Hey, internets! Give me a hand here.

I have a British Airways flight bag -- of the sort they used to give away in First Class, back when airlines were civilized -- that is slightly older than I am. (It's one of these, in fact.) After twenty years of being ignored in an Arizona closet, and fifteen years of constant abuse from me, the shoulder strap has finally died. I've never owned any luggage that was worth enough to replace parts before, and I'd like some advice.

First off, is it worth taking something like this into a repair shop? The zipper is also coming apart and some of the trim is loose, but both of these are things I can fix myself. I've seen notes on Yelp! that some of the local cobblers will only work on leather or canvas shoes; this bag is heavy-gauge vinyl with a fabric finish.

Secondly, if it would be a better (read: cheaper) idea to try fixing it myself, where's a good place to get replacement straps? I don't really care if I can't find one just like the original, as long as it works and looks appropriate. I'm looking for a 5/8"-1" adjustable shoulder strap in white vinyl or leather, with nickel-finish snap hooks on the ends. Amazon offers me canvas with plastic hardware, or leather in the wrong color, and the rest of the internet wants to sell me fancy replacement straps for Marc Jacobs handbags at a 300% markup.


  1. Try browsing around your sewing supply stores. You might have to sew the vinyl yourself; if you have a sewing machine (or are willing to stab yourself doing it by hand) it's pretty easy-peasy. You could also pick up a woven canvas strap for probably cheaper. It won't match, but it would be sturdy, the right width, and last for a few years. You should be able to get the snap hooks there too.

    (Bonus: if it's the right sort of sewing store, you might be able to fling yourself on one of the sales staff or interested passersby and see if they'd be willing to help make it.)

    1. I hate sewing machines and do everything by hand. I'm perfectly capable of fixing the trim and zipper by myself, and i have in fact fixed the strap by myself before. It's just that the core vinyl has broken in the middle this time, and in order to reinforce a lap joint I'd have to put so many needle holes in the plastic that it wouldn't hold the kind of weight I put in it.

      I can find canvas straps. I don't want a canvas strap. I want to fix something properly for once. I know where to find snap hooks and sheet vinyl, but there's no way for me to put together a strap that looks as tidy as a commercial one. Sewing through that many lapped layers of heavy material requires an industrial rig.

      I already know what kind of strap I am going to put on the thing. The only question is where to get one and whether it's worth trying to pay someone else to handle it.

  2. I have a BOAC/Cunard (really) vintage flight bag and replaced the zipper with a modern one. I don't have a sewing machine, so I sewed it in by hand.


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