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It was just a usual day at work for three airport workers at Orlando International Airport in Florida, USA. However, there was something unusual about the way they unloaded the baggage from the Virgin Atlantic flight, raising the items of luggage above their heads and mindlessly launching them onto a conveyor.
Due to the heavy impact, some of the bags bounced back into the air as soon as they slammed onto the belt. Unbeknownst to the three, a passenger with a smartphone was filming their unloading antics. As social media would have it, the whole world and the airline manager saw the infamous video. The three were fired the following day.
Luggage always takes a beating regardless of who handles them at airports according to Luggage Direct, an established luggage retailer with many years of experience in providing high-quality luggage to its Australian customers. That is why luggage has to be very durable to withstand the gruelling punishment that it might endure at the hands of unscrupulous airport workers.
The incident in the US was not unique to Orlando International Airport, nor it is the first time that it has occurred. The internet is full of reports and stories complete with videos and pictures about airport personnel mishandling luggage in various airports all over the world.
It is a worldwide phenomenon. It is just a matter of time before similar baggage mishandling cases make it to news headlines. If there is anything that a frequent traveler or even those who only travel occasionally could learn from this, it is the importance of buying sturdy travel luggage — and knowing what their rights are just in case the luggage sustains damage whilst in transit.
The Luggage Check-In Process
As soon as you leave your luggage at the check-in counter, it will have to go through a dizzying maze of conveyor belts while transport security officers x-ray it to make sure it doesn’t contain anything which may endanger the flight. Once it reaches the pier of your departing flight, it will be sorted into carts by a -hopefully- careful airport worker who will then have to bring it alongside the plane for loading.
An Airport Luggage Thrower Confesses
A travel magazine once published an article about a luggage thrower and his shocking revelations about the beatings that luggage has to endure while being loaded into a plane’s cargo hold. This guy’s official airport work designation was a ramp agent –otherwise known in the industry as a luggage thrower. The latter job title is not an official one, but nevertheless captures the essence of the job. Yes, they literally just throw the bags during loading and unloading procedures, the ramp agent revealed.
The luggage thrower of course doesn’t speak for all ramp agents — what he revealed was only true to his particular workplace. The traveler has to be aware though that at other airports across the world, there are many ramp agents who do exactly what he is doing. A lot of ramp agents like him do throw luggage because airlines only make money while in flight and therefore need their flights to take off as soon as possible and without delay. Loading is fast when luggage is thrown rather than being carefully placed into the cargo hold.
It is inside the plane’s hold where the worst of the luggage bashing takes place, the luggage thrower said. Once the luggage cart is parked alongside the plane, a ramp agent puts the luggage on the belt loader which then lifts it to another ramp agent waiting inside the plane’s cargo hold.
The second agent then picks up the luggage and what happens next just might make luggage owners cry – throwing the luggage as far as 50 feet along the plane’s cargo hold where a third ramp agent picks and stacks the bag. One doesn’t have to be a physicist to imagine how much force a full bag absorbs upon impact after being launched for 50 feet. The luggage has to be super strong to withstand possible damage.
What Part of the Luggage Get Damaged More Often?
According to the luggage thrower, handles and wheels (choose sturdy wheels and handles when buying your next luggage) are the first casualties of luggage throwing. Likewise, fragile items inside that are not packed well also get damaged and broken. The fragile sticker warnings attached to luggage fail to make luggage throwers more cautious. The stickers are barely noticed during the cargo loading and unloading rush.
What to Do When Your Luggage Sustains Damage?
Once you have discovered the damage incurred by your luggage, take a picture of the damaged parts and then report it to your airline, ideally before leaving the airport. If you decide to just repair the damage yourself, make sure to keep all receipts to support your claim. Lastly, if any of your personal items inside the luggage were damaged make sure to also report it, present receipts and supporting documents as well. These steps also apply to those who own a travel insurance policy, because most insurance companies will only cover what you can’t claim back from the airline.