Have you ever wondered where your bag goes after check-in?
Believe it or not, the luggage processing system is complex and takes a lot of time and effort from the airport staff. The three main jobs of a baggage handling system are:
The baggage system is different in each airport and each airline. There is technology out there that saves the passengers and the employees some time. Have you ever seen the Toy Story 2 baggage scene? It is fairly accurate to what it looks like behind the scenes.
When you check in, you go through a series of your flight information, moving your bag onto the scale and watching the bag checker put a ticket on your luggage. Did you know that sticker is personalized with your flight information in the bar code?
Certain airlines have bar-coded bag check tickets and this helps sort the bags later in the process. Once your bag is on the conveyor belt, it is time for its epic journey.
One of the Cranky Flier blog posts, focuses specifically on Los Angeles International Airport Terminal 5 for Delta Airlines. In terminal five, they use a system called a CTX screening machine. This device screens your bag to make sure there isn’t any suspicious items in it. If something is suspected by the machine, it will pop up as a picture on the screen and a TSA worker will look it over. If harmful or threatening the TSA worker will take the piece of luggage and have it examined.
After the screening is over, it is time for your bag to be put in the right direction of your flight. Remember that timing is important here, the bag needs to be there on time, not late and not too early.
That fancy bar code on your bag comes into play now. An automated scanner will scan the bar code and put your bag in the right direction to your departing flight. After that, the baggage workers on the tarmac will load all of the bags into the aircraft.
*Some airlines still do manual sorting and not an automated scanner system.
It sounds like a pretty easy process, but there are a lot of steps that could go wrong in it. For the most part, the staff does their best to ensure you are reunited with your luggage that just went through a long journey.