Enough: Cathay Pacific Staff Ordered To Attach “Fragile” Sticker To All Rimowa Suitcases Due To Excessive Damage Reports

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Cathay Pacific has reportedly ordered it’s ground staff to attach a FRAGILE sticker to each of the popular Rimowa suitcases that are checked in by the passenger due to expensive claims.

The move comes after the airline sees itself confronted with many expensive baggage claims from customers whose Rimowa suitcases have been damaged during the journey.

Cathay Pacific tries to fight against having to pay out high compensation amounts or replacements for these suitcases which (in the Aluminum version) can cost well beyond US$1000 depending on where they are marketed.

A corresponding article in the South China Morning Post (access here) reported about this move by Cathay.

A spike in damage claims for Rimowa suitcases has prompted Cathay Pacific Airways to order its staff to add a “fragile” tag to them, citing the “high cost” of such compensation. …

“Over the last six months, there [has been] a significant increase in damage claims for ‘Rimowa’ branded suitcases across the network,” the Hong Kong flagship airline said in a memo to staff on March 20.

According to the note, “feedback from a number of airports” had indicated “challenges around warranty-based repairs” which factored into a high replacement cost for Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon.

The memo added that airline staff had to apply a “fragile” tag to the Rimowa suitcases “with the aim to reduce the number of damage reports and the associated cost”. The airline hoped the move would “improve the travel experience of those customers”. …

The pricey damage claims have come into sharper focus as the airline tries to turnaround the business from a HK$575 million loss last year. Part of that effort includes a planned HK$4 billion in cost savings over three years, with half of the amount by the end of 2017.

Rimowa suitcases are indeed very popular and extremely expensive in it’s high end versions on top of it. The suitcases are available in a Polycarbonat and Aluminum with prices between US$500-1500 depending on the size and model.

They are especially sought after in Asia especially Japan, China and Hong Kong by those affluent enough to afford them. It’s obviously no secret that there are plenty of wealthy people (at least affluent enough to purchase such goods) around these countries and Cathay Pacific has a large customer base in mainland China.

I can say from personal experience that especially the Aluminum versions of the bags get damaged quite often and mostly due to ill treatment by the baggage handling staff employed by the airport or airline. Transporting baggage is a rough and tough job for all involved and it’s unavoidable that the suitcases get dents but sometimes it’s more than your average tiny dent or scratch.

I have claimed Rimowa suitcases with airlines multiple times and indeed it was always a very generous compensation especially back in the day when Rimowa was a somewhat exotic brand and repair shops weren’t everywhere like it is the case now.

Conclusion

Without a doubt Cathay Pacific is trying to save money here and that’s a valid point BUT I highly doubt that the treatment of these suitcases will improve in any significant way by the attachment of a “Fragile” sticker. Whoever believes that must live in a dream world. Considering the amounts of Rimowa baggage it’s not long until these stickers lose their significance entirely and even seriously fragile baggage, that with breakable items inside will be disregarded by the baggage handlers.

I always try to see the cause of things and when it comes to damaged on expensive suitcases it’s a very simple mixture of things. For one the indeed fragile nature of some baggage, then the job of baggage handling itself which isn’t exactly a delicate procedure. And then you have the blatant abuse of baggage by some staff that considers these items “rich peoples toys” and intentionally treat it rough. There have been videos on Youtube and other online sources for years showing how badly baggage is treated. I don’t expect any result from this measure, at least not in the long run.

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