When it comes to traveling, it seems like so much has changed over the years. While air travel was once seen as an ultra-luxurious venture that included a number of complementary features, it's no longer seen in this way. While there have been a number of different airlines that have popped up to make it seem like air travel is far more accessible in regards to price, that doesn't mean that it's the same sort of traveling experience. Air travel has actually become far different when it comes to complementary features in recent years and nowadays it's hard to find an airline that offers anything for free at all. From having to pay for every piece of luggage that's put on a flight to no longer getting that free bag of peanuts, it's interesting how travelers have had to navigate the friendly skies.
While there have been major changes to air travel, that doesn't mean that people have simply stopped taking flights to their destinations. Instead, people have had to navigate these changes and try to act accordingly in order to ensure that everything goes smoothly. One of the most important aspects of air travel revolves around packing for a trip and how the luggage makes it from one location to the next. Many people don't realize the many different factors that come with handling baggage and it might surprise them to know the facts. Check out our list of the 15 surprising things baggage handlers do to our bags and the 10 we assume they do to see if the right steps are being taken the next time a bag is packed for a trip.
25 They Stack Like Tetris
When packing a particular piece of luggage, people don't often think about how the contents will be impacted by other luggage it might be placed with after checking into the airport. Oftentimes, people simply pack their bags and think about only their own contents in the luggage. Yet, it's interesting to learn that baggage handlers often load luggage in a way where the bags are packed like a game of Tetris. Bags of all different shapes and sizes are squeezed together in a jam packed jumble and that should be taken into consideration when positioning the contents inside your own bag.
24 They Lick The Bags
One of the things that travelers often pack with them is bottles of alcohol. Whether it's alcohol that is being brought as a gift or alcohol that can't be found in a person's homeland, there are numerous travelers that choose to pack alcohol with the rest of their belongings. Yet, not everyone knows how to pack these bottles of alcohol with care and oftentimes, the bottles break inside the luggage. In a 2017 interview with The Independent, a baggage handler regaled some of his tales when he worked as a baggage handler and one surprising thing people might be interested to learn is how some of the handlers would lick the bags that had broken alcohol bottles in order to get a quick buzz during work hours.
23 They Disregard Fragile Tags
There are some pieces of luggage that truly have fragile contents and travelers are able to obtain a fragile tag when they check in their bags at the airport. Yet, there are those that save their old fragile tags and apply them to their new bags, in the hopes that their luggage will be treated far more kindly than some of the others. Yet, it's interesting how little these fragile tags can affect the treatment of the bags. In a feature with Reader's Digest, a number of baggage handlers commented on the fact that these fragile tags are often disregarded and stated, "If everyone's bag is fragile, nobody's is."
22 Lost Luggage Is Sometimes Auctioned
Anyone that has had the misfortune of having to deal with hunting down their lost luggage during a trip can know the frustrations that can come when a bag has been misplaced. From arriving at a destination only to find that the bag hasn't made it to the right conveyer belt to arriving home only to find out that there aren't any bags to take home, this can be the worst case scenario for many travelers. Yet, it might interest some to learn what happens to the luggage that isn't claimed after 90 days. Airlines often conduct auctions and people are able to bid on bags, without knowing the contents.
21 They Sometimes Throw Bags Up To 20 Yards
While travelers often understand that their luggage probably won't be treated as if it contains porcelain cups, they might be surprised to learn that there are some instances where a piece of luggage is thrown up to 20 yards. In September 2018, Business Insider ran a feature on how a Ryanair passenger filmed a baggage handler carelessly throwing luggage and it was received quite strongly by travelers. Yet, the fact of the matter is that baggage handlers often have to throw luggage when it comes to loading on the conveyer belt and it's seen as normal practice in order to get everything loaded in the time allotted.
20 We Assume They Take Joy Out Of Messing Up The Contents
When traveling through an airport, there are times when bags will need to be opened and rummaged through in order to get from one area to the other. It's during this time when travelers can often get quite upset about having to unfold certain items and repack their luggage after they had already packed it at home with a lot of care. Yet, it's interesting how often bags arrive at their destination and the contents are in a completely different state from when it was at the airport. Oftentimes, the contents of a bag have been searched and it arrives in complete disarray. Travelers often assume that baggage handlers revel in messing up the contents but the truth is more likely that they were just doing their job and didn't give it much thought.
19 Two-Wheel Luggage Are Treated Worse Than Four-Wheel
When purchasing a piece of luggage, many people really take into account various aspects. Yet, the amount of wheels a bag has can sometimes take a backseat to design and price. Four-wheeled bags are often quite a bit more expensive than two-wheeled bags but it seems like the four-wheeled bags are treated more nicely when handled by baggage handlers at the airport. In a 2016 interview with Condé Nast Traveler, a professional baggage handler commented on the treatment of two-wheeled bags and it was stated, "Two-wheel luggage might be thrown or dragged to where it needs to be if we're rushing to get a plane out."
18 Non-Bagged Items Are Unloaded Last
When it comes to bringing along personal items on an airplane, people don't often think about the luggage that isn't in an actual bag. Yet, there are a number of different items that are allowed on an airplane that don't require being in a bag. Car seats and strollers can be oddly shaped and people don't necessarily put them in a bag in order to check them in. In fact, many airlines simply wrap a tag around a portion of the item and it goes in with the other luggage. However, Condé Nast Traveler ran a feature in 2016 and a baggage handler stated, "Non-bagged items also may come out of the plane last, so we can just shut off the loader if it jams."
17 They Look For A Bottom Handle
While there are those that really see the convenience and appeal in a piece of luggage with a bottom handle, there are others that couldn't care if it has a bottom handle or not. Some people can even think that the bottom handle is a bit of waste and it may not be used often enough to warrant giving it a second thought. However, baggage handlers often seek out whether or not a piece of luggage has a bottom handle because it makes it easier to place on the bag loader or in the holding area leading up to being placed on the airplane. In a 2016 interview with Condé Nast Traveler, one baggage handler commented on how having a bottom handle can mean a nicer treatment for a bag.
16 They Discard Fallen Luggage Tags
While there are a number of different pieces of luggage that come with their own luggage tags, it's interesting how many people choose to purchase a separate luggage tag to use for their bags. From luxury designer brands that offer luggage tags to add a bit of style to novelty luggage tags that give a pop of personality, many people try and get a standout luggage tag to go along with their bag. Yet, it's important to note that some of these separate luggage tags can fall off during transport and the baggage handlers don't have the time to reattach them. Instead, they become FOD (foreign object debris) and they are swept up and discarded.
15 Dirty Items Are Treated Poorly
When traveling with children, parents often have a myriad of different things that they need to pack when going on a trip. While the numerous change of clothing items and diaper bag essentials might seem bad enough, it's the larger items that can be the most stressful for taking on a trip. Most airlines understand that larger items like car seats and strollers are part of the package when a family is traveling but that doesn't mean that parents don't have to take a bit of care when bringing these items along. The interesting part of bringing along a car seat or stroller is how baggage handlers treat them if they are dirty. Baggage handlers won't want to touch a yucky car seat with questionable stains and, therefore, it might be treated more aggressively than others.
14 Disregard Exterior Zippers
Oftentimes, it seems like the exterior pockets of a piece of luggage are seen as an afterthought for those packing for a trip. The interior cavity usually gets the most thought when trying to cram all of the contents inside. With the exterior pockets being seen as an afterthought, it's interesting how many people forget to make sure that all of the zippers are closed. While there are those that would assume that seeing an unzipped pocket would immediately call for its closure without being asked, that's definitely not the case for baggage handlers. With having so many bags to load and such a small frame of time to load them, unzipped exterior pockets are completely disregarded and won't be closed by a handler.
13 They Treat All Luggage The Same
When it comes to purchasing luggage, there are many people that opt for a luxury designer brand. Some people choose a standout designer brand logo to help make the bag more recognizable when looking for it on the conveyor belt but other people can't help but think that purchasing an ultra-expensive piece of luggage will automatically make baggage handlers treat it far more carefully. Yet, that definitely doesn't seem like the case since baggage handlers have such a small amount of time to get the bags loaded and they don't take the brand name into consideration. While it would be nice to think that a quality piece of luggage would be respected by the handlers, they simply don't seek out the luggage to treat nicely based on the brand.
12 There Are Handlers That Will Rifle Through The Bag
One of the most important things to realize about baggage handlers is the fact that they are just human beings that come from all walks of life. While it would be nice to think that they are all people that intensely care for the luggage they handle like it was their own or that of a dear family member, that's not always the case. In a 2017 interview with The Independent, one baggage handler talked about how there are some coworkers that had a tendency to rifle through other people's belongings and even mentioned the importance of putting undergarments in a separate bag and compartment that can't easily be rifled through.
11 They Look For Luggage Locks
When it comes to packing a piece of luggage, there are some people that don't think that putting a lock on a bag is necessary. It can add just another aspect of the trip that needs to be taken care of, from remembering the key to the lock to ensuring that everything is secured before checking in to the airport. Yet, it's actually something that many baggage handlers look for and it's not because of them actually wanting to go through it. In an interview with Reader's Digest, a baggage handler commented on it by saying, "Locking your zippers together with a TSA lock will help keep it from opening up on its own."
10 They Put Heavier Bags At The Bottom
When it comes to packing a piece of luggage, there are some people that tend to overpack and it creates a bag that's extremely heavy. While there are those that will try and refrain from over packing simply because they don't want to pay the increased rate for bags over 50 lbs but there are others that don't mind it because they feel their bag will be far more substantial and will withstand the journey better. Yet, that's not always the case since the heavier bags are often placed on the bottom when being loaded after check-in. One baggage handler was interviewed by The Globe and Mail and stated, "Most of the bags I've broken have weighed well over 50 lbs."
9 We Assume They Keep All Bags With Matching Tags Together
When it comes to traveling as a family or a large group, travelers often make the assumption that baggage handlers pay attention to the tags that are put on each individual piece of luggage that is checked in at the airport. While it may seem like an easy assumption that baggage handlers would pay attention to the tags and keep all luggage that corresponds with one particular group of travelers together at all times, that's not always the case. In fact, it's not uncommon for bags belonging to people traveling in the same group to become separated from the pack.
8 We Assume Luggage Checked In At Terminal Is Treated Better
When checking in luggage, many people have different outlooks on the process regarding check-in at the airport. While some people prefer to keep their bags with them when they are in line to check-in, others think the exterior check-in for luggage is the only route to go. People often like the convenience of it when arriving at the airport but there are others that aren't keen on having their bags without them at the start of a trip. However, millions of people still opt for this because they somehow think that it will mean that their bags are treated with more care.
7 We Assume Tipping The Baggage Handler Ensures The Bag’s Safety
Many people don't ever really think about how much a baggage handler makes per hour or how difficult their job may be on them, physically. Yet, it's actually quite a strenuous job and the rate of pay isn't a huge sum that will cause it to be a highly coveted position in the minds of those looking for an extremely well-paying job. Taking this into consideration, it puts a whole new spin on the tipping process that occurs when people check-in their luggage. When checking in baggage directly to a handler, many people feel the need to tip. Yet, it's not always out of the goodness of their hearts since they feel that tipping will ensure that the bag will be treated more gently.
6 We Assume Children’s Luggage Is Exempt From Random Checks
There are a myriad of different reasons why airlines and airports will feel the need to check random bags whenever traveling the friendly skies. It seems like these random checks have become far more frequent in recent years and there are those that seem like they have far worse luck when it comes to this. While some people will arrive and see that their bags have never been rifled through, there are others that seem to have their bags randomly checked almost every time they take a flight. For families traveling, there is a common misconception that children's luggage will never be chosen for a random check but that isn't always the case.
5 We Assume Anything That Falls Out Of Luggage Will Be Put Back
When packing a piece of luggage, everyone tries to ensure that all of their belongings will be encased properly and that all of its contents will make it to the intended destination. Yet, that isn't always the case. From backpacks that have attachment pieces that simply fall off during the traveling process to luggage that pops open due to overpacking, it's interesting how much is lost due to luggage not being that secure. Travelers assume that if something were to fall out of the luggage that the baggage handler would simply shove it back in. However, that is rarely the case since these fallen items can be missed easily and handlers simply don't have the time to decipher where they belong.
4 We Assume Children’s Luggage Is Treated With More Care
When it comes to packing a piece of luggage for a child, the prospect can be both exciting and nerve-racking for a parent. Traveling can often be quite stressful, especially when it involves small children. Parents often try to limit the stress on both themselves and the children by making the luggage be a fun aspect of the trip. From novelty bags that will excite them to contents filled with everything from electronic devices and toys, the luggage for a child can be just as important as anything else that's packed for a trip. Travelers often assume that a child's backpack or suitcase will be treated with more care but that's not always the case with baggage handlers due to limited time and an excessive amount of bags to sort.
3 We Assume Handlers Have Sticky Fingers
There have been numerous events that have caused people to think negatively when it comes to baggage handlers. From media depictions that have shown baggage handlers with sticky fingers to news stories that have highlighted some questionable practices at the airports, it's not surprising that so many people have made the assumption that baggage handlers quite often steal from the luggage that they are supposed to be sorting. While there are undoubtedly a few cases that will support that notion, there are millions of baggage handlers around the world that aren't trying to do anything to jeopardize their job or moral compass.
2 We Assume They Extend Handles
Oftentimes, when people are out looking for a new piece of luggage, it's the handle that gets a lot of attention. The extending handle can be a huge boost to convenience when traveling through an airport and many people feel like this is a must-have feature for any new bag purchase. Yet, it's interesting to know that many baggage handlers don't even pay any attention to the extending handles on a bag. While travelers assume that they use this convenience feature and extend handles, the truth of the matter is that extending the handles takes up unnecessary time and they're often disregarded in order to speed up the loading process.
1 We Assume They Can Decipher Multiple Tags
One of the biggest annoyances for a baggage handler revolves around the fact that millions of travelers don't seem to pay attention to old tags that they've left onto their luggage. Many people think of it as a colorful way to show off where they've traveled but there are others that just get a tad lazy when it comes to ripping off the old tags from previous flights. While it may seem like a harmless oversight on behalf of the traveler, it's actually quite a disturbance for a baggage handler. Travelers often assume that the baggage handlers can easily decipher which tags should be disregarded and which ones pertain to the flight but that's not always the case.
Sources: Condé Nast Traveler, MSN, Reader’s Digest, Cheat Sheet, This Is Money, Travel Channel, VOA News, Trip Advisor, Best Kids Luggage, The Independent, The Globe and Mail