News.com.au interviewed a baggage handler who revealed the truth about his job and this is what he had to say.
What’s the most common cause of lost baggage?
The most common cause of lost luggage is when people check in their bags at the very last minute. Another common occasion is when people transfer between flights.
Sometimes it looks like bags get rough treatment – do baggage handlers ever break stuff on purpose?
Yes, sometimes we make a game out of it. In the hold of the plane we would throw the suitcases to each other, from the belt to stacking them up.
We throw them to each other as hard as we can.
We don’t want to break the bags or cases, but you can imagine it’s not exactly beneficial to the bag, so sometimes handles might break – especially as the more expensive suitcases, like Louis Vuitton, aren’t very robust.
What’s the worst thing about being a baggage handler?
The worst thing is loading planes in high temperatures in the summer. Because of the tarmac, it really feels like it’s 50C, but we still have to work even then. It gets especially hot when you’re in the hold of the plane and you have to be very precise with the way you stack the bags, to make sure that they all fit in the plane.
You have to imagine that an average suitcase weighs about 30 kilograms and that we normally have to load about 200 bags.
What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever seen someone trying to transport on a plane?
We sometimes handle unusual items, for example, a pole vault and a big canoe, but the strangest thing was probably a walking stick with a dagger hidden in it. After a thorough inspection by customs it was allowed to on the plane (in the hold).
How often do things get stolen from bags?
I have only experienced this once. We see quite a lot of professional football teams going through the airport for international Champions League and Europa League football matches and once the guys who loaded the bags into the plane got hold of a captain’s arm band of a famous club. Apart from that I’ve never experienced any instances of anything like that.
Do baggage handlers ever purposely put bags on the wrong flight?
No, I have never seen this happening (at least not on purpose).
What’s the best thing about being a baggage handler?
At the airport where I work there are a lot of young students, which makes it great fun. Furthermore it is a good opportunity to look at the ladies, especially in the summer. After loading a plane you have time for this …!
The most satisfactory part of the job however is making sure that you make the turnaround time of the plane. We have to unload and load a plane in a minimum amount of time, so to make the slots is very important. If you manage to do this with the team, it’s very satisfying.
I also enjoy working outdoors and working with sophisticated equipment and technology, like the aeroplane itself. Baggage handlers love planes.