An anonymous airline baggage handler has spilled the beans on just how poorly our luggage gets treated en-route. He offers advice for making sure your stuff stays intact and safe, saying the least damaged suitcases tend to be four-wheeled "spinners".
Photo by Colin Bowern.
This is the explanation for how bags and their contents get damaged:
I'm not going to lie, your checked luggage takes a beating. They call it "throwing bags" for a reason. There isn't an easy way around this. Aeroplanes only make money while in the air and no airline wants an aeroplane on the ground too long. Due to the nature of some aircraft, it would be impossible to turn around a 737 or 757 in an hour or less without throwing bags because it's just faster. On these planes, there are only two long and narrow cargo holds where your luggage goes.
One agent puts the bags on the belt loader, which carries it up to an agent inside the cargo hold who throws it 15m to the back where another agent stacks all the bags as if it were a game of Tetris. Wheels and handles often break or crack on impact and anything fragile inside that is not packed well doesn't stand much of a chance.
His advice: Never pack wine or alcohol in your suitcase or fragile items unless professionally packaged. The best bags to get are spinners with four wheels on the bottom:
We like these because we don't have to throw them when loading. We just roll them down the belly of the plane so your bag and its contents will suffer much less damage.
That certainly paints a better picture than your bag being thrown 15m. Check out the full article for more tips and insidery secrets about lost luggage, bag delays, and other misfortunes.
Confessions of An Airline Baggage "Thrower": Why You Should Buy a Four-Wheeler Suitcase [The Huffington Post]