This is the place to share your favorite travel stories of the mayhem and destruction that the airlines (or hotels, trains, buses or the like) have brought down on your luggage. My goal is to collect the best baggage annihilation stories from around the world in one place. Eventually, I’d like to compile enough great tales to make a book, preferably a hardback with a cover that is already bent and dented, not unlike a pair of pre-stressed jeans.

So I ask you to share your best stories. Submit them as comments to any post. I’ll review them and post them on the blog. And here’s the QUID PRO QUO (I used to be a lawyer so there had to be some Latin somewhere). The Quid – if you send me your story, you agree to let me use it on the blog and in any future books/publications that might surface some day in the future. The Pro – if I am lucky enough one day to get a great collection of tales, find a publisher who likes the idea, actually deliver a publishable manuscript, yada yada, yada, a book will spring forth. The Quo – if you send me your email with your post (promise I’ll only use it to contact you and share Gorilla stories), I’ll let you know if a book ever publishes and send you a free, signed first edition.

Please start posting your baggage blogs now, and together, maybe we can beat down the thundering herd of baggage breakers.


“Why me?”, as Alfred E. Neuman once blurted out. First, like most of you, I’m a victim. I’ve traveled for a living for years and have logged over a million miles on Delta alone. Just two weeks ago, they got me again! Arriving at Dulles International in Washington, D.C. for a Labor Day weekend wedding, my wife, son and I snaked through the Dulles labyrinth to the baggage claim area to collect our three Roll Aboards and one garment bag. This time the garment bag was the casualty. It came up the belt and slid down onto the carousel with its contents of suits and dresses spewing out in every direction. It was soon followed by my toothbrush and an aerosol can of shaving cream. I guess I’m lucky they didn’t try to charge me for two extra pieces of baggage. My other toiletries weren’t so lucky. Somewhere in the bowels of Dulles Airport, another baggage handler/Gorilla smells nice.

Second, and before we go further, an admission – I’ve been on both sides. I was once legal counsel to The Gorilla. No, not the International Baggage Handlers Union. The actual American Tourister Gorilla. First as a partner in a D.C. law firm, and later as Trademark Counsel for Hillenbrand Industries, the company that owned Tourister. The Gorilla was created to suggest that the luggage was strong enough to stand up against the real band of Gorillas, the one that lurks under every airport, merrily playing hurling games with our luggage. So I know Gorillas.

Me, The Gorilla (actually Hollywood actor Don McLeod) and my mentor and law partner Bill Mathis, in an earlier time

“Every ape needs a top attorney!”

You can also find me at
Leitten Consulting

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

A Brief (case) Tale of Woe

Let me share a brief (case) tale of woe with you. This one went down in Cincinnati. The airport there is actually in Kentucky, not unlike the D.C. airports being in Virginia. Returning home from one of the many trips that flew me over the million mile mark, I headed for the baggage claim area. Tired of lugging baggage after a particularly grueling trip, I had checked both my suitcase and my briefcase. I had rarely checked a briefcase before, and never afterward!

Luggage in Cincinnati presents itself high atop the carousels, and then drops down a steep shoot onto the oval conveyor. I quickly retrieved my suitcase and stood waiting for the briefcase to arrive. Soon, I realized that all of my fellow travelers were gone. I stood alone, with the nagging feeling that a Gorilla was watching me from some hidden peep hole, smirking and giggling, knowing what was coming next. 

Moments later, my briefcase, or the pile previously known as my briefcase, arrived at the pinnacle of the carousel. Stuffed into a plastic bin, pieces of the briefcase frame jutted out amongst the strewn contents of the case like some bizarre airport sculpture. It hovered for a moment and then came crashing down onto the belt, papers, pens, pocket change and briefcase parts scattering in every direction.

While they eventually agreed to buy me a new briefcase, they insisted on getting their plastic bin back, leaving me to my own resources to get my pile home.