28 May 2010

Bags And Why I Hate Checking Them

Its a holiday weekend in the USA and its getting to be a slow news day.

Not much going on - Google and ITA still haven't married yet. (We understand they are sleeping in separate rooms at the moment). Oil is still gushing out of the floor of the Gulf of Mexico. Oh yes and it's raining in Seattle.

I travel a lot. More flights than I should take. A lot of them are on airlines with very strict bag policies such as weight and size and number.

Whenever I fly I try to keep to the rule either it fits in my suit case and the laptop bag or it doesn't make it. I have been using the Swiss Army luggage for nearly 10 years. I have gone through 4 of them so far and the current model is dying so I will have to buy a new one. The current model - Werks Traveler™ 3.0 looks like it still does the trick.

You can find it here on the web. But do shop around - you can find lots of them at discount prices.

The current one has had a lot done to it. Replaced handles, replaced wheels, fixed zippers. The biggest criticsm I have of the bag is that the zipper tags are too flimsy. They break and then its a tough job to use them. Believe me I abuse the bag something rotten. But it is easily the best quality I have used.

Now the ideal laptop bag has been a tough one for me. My laptop bag currently has been 18 months since I won a copy for a piece I did for Chris Elliott's blog

It is a Skooba Design. It is the best one I have ever owned. Someone told me for a gift I am getting a replacement (but I am not supposed to know shhh). But this is the ideal laptop bag for me.

Its light, it has incredible zippers, it protects the laptop and it has the versatility I need.

So now my rant (take a deep breath).

The airlines have stopped fighting the abuse of people who use them as excuses to get free luggage. Now they have made it basically impossible to get compensation and recovery if they damage your bag.

The following items are SPECIFICALLY excluded if they get broken:

Handle surrounds

Basically only if you find parts of an aircraft embedded in your luggage can you sue the airline or get any compensation. Of course they can always lose it (don't they always).

In the past 20 times I have had to check my bag. It has failed to arrive with me on 3 occasions. By my calculation that is 15%.

According to the BTS statistics - the current mishandled bag rate is about 7 incidents reported for every 1000 passenger journeys. Remember that this is what is reported to the DoT. Given that in none of my cases would a report be generated to the DoT and also given that the airlines now have stopped taking reports on their damaged bags for the issues listed above. It would seem to indicate that the number of actual bags TRULY "mishandled" damaged, lost and delayed is probably significantly in excess of 10%.

Does that make you feel better?

No - me neither but at least I got to rant about it,

Cheers and have a great weekend. If you are in the USA it's the Memorial Day weekend - enjoy the time with your families and try and remember why it is a holiday and why we are celebrating it.

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