• Where do checked bags go in the airport?

When you see your bags disappear behind the check-in counter, you may wonder where they’re taken or how your bags get straight onto your plane.

And yes, we agree that sometimes they do get lost, but really, what’s behind the ‘journey’ your suitcase makes, from when you drop it off at check-in to when you arrive at your destination, is complex and super interesting – you really need to see it!

Join us, in this post, to discover the adventures of luggage through an airport. Maybe after seeing it you’ll feel more confident when you check in your suitcase or maybe, from now on, you’ll become a backpacker. Who knows?

How checked baggage moves through the airport

As with passengers, this journey begins at the airport terminal – specifically, the check-in counter area.

Once at the check-in counter, each bag is tagged with a label specifying destination, airline, flight number and passenger.

Then comes the security check, where an X-ray is used to check that there is nothing dangerous or prohibited inside the luggage.

If there is any doubt about the contents of a suitcase, the police will open it for a visual inspection. And, once they have checked that everything is OK, they will leave a note so that the owner knows that the luggage has been opened for inspection.

A whole system that transports luggage through the airport

After check-in, it’s time for the conveyor belt system to do its job.

Your bag will travel along a network of conveyor belts that will place it in the right place for the tractors to transport it to its assigned flight. Once there, the operators will place it in the hold of the plane.

When your plane arrives at its destination, the luggage will move along the same route but in the opposite direction, until it reaches the baggage reclaim area.

Amsterdam Airport’s baggage handling system

Amsterdam Airport Schiphol is famous for its impressive baggage handling system, not only for the volume it handles but also for its speed and efficiency.

Each piece of luggage travels an average of 2.5 kilometres on the conveyor belts before reaching the aircraft.

With just over 21 kilometres of conveyor belts, 50 million pieces of luggage pass through each year – that’s 160,000 suitcases a day!

Below you will meet Angelo Wolfgang, a ground worker at Schiphol Airport. Don’t miss the video because, in addition to his day-to-day work, he tells some rather curious anecdotes, such as when he found a snake among the suitcases…

Where does lost luggage go on a flight?

The great fear we all have when checking in: losing our luggage. But have you ever wondered how much luggage actually gets lost?

Well, the truth is that very few do. And keep in mind that what we call ‘lost luggage’ also includes luggage that arrives late at the airport of destination. The figure is that only 3% of luggage is lost or delayed.

Sometimes, if you have a very short stopover, or if there is a breakdown in the machinery, your bag may not board the same flight as you.

In this case, the airline will contact you to see if you want it to go on the next flight or stay at the airport of origin.

In addition, most airlines have a luggage tracking system and work to ensure that luggage is returned to its owner as soon as possible if it is lost.

Now you know where your checked baggage goes

We hope this article has helped you to learn a little more about the work of ground handlers, which, as you can see, is essential to the smooth running of an airport.

If you want to continue learning new topics or simply discovering more curiosities about aviation, you should take a look at our posts about why airports have a unique code, what thrust vectoring is or why planes don’t fly in a straight line. You’ll be surprised!

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