Bend it like Beckham takes on a whole new meaning when the only thing that's bent is your brand new luggage, which you inevitably overpaid for. I have so many jaded thoughts when it comes to baggage that I occasionally wish they wouldn't put a priority or fragile tag on, for fear that someone somewhere get's a little added joy putting the right boot into my personal belongings. I may be right and there may be new answers...
Look, I don't blame the airlines per say, bad apples are in every business. Baggage handlers are generally overworked and underpaid while facing customers who want their luggage faster than ever. I do however find it completely unacceptable that my luggage is battered after one single use, whatever cabin I fly. Fortunately, I'm not the only one. Just this month the US Department Of Transportation (DOT) ruled that many airlines do not comply with baggage handling laws, and have taken great liberty with the term "normal wear and tear". Per the ruling, damage to zippers, wheels, handles and exterior are NOT normal wear and tear and are now subject to compensation for passengers.
(Scroll to 5:32 for my favorite moves)
(And Scroll to 2:13 For The Best Action Below...)
Here's my advice: there's no defense for your bags other than you yourself. I don't think paying to have them wrapped in plastic will do any good, I don't think writing fragile really makes a difference. If you want your valuables protected, be sure to bubble wrap fragile items, keep them towards the middle of your packing and just hope one of the guys that appears in these videos isn't the one assigned to your flight. Happy travels!
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