Airport baggage handlers load, unload and store luggage and freight quickly and securely. They may also be known as ramp agents, airport hands or operatives.
They collect, sort and check baggage against a flight list to ensure that each item goes on the right plane and to the correct destination. Baggage handlers use conveyors and lifting equipment to move the baggage onto trucks for transportation to and from aircraft, and to the arrival hall or store.
Most staff drive baggage trucks to and from aircraft.
They may carry out other tasks such as portering, cleaning aircraft, clearing snow and keeping runways free of birds. Some only work with freight.
Baggage handlers work around 39 hours a week on a shift system which includes evenings, weekends and public holidays. Some work 12-hour shifts. Part-time work may be available.
They work inside in terminals and warehouses, and outdoors in all weathers. Working near aeroplanes can be noisy. Some work in cramped spaces, such as cargo holds. They wear protective clothing or uniforms.
To be an airline baggage handler, you should:
Baggage handlers are currently in demand, and can be employed by airport authorities, airlines or companies which supply services on contract. The largest number of opportunities are at London’s two major airports; Heathrow and Gatwick, but there is also work at the regional airports.
Many jobs are seasonal, to cover busy holiday periods.
Baggage handlers may move on to supervisory work, and could become flight dispatchers, this involves overseeing all aspects of the turnaround of aircrafts. They can also transfer into related areas such as marshalling aircraft on taxiways and stands, or organising transport for airline crew.
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