Long story short, on my way back from Gencon Southwest Airlines fucked up my luggage. The zippers were ripped entirely off of my suitcase (which had been completely opened in the process), rendering it unusable. This happened at some point between the plane's arrival at the Pittsburgh airport and the suitcase's arrival on the baggage claim carousel. I know this because when the suitcase arrived, everything in it was more or less exactly as I'd packed it. The only possibility that makes sense (short of actual magical intervention) is that someone fucked up my suitcase, saw that it was fucked up, and very carefully set it on the conveyor belt and hoped for the best.
(Honestly, looking at it, I suspect that someone accidentally yanked off one of the two zippers on the chain and decided to do me a 'favor' by opening it up the rest of the way themselves so I wouldn't have to tear it open. Why they would have then removed the other zipper and just tossed it is beyond me, but...)
Naturally, at the time, I complained. The people at the airport were like "oh, it's just the zipper, we're not liable for that that's company policy." Despite the fact that this is a suitcase that can never be closed again. (If there's some service that could conceivably replace zippers on a suitcase, much like some tailors or dry cleaners can restore fasteners to a coat, it didn't occur to me until just this moment to check so if anybody knows of such a possibilty feel free to speak up.) I'm not the only one on my flight who'd had zipper problems, either -- I don't know how bad it was for the other guy, as I was focused on getting all of my stuff home (and, just as a reminder, this was coming home from Gencon where my bags had been packed nigh to bursting), but I did notice.
So they just tied a strap around the middle to try and hold it shut, which did utterly nothing as it wasn't a hard suitcase, and then wrapped a plastic bag around it to catch anything that fell out. About half the suitcase fell out before I managed to get the whole mess to the parking shuttle, and naturally I took the opportunity to explain to everyone on the parking shuttle exactly why I looked like some low-budget plainclothes Santa. As soon as I got home I filed a detailed formal complaint via their website, and waited a bit (their customer service auto-response says within five days).
So before I continue, this is where I explain that I didn't immediately do a huge post like this at the time because I wanted to see how Southwest would (or wouldn't) react before I made a big stink about it.
Problem with that was that by the time I started expecting I wouldn't see any sort of response, my immediate rage (I realize I neglected to point out that this suitcase was part of a matched set I received this past Christmas as a gift) had died down enough that I just didn't see the point. I mean, I'm not any sort of musician with access to the resources to produce a music video so I wasn't expecting it to actually matter beyond venting.
I sent them a second message, asking what the hell was going on. I may or may not have said that even if they were just going to blow me off, I'd rather hear sooner than later.
Time passed, I got distracted, and I just eventually figured I was going to be ignored by them. I debated calling their customer service number but honestly doubted that'd do more than get me annoyed at an actual person who might not necessarily deserve it. I got a message from them, a little under a month after my initial inquiry, saying that it was being looked into and someone from their department that handles this sort of thing would be getting to me 'soon.'
Time passed, I got distracted, and a conversation with a friend of mine encouraged me to get on their cases. So I decided "Okay, I'll send one last email. If I don't hear back, then I start annoying customer service reps until morale improves." So I sent this email Monday night, making sure to explain that this happened over two months ago and I'd heard next to nothing from them. I went into detail again on exactly what happened and also included my conclusion that someone had damaged the bag, knew it was damaged, and carefully placed it on the conveyor belt knowing that.
And this time, I added (roughly paraphrasing): "As this happened to multiple people on my flight, I'm wondering if the opening and damaging of luggage is indicative of a security concern that I should take to the airport in question or the TSA."
I sent that Monday night. A little after noon on Tuesday, one of their customer service reps calls me. I was away from the phone, doing laundry I think, and they didn't leave a message (which is why I didn't notice the call right away). But an hour and a half later, I get an email saying that after their 'unsuccessful attempts to contact me earlier this month,' (their insistence of multiple attempts, not mine) they're sending me a letter with instructions on how to send them photos of the damage, if it doesn't arrive in so many days call blah-blah-blah.
So we'll see soon how badly Southwest wants me to give them a second chance on future trips. Just talking about it here because it's fresh on my mind.