JustPassingThru
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Baggage stuck in 1960s

Wed Dec 05, 2018 3:07 am

As I stood around for 30 minutes waiting for my luggage to emerge onto the baggage carousel, I wondered why airliner technology has advanced so much yet baggage loading/unloading still seems to be stuck in the 1960s. I’m sure there’s lots of good reasons why it takes so long to get the bags the last few hundred meters, but it’s not obvious to this frequent flyer. Perhaps some of you who know airline operations can enlighten me why AB or B and their customers have not found a better way to speed the process.
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compensateme
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Re: Baggage stuck in 1960s

Wed Dec 05, 2018 3:20 am

Baggage handing systems are hardly “stuck in the 1960s.” Most large airports have invested in automated baggage handling systems — some are fully automated. The primary reason it can take so long for your bags to reach you is because the process of loading/unloading still requires some manual labor and staffing is generally minimal. Most frequent travelers don’t check bags because if their flight arrives 45-minutes early, limited staffing often means they’ll sit out the time at baggage claim...
Nobody cares what your next flight is...
 
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September11
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Re: Baggage stuck in 1960s

Wed Dec 05, 2018 3:42 am

compensateme wrote:
Baggage handing systems are hardly “stuck in the 1960s."


Baggage in 1960s: Free

Baggage in 2010s: Not free
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TW870
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Re: Baggage stuck in 1960s

Wed Dec 05, 2018 4:18 am

I fly about 50,000 actual miles a year, and in my experience baggage service has gotten very fast. As a DL flyer, my bags are usually there before I arrive at the carousel at most major airports (ATL is fantastic), and bags usually beat passengers on tight connections. There are occasional waits at smaller stations, but in a highly labor cost sensitive industry, the airlines are not willing to pay for a crew at every gate at a small station.

I don't see what technological fixes you are looking for. The baggage systems at big hubs are already quite automated, and widebodies with containers can be loaded quickly by a small crew. You're never going to have self-contained loading systems like military freighters because they are so heavy. The next step is going to be bags with chips that won't need tags anymore, but that again will be mostly labor cost savings for the airline rather than a big time savings.
 
hoons90
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Re: Baggage stuck in 1960s

Wed Dec 05, 2018 4:55 am

JustPassingThru wrote:
As I stood around for 30 minutes waiting for my luggage to emerge onto the baggage carousel, I wondered why airliner technology has advanced so much yet baggage loading/unloading still seems to be stuck in the 1960s. I’m sure there’s lots of good reasons why it takes so long to get the bags the last few hundred meters, but it’s not obvious to this frequent flyer. Perhaps some of you who know airline operations can enlighten me why AB or B and their customers have not found a better way to speed the process.


For containerized aircraft (widebodies, certain Airbus narrowbodies), the containers would have to be unloaded using a can loader and pushed onto a set of dollies attached to the back of a tractor. It's more efficient for the dolly-train to completely fill up before it leaves for the terminal, so they would usually have to unload several containers before any of them travel to the terminal (sometimes there's a dedicated one for priority bags.) Once all the dollies are loaded up, the tractor drives over to the terminal, goes into a tunnel located adjacent/below the baggage carousel. The dollies are parked next to a conveyor belt and another set of staff (that were already waiting there) opens up the containers and dumps the contents onto the conveyor belt, which in turn brings the contents up to the carousel.

For bulk-loaded aircraft (narrowbodies), bags would have to be unloaded one-by-one to a set of carts, using a belt loader. Then they are driven to the terminal.

Sometimes, the lack of manpower, weather conditions and other factors may delay the process. Also, aircraft pushing back always have priority over ramp vehicles, and ramp vehicles may have to wait for several minutes before proceeding.
The biggest mistake made by most human beings: Listening to only half, understanding just a quarter and telling double.
 
ryanov
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Re: Baggage stuck in 1960s

Wed Dec 05, 2018 5:21 am

I check a bag nearly 100% of the time I fly (maybe one or two flights in the last 5 years where I only carried on). Delta has had a 20 minute guarantee for awhile now: 2500 miles if your bag comes onto the carousel in more than 20 minutes from the gate arrival time. I haven't gotten it in over a year at this point (10-15 fifteen one-way flights).

https://www.delta.com/bagsontime

They also have pretty accurate tracking via RFID tags. They're neat looking:

https://gizmodo.com/why-the-hell-is-del ... 1774327898

I'm not sure if other airlines are doing this now or not, but I understand it was relatively rare when Delta got started.
 
nwadeicer
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Re: Baggage stuck in 1960s

Wed Dec 05, 2018 5:29 am

JustPassingThru wrote:
As I stood around for 30 minutes waiting for my luggage to emerge onto the baggage carousel, I wondered why airliner technology has advanced so much yet baggage loading/unloading still seems to be stuck in the 1960s. I’m sure there’s lots of good reasons why it takes so long to get the bags the last few hundred meters, but it’s not obvious to this frequent flyer. Perhaps some of you who know airline operations can enlighten me why AB or B and their customers have not found a better way to speed the process.


Wow, what was that old saying about opening your mouth to confirm a fool? I'm not going to explain to ole' Sparky here about how things work "down below". An intelligent man would probably research on the WWW what happens to your bags when you land during that 30 minutes waiting around period. I will enlighten you on a little insider info though. There is work ongoing to replicate the idea to "beam up" the bags from the bins of the aircraft straight to your vehicle. They're almost finished with the prototype, just dealing with the radiation so please, Shhhhh on that, while they work out the kinks.
I miss the Red Tail
 
alasizon
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Re: Baggage stuck in 1960s

Wed Dec 05, 2018 5:41 am

The reality is, it still takes time to offload an RJ or narrowbody. I've seen narrowbodies unloaded in less time than RJs as well because of the valet/planeside bag epidemic (when you have 50 bags to return gate side and then only 30 checked bags, the rate of offload slows down for those last 30 as people get tired)

ryanov wrote:
I'm not sure if other airlines are doing this now or not, but I understand it was relatively rare when Delta got started.


From what I know, AA, AS and maybe still B6 (haven't heard much on their front recently) are skipping over the RFID tracking fad and instead going to full baggage imaging. The baggage imaging software has shown that you can take 30 identical Samsonite black 22s and the imaging system can tell the differences between them based on the micro-abrasions and other characteristics not visible to the naked eye.
Manager on Duty & Tower Planner
 
N312RC
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Re: Baggage stuck in 1960s

Wed Dec 05, 2018 5:52 am

To the guy who said baggage was free in the 1960s: not.

Do some research before spouting off.

JFK LAX in the sixties was like $800 for coach in today’s money, If you were lucky.

Spirit will fly you across the country for what, $150?

You, the consumer, demanded it. Stop complaining and pay $30 for your bag.
My views as expressed above are my views alone and do not constitute the views of my employer.
 
lutfi
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Re: Baggage stuck in 1960s

Wed Dec 05, 2018 5:54 am

- Hard to automate the loading of bags into ULD or aircraft holds
- Big improvements in airport bag handling systems. However, this is off set by much larger airports
 
ryanov
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Re: Baggage stuck in 1960s

Wed Dec 05, 2018 6:01 am

alasizon wrote:
The reality is, it still takes time to offload an RJ or narrowbody. I've seen narrowbodies unloaded in less time than RJs as well because of the valet/planeside bag epidemic (when you have 50 bags to return gate side and then only 30 checked bags, the rate of offload slows down for those last 30 as people get tired)

Where are these bags coming from? I've only ever received my bag back at baggage claim, no matter how it was checked.
 
alasizon
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Re: Baggage stuck in 1960s

Wed Dec 05, 2018 6:34 am

ryanov wrote:
alasizon wrote:
The reality is, it still takes time to offload an RJ or narrowbody. I've seen narrowbodies unloaded in less time than RJs as well because of the valet/planeside bag epidemic (when you have 50 bags to return gate side and then only 30 checked bags, the rate of offload slows down for those last 30 as people get tired)

Where are these bags coming from? I've only ever received my bag back at baggage claim, no matter how it was checked.


On a CRJ or E140/145, if you have a standard sized roller bag, it typically will not fit in the overhead bin. As such; you are asked to leave it planeside (each carrier has different names for it). The bags ride in the cargo bin and are returned to you in the jetway or at the bottom of the boarding ramp when you arriving in your destination.
Manager on Duty & Tower Planner
 
1989worstyear
Posts: 266
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Re: Baggage stuck in 1960s

Wed Dec 05, 2018 6:46 am

JustPassingThru wrote:
As I stood around for 30 minutes waiting for my luggage to emerge onto the baggage carousel, I wondered why airliner technology has advanced so much yet baggage loading/unloading still seems to be stuck in the 1960s. I’m sure there’s lots of good reasons why it takes so long to get the bags the last few hundred meters, but it’s not obvious to this frequent flyer. Perhaps some of you who know airline operations can enlighten me why AB or B and their customers have not found a better way to speed the process.


Ever heard of the A320-200 (1988). Or the cfm-powered 737 (1984)...

:duck:

The bulk of the world's fleet is stuck in decades-old designs.
Stuck at age 15 thanks to the certification date of the A320-200 and my parents' decision to postpone having a kid by 3 years. At least there's Dignitas...
 
jethawk
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Re: Baggage stuck in 1960s

Wed Dec 05, 2018 9:18 am

JustPassingThru wrote:
As I stood around for 30 minutes waiting for my luggage to emerge onto the baggage carousel, I wondered why airliner technology has advanced so much yet baggage loading/unloading still seems to be stuck in the 1960s. I’m sure there’s lots of good reasons why it takes so long to get the bags the last few hundred meters, but it’s not obvious to this frequent flyer. Perhaps some of you who know airline operations can enlighten me why AB or B and their customers have not found a better way to speed the process.


What airline was this?
 
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ojjunior
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Re: Baggage stuck in 1960s

Wed Dec 05, 2018 11:12 am

TW870 wrote:
I fly about 50,000 actual miles a year, and in my experience baggage service has gotten very fast. As a DL flyer, my bags are usually there before I arrive at the carousel at most major airports (ATL is fantastic), and bags usually beat passengers on tight connections. There are occasional waits at smaller stations, but in a highly labor cost sensitive industry, the airlines are not willing to pay for a crew at every gate at a small station.

I don't see what technological fixes you are looking for. The baggage systems at big hubs are already quite automated, and widebodies with containers can be loaded quickly by a small crew. You're never going to have self-contained loading systems like military freighters because they are so heavy. The next step is going to be bags with chips that won't need tags anymore, but that again will be mostly labor cost savings for the airline rather than a big time savings.


Please don't fly to South America, you'd be reeeeally disappointed.
 
aklrno
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Re: Baggage stuck in 1960s

Wed Dec 05, 2018 9:52 pm

As someone else pointed out, loading outgoing bags so the the next flight departs on time takes priority over taking off-loaded bags to baggage claim unless there are spare bag handlers around. Most airlines don't have the spare capacity. As an example usually when I arrive in RNO the bags don't hit the belt until about 20 minutes after the first passengers get into the terminal. Last week I arrived on the last flight of the day for my aircraft so there was no outbound flight. The aircraft was full, but the bags got to the belt before I got to the airport door next to bag claim. I was in row 4. Of course, that was a day I had no checked baggage!

I suspect the ground crews got to go home as soon as the bags were delivered so they had a good incentive.
 
Cory6188
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Why is baggage handling technologically still fairly outdated?

Fri Dec 07, 2018 10:43 am

I had a recent trip on AF JFK-CDG-HAM, where my first leg from JFK-CDG was canceled. I ended up getting rebooked on later JFK-CDG and CDG-HAM segments, but not surprisingly, my bag was nowhere to be found when I arrived at HAM.

For 4 days, every time I looked on WorldTracer or called AF (which I realize the agents just look at WorldTracer), they had no idea where my bag was. By the time they finally "found" it at JFK (minor rant, but how does the airline not know what they did with bags from their own canceled flight for 4 days?), I was headed to BCN, so I asked them to send it on a DL flight from JFK-BCN. However, even after the DL flight landed at BCN, they couldn't tell me if it actually made it on to the DL flight at JFK, and to just "wait and see" if BCN confirmed receipt of the bag.

Given overall incredible societal advances in technology, it amazes me how manual/antiquated the technology behind airline baggage handling is. Some package delivery companies can actually show you where your truck is along the delivery route these days, if you care to look it up. Meanwhile, airlines tell you that your bag "will show up at some point," and they're not sure when, where, or how long anything will take.

I don't work for an airline, so I realize that this might be a naive question, but why is it that baggage can become such a black hole if things don't go according to plan? I know airlines are beginning to experiment with RFID bag tags and such, but it feels like this is a reasonably solvable issue.

Is it a lack of staff? Lack of investment in technology? Some other barrier to innovation? It's amazing to me how sophisticated package delivery companies are with their logistics and bag tracking, but baggage on airlines seems like a total afterthought when it comes to access to information and tracking.
Last edited by Cory6188 on Fri Dec 07, 2018 10:50 am, edited 1 time in total.
 
avier
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Joined: Tue Aug 07, 2018 12:38 pm

Re: Why is baggage handling technologically still fairly outdated?

Fri Dec 07, 2018 10:48 am

There is something called as a baggage tracker, which functions similarly like a tracker for parcel/post delivery. It uses the baggage tag barcode and some other technology to trace the bags exactly , even if lost . I think airlines have that too (on their website for tracking lost baggage I believe) , but even airports need to have that technology too.
 
MIflyer12
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Re: Why is baggage handling technologically still fairly outdated?

Fri Dec 07, 2018 12:24 pm

Delta has used RFID for a couple years.

https://news.delta.com/delta-introduces ... -process-0

It's not a compelling argument to use an example on one carrier to generalize across carriers worldwide.
 
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neutrino
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Re: Why is baggage handling technologically still fairly outdated?

Fri Dec 07, 2018 1:01 pm

On the subject of checked baggage, its high time more effort is expended to solving the annoying problem of pilferage by baggage handlers. Just last week, I had the contents of my haversack rummaged on a flight from BKK to SIN.
I always put a padlock on the zip as a small perfunctory deterrence though I know it can be partially unzipped. As such nothing valuable was ever put in but its still an annoyance to have my personal effects tempered with.
On this occasion, only a credit card type folding knife was stolen. It costs just a few bucks so no big issue except an irritation at the lowlife among the airport workers.
I do know that such theft happened not only at the terminals' sorting/loading areas but also inside the airplane belly as well.
Are there cameras monitoring these places, especially the aircraft's cargo hold since that is very conducive to the thieving buggers' shenanigans?
Potestatem obscuri lateris nescitis
 
Noshow
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Re: Why is baggage handling technologically still fairly outdated?

Fri Dec 07, 2018 1:06 pm

Airports should have the express cargo systems used by the likes of UPS and Fedex and such. Fast, reliable and not breaking things.
 
Cmac787
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Re: Why is baggage handling technologically still fairly outdated?

Fri Dec 07, 2018 1:09 pm

Most baggage handlers that handle foreign airlines at JFK are contract workers. They make low wages and do not care what happens to your bag.
 
stylo777
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Re: Why is baggage handling technologically still fairly outdated?

Fri Dec 07, 2018 1:54 pm

As some have pointed out, the big investment is actually on the airport side which has to equip their facilities with many many sensor, scanners, barcode readers, etc. It's probably seen as a must for major airports, but quite an investment also for the mid to small size airports.
Biggest bottleneck in my opinion still is the usage of traditional baggage labels. They fall off, got teared apart and so on. Once the label is not connected to the bag, the manual tracing and reconcelation process starts. Nowadays, this is done also automaticially to some extend, but an agent (or the customer himself) has to exactly enter all relevant data to create a worldwide match.

Whats the future? I honesty dont know and technologies such as the mentioned rfid or electronic bagtag have been tested/used; unfortunately with minor success. I believe the solution can be somewhere in the area of augmented reality, 3d scanning and tracking; technologies requiering even more investment, support, big data and strong networks and time to develop.
 
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ODwyerPW
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Re: Why is baggage handling technologically still fairly outdated?

Fri Dec 07, 2018 4:15 pm

I've been flying for about 30 years now. my sense is that my bags come off the carousel much quicker than they did in years past. In the last 10 years I've had one lost bag (I flew 4 flights in one day so my bags visited 5 airports). That bag was brought to my home the very next morning.

Sure it's anecdotal.. but I really feel like they have been making progress with baggage handling.
learning never stops.
 
WIederling
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Re: Why is baggage handling technologically still fairly outdated?

Fri Dec 07, 2018 4:41 pm

Noshow wrote:
Airports should have the express cargo systems used by the likes of UPS and Fedex and such. Fast, reliable and not breaking things.

They do. if you look at the right airports :-)
There is a report around on HAM continuously upgrading their bags handling system.
Really no different from the distribution center of a well working package forwarder.
Murphy is an optimist
 
cumulushumilis
Posts: 198
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Re: Why is baggage handling technologically still fairly outdated?

Fri Dec 07, 2018 4:59 pm

In my opinion it is the costly integration between airport baggage systems and airline systems and the complex infrastructure in between. In order for it all to work seamlessly in the world of codeshare, JVs and hubs common standards have to be adopted on the information sharing front. We are starting to see that integration with Automatic (Self-Serve) baggage drops in some countries such as Canada and Europe. However if you truly want it to be a global standard you usually drop it to the lowest level of technology in use around the world. Its only between 15 years since the full adoption of the barcode tag, which has enabled information sharing. It seems to advancing at the pace of Moore's law.
 
RDUDDJI
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Re: Baggage stuck in 1960s

Fri Dec 07, 2018 8:13 pm

JustPassingThru wrote:
As I stood around for 30 minutes waiting for my luggage to emerge onto the baggage carousel, I wondered why airliner technology has advanced so much yet baggage loading/unloading still seems to be stuck in the 1960s. I’m sure there’s lots of good reasons why it takes so long to get the bags the last few hundred meters, but it’s not obvious to this frequent flyer. Perhaps some of you who know airline operations can enlighten me why AB or B and their customers have not found a better way to speed the process.


Perhaps you need to change your airline/airport. Speed of loading/unloading depends on humans. This technology isn't new. Perhaps your carrier just chooses not to use (or pay for) it.
Sometimes we don't realize the good times when we're in them
 
airbazar
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Re: Baggage stuck in 1960s

Fri Dec 07, 2018 9:53 pm

N312RC wrote:
To the guy who said baggage was free in the 1960s: not.

Do some research before spouting off.

JFK LAX in the sixties was like $800 for coach in today’s money, If you were lucky.

Spirit will fly you across the country for what, $150?

You, the consumer, demanded it. Stop complaining and pay $30 for your bag.


Consumer demands have nothing to do with it. Deregulation caused the fares to go down and airlines to suffer. Fares are this low thanks to competition and airlines trying to out-do eachother in search of greater market share, not because we want lower fares.
Don't believe it, pick 2 routes, 1 with multiple airlines and 1 with only 1 airlines and compare the fares.
 
Airstud
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Re: Why is baggage handling technologically still fairly outdated?

Sat Dec 08, 2018 4:22 am

I want to ride on the conveyor belts.
Pancakes are delicious.
 
ryanov
Posts: 96
Joined: Sat Nov 03, 2012 4:38 am

Re: Why is baggage handling technologically still fairly outdated?

Sat Dec 08, 2018 7:11 am

I will second what was said about ATL. I’ve never had a bag miss a connection there, some of which ended up being very tight (less than 40 mins scheduled, arriving late).

I have only ever had a bag “lost” once, when an airline employee accidentally checked me in as the wrong person and I didn’t notice (same first four letters of last name). I now ALWAYS check the bag tag for my name.

The gentleman apparently had a habit of booking flights in case he flew, so my bag was sidelined when he never boarded. Took ages to get me the bag (24 hours is a long time when you need all your stuff). I think people kept trying to route it back to his original destination. Delta reimbursed me for every cent I spent though.
 
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neutrino
Posts: 1473
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Re: Baggage stuck in 1960s

Sun Dec 09, 2018 4:08 pm

N312RC wrote:
To the guy who said baggage was free in the 1960s: not.

Do some research before spouting off.

JFK LAX in the sixties was like $800 for coach in today’s money, If you were lucky.

Spirit will fly you across the country for what, $150?

You, the consumer, demanded it. Stop complaining and pay $30 for your bag.


Be nice!
If you want to share your superior knowledge, please do it with decorum.
If not, you can always choose to keep your peace.
Have a nice day.

Something like this will sound and reflect better on you, doesn't it?
"To the gentleman/lady who said baggage was free in the 1960s, I beg to differ.
Allow yours truly to help enlighten you a little.
JFK LAX in the sixties was something like $800 for coach in today’s money, if one is lucky.
Spirit will fly us across the country for maybe $150?
We, the consumer, demanded it. If we have to pay $30 for our bag, that's how it is now. Its still much cheaper than the 'good old days'.
Enjoy your flights."
Potestatem obscuri lateris nescitis
 
johns624
Posts: 1848
Joined: Mon Jul 07, 2008 11:09 pm

Re: Baggage stuck in 1960s

Mon Dec 10, 2018 12:49 pm

1989worstyear wrote:
Ever heard of the A320-200 (1988). Or the cfm-powered 737 (1984)...

:duck:

The bulk of the world's fleet is stuck in decades-old designs.
You need a new record. Your current one is broken.
 
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vhtje
Posts: 855
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Re: Why is baggage handling technologically still fairly outdated?

Mon Dec 10, 2018 4:57 pm

I remember reading a quote from James Strong once, "An airline can never move baggage as quickly as it can move passengers"

He was referring to within an airport, ie to/from the aircraft to the arrival/departure halls. It makes sense: passengers have legs and can walk, i.e. move themselves. Movement of the baggage requires at least some manual intervention.

Having said that, my last few experiences at Heathrow have been extremely positive, with luggage either on the carousel when I arrived or arriving a few short minutes afterwards. Your experience may vary of course.

My absolute worst experience was on Monarch into PMI a few years ago. It took nearly two hours from disembarkation to the bags arriving in the baggage hall. When we departed ten days later, we found out why: when the inbound aircraft arrived, bags were taken off the aircraft and loaded onto the baggage dollies, but the 3rd party handlers then parked the loaded luggage convoy and disappeared to retrieve the checked bags for the departing flight. They then loaded the departing flight, still leaving the arrived luggage parked. We witnessed it sitting there, going nowhere, for over an hour. When we boarded the aircraft to return to England, it was still sitting there. God only knows when they finally got around to delivering it to the arrivals hall.

I emailed Monarch explaining what had happened to us upon arrival and what we witnessed at departure but their reply indicated they couldn't have cared less.
I only turn left when boarding aircraft. Well, mostly. All right, sometimes. OH OKAY - rarely.

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