The Airport as a Suitcase Sees It

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Do you know what happens with your suitcase in the airport behind the window with rubber cilia after registration?

Passengers leave their baggage when registered for a flight. A label is attached to a suitcase here, it contains information about an owner and his destination.


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Oversized baggage may be checked in at a special check-in counter. Here fragile baggage is labeled as “glass” and sent down not on the common conveyor but on a special elevator.

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The baggage compartment occupies a huge room looking like a small underground town under the airport. Its space is intertwined with a net of baggage conveyors which length is more than 3,5km. All suitcases are descending here on one of the 6 arms.

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First of all the suitcase should be scanned. A scanner reads information on a label, so if you left a label with a bar code from a previous flight  it may confuse the scanner and your baggage will go to additional handling where the needed label will be found by hand whereupon the suitcase will be sent to your flight.

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Then the suitcase is checked by an introscope if it has any explosives, weapons or other prohibited articles inside.

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A “suspicious” suitcase is sent to undergo more thorough check.

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This check includes computer tomograph and diffraction.

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Dogs are also used to search explosives.

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Oversized baggage is examined with X-rays at the special gateway.

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After scanning 6 arms unite into 4.

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Suitcases pass another scanner on high speed. Here a flight of the suitcase is defined and depending on it the suitcase is sent to the left or right sorter that is usually called “a circle”.

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Before coming on “the circle” the computer speeds the suitcase up and throw it on one of the “circle’s” platforms.

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From the circle the suitcase is thrown on one of the 70 “gravity slides”.

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This system makes an exact calculation when the suitcase should go by a required “gravity slide” and throws the baggage on it.

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Look narrowly. Do you see a pink strip over the “gravity slides”? It is a pink suitcase rushing along the “circle’s” platform.

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Depending on the number of passengers, 1 or more “gravity slides” may be  assigned for one flight. A porter takes off suitcases and scan them with a manual scanner and then puts them on the trucks.

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If a plane is too big and there are many passengers on a flight, instead of “gravity slides” mobile lounges are used.

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Pay attention: crew team’s baggage is in front.

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Trucks with baggage are taken to a plane.

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The baggage may be loaded into the plane either on a small stairway-transporter…

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Or lifted on a special elevator.

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Usually when the plane stops at the airport ramp, a special baggage machine  drives to it.

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Suitcases are shifted on the trucks and the machine goes to the baggage compartment.

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The machine drives up to one of the conveyors and porters shift the baggage on the belt from where it goes up to the baggage claim area.

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Oversized baggage carried out separately.

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Transitional baggage is marked with a bright yellow label. The airport workers always know in advance if there is transitional baggage on a flight. It is  got out and put on a separate truck.

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21 thoughts on “The Airport as a Suitcase Sees It”

  1. Not like Chicago’s O’Hare airport. Back in the day when I used to travel a lot for business, I used to “smuggle” beer back from the Western states. Coors just wasn’t sold East of the Rockies. I usually put it in x-ray tube head boxes because it was marked with “caution Radioactive when electrified” stickers all over it, so the workers in baggage handling would never go near it except to load or unload it- always afraid it’d shrivel their own “package” I guess. I did get ripped off once though, so it wasn’t fool proof.

  2. Glad to see the Russian airlines take as much care as the American ones do when in comes to loading bags on the plane.

    See 13th picture (starting from the bottom photo going up).

    So much for “This side up” markings!

    Here is a good TRUE STORY video of how the U.S. handles you luggage. Bon Voyage!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5YGc4zOqozo

  3. I grew up in Chicago O’Hare Airport, standing inline, with a boarding pass in my hand.

    I have had my luggage trashed so many times not to mentioned lossed, found and delivered sometimes with items missing.

    This is a great article/photographs/post!

    I have always wondered how luggage is handled.

    I’m sure airlines have made improvements over the years, at least I hope they have.

    Thanks for the post author and EnglishRussia Peoples.

  4. Still way too much handling even with these machines. Hard work for the staff. I can’t even imagine doing this for 30 years. I guess you have to admire them.

  5. On the photo where the bags are loaded onto a green plane, notice that a fragile marked box is turned upside down.

    Oh lame Russians.

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  7. That is a really nice read for me, Must admit that you are one of the top bloggers I ever saw.Thanks for posting that informative article.

  8. Haha! Notice on the conveyor to the plane, the “fragile” box marked “this side up” is upside down 🙂

    In soviet russia, down is up!

  9. When seeing this..it really makes me wonder why the hell the two times I travelled both times my luggage was lost since its so advanced!. Then again..many points where it can go wrong i guess:)
    really interesting photo series

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