Baggage claim

What to do when a bag breaks during your trip


It’s a simple fact of life: Things break. All kinds of things break, from eyeglasses to dinner plates to (expecting mothers, gulp here) waters! But when things get broken on vacation, the damage is intensified by the inconvenience of being far from home and likely not having needed replacement items on hand. One of the worst travel annoyances is damaged or broken luggage, which can cause a whole host of problems, from your precious belongings being strewn all over the luggage conveyor belt to the complete disappearance of your bag altogether (if the tag-bearing handle snaps off). Here is what to do when a bag breaks during your trip.

  1. An ounce of prevention…

While bumps and falls are inevitable, breakage and damage aren’t – at least not when it comes to luggage. High quality luggage can withstand normal airport and travel handling for as long as you own the bag. Buying a high quality travel bag will ensure an excellent warranty in case something does go wrong, but more importantly, it greatly reduces the likelihood that your bag will ever rip or tear in transit at all. That’s why we carry the best luggage brands, from American Tourister to Tilley to everything in between.

  1. Be prepared to protect

You might not notice a frayed edge or a broken zipper until you’re already standing in line at airport baggage check. In this case, it’s good to have some emergency duct tape on hand. You can also put luggage in a special bag protector or wrap a belt around hard-shell cases so they don’t pop open. Of course, if you have valuable and/or breakable items that you’re worried about, it might make sense to purchase additional baggage protection insurance prior to your trip, but we recommend shipping such items separately – because airlines typically aren’t obligated to replace damaged or lost ‘valuables’ in checked luggage.

  1. If, despite precautions, your bag does break…grab your phone

Broken luggage in and of itself is not the most serious problem: it’s the contents that matter. Take pictures of any damage to your luggage and check your belongings for missing or damaged items. This is important because if you discover problems later, the airline will naturally say they’re not responsible because the bag was already in your custody. Make a quick list of missing or damaged items, and hang onto it even after you’ve spoken with the airline; you’ll need this list for the insurance and/or warranty claim.

  1. Visit the airline’s luggage office ASAP

After such an ordeal, you might be tempted to grab the shredded luggage and depart immediately for the hotel gift shop and some soothing Margaritas. But before you do, be sure to approach the airline’s luggage office with your evidence and fill out a damage report, because leaving the airport may prevent you from doing so later. Depending on the airline’s policy, you could be reimbursed for your ripped bag and everything in it. If you feel it’s too time-consuming or too much of a hassle to fill out the paperwork, ask to speak with someone with the authority to grant you a quick fix, such as a baggage fee voucher or travel credit.

  1. Call the manufacturer

Depending on where you are in the world, airlines can take a while to respond to claims – and you are in need of a repair or a new bag NOW. Try calling the manufacturer; the best luggage brands have retailers all over the world who can potentially replace your bag ASAP.

The good news is that, despite all we hear about airlines smashing guitars and rough baggage handlers tossing bags around like popcorn, most properly packed baggage stands up remarkably well to the travel process. If you’re still in doubt as to the strongest bag to meet your needs, give us a call for fast, friendly expert luggage advice!

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