You are off on a trip. Maybe it’s solo and you kissed your Sweetheart and the kids goodbye. You arrive at the airport to hand your bag off to the airline personal. What happens now? Is this goodbye, never to be seen again? Or will it show up worse for the wear and/or damaged? Does this bring to mind the old American Tourister commercial with the gorilla baggage handler? Here’s what happens and what you can do to make sure your reunion at the other end will be a happy one.
Stacking thousands of bags of different sizes, shapes, and destinations is all in a day's work for an airline baggage handler. Here are some simple insider tips to keep your bag from being destroyed.
Have a bottom handle - The number one thing a bag can have to help is a handle on the bottom, between the wheels. Grabbing the bottom and top handles allows the baggage handler to easily place the bag on the bag loader or in the hold. It's not just nicer for your bag; it’s easier on their backs.
Pack it full and keep it contained - Baggage holds are not luxurious. Luggage is squashed and stacked. Bags packed full survive this better. Check that zippers are zipped. Open pockets dump everything out when picked up. When liquids are packed in the outside pockets around the luggage; if they don't fall out, they're crushed during luggage stacking and leak out everywhere.
Choose structured luggage - It Luggage brand advertises as the "world's lightest luggage". It's super lightweight because it's like a tent. There's no structure, and anything in it is more likely to be crushed or damaged. Duffels suffer from the same lack of structure. Your bag should either be cheap and you’re willing to frequently replace it, or very well-built and meant to last.
Four-wheels are it - Four-wheel luggage is easy because a handler put it down and push it off to a coworker or the baggage cart and it just glides there. Two-wheel luggage might be thrown or dragged to where it needs to be if they're rushing to get a plane out.
Downsize your luggage tags - Luggage and zippers are all potential FOD (foreign object debris), that need to be cleaned up all the time. Huge, hard plastic tags are the worst. They're easily destroyed and hard to clean up. Business card-style clear sleeves attached to bags are best.
Wrap strollers and car seats in plastic or bags - Straps on car seats get stuck on everything. Some car seats and strollers are pretty gross and baggage handlers don’t want to touch them either. If it's bagged, with straps inside, it's more likely to be handled nicely. Non-bagged items come off the plane last, allowing the loader to be shut off if it jams. That means you’ll have to wait the longest for that un-bagged car seat or stroller.
Don't worry about dirt - Having an expensive bag doesn't mean it’s going to be treated any better. No use complaining if your bag gets dirty. As far as handlers are concerned, a bag is designed to protect the contents, not itself.
Now you know what to pack your things in. If you need a great packing list, email me and I'll send you mine, as your Valentine's gift.
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