Have you ever found yourself curious about what happens to your luggage after you check in at the baggage drop off? In a nutshell, while you are looking around the airport, going through customs, and getting ready to board the airplane, your luggage is on a little trip of its own!
To find out more about this journey, I’ve reached out to GSE Solutions, a supplier of airport ground support equipment, which has been selling this type of equipment for airports for over 25 years. In that time, they’ve gained a great amount of knowledge about what happens to passenger luggage at the airport.
The whole process beginnings at the check-in desks, where airline staff members put your bags into the system and attach a luggage tag that has its own distinctive barcode. The purpose of the barcode is to indicate the destination and route of each bag, which ensures that your luggage safely arrives at the airport of your destination and not in a completely random country!
After this, your bag will enter the baggage handling system, which is an absolutely fascinating piece of engineering. For anyone that isn’t aware, a baggage handling system, is a type of conveyor system installed in airports that transports checked luggage from ticket counters to areas where the bags can be loaded into airplanes.
Fun fact: the baggage handling system is so clever, that if there’s a blockage, bags can be re-routed around diversions!
According to the Manchester Evening News, Terminal Two at Manchester Airport, which handles long and short haul flights, “has around eight miles of luggage and conveyor belts.” They’ve also shared a behind-the-scenes video showing the fascinating journey your luggage undertakes, if you’d prefer to see it in moving picture.
As well as this, The Sun reports that as part of the luggage journey, “the bag goes through X-ray machines and other security machines”. This is to confirm that you aren’t carrying any illegal items in your bag that aren’t allowed to pass between countries. Then at the collection chute, the barcode tag is scanned by a baggage handler.
Following this, your luggage is then loaded onto an airport luggage cart and safely taken to an aircraft belt, which then loads your baggage into the same plane that you will be travelling on, so your never too far away from your belongings!
Once you’ve safely and happily landed at your destination, your luggage is taken off of the plane and put onto a different baggage handling system, which will eventually deliver all of the luggage to a carousel. The carousel is a huge, circular conveyor belt that is surrounded by all the passengers from your flight, eagerly waiting to collect their luggage. Once everyone is reunited with all of their baggage, they are done and are ready to embark on the amazing vacation that awaits them.