Baggage handling is an important function at any airport. If baggage and cargo are loaded and unloaded efficiently, airlines can keep to schedule, and passengers can arrive at their destination, collect their bags and clear the airport quickly. Baggage handlers need to be able to work quickly and under pressure. The job usually involves working shifts, and workers must be prepared to work in sometimes cramped conditions and in all types of weather conditions.
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Loading and Unloading
The key task for a baggage handler is loading and unloading planes. The job may involve working with customer baggage on commercial planes or unloading goods and freight from cargo planes. Baggage handlers are responsible for ensuring that baggage safely reaches its correct destination at the right time. Carrying out the task quickly is essential so that aeroplanes can turnaround quickly and keep to schedule. Lifting is a core part of the job, and employees must be physically able to lift and carry large and heavy loads.
Baggage handlers need to operate numerous pieces of equipment. Airports use ramp vehicles, conveyor belts, forklift trucks and baggage carts as part of the loading and unloading process, and staff must be able to use complex machines effectively. Baggage handlers also need to ensure that items are not damaged by heavy machinery or through manual handling.
Security is paramount at airports, and the close proximity that baggage handlers have to planes and luggage means that they must strictly adhere to security procedures and be able to recognise suspicious items. Loading items onto a plane correctly is also important as large items that come loose during a flight can be a safety hazard.
Baggage handlers may on occasion be asked to assist with tasks carried out by other airport ground staff. Ramp set-up is often done by baggage handlers, and workers are sometimes asked to assist with preparing the plane's cabin for lift-off or de-icing plane windows.
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