How to Ensure Your Luggage Survives a Trip
One minute I was rolling my carry-on bag along the concourse floor at
The extendable handle on the bag was stuck, and no matter how hard I tried, it wouldn't retract. I had to haul the bag on the plane without the help of wheels. With my bad back, I knew I would feel that the next morning.
And I did.
So here I am, shifting uncomfortably in my ergonomic office chair and heavily medicated, wondering: Am I the only one this has happened to? How often does luggage break?
What happens when it does?
Turns out it happens a lot. There are no statistics on luggage failures of the type I encountered -- broken handles, busted wheels, screwed-up zippers -- but plenty of stories.
"My bag broke in the middle of the trip," remembers
My carry-on bag came with a warranty, too. Not a bad one, but there's some fine print that may make it difficult to file a claim (it doesn't cover wear or damage caused by abuse, mishandling, accidental damage, inappropriate selection, or carelessness caused by an airline). But since it's a sample, I felt a little awkward about saying anything to the manufacturer.
As to the question of what happens -- well, that's why you're still reading this story. Here are four luggage horror stories, and some tips on how to cope with them.
1. THE STUCK HANDLE
I'm not the only person with a stuck-handle problem. It happened to
Tell me about it. If a handle acts up mid-trip, you have a few options. If you're at the airport, your airline might insist that you gate-check the bag. (Be sure to remove any valuables.) An extreme option is buying a replacement and abandoning the bag at the airport. Fortunately, I managed to retract the handle so it would fit in the overhead bin, but carrying the bag around was no fun.
2. THE BUSTED ZIPPER
Face it: zippers aren't meant to last forever. And if you push the limits of your luggage, it will eventually push back.
3. THE BROKEN HANDLE
Handles are not easily replaced on the spot, but eventually, she found someone to repair it. "Now I always keep a long strip of Velcro in my carry-on -- you can use it as a makeshift handle," she says. That's excellent advice.
4. THE FLAT TIRE
Most carry-on luggage comes with wheels, but no matter how industrial-strength they appear, they are disappointingly mortal.
The wheels on my last bag died slowly, over several trips. First the rubber became frayed, and then it peeled off until the bag made an annoying rat-tat-tat when it rolled on the concourse floor.
Fortunately, I've never had a wheel come off. I retired the bag before that happened. Luggage wheels are not as easily replaced as roller-skate wheels. If they were, we wouldn't be having this conversation.
There's only one certain way to avoid the broken luggage problem, according to
That's one solution, but another less extreme one might just be this: Check your bag for wear and tear before your next trip, and for goodness sake, don't overpack.
Your bag will thank you. Your back will thank you.
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(c) 2010 Christopher Elliott
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