I need to rant a bit. I am sick and tired of United Airlines ruining my luggage and not taking any responsibility for it. I have a set of TravelPro luggage that cost me a small fortune. I chose it because it’s well made, has a good warranty, and is on spinner wheels that roll smoothly beside me so I don’t strain my wrists and forearms when traveling.

The first time I traveled with the smaller bag, I checked it instead of carrying it on. It came back with one of the zipper pulls cut clean off. I never lock my bags, so I’m not sure how or why this happened. I complained to United, but they didn’t care. I then called TravelPro, who mailed me a couple of zipper pulls and told me to take it to an authorized repair person. Unfortunately, there wasn’t one close to me.

On the next trip I took my 25″ suitcase. I proudly walked it through the airport, marveling at how easily it glided across the floor even though it was full. On my return trip, I picked it up off the luggage carousel and was confused because it wouldn’t roll. Upon further inspection, I noticed that one of the wheels was completely gone. I was furious. This was a brand new bag! I walked to the customer service desk intent on filling out a damaged luggage claim form. The clerk said, “We’re not responsible for wheels.”

Huh? “What do you mean you aren’t responsible? I gave you a perfectly good bag and you gave it back without a wheel. It’s obviously United’s fault.”

“Sorry. We don’t take responsibility for wheels or zippers. I know it’s not fair, but there’s nothing you can do,” said the sympathetic clerk. I almost started crying, but my simmering anger was stronger and kept the tears at bay.

Again, I called TravelPro. They sent me a wheel. Since the nearest authorized person was too far, I took it to a regular, albeit unauthorized, luggage repairman. He put the wheel on, but it never rolled smoothly again. I struggled with it for one more trip, then mailed most of my clothes home and left the suitcase behind, trying not to think about how much I paid for it. I had to buy a small carryon to take a few things home with me, and a flight attendant pushed me to gate-check the bag. I told her that I didn’t want to because United kept ruining my luggage. She said it was impossible for anything to happen to gate-checked luggage, and practically forced me to hand it over. I relented, and when I picked it up plane-side, one of the brand-new zipper pulls was gone, as well as what was left of my respect for the airlines.

With almost each trip, another zipper pull disappears from my bag. My small bag is now missing 5 of the 6 zipper pulls needed to open the main compartment and two front pockets. Each time it happens, I complain to United, but they just don’t care. This is absolutely appalling. First they charge a fortune to check bags. Secondly, they complain about people bringing carry-on bags. Thirdly, you can’t even count on your luggage getting to your destination. And fourth, they ruin what you give them and don’t even apologize, let alone compensate you.

I have one more bag that I’ve never checked. I only carry it on, so it still has all of its original parts. I will fight to the death before I will let them take my one remaining intact bag and ruin it!

I found some zipper pulls by Eagle Creek. I think they were made to help you more easily identify your luggage on the carousel, but I have to use them just to open and close my bag since United ruined it. Unfortunately, I really don’t expect the new zipper pulls to be there after my next trip. I should probably stock up.

If you’ve had a similar experience, I’d love to hear about it!


  1. This makes me think of the song “United Breaks Guitars” — the revenge of a singer/ songwriter a few years ago. It’s on YouTube at https://youtu.be/5YGc4zOqozo It’ll have you smiling through your tears!

  2. Oh, the luggage wars. After all my years of traveling I gave up on quality luggage. Now I buy it at Walmart and treat it as a consumable. BTW, zip ties make indestructible zipper pulls.

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