The Danger of Compromise for Luggage

By: Victor Epand

There are times when it pays to be economical. The smart shopper is often the one looking for a good bargain. However, this is not normally the case when it comes to luggage. With suitcases and bags, it is very often the case that you get what you pay for. There can be few frustrations worse than your suitcase breaking open in the middle of the airport, or of waiting, bleary eyed at the end of your holiday, waiting for your luggage to arrive on the baggage carousel, and finding that your case is the one that got damaged, and all your precious souvenirs are now in pieces.

It is at these times that you wish, too late, that you hadn't been quite so frugal, and spent a little bit more. There is certainly a huge range on offer in shops, and it is easy to miss the subtle differences between the cheaper makes, and the more expensive ones. Until, that is, the case falls apart and you end up with your underwear rolling across the airport lounge.

Clearly, durability is a key aspect of any good case. For hard suitcases, the weakest point can often be the hinges and locks. Cheap cases tend to have more brittle hinges and locks, and when subject to hard knocks and bangs, they can break. If you are like most travellers, you will have forced your case shut. This means that there is a great deal of pressure on the joints, and if these are weak, then it takes very little to snap them off.

Although humorous, the image of someone having to sit on a case to force it shut clearly highlights the tremendous pressure we expect luggage to withstand, and yet all too often, we aren't prepared to pay the price for good quality luggage which will be up to the job.

Although hard cases are the most poplar type of luggage for long journeys, many people also choose the softer, more flexible bag. These are rarely put under quite as much pressure, since there is no easy way to sit on them and do them up.

Fabric based bags are usually made of a nylon based material. This is often a sturdy material, but keep an eye open for the type made from rip-proof nylon. If your bag gets snagged or slightly torn, this material will not tear easily, and any break in the fabric will usually stay as it is, without worsening.

One of the commonest weak points on all bags are the handles. This seems odd, since they are so crucial, but the problem lies in the fact that they have only a small connection to the main bag itself, yet it is this connection which carries most, if not all, of the weight.

Trolley cases often have retractable handles, and these can be very risky. The more expensive cases tend to have the handle retract completely inside the case, whereas cheaper ones leave it partially exposed. In many airports, the airline staff will insist you sign a document waiving their responsibility for any damage to the handle on such cases. Be warned - they are trying to tell you something about their experiences!

The bottom line is this: don't worry about the bottom line! If you choose your luggage purely by the price, you'll often find yourself counting the cost later on.

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