Thursday, December 8, 2011

Straight from the Baggage Handlers Mouth...

It's one of the greatest mysteries in travel.

No, not how ancient peoples transported the huge rocks that formed Stonehenge. (That was done by extraterrestrials, of course).

I'm talking about what happens behind the plastic flaps the lead onto the luggage return belt. I can't be the only one who's wondered just what my bag's been through during the hours it was out of my possession.

The answer turns out to be a heckuva lot. Thanks to a terrific piece on Airfare Watchdog, the ins and outs of baggage handling are explained by a frank and very insightful airport handler. And some of what he has to say is useful for passengers to know, including:
  • Larger aircraft (747, 767, 777, 787, etc.) are loaded by conveyor belts so the luggage gets thrown around less than on smaller planes. On the smaller one, bags are often tossed a good 50 feet and then stacked "tetris style" in the hold. It's one reason why bags on smaller planes may get damaged more.
  • Bags on which the handle is sewn on are more likely to lose said handle (riveted handles last longer). Wheels are also often cracked or broken off in the loading process. The exception are bags with four wheels that spin, as these can be easily glided onto and off the plane and so are less likely to be thrown.
  • Fragile stickers are often ignored or overlooked (surprise, surprise!)
  • Though the interviewed handler hasn't personally seen thefts from bags, when he travels he uses a TSA approved lock. 'Nuf said on that, I think.
If you're interested in hearing more and learning why you probably don't want to work as a baggage handler yourself, click on the link above. As I said, its a fascinating piece.

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