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Suitcase Malfunctions: A Brief History of Broken Luggage

Sometimes, suitcases are jerks. They toss your underwear out onto the baggage carousel, not caring that you have to trot alongside the conveyor belt, picking up the unmentionables it has “accidentally” lost due to a zipper malfunction. They silently mock you as the telescoping handle pops off as you’re rushing to make a connection and you’re forced into a hunched speedwalk down the terminal concourse.

Luggage maker Briggs & Riley recently rounded up the most common types of luggage damage. The list caught my eye because it reads like a description of my suitcase. Looking at the most commonly repaired parts of luggage, 60 percent are for components such as telescoping handles, wheels, corner guards, and yes, zipper pulls. Then there are the 30 percent of repairs for zipper and zipper sliders, and 10 percent for fabric cuts and tears. Put all these together and you’ve got a pretty clear picture of my increasingly not-so-trusty suitcase. And perhaps your own as well.

In 2012, 1.7 million bags were reported to the Department of Transportation as lost or damaged. And that doesn’t even count those travelers who didn’t bother to report damage because they chalked it up to inevitable wear and tear. Are we a nation dragging tattered suitcases around behind us like sad Linus blankets?

And yet, I’m not rushing out to get a new suitcase, since it seems like starting over means giving airlines a fresh canvas upon which to wreak havoc.

What does your suitcase look like? Is it a shiny new model or one that’s being held together by duct tape and determination? Are you looking for a new one, or are you happy with your current bag?

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