
wine shipper
 6-bottle10.75 inches15.25 inches13.25 inches
wine shipper
12-bottle16.25 inches17.75 inches13.25 inches
wine shipper
12-bottle18.25 inches12.25 inches14.75 inches
wine shipper
12-bottle17 inches13.5 inches14.5 inches
wine shipper
12-bottle19 inches15 inches16.5 inches
wine shipper

Styrofoam wine shippers of different dimensions may also be used as the pre-formed bottle shipping container disclosed in this embodiment.

Other types of wine shippers are available, including those made of cardboard, plastic inflatable air pockets and wooden shipping boxes. Styrofoam wine shippers meet the basic requirements air travel under the FAA guidelines, including atmospheric pressure conditioning, random vibration with and without top load, shock testing. Other types of wine shippers may also be approved for flight.

According to another embodiment, the pre-formed bottle shipping container may be a 6-, 12-, 18-, or 24-bottle case of beer. The exterior dimensions of a case of beer bottles may be, for example, approximately 24 inches long by approximately 16 inches wide by approximately 16 inches high. Thus, the luggage carrier 100 may be used to transport beverages, including beer, soda, liquor, water, juice, liquid medicines etc., in addition to wine.

According to a further embodiment, the luggage carrier 100 may transport the beverage bottles in a substantially upright position and/or may include a symbol or diagram to instruct airline personnel how to properly load the luggage carrier 100 into a plane cargo hold with the beverage bottles in a substantially upright position.

According to an embodiment, the bottom portion 72 of the pre-formed bottle shipping container may be fixed or permanently attached within the interior hollow compartment 24 of the housing 10.

According to a different embodiment, different types of pre-formed bottle shipping containers, having different shapes and sizes, may be inserted within the same interior hollow compartment 24 of housing 10, to create a modular beverage bottle packing system. In this embodiment, Styrofoam filler blocks, gel packs and/or inflatable/bubble wrap may be inserted in the interior hollow compartment 24 of the housing to bridge the gap between a smaller-sized pre-formed bottle shipping container and the inside panels of the housing 10 to prevent movement or shifting during transport. Alternatively, foam inserts of varying sizes may be positioned within the housing panel walls to narrow the distance between the pre-formed bottle shipping container and the interior surface of housing 10.

FIG. 11 depicts a collapsed view of the luggage carrier 100 for storage according to an exemplary embodiment of the present invention. According to an embodiment, the bottom panel 12, top panel 14, right panel 20, and left panel 22 of the housing 10 may include pre-contoured or pre-folded walls 78 to aid in collapsing the front panel 16 towards the back panel 18 for storage of the luggage carrier 100. The walls of the panels 12, 14, 20, 22 may be pre-contoured by using foam inserts having foldable centers or contoured bends. Alternatively, each wall of the panels 12, 14, 20, 22 may include two segmented foam inserts positioned above and below a horizontal centerline to facilitate a fold in the center of the panel wall during the collapsing stage. According to another embodiment, the panels 12, 14, 20, 22 may use open cell foam which easily folds into the collapsed position.

According to another embodiment, the housing 10 of the luggage carrier 100 may be made of a flexible and bendable fabric material to allow the luggage carrier to fold into a collapsed storage position. Upon re-use of the luggage carrier 10 to transport bottled beverages at a later date or time, the housing 10 may be pulled back into the expanded position, as shown and described above with respect to FIGS. 1-10.

FIGS. 12A-12F depict various views showing the assembly of the luggage carrier 100, according to an embodiment of the present invention. FIG. 12A shows the luggage carrier 100 in a collapsed position prior to use. FIG. 12B shows the luggage carrier 100 in a “ready-to-use” position where the front panel 14 has been unzipped using zipper device 26. FIG. 12C shows the luggage carrier 100 where a bottom portion 72 of the pre-formed bottle shipping container positioned within the internal hollow compartment 24. FIG. 12D shows the luggage carrier 100 where beverage bottles 77 have been placed inside the bottom portion 72 of the pre-formed bottle shipping container positioned within the internal hollow compartment 24. FIG. 12E shows the luggage carrier 100 where the top portion 76 of the pre-formed bottle shipping container has been positioned over the bottom portion 72 in the internal hollow compartment 24. FIG. 12F shows the luggage carrier 100 that has been closed and sealed by zipper device 26. Other or alternative steps in the assembly of the luggage carrier 100 are also possible.

According to one embodiment, a method for transporting a plurality of beverage bottles may include the steps of placing the plurality of beverage bottles 77 in respective cavities 74 of a pre-formed beverage shipping container and placing the pre-formed beverage shipping container into a substantially rectangular-shaped housing 10, such as the internal hollow compartment 24 of the luggage carrier 100. The housing 10 may include a bottom panel 12, a top panel 14, a front panel 16, a back panel 18, a right panel 20 and a left panel 22 that define an interior hollow compartment 24. An interior length LI, width WI and height HI of the internal hollow compartment 24 may be substantially equal to an external length, width and height of the pre-formed beverage shipping container. The housing 10 may be collapsible when not in use.

According to another embodiment, the method may further include the steps of placing the pre-formed beverage shipping container into a cardboard box and placing the cardboard box into the interior hollow compartment 24. In this embodiment, the interior length, width and height of the cardboard box may be substantially equal to the exterior length, width and height of the pre-formed beverage shipping container. Similarly, the interior length LI, width WI and height HI of the internal hollow compartment 24 may be substantially equal to an external length, width and height of the cardboard box.

According to a further embodiment, the method may include the step of transporting the housing via at least one of a pair of wheels 25 pulled with an adjustable pull strap 62 or lifted with at least one handle 30, 40. The method may also include the steps of opening the front panel 16 of the substantially rectangular-shaped housing 10 using a zipper device 26 to access the interior hollow compartment 24, and inserting or removing the pre-formed beverage shipping container into or out of the interior hollow compartment 24 of the substantially rectangular-shaped housing 10.

According to an embodiment, the method may include the steps of bending or folding the bottom panel 12, top panel 14, right panel 20 and left panel 22 that each contain a pre-contoured wall, and collapsing the front panel 16 in towards the back panel 18 for storage of the substantially rectangular-shaped housing 10.

The luggage carrier 100 for transport of bottled beverages, as described in the various embodiments above, offers many benefits over other beverage bottle carriers. The luggage carrier 100 adds at least double protection to the transport of bottled beverages by combining a pre-formed beverage shipping container with a padded and insulated housing enclosure. The luggage carrier 100 can conveniently transport 12 or more beverage bottles using a transport system, including a pair of wheels and an adjustable guide strap to roll the pre-formed beverage shipping container to its final destination without heavy lifting. The luggage carrier 100 enables users to check their beverage bottles on a flight, as it is designed to house Styrofoam wine shippers and to remain under the FAA weight limit. The luggage carrier 100 is also collapsible and reusable, so that it can be stored and used when convenient.

While various embodiments of the present invention have been described above, it should be understood that they have been presented by way of example only, and not limitation. Thus, the breadth and scope of the present invention should not be limited by any of the above-described exemplary embodiments, but should instead be defined only in accordance with the following claims and their equivalents.