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Recently I had to catch a flight from New Delhi to Frankfurt. On arriving at the airport, I realized that my suitcase was broken at the bottom near the wheels. Probably due to its rough handling during my train travel to New Delhi. The break was quite close to the hinge and I did not want to risk it opening up during baggage handling. I thought of buying a new suitcase in the airport stores, but then wondered how I would dispose of the broken suitcase. The dustbins at the airport, as you know, are small and leaving an (empty) suitcase anywhere in the airport would raise suspicion and one may even be taken off the flight and taken for questioning! I eventually risked carrying the broken suitcase and it somehow held.

How should one dispose of a broken suitcase at an airport?

On a related note, how do airlines handle a broken suitcase after check-in? This may be posted as a different question. Please edit it out if you feel so?

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I would hand the broken suitcase to the shopkeeper selling new suitcases. Surely, he has dealt with it before.. –  andra Jul 20 at 13:50
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This particular shopkeeper refused to take it citing security consequences for him. He asked me to carry both the new and the broken suitcase. –  Prometheus Jul 20 at 13:53
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There was no competition? That is really a weak excuse, because probably a large part of his suitcases are sold to replace faulty ones. –  andra Jul 20 at 14:33
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Maybe ask the security personnel? –  Spehro Pefhany Jul 20 at 15:53
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In my case, the shop-keeper did keep the suitcase and there was no way to do anything with the broken one. It would have exceeded my baggage limit, then again I was in Puerto Rico not New Delhi, so definitely depends on the airport or maybe even the shop. –  Itai Jul 20 at 16:51

5 Answers 5

I had to do exactly that once, at London Heathrow. What I did was to give the old bag to one of the cleaners emptying the bins. He took it and probably disposed it somewhere.

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You should probably attempt these in the given order:

  1. If the broken bag is small enough compared to the new one, place it within the new bag
  2. Ask security
  3. Ask your airline personnel
  4. Leave the suitcase open and as obviously empty as you can make it next to a bin with a piece of paper that says "TRASH" or equivalent
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No need to buy a new suitcase! Don't all international airports have a luggage wrapping service? If you arrive at the airport to find your luggage slightly broken, the luggage wrapping service will be a good solution. It is a better solution that buying a new suitcase in the airport.

When they wrap the luggage, they often cut out the wheels and handles, so even though it is wrapped up, it is easy to wheel around.

Reference: Why would you wrap your luggage in plastic?

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For your second question, some airlines will refuse to check-in your luggage if it is broken and not wrapped. –  Suman Krishna Saha Aug 8 at 0:35

I had the same problem once in Frankfurt airport.

When you buy the new suitcase you can ask the seller to keep your old one. They will know exactly what to do with it.

They are usually really happy of selling the suitcase, so they will help you in any way to complete the sell.

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"Losing" your property is not illegal. If you have a case you cannot dispose of I would just "forget" to pick it up. Coin lockers are convenient here. Or the baggage carousel.

The airport (or any public space) should provide suitable disposal facilities. If they don't they create their own problems.

Maybe don't leave a wind-up clock inside the old suitcase.

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