There is an old salesmen saying that "there is nothing worse than losing your luggage." This saying makes sense for people who lived their entire lives on the road but I would argue that there is something that is almost as bad (if not worse) than losing your luggage: having it destroyed. Some people carry incredibly valuable things in their luggage but there is no guarantee that some random guy at the airport is not going to kick around your most valued possessions like they were a soccer ball. Of course, some airports are worse about this than others, so this list will countdown the 20 Airports Where Luggage Handlers Use The Baggage As Soccer Balls. A lot of these entries come from inside of the United States but the handful of foreign airports show that this is not solely an American event. It is also interesting to note that both large and small airports can become known for being a little too rough with people's belongings. If you can think of any airports that you know are not gentle with luggage that did not make this list, feel free to mention them in the comments.
20 Juneau International Airport
Can you imagine being all the way up in Alaska and having something in your suitcase get damaged that you absolutely needed? Apparently, the chances of this are pretty high, as Juneau International Airport is famous for kicking around people's luggage. Alaska is a rough in tumble place and evidently the luggage carriers at the airport cannot be bothered to be gentle with people's stuff. If there is anything that you absolutely cannot live without, I would recommend keeping it on your person or in your carry on. Considering how long it takes to ship things to Alaska, this is even more important.
19 LaGuardia Airport
What many people do not realize is that almost every airport employee is hired from the surrounding area. If you live in a place like New York City, that is known for having a lot of rude people, this does not bode well for the safety of your luggage. This does not translate well for people traveling through LaGuardia airport. There are constant reports of people's luggage getting roughed up while going through the New York based airport. Some of these people had their luggage roughed up to the point where it was almost unrecognizable. What a good introduction to the charm of the Big Apple...
18 Hartfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport
There are a variety of reasons why certain airports are especially rough with people's belongings but in the case of Hartfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta, it is probably because that airport is so well traveled. Atlanta is one of the most visited airports in the world and this constant traffic can take a toll on the airport staff. Not only do the more experienced staff become more careless as continuous avalanches of luggage come in, the airport has to bring on people that it ordinarily would not hire in order to meet this demand.
17 Philadelphia International Airport
Anyone who watched the Eagles run to the Super Bowl knows that the citizens of Philadelphia are a different breed. I saw countless videos this past year of them climbing telephone poles and setting their city ablaze. These are happy citizens of Philadelphia celebrating their team winning the Super Bowl, imagine what disgruntled Philadelphia workers at Philadelphia International Airport are willing to do to your luggage. Not surprisingly, the number of complaints lodged against Philly International for luggage that gets lost or destroyed is pretty high. A couple years ago, this led to the airport firing all of their staff and hiring new workers.
16 Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport
Can you imagine living in some place your entire life and having tourists come in every year and trash your city. This is the experience of so many people living in Fort Lauderdale. The beachside town is a major destination for spring breakers and young kids on their senior week. The people who work at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, however, have a method for getting back at these unruly visitors. I imagine that destroying the items of the type of people who make their lives harder gives a sense of grim retribution to these airport workers.
15 Los Angeles International Airport
I do not know if I have had a more miserable experience in my life than the one that I had getting from Los Angeles International Airport to LA. Traffic was terrible, the pollution is bad, and the hot, hot sun is just beating down on you the entire time. The tension created by this part of the route makes it so every customer coming into LAX is just a little grumpier than they would normally be. This in turn leads to the airport staff being grumpy, which leads to mistreated luggage. Historically, there is not an airport where luggage has been kicked around as much as it has at LAX.
14 Miami International Airport
If you research airports where your luggage is most likely to get damaged, Miami International Airport is almost always ranked in the top 5. The reasoning behind this phenomenon, however, is a mystery. The airport has tried several different companies to address these issues but they still manage to persist. The people in Miami are not known for being aggressive, so it is possible that the issues lies in the airport's hiring practices. No matter the reason, anyone traveling to Miami International should be aware of the dangers that this poses to your luggage. Maybe try burying anything that you consider especially valuable.
13 Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport
The people in Texas have their own way of doing things. This practice dates back to their days as an independent nation (in the years between when they achieved their independence from Mexico and were annexed by the United States) and it has been furthered by decades of cowboy portrayals in films, TV shows, and dime store novels. I would bet that this independent mindset has a lot to do with why luggage gets kicked around so much at the Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport. The people loading and unloading these planes are minimum wage workers but they are also Texans.
12 Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport
I went on vacation to New Orleans a couple of years ago and as a whole, I did not think that the people in the city were that friendly. Maybe my expectations for southern hospitality were too high, but I did not find that the citizens of the Big Easy were friendlier than those of any major city on the east or west coasts. Apparently, this lack of southern grace has transferred to the staff of Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport. For more than a decade, this airport has been known for its rough handling of luggage and it is clear that workers there do not care very much about the passengers' belongings.
11 Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport
For many of the entries on this list, the airports where your luggage is most likely to get kicked around are the airports in cities where the citizens are less than friendly. Our next entry, however, comes from an airport in an area that is known for being incredibly friendly. In the past twenty years, Minneapolis has become the Canada of the United States. This means that the state is full of nice, though slightly odd, people who will do just about anything to help their friends, neighbors, or even complete strangers. But they apparently are not willing to help customers at their airports, instead they choose to kick their luggage around.
10 Bradford Airport
No one would have even heard of Bradford Airport if it was not for the incident that earned it a spot on this list. This small, regional airport is located in northwestern Pennsylvania and is in the type of place that no one would fly to except for a very particular reason. Apparently, in 2012, a man and his wife flew from Pittsburgh to Bradford to visit his family. It was a small plane so they had to put all of their luggage into the plane's bottom compartment. After they got off the plane, they realized that their luggage was incredibly damaged.
9 Ronald Reagan Washington International Airport
It seems like everything in Washington D.C. is not as good as it should be. As thenation's capital and one of the most prominent cities on the east coast, I am consistently surprised at how terrible Washington's infrastructure is. This has apparently extended to its airport staff. At Ronald Reagan Washington International Airport, people constantly report damaged luggage claims. This ranges from something getting smashed in the front pocket, to peoples' entire belongings getting destroyed. Reagan idolized hard work, I wonder what he would think of his namesake becoming the haven for workers who are careless with the customers' things.
8 Morgantown Municipal Airport
This next entry is the only one on this list that I can personally attest to. When I attended West Virginia University I would drive from my home in Pennsylvania. On one occasion, however, I flew from the airport in Wheeling, West Virginia to Morgantown Municipal Airport. The airport itself is pretty weird, so I was unbothered when the baggage attendant made a weird face when they handed me my bag. I do not know what happened before and after the flight, but my luggage was completely trashed. Luckily, I only had clothes inside, so the only thing I really lost was the suitcase itself.
7 Tulsa International Airport
Most of the entries on this list are large airports but even smaller installations can be careless with your luggage. One airport that has become notorious for its baggage handling is Tulsa International Airport in Tulsa, Oklahoma. This airport has a bad reputation for customer service in general but the stories of luggage getting lost or mishandles are especially prevalent. Not a lot of people travel through Tulsa, so the fact that Tulsa International even pops up on our radar is especially troubling. If you needed another reason not to want to go to Oklahoma, how about the possibility of your things getting kicked around?
6 Charles de Gaulle Airport
In the intro I talked about how I wanted to include some international airports on this list. After doing some research, the airport outside of the United States that is most infamous for mishandling luggage is Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris, France. Many of the people whose luggage gets damaged are tourists but French nationalists also complain about how their luggage is treated at de Gaulle. In the true French style, the upper management has done nothing to remedy this situation. So if you are heading to Paris, I would recommend only packing things that do not break easily.
5 Detroit Metropolitan Airport
What a shocker, there is some institution or group of people in Detroit that does not do what it is supposed to do. Long before the Flint water crisis became the gold standard of government ineffectiveness, people constantly complained about how Detroit Metropolitan Airport was run. These complaints were usually about the airlines themselves but there are also several reports about the luggage handlers at Detroit Metropolitan. In one hilarious incident, a bag handler brought a middle-aged woman her luggage and literally threw it at her feet. If you are going to be rough with a customer's things, maybe try to do it when she is not looking.
4 Buffalo Niagara International Airport
As someone who grew up in western New York, I was not surprised to see Buffalo Niagara International Airport make this list. Not that I have had any particularly bad experiences flying in, or out, of the airport but I have seen the careless attitude that so many Buffalonians possess. Buffalo is a very strange city. Despite the fact that there is almost nothing to do in the city (and a decreasing number of places to work) very few people ever actually leave. This creates a weird phenomenon where the people are so discouraged but at the same time fiercely proud of their city. These are just the kind of people who would purposefully be careless with someone's luggage.
3 Abraham Lincoln Capital Airport
When I began compiling this list, I assumed that Chicago O'Hare International Airport would make this list. Chicago is a large city and therefore, the airport staff are put under a lot of stress. It is not by chance that other major cities like New York, LA, and Washington D.C. all have airports on this list. To my surprise, however, O'Hare has a much better reputation for luggage handling than its Illinois neighbor, Abraham Lincoln Capital Airport in Springfield. I'm not sure who is flying into Springfield but my research has found that whoever they are, the chances of their luggage getting destroyed by the airport staff is pretty high.
2 Topeka Regional Airport
One of the things that surprised me the most when I was compiling this list is that the airports that are known for kicking around people's luggage are not exclusively the larger airports. Even the smaller airports, who see less passengers a day, can be careless with other people's things. Topeka Regional Airport is a good example of this phenomenon. Despite the fact that they see less passengers than every other entry on this list but one, they had the third most reports of damaged luggage filed in 2015. This means that not very many people went through Topeka without their stuff getting ruined.
1 Albany International Airport
Most of the entries on this list are airports that have a long history of kicking around peoples' luggage. This next entry does not have that but the story I found related to its treatment of luggage was too crazy to not include it in this article. In 2012 it became public that the airport staff at Albany International Airport in New York had a certain game that they played with peoples' luggage. They would pick a particularly offending piece of luggage, pull it into a separate room, and absolutely tear it apart with their hands and tools. You can't make this stuff up.