It’s a hot, tiring, thankless job, but somebody’s got to do it. Baggage handling doesn’t exactly command a lot of respect out there in the world of professions, but you might want to be a little more grateful next time your luggage makes it to your destination on time and in one piece. Here are some dirty little secrets revealed by some baggage handlers about what sometimes goes on behind the scenes in the airport.
Here’s a transcript of the video:
Every time you fly, you’re putting your trust in someone you’ve never met: a baggage handler. But who are they… and how much do they really care about the job at hand? Well, here are some secrets of professional baggage handlers.
1. Theft Does Happen
Your stuff’s pretty safe when you check your bags. Usually, the worst that could happen is them not being very gentle with it. However, Miami-Dade Police Department recently set up hidden cameras to investigate luggage thefts, and caught several baggage handlers pocketing booty.
2. Which Airport Has the Most Baggage Theft Claims?
That dubious honor goes to New York’s J.F.K., followed by L.A.X and Orlando International. The problem at J.F.K. caused El Al Airlines to set up a hidden camera operation in 2013.
3. The Bag Toss Game
An anonymous baggage handler admitted that he and his coworkers had made a game of tossing the bags from the belly of the plane onto the conveyor belt. They’d throw the bags at each other as hard as they can, sometimes causing damage.
4. The Damage-Able Bag
One baggage handler said that the more high-end bags, like Louis Vuitton, were more prone to getting damaged. And when you consider the aforementioned bag toss game, it’s probably a good idea to look for durability when buying luggage.
5. Larger Aircraft
This is probably (maybe) a little bit daunting to the industry, but larger planes are actually loaded by machine onto the plane (which eliminates the need for “throwing” your bag).
6. The Environment
It’s a tough job. Baggage handlers have to keep their head on a swivel when they’re on the tarmac. It’s hot, there are jet engines firing, and the noise is so loud that hearing protection is an absolute must.
7. Dear Lord, the Heat
Imagine the summer, when the heat spikes and even leaving the house seems like a chore. Then, imagine that the driving heat feels closer to 120 degrees because you’re surrounded by jet engines and a sea of heat-collecting concrete. Then, imagine that on top of that, you’re crammed into the hold of a plane having to stack luggage precisely. That’s July for a baggage handler.
8. The Back Problems
Professional baggage handlers who stick with the job tend to suffer from severe joint and muscle pains and chronic back problems. And it’s no wonder, they sometimes haul as many as 125,000 bags in a single year. That’s about 340 suitcase a day!
9. More Than Just Bags
Just remember that the team on the tarmac has to handle much more than just your luggage. Most airports have a wide variety of cargo being transported; in addition, lots of baggage handlers also direct the pilots, secure the planes, and hook up any necessary cables.
10. So What’s the Pay Like?
Poor. Most airport baggage handler jobs only pay about minimum wage. What’s more, some shifts begin as early as 4 a.m. In other words, it’s a tough job… but with one pretty decent benefit. Baggage handlers fly for free!