What happens to your bag from the check-in desk to the carousel?

A former baggage handler explains what happens to your bag from point A to B.

What happens to your bag from the check-in desk to the carousel?

Toronto-based aviation worker Manpreet Singh, while writing on a Quora Q&A, explains what happens to your bag from the check-in desk to the carousel, and outlines how you can best protect your belongings while they’re not in your care.

It’s really hard for airport staff to steal and if they do, they’ll be caught
“For someone to steal from your luggage is quite rare these days, but it does happen. The use of CCTV in bag rooms and even some aircraft holds have eliminated temptations for certain kinds of baggage handlers. There are way too many people working in bag rooms for someone to be able to get away with stealing,” he writes, adding: “Ground handling companies keep close watch on their employees, and if they notice that theft is reported on a certain employee’s shift frequently, an undercover investigation is launched,” he writes. “The majority of the times the thief is caught and prosecuted.”

Top causes for damage to luggage
Luggage does get damaged on occasion, not by staff by during transport. Most often, bags are damaged due to passenger error. Other reasons include:

Suitcase fabric gets caught in conveyer belts
“Suitcases get torn to shreds and people’s things scattered all over belts. If you’re still using a suitcase from the 70s, you’re just asking for your things to go missing.”

If you’re worried about this happening to your bag, maybe a hard-shell suitcase is the way to go.

Overpacking
“Just because your suitcase barely closes, doesn’t mean it’s going to hold. I’ve seen on a daily basis at least one suitcase half open with the person’s stuff hanging out. These are the people who claim things went missing from their bag.”

Overpacking will not end well for you, so travel a little lighter.

Punching arms
“There’s a solid metal arm that hits bags onto the right laterals. Without it there would be no way to get bags onto the right laterals. This can cause serious damage to weak or over-packed suitcases.”

In other words, don’t store fragile items or expensive wine in your checked bag – it’s highly likely to end up all over your clothes.

Damaged during transport
“This is probably one of the main reasons luggage can go missing or become badly damaged. I’ve seen bags fall out of luggage carts during transport and I’ve run over them by accident. There’s no way to just swerve out the way, [as I would] probably hit an airplane in the process of avoiding dropped bags.”

Baggage carts operate in a loud environment, so drivers may not hear a dropped bag. Also, while keeping an eye out for planes, other baggage carts and ground crew, your bag, unfortunately, becomes a lower priority.

Damaged in aircraft holds
“Chances are your luggage is being thrown around underneath your seat. Sad truth for all you picky travellers, baggage handlers don’t care about your bag. They deal with hundreds sometimes even a thousand in a day, so it really is just another number. From the aft cargo door to the end of the pit of a 737–800 is roughly 25–30 feet. That bag being unloaded needs to be thrown from the back, to the door.”

The lesson here is to not pack fragile items in your checked bag.

Inflight damage
“Uncommon but not unheard of, there have been reports to some airlines of damage to people’s luggage during flight. Not sure how exactly, but I assume during take-off or during turbulent times of flight. Some airlines use stop blocks in aircraft holds, but they’re pretty ineffective.”

Some baggage handlers may be careless with your luggage, but …
“… animals are treated extremely carefully. Baggage handlers love animals, believe it or not, and we are human, after all. I remember on cold winter days when rookies used to drop animals in baggage carts early and they would be freezing outside. I always brought them into the nearest heated area. Senior workers know to keep them inside until at least the flight that comes in is empty. We would talk to dogs inside the baggage compartments to keep them calm and we strapped their cages correctly so they wouldn’t move anywhere.

“We had a worker who had about three months of experience dropping an animal off on the wrong flight, and it sat outside for a bit over an hour in winter weather. The worker was fired the next day. Unions can’t do much in situations like that.”

Will your bag go missing?
I’d say your chances of being hit by a car crossing the street would be higher than your entire bag going missing. It’s very rare for an entire bag to go missing.”

In conclusion
“There are many possible things that can happen to your bag when you check it in, but for the most part it is secure and safe. You have pretty much nothing to worry about.”

What are your tips for baggage safe passage?

RELATED ARTICLES





    COMMENTS

    To make a comment, please register or login
    casey
    4th May 2019
    8:46am
    Years ago on a MAS flight between UK and Australia, we had a stopover in Kuala Lumpur. On collecting our bags found one was badly damaged. I informed the MAS staff and they arranged for it to be collected from our hotel. They repaired it and returned it to our KL hotel in time for our flight home. Good service I thought.
    cupoftea
    4th May 2019
    9:21am
    I would say the time that they get allowed to load a flight,look at our selfs when we are rushing between flights not good
    cupoftea
    4th May 2019
    9:21am
    I would say the time that they get allowed to load a flight,look at our selfs when we are rushing between flights not good
    Virginia
    4th May 2019
    9:27am
    My ex brother in law worked for an Australian airline ( he is now deceased as is the airline).
    He told me that when Bob Hawkes baggage came through, the entire crew of handlers would play soccer, basketball and league with it before passing it onto the carousel.
    MICK
    4th May 2019
    9:32am
    Bloody Liberal Party baggage handlers......chuckle.
    Rosret
    4th May 2019
    1:28pm
    Ha ha MICK - they must have been well paid baggage handlers if they didn't support an ex union exec.
    MICK
    4th May 2019
    9:31am
    Never had a problem with bags ever.
    On the point of over packing and putting grog into your bag common sense should always be the number one priority. Buy a bag which is durable and pack you grog in the middle of the bad well wrapped in clothing and soft furnishings if you have them. We've NEVER had one break yet and I'd suggest you'd have to drop our bag off a 5 storey building onto concrete to even come close to losing the precious cargo.
    Common sense goes a long way in life. Sadly some people have none and will have to suffer the results.
    Happy travelling!
    dingo1
    4th May 2019
    9:38am
    What an absolute load of rubbish. Countless videos of handlers throwing bags around & they have the nerve to blame it on the passenger errors. Yes we do make mistakes but learn by them. The bad handling however carries on.
    Tom Tank
    4th May 2019
    10:39am
    Perhaps the term "rushed handling" might be more appropriate. The point about overloading a bag is well made and could lead to damage. We have packed well wrapped bottles into our luggage and they survived. I did have one suitcase damaged on a Qantas flight and it was replaced with a better quality one without any problem.
    Tom Tank
    4th May 2019
    10:39am
    Perhaps the term "rushed handling" might be more appropriate. The point about overloading a bag is well made and could lead to damage. We have packed well wrapped bottles into our luggage and they survived. I did have one suitcase damaged on a Qantas flight and it was replaced with a better quality one without any problem.
    Arisaid
    4th May 2019
    10:00am
    I've had the wheels of 2 bags damaged beyond repair when they came off the conveyor belt and tipped down onto the carousel, with the wheels coming down first.
    zeus
    4th May 2019
    11:05am
    Sadly this is pretty much a fact of life. As mentioned above, common sense when packing is necessary. What can happen and does happen after that, is pure chance. Airports are busy beehives and things happen at a very hasty pace. Once, in busy Heathrow airport, while waiting for our flight back to Australia, we stood by the window watching all the activity outside, when my wife pointed out our luggage stacked on the back one of those carts whizzing around on the tarmac. It actually stood out due to the bright coloured ribbons attached to it! Low and behold, as the cart went around, three or four suitcases, including ours, went flying off the back...OMG! Unaware, the driver (earmuffs on) just kept going... that’s how easy it is. Lucky, 1) other personnel saw it and raised the alarm and 2) there were no fragile items in the suitcase. In the unlikely case of luggage being lost or damaged, travelling insurance comes into play.

    4th May 2019
    12:07pm
    These comments from an aviation worker clearly shows the bad attitude of baggage handlers and transport workers at the airport. To suggest "Most often, bags are damaged due to passenger error." based on the reasons in this article is garbage. Few examples:
    "There’s a solid metal arm that hits bags onto the right laterals. Without it there would be no way to get bags onto the right laterals." Why can't they have cushioned arms - are they morons?
    "I’ve seen bags fall out of luggage carts during transport..." Why can't they have cages high enough to prevent bags falling out - are they morons?
    " From the aft cargo door to the end of the pit of a 737–800 is roughly 25–30 feet. That bag being unloaded needs to be thrown from the back, to the door." Why can't they have rollers to slide the bags across - are the designers morons? Maybe they also throw the animals in cages for the same reason? If not, how come they can be taken across the 25-30 feet, yet bags cannot be?
    The answer to most questions above - yes, they are morons not taking responsibility because no one is watching them.

    Finally, "I’d say your chances of being hit by a car crossing the street would be higher than your entire bag going missing." Complete rubbish, as this is far more common than sought to be informed here, as IATA does NOT enforce proper tracking of transfers of luggage across different carriers, being a toothless body which just issues "guidelines" with no penalties.
    Rosret
    4th May 2019
    1:26pm
    I think you will find in this current state of alert in the flying industry that only bags that match the passenger get loaded onto the aircraft. If they get lost its more likely to be a thief at the terminal pick up or its at the over sized baggage collection point.
    Anonymous
    4th May 2019
    8:14pm
    Rosret, those reasons for loss may also be valid. However, I have described the main reasons why many bags are misplaced due to airports and, more so airlines, not doing their jobs diligently by ignoring the weak IATA's guidelines for the procedures for tracking transfer of bags between different airlines. I was shocked at the number of bags misplaced when I examined this once (as a consultant), and advised senior management about this issue, and noted the complete indifference all around with very limited actions thereafter. Been going on for decades.
    Life experience
    12th Oct 2019
    2:02pm
    My friend on a flight from uk to Perth in August lost her bag. Has never turned up.
    Sadly she didn’t have insurance. But the airline did reimburse her a bit. But it certainly didn’t cover her losses. Massive shock to her. I’m guessing from now on she will get insurance. Her laptop was in the suitcase which is sad.
    Rosret
    4th May 2019
    1:22pm
    I have watched the baggage handlers throw your bags onto the plane. If what ever you have in that suitcase is breakable make sure it is able to survive the "egg drop from one metre" test.
    Dot
    4th May 2019
    8:48pm
    Surprise, surprise. No different to the parcel deliverers here in Perth that was shown on the news, all ethnics with no respect for this country.
    Dermot
    5th May 2019
    2:53am
    Handlers do not give a rats! Just look out the plane window as these nutters throw bags on with no regard for damage caused !!!
    zeus
    5th May 2019
    10:14am
    When buying fragile items overseas for presents or souvenirs, a much better option is forking out a little extra and posting them back home rather than risking packing them inside the suitcase. This way, they are usually covered by insurance. Another good idea is (if you’re travelling as a couple), to pack some items in each other’s suitcase in case one of them gets lost etc. At least you have some of your things arriving at the destination. Friends of ours travelling recently to Europe to attend a family wedding, were horrified to to be told that their luggage was accidentally put on the wrong flight at the transfer point and ended up in, wait for it, Argentina! So, they had to buy new clothes etc. Complete mess. Be prepared.
    casey
    5th May 2019
    11:28am
    Had a similar problem with Emirates. Flying to UK for a funeral, plane was held up and we missed our connecting flight at Dubai. Landed at Heathrow and no luggage, it was all sitting at Dubai. I explained about the funeral the next day. Thought we would be attending the funeral in our travelling clothes with airline food spilled down the front. We went to a relatives house at Southampton an were awakened at 3 -00 o'clock the next morning. They had couriered it there for us. Good service from Emirates. Since then we have always packed the cases with half my clothing and half my wifes. And carry enough for an emergency in our carry on bags.
    Ny19
    5th May 2019
    11:05am
    After a stopover in Dubai in 2017 my husband and I arrived in Rome to find the padlock on his bag had been cut off and the very strong one on my bag had been somehow twisted open and destroyed. There was no doubt that someone had got at both bags but nothing was stolen. We surmised it had probably been done by security although something else strange happened at the Dubai airport. My husband was approached by a man in security uniform who said “you don’t need to book your bags into the counter because I can do it all for you by smart phone. It will save you time”. He then did heaps on the phone and it took ages so we said “it will be quicker to just go to the bag check-in counter” so we left him. All very strange!


    Join YOURLifeChoices, it’s free

    • Receive our daily enewsletter
    • Enter competitions
    • Comment on articles

    You May Like