Career Profile: Airport Baggage Handler
When people go on trips by airplane, they might not think much about everything that goes on to get them and their luggage to their destination. One exception to that is when something goes wrong, such as when their luggage goes to the wrong place. Passengers might not know much about how the process works, but airport staff know that the work of baggage handlers is essential. Without baggage handlers, air travel would be very difficult and often uncomfortable.
What makes airport baggage handlers so important? Most people, except on very short trips, need to take clothes, toothbrushes and other items with them. They might have books, snack food, gifts and even computers or medical supplies with them. Some of those items can fit in the storage areas under or above the passengers’ seats, but not all of them. When companies send products like rugs or furniture by airplane, these items also need somewhere to go. A lot of mail also travels by air. Most airplanes have a special luggage area below the passengers for anything that is too large to fit into the main part of the plane. Getting all of the luggage, mail and other shipments in and out of the plane can be a big job.
Airport baggage handlers are the people who put the luggage in at the beginning of each flight and take it out at the end. They use equipment such as fork lifts and conveyor belts to move luggage from one place to another. They tie the luggage down inside the plane to make sure that it stays in place throughout the flight. A certain level of physical strength is necessary for baggage handlers in case their equipment fails or they have to lift luggage onto trucks or conveyor belts. The need for strength might be even greater in small airports, where limited resources mean that much of the work has to be done by hand. Baggage handlers also need to be able to work quickly and efficiently to make sure that they cause as few delays as possible. Some of their work happens outside and they need to be prepared for bad weather.
If you want to become a baggage handler, the most important education you can have is a high school diploma. Some airlines might also want applicants for the job to have some post-high school academic or vocational education. The best way to learn about educational requirements is to find an airline where you would like to work and then to find out what specific training is necessary. Next, you can apply for a job with that airline. Job prospects vary from one area to another, but they will probably improve when older workers start to retire. Salaries for baggage handlers start at about $20,000 per year, but experienced baggage handlers can make $60,000.
Do you enjoy helping other people get to where they need to go? Are you physically strong and able to carry heavy loads? You might want to consider a career as a baggage handler.