Airline baggage handlers, called "ramp agents" by those in the aviation industry, do more than just move passenger luggage to and from aircraft. These professionals guide aircraft to parking spaces, de-ice aeroplanes in freezing rain or snowy weather conditions and calculate aircraft weight and balance to ensure flight safety. Additionally, they may also assist with passenger check-in and gate customer service. Both major airlines and small commuter air carriers employ ramp agents.
The average yearly salary of airline ramp agents is about £16,497, according to May 2008 data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This salary accounts for individuals employed at airlines throughout the country and includes both entry-level workers and experienced ramp agents. Additionally, airlines pay ramp agents on an hourly wage model, which means that ramp agents willing to work overtime can earn extra pay beyond their normal salary.
Factors Affecting Salary
Airline size is a major factor in a ramp agent's salary. An individual working for a large, international airline will earn more than one employed by a small, regional airline. Additionally, because airlines operate on a seniority-based compensation structure, experience plays a large role in how much a baggage handler can earn. Individuals starting at airlines generally earn average pay of £5.50 per hour, while experienced ramp attendants top out at a salary of around £13 per hour, as of 2011, says Avjobs.com, an aviation career information website.
Airlines consider ramp agent an entry-level position, meaning those with no prior experience in the aviation industry can obtain such jobs. Typically, airlines look for dependable individuals who have solid, consistent work and/or academic histories. Additionally, due to the nature of their positions, baggage handlers must be able to lift up to 22.7 Kilogram and feel comfortable working in extreme heat, bitter cold and tightly cramped spaces. Also, the U.S. Transportation Security Administration requires prospective airline ramp agents to pass security threat assessments and extensive background checks before starting work.
In addition to their salaries, most airlines give full-time ramp agents a variety of work-related benefits, including health, vision, dental and life insurance and retirement savings accounts. Additionally, ramp agents also receive flight benefits, allowing them to travel, on a space-available basis, on their airlines' domestic flights for free. Additionally, these professionals receive deep discounts on international flights. Also, some airlines provide their ramp agents with discounts on travel-related goods, such as hotel rooms, rental cars and vacation activities.