Lifestyle Opinion

Consumer Diary: Slider Bags and Lost or Delayed Luggage

Zipper bags and slider bags. Photo credit: Harlan Levy

Consumer columnist and West Hartford resident Harlan Levy has more than 20 years of experience writing stories about everyday experiences that anyone could encounter.

By Harlan Levy

Harlan Levy. Courtesy photo

I know this is petty, but, as a consumer I am not happy with tab/slider zip-lock gallon-size plastic bags. Maybe you are unhappy, too. Why? I’ll tell you after a brief history:

In 1951, Danish inventor Borge Madsen received a patent for a new type of clothing zipper – a plastic slide fastener – the precursor of today’s tab or slider zip-lock bag. Later in 1951 New York-based Flexigrip Inc. purchased Madsen’s patents, intending to market a product based on Madsen’s invention. But manufacturing the tab-style slider-lock plastic zippers proved too expensive. Then Flexigrip founder Steven Ausnit had a cheaper idea – a “press-and-seal” type zipper, the zip-lock bag fastener most commonly used today. Meanwhile, making the slider-lock zip bags became cheaper, and the two types vie for space on supermarket shelves today.

So last week I bought a box of the slider bags, and, after only a few days I had thrown out five of them after accidentally pulling the slider tabs to the end of the bags where they were stuck, unmoveable, and I couldn’t close the bags. Frustrating! What a waste! I immediately went to Whole Foods and bought their dual press-and-seal zip bags.

If anyone has a way to un-stick the tabs, write to me in the comment section below.

Now onto my main topic:

Lost or delayed luggage on a holiday flight

The airlines are predicting massive air travel this holiday season – with records already broken for Thanksgiving – so chances are that if you have air travel plans you risk losing your luggage or suffering damaged luggage or delays. In fact, the U.S. Department of Transportation says baggage complaints averaged about 300,000 in the last three months.

From some research (from DOT, ConsumerAffairs.com, travelersunited.org, peopleclerk.com, nerdwallet.com, and others) here are your rights and some tips to save the day:

  • Airlines are responsible for: Repair, reimbursement for damaged baggage and/or its contents; compensation for reasonable, verifiable, and actual incidental expenses incurred during delay.
  • Maximum liability for delay, damage, lost bag: $3,800 for domestic flights, $1,700 for international travel.
  • Airlines cannot set an arbitrary daily limit on expenses while your bag was lost.
  • Search NerdWallet.com for “delayed baggage compensation by airline.”
  • Airlines may require receipts, other proof of valuables in lost bags.
  • Take photos of what you pack.
  • Apps provided to track bags from (to date) Southwest, American, Delta, United.
  • Check if your airline has a baggage app, which will tell you exactly where luggage was misdirected.
  • Use smart luggage GPS tracking tags (Apple AirTag-$27, Eufy SmartTrack-$20, Tile Pro Bluetooth-$25, etc.) OR tracking stickers or cards (Ovener-$8, Famavala-$8, PingTags-$9.99, etc.), providing contact information for luggage finders.
  • Label your bag (name, phone number, email address, name and phone number of destination contact ) outside AND INSIDE bag.
  • Use unique, colorful, distinct luggage: Less likely or be mistakenly taken.
  • Make sure the airline will transfer bags at connecting sites.
  • Never pack  cash, credit cards, jewelry, camera, medicine, keys, passport, tour vouchers, business papers in checked-in bags.
  • Keep all baggage destination tag stubs until after you get your bags back. You need them if a claim is necessary.
  • Report any problems to the airline before leaving the airport.

Now you know.

Next week: Stopping porch package thieves.

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