There are a lot of questions surrounding airline travel, sometimes even a perceived lack of transparency. In an effort to clear some of those misconceptions up, I opened the floor to some non-industry friends for a round of question and answers. If you have any questions, feel free to write them in the comments!
Where do my bags go after I check them in?
We check in on average around 355 bags on a full flight out of Boston, with three flights in the summer, that’s about 1100 bags originating in Boston, going to every corner of the globe. And that’s just with Lufthansa! It’s an incredibly complex process to get those bags to where they need to go in the timeframe that they need to be there. So how do we do it all?
First of all, the process for bags to make it from check-in to the plane is remarkably similar to that of passengers: they have to be checked in, a confirmation of the final destination has to be made, they have to be screened for security, and then everyone has to find their “seat” on board. The main difference is that you as a passenger can move of your own volition to the aircraft, the bag cannot. We therefore have computerized conveyance systems do the walking for the bag.
So what do we mean by a “seat” for your bag on the aircraft? On long-haul flights like our operation out of Boston, bags are placed in containers and loaded on the aircraft into loading positions, and securely locked down to the floor. This ensures less damage, and ease of shipping for the bags. Each container has a different code depending on whether the bags are just going to Frankfurt, whether they have an onward connection, whether they belong to VIPs or First Class travelers, whether they all have the same onward flight, or whether they have very little time to make their connecting flight. We then load the bags so that when our colleagues at the destination airport open the doors, the bags that need to be moved quickly are right at the door, so that they can make their connecting flight. This all sounds reasonable enough, but it gets quite tricky in real time when you have to sort 300 bags by departure time.
Overall, it’s a complex system that has to work like clockwork in order to get the bag from your hands, to the plane, and back into your hands each and every time. Our customers have high expectations of us, and as an airline it is our job to deliver. Stay tuned, because tomorrow I’ll be here to tell you a bit about what goes on at an airline after hours!