Can You Travel With A Broken Suitcase or Luggage?

Luggage Drama: Dealing with a Broken Bag on Vacation

Written by Caila Ball-Dionne on

Caila Ball-Dionne is a freelance writer and full-time travel enthusiast. You can find more of her writing at

Luggage Drama: Dealing with a Broken Bag on Vacation

Luggage Drama: Dealing with a Broken Bag on Vacation


It’s a scene from every seasoned traveler’s nightmare. The baggage claim belt begins to move. The luggage from the flight slowly starts appearing. You finally see your bag…or, well, one part of it. And then another part. And then another. It's only day one of your trip, but the one bag that contains all of your essentials is damaged.

Although holding a funeral for your damaged luggage may seem like the appropriate response at that moment, there are other more important steps that you should take to get your trip back on track. Here’s some tip on how to react if your baggage gets damaged on vacation:

1. It Starts Before the Trip

Make sure you purchase your travel bag from a brand that will have your back while you’re on the road. A brand that has repair centers around the world and a great warranty policy. If it has a good warranty the likelihood of it ever breaking is much lower.

2. Assess and Document the Damage

After collecting your damaged luggage, assess the surface and outside damage, along with any damage to the inside and contents of your bag. Take photos to document it all, and itemize any items that may be missing.

3. File a Report Before Leaving the Airport

Take your case to the airline’s luggage office as soon as possible—especially if you don’t want to make a trip back to the airport. Most airlines require an initial damage report within 4 to 24 hours of landing on domestic flights, and within seven days on international flights. Have your boarding pass and baggage claim ticket available when completing the claim paperwork.

4. Check the Airline Policy

Each airline has a different policy, in terms of what type of damage they'll cover and how much they'll reimburse you for your bag and contents within it. Note: Most airlines will not cover “normal wear and tear” luggage damage, such as minor tears or scuffs, or damage to wheels, external straps or handles, nor will they cover any items in your bag that are deemed fragile. Visit your airline's website for details.

5. Prepare to Negotiate

The time and paperwork required to go through for the airline to repair or replace damaged luggage may not be worth it to travelers on a tight timetable. If you intend to have the bag repaired on your own, consider negotiating for travel vouchers, miles credit, or at the very least, reimbursed bag fees for your troubles.

6. Consult Insurance Policy

If you’ve invested in travel insurance, or have a credit card that provides it, your chances of reimbursement increase. Both types of insurance will typically cover the difference between the value of your luggage and the amount the airline will reimburse you.

7. Check with Luggage Manufacturer

If you are hitting a dead end with the airline, or simply need a repair or replacement bag for the rest of your trip, contact your luggage manufacturer. The manufacturer may have a retail location or recommended repair center near your travel destination. If it is an Eagle Creek bag that’s suffered a blow, Eagle Creek’s Certified Repair Centers are located all over the world.

Traumatized from your damaged luggage experience? Forget checking baggage! Study this infographic on how to pack a carry-on bag instead!

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