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Checking In


Baggage belt does the heavy lifting


Your trip begins and ends at a baggage belt By Bill Burfoot


gage, and it's... not there. Unfortunately, lost luggage is a hazard of checking a bag, but it doesn't make the experience any less frustrating or annoying. Everyone’s experience at the airport begins and ends at baggage claim. Te baggage employees play an integral part into making sure your bags make it to your destination. You might be amazed at how much manpower it takes to put a passenger aircraft in the air. Obviously, the ma- jority of time you’ll only see the pilots, flight attendants, and gate agents. Tat already is a lot of people, but there are more people working in many areas throughout the airport that are helping to get you to your destination. Darryl Dowd, Director of Operations with the Winnipeg Airports Authority says the entire process when it comes to baggage is quite extensive and the bag- gage employees are a key piece of the entire operations. “For us (WAA), we provide the con-


Y 60 • Spring 2017


ou disembark the plane, rush to baggage claim so your long-awaited trip can finally begin. You scour for your lug-


veyance system to move bags, while CATSA (Canadian Air Transport Se- curity Authority) provides the screen- ing system which screen baggage, while the airlines collect the delivered baggage and load it on aircraft,” explains Dowd. "Te conveyance system and the


screening system are fully integrated and operate as one system,” Dowd adds. Airline baggage handlers (or contract- ed service providers) are responsible to collect bags from the system and load/ unload baggage onto the aircraft. Dowd says the job of baggage em-


ployee goes far beyond just checking in a bag. “Our baggage employees clear jams,


and monitor the overall performance of the system,” adds Dowd. “Tey also ensure that oversize bags, and items that should be redirected to oversize baggage are not inducted.” Tey call this process baggage hygiene, which makes sure the baggage tags are visible, wheels are up; bags that should be in tubs are in tubs, and other miscellaneous things. With close to 1.5 million bags going


through the system on a yearly basis — and over 6,000 through on a really busy


day – the job is not only mentally taxing, but physically demanding as well. Located at the geographic centre of


North America, with round-the-clock operations, Winnipeg Richardson In- ternational Airport is the number one dedicated freighter airport in Canada as measured by the number of flights. Te airport generates over $3.6 billion in total economic output and welcomed a new record of just over four-million passengers last year. With these kinds of numbers, making sure the baggage han- dling and claim process is done correctly is critical.


Like most jobs, baggage employees


have good days and bad days. Whether it’s helping customers track missing lug- gage, helping them get their bags loaded at the counters or making sure the cor- rect luggage is on each flight, the ele- ment of surprise is always still around. And just when they think they’ve seen it all, someone packs something that still catches them by surprise. “We had someone come through who


checked a microwave once, but inside was an urn with human remains inside,” Dowd says. Te job is never dull.


The Hub


Photos courtesy of Darryl Dowd.


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