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Broken Suitcases

Fri Mar 29, 2002 6:19 am

Do ground baggage handlers take special training courses in breaking suitcases? I've gone through 6 suitcases in the last year, in about 40-50 flights. On over half of those, significant damage was caused to the cases. These were flights from LHR, STN, TRN, Madrid, Barcelona, Amsterdam, CDG, Bristol, MXP, Luxembourg and other smaller places.

It also seems that having a "Business Class Priority" or "Fragile" sticker ensures that the case is taken to the front of the queue for "Special Treatment" ... I received one bag (a day late) at Madrid that looked like it had been run over by an AN-124 ... then reversed over for good measure!

And when you try to claim from the airline, they tell you that there's a £300 limit on each claim ... when the remains of your bag and clothes used to be worth £1500. So then you have to make a claim on your travel insurance...

Am I an isolated case of paranoia, or are everyone's bags being treated like garbage?

The definition of a 'Pessimist': an Optimist with experience...
Mr AirNZ
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RE: Broken Suitcases

Fri Mar 29, 2002 6:28 am

I know what you are talking about. The other day whilst I watched a plane beeing loaded, the handlers took no care with the luggage and just through them onto the plane. They even did this with a live animal!! It seems they are into much of a 'hurry' to take care!
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RE: Broken Suitcases

Fri Mar 29, 2002 11:23 am

You have to see it positive:

I years of air travel I use always the same suitcase and it gets smashed every flight and looks worse and worse. The good thing: The airlines always give me a nice compensation which I don't use to buy a new suitcase (to get it smashed again? Thank you!).

This is how I can afford to drive a brand new Porsche Boxster....

 Smile/happy/getting dizzy
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RE: Broken Suitcases

Fri Mar 29, 2002 11:34 am

you got 1500.00 pounds worth of cloths? spend a little more on your suit case. you probably go to the discount suitcase man, who works out of the trunk of his car.
dont be cheap when it comes to your suitcase.
Samurai 777
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RE: Broken Suitcases

Fri Mar 29, 2002 12:03 pm

Interesting how smashed things can get. Back in April 1989, in HNL after getting off a Wardair 747-100 from YEG, my family and I went to baggage claim area like everybody else. What shocked me was how many bags were coming apart, some of them were wide open with clothes and other stuff spilling out! And I could hear some swearing as their owners picked their stuff up.

Luckily, none of our suitcases met this fate. We were using nice tough Samsonites with hard plastic exteriors - and my dad still uses them to this day. Big grin
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RE: Broken Suitcases

Fri Mar 29, 2002 12:08 pm

I just carry my duffel aboard. Ends the whole bagsmashing problem. At the very least, I'm the one that gets the opportunity to smash my bag.
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RE: Broken Suitcases

Fri Mar 29, 2002 4:31 pm

Here's the problem: Getting a flight out on time is challenging as is. If you think that ramp rats are going to be diligent after handling bag after bag under deadline after deadline you gotta another thing comin', brother! Half of the blame can easily be attributed to those pax who pack everything and the kitchen sink and expect their lousy case to handle it with no complaints.

Another thing to kepp in mind is that these bags are loaded one on top of another in the cans or hold of the aircraft. If you're bag arrives without a scratch or burst seam, consider it luck, not diligence or due care.

Airlines don't have baggage allowances for nothing! Thay have to limit their liability somehow. A suitcase is meant to protect what's inside.
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RE: Broken Suitcases

Fri Mar 29, 2002 5:06 pm

One time I arrived in Hilo, Hawaii after flying SAN-LAX-HNL-ITO, first leg on United Express and the rest on Hawaiian. The bag came off severely damaged, and I filed a claim with Hawaiian. I took the bag home and unloaded my items which were fine. A few days later Hawaiian called me and asked me to bring the bag back to the airport. They took one look at it and offered me either a new suitcase they had there or the money for me to go out and buy a new one. I took the one they were offering and so far it's held up better than my old one.  Big grin

The thing that bothers me is often when I am watching the loaders load bags on the airplane, it seems like they are slamming the bags down on the belt when they could just as easy set them down gently.

David / SAN
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RE: Broken Suitcases

Sat Mar 30, 2002 3:43 am

As an ex-ramp rat, I've seen my fair share of busted bags, some even have come from the bag room, meaning that the bag was already busted before it got to us. I've seen bags that were more duct tape than fabric. I've seen people pack like their fleeing the country or something. When you have got a short time to turn an aircraft, bags get thrown, bags will get smashed, items will get broken. My advice is to pack light, carry it onboard with you, and if you do plan on checking a bag, make it one of those hard-sided bags, they hold up better to the rigors and abuse that occur in tranist.
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Sat Mar 30, 2002 3:52 am

I will give you a couple good ideas for this not to happen...I travel about twice a month and never had a problem with my suitcase. Dont be cheap and buy a nice hard case suitcase, if you have to sit on it to close it, it prob will break open by the time it has hit the bagroom, Dont pack over the 75lbs. Yes we have a quick turn around on the flights and we cant handle each suitcase like it is fraigle. We always try and keep the fraigle stuff in a seperate belly so it dosnt get crushed.
Posts: 666
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RE: Broken Suitcases

Sat Mar 30, 2002 4:47 am

^ I agree. I use my trusty hard case and it's never failed me once, unlike the soft case I had which was threatening to explode by the time I landed in ORD from LHR.

People back their entire wardrobe and then look puzzled when it bursts - use an ounce of common sense. Your suitcase is not designed to carry the passenger load of a mini.

And I'd give some consideration to the poor rampers rushing around the airport just to make sure you can get your connection in time. Your suitcase is designed for wear and tear - a few dents isn't anything to be bothered about, is it ?

I've not actually seen anyone whose had their suitcase explode on them, and if it does, don't blame the airport staff - try packing more sensibly next time  Smile
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RE: Broken Suitcases

Sat Mar 30, 2002 4:55 am


Is that your bag there on the bottom?

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Photo © David Mueller

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UAL Bagsmasher
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RE: Broken Suitcases

Sat Mar 30, 2002 5:11 am

Well, when you pack it with 97lbs of kitchen sinks and spare tires and whatever else people HAVE to bring with them, sometimes your luggage just can't hold together. Also, some people insist on buying the cheapest luggage they can find at a flea market and expect it to outlive them. Not going to happen folks....
UAL Bagsmasher
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RE: Barcode

Sat Mar 30, 2002 5:30 am

LOL...we actually DO have suitcases that explode at work. When they are being routed to the appropriate pier in the baggage sorter, a large mechnical arm literally smacks the bag where it needs to go. (this causes some damage occasionally too; the rampers aren't to blame all the time) Anyways, sometimes people have cans of hairspray, etc. in their bags. When this device pushes the bag, the can blows up and the suitcase literally explodes. Quite interesting to see happen to say the least Big grin

Which reminds me of one time I had a bottle of red wine bust open in someone's checked bag as we were loading it. C'MON people! Why would you put a bottle of wine in your checked lugguge other than to file a claim for damaged clothing?
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RE: Broken Suitcases

Sat Mar 30, 2002 5:32 am


I have a part time job, as I'm just in High school. I work in a luggage store. Every day I work there I say atleast 2 people bring in broken suitcases. "They broke it, can you fix it?" It's amazing though. I think the blame lies both in the design of the bags and the way they are handled. But mostly the way they are handled.

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RE: Broken Suitcases

Sat Mar 30, 2002 7:26 am

I've done quite a bit of travelling (over 1 million miles now) and have always used Samsonite or Delsey suitcases. Have only had 3 times when my baggage has been damaged. Once Air NZ ran over my bag with a tractor in Samoa and they replaced it. Another time, a suitcase got slightly damaged during a FRA-LAX-AKL-CHC leg on LH & NZ and NZ kindly paid for it to be repaired. The third time my bag was so badly damaged coming home from Kaitak on CX - it looked like it was run over by a 747. CX also paid for replacement cost. I think when you have good quality cases, airlines will be more than happy to accept responsibility and pay for replacement or repairs. Try claiming for clothes damaged by a broken bottle of wine in a soft case and see how you get on!
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RE: Broken Suitcases

Sat Mar 30, 2002 10:10 am

I am a Baggage Service Agent in LAS,
It seems most people over pack their bags that they are bulging to the sides. People sometimes have 100lb bags that when you place them in a container, they explode.
Airlines dont cover damage from over packing, broken feet or wheels,zippers.
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RE: Broken Suitcases

Sat Mar 30, 2002 7:52 pm

From what I am reading here is that it is usually the passengers fault for overpacking or buying underpriced suitcases but the loaders are justified in slamming them onto belts, the ground, or on aircraft. I work at an airport and even when I see what is happening to these personal belongings it makes me mad. Many times I have seen it done on purpose. I have also questioned why animals are being left in the freezing cold/extreme heat but usually my questions have been answered with total and complete indifference even after I question what happens to them hours after their original flight has been cancelled/delayed and they are still out in the weather. My only guess is that it's too big of a problem to make a phone call as it's more necessary to get into the breakroom for the next dominoe or card game.
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RE: Broken Suitcases

Sat Mar 30, 2002 9:14 pm

I bought a cheap rigid case in SIN for about SG$80 back in '95 (I thought it was the puppies privates then!), the following year got a hole in the corner while flying on AA LGW-CRP. CRP told me to fill out an irregularity report. When I got back to LGW, AA replaced it with a Samsonite Oyster. Still got it. I would never have anything other than a hard case now.