I've been working at an airport for a few years now and enough people inquire about my job that now I'm doing an ama. A few of these have been done before but no two people on the ramp have the same perspective, I'm sure. Sent proof to the mods.

I do eventually have to sleep, so ask away!

Edit: This was so much more fun that I thought it could be. Thanks for all the great questions, but it is now 8:30am local time here, and I have not slept. I want to high five you all, or at least give you all some gold star stickers. Peace out.

Edit 2: woke up to gold, thanks! From now on I think I'm just gonna go around saying "Baggage handler here! Something something carousels."

Comments: 1156 • Responses: 56  • Date: 

Alien_Lover269 karma

I really want to have sex with an extraterrestrial on one of those conveyor belts that the luggage comes out of, would this be a) difficult, b) legal, and c) would you like to make a video of the event for posterity?

hauntedfox396 karma

+1 username. Your question is invalid, they are carousels, not conveyor belts.

volunteervancouver101 karma

Answer not clear, dick stuck in fan.

Its_Just_Luck79 karma

in conveyor belt **

hauntedfox468 karma

in carousel **

jaudette26 karma

Follow-up: what's the weirdest thing you ever saw going on with a conveyor belt or carousel?

hauntedfox92 karma

Carousel. And that has got to be the most boring question yet, not that you would've known. I can't think of anything besides the fact that they jam every time a mouse farts. Good question, terrible answer.

Klokateer666239 karma

Why do your coworkers insist on handling instruments like footballs? I swear every time I see them load a trombone or a French horn or a tuba it's a contest to see who can be roughest

hauntedfox405 karma

Lol, an experienced ramper would know better, but we have an insane turnover rate, so we constantly have new guys coming in. I'm not the perfect employee, but as a former band geek I always take great care of instruments.

cdr1122334455225 karma

How do I get my bag to come out first?

hauntedfox390 karma

Show up mostly late, but not at the last second. Your bag will be stacked on top of the cart, be the first loaded on the plane, be the last loaded off, and the first onto the carousel. Its probably 70-80% effective. Just don't be so late that yours is one of the last bags loaded.

jimforge118 karma

So, the first will be last and the last will be first, way to even the odds baggage handlers.

hauntedfox822 karma

I neither control it nor care.

b0r0n50 karma

Why wouldn't you want to be one of the last bags loaded?

hauntedfox153 karma

Because we do two pickups, one to get the majority of the bags, one to get any we missed, one at D-60, one around D-30

D=Departure time, D-60=one hour before departure

Anything after D-60 would be loaded after the D-60 bags, and hence the first to leave the plane, last loaded.

It amazes me how much people care that their bags get out 20 seconds before someone else's.

cdr1122334455145 karma

After sitting in an aluminum tube between Fatso and Mrs. Lets-Talk-About-Everything-Want-To-See-My-Kids for 2 hours you can't stand those people any longer.

hauntedfox206 karma

Whenever we have to carry down, like, a dozen strollers, we rampers give each other a knowing smile. This flight is gonna be hell.

cbpiz225 karma

Have you dealt with breeders shipping pure bred puppies? If so, how are they treated?

hauntedfox611 karma

Like they're made of glass. The cages they come in look like little puppy prisons :(

Everyone loves dogs here.

GIANT SIDE NOTE: Please do not bring your dog on vacation. No dog likes being in the pit.

marschmellau176 karma

This. I'm also a ramper out of DTW. I've had dogs come off of an ICN flight, scared to death, covered in piss/shit, and looked like they wanted to die. It's so sad.

hauntedfox200 karma

The worst thing is when the owner doesn't give them water for a cross country flight. Its almost routine having to ask the flight attendants for water.

Tianoccio205 karma

Is it true that throwers don 'to have to worry about bags that tick because modern bombs don 't tick?

Is it true when a suitcase vibrates throwers have to call the cops, and that every once in a while it's a dildo?

Is it company policy never to claim ownership in the event of a dildo?

hauntedfox321 karma

We often return bags that tick or vibrate, its standard procedure, no security shutdowns or all that. They just go through the bag and shut off whatever it is. Usually a razor. I once saw a dildo though. Fight Club is probably right.

Karma_Chamillionaire162 karma

Do you have to go through airport security every day before going to work? If so, do you get paid for the time you're in security?

hauntedfox304 karma

Nope. I go through security maybe twice a month, its a joke. I have to go through a crazy amount of background checks and whatnot to get an ID card though.

youcancallmesteve122 karma


hauntedfox1177 karma

The TSA is in the groping business, not the security business.

CuntyMcGiggles161 karma

What's the best way to pack my drugs to make sure you don't find them?

hauntedfox452 karma

Normally. You think I give a shit?

CuntyMcGiggles65 karma

Well, you might not but your colleagues sometimes do!

Any suggestions for how to make sure I package them right?

hauntedfox194 karma

Man, I already feel like an accomplice...

Johssy153 karma

I handle your luggage at the biggest airport in Norway! Up top, colleague!

Whats the craziest shit you've seen at work?

hauntedfox187 karma

slaps five

Saw a crash once, someone with carts was trying to pass someone dropping off bags at a carousel. It was a thin bagwell, and the back bumper caught on one of the carts as they passed. The cart they hit jack-knifed and rode up on top of the carousel, pinning some dude's leg between a metal bar and an 1100 lb cart (not including bags). This happened just as I was stepping out of the way of the jack-knifing cart, I barely escaped major injury and got a front row seat to the whole thing.

To top it off, the supervisor at the time tried to cover it up and got fired.

bjay303136 karma

Have you ever destroyed/ruined a luggage and just think "Well nobody saw me..."?

hauntedfox369 karma

Haha, no, not beyond minor stuff like a zipper coming off or a small tear (stuff gets caught in the equipment)

Once, A bag fell out of a cart as I was driving and got stuck under the wheel. I didn't notice. Someone stopped me and pointed out the bag, which was now half a bag. The other half was now powder, making a blue streak for several hundred feet behind me. The blue streak was someone's vaporized jeans.

TheBestOpinion130 karma

From a insider's point of view, considering all the security measures that have been implemented, how secure do you think airports are ?

Do you think that securing them that much was worth it?

hauntedfox424 karma

Not very secure. An employee could pull off a terrorist attack with accomplices. I feel awkward saying that but its true.

The NSA is now monitoring this AMA

tecnic1109 karma

why the actual fuck would someone stack an entire flight handles in?

evil motherfuckers

hauntedfox80 karma

I know your pain, brother. I know your pain.

123choji101 karma

How should I securely pack my baggage?

hauntedfox200 karma

Do your absolute best to make fragile items your carry-ons, as simple as that. In the rush of our work environment, not everyone is going to bother noticing the fragile tags. Basically, most people don't care about fragile items, and the airlines care even less.

Besides that, generally I would say bring two well secured medium-sized bags before bringing one too heavy one.

bigdongmagee89 karma

"Don't trust is with fragile items. We will break them."

hauntedfox85 karma

We don't usually break them. The most trouble I ever got in for mishandling a bag, their stuff didn't even have a chip.

trigunned79 karma

do you ever just think "fuck it, I'll just take this piece of louis vuitton luggage home with me"? :D

hauntedfox217 karma

That would cost me my job and reputation. Everything done on the ramp is a federal crime, so I'd likely get arrested as well. People have been fired for taking a bite out of an orange.

karmanaut103 karma

taking a bite out of an orange.

Did he peel it first...?

hauntedfox174 karma

I would like to think so, just so he can at least say "Sucks that I got fired, but that was one righteous orange"

Euchre73 karma

What is the most bizarre piece of luggage you've ever seen?

What is the weirdest thing you've seen come out of a broken piece of luggage?

hauntedfox144 karma

Most bizarre would have to be the zebra. Holy shit. A fucking zebra.

When luggage breaks, I ALWAYS seem to see a bottle opener. Its weird.

Weirdest thing though would have to be a dirty diaper.

spectrum76869 karma

Uhmm, you can't just say Zebra and not elaborate!

hauntedfox132 karma

Well, the local zoo was bringing in a zebra, I forget where. It wasn't my assigned flight but I just wanted to see them somehow get a zebra out of the cargo pit of a 737. The struggle was real. Most police I've ever seen gathered around that plane though, except for the one time Harry Reid came to town.

SensibleMadness37 karma


jaudette46 karma

When you have no opener the secret is to loosen the beer cap one crown prong at a time. You can do this with a knife, one tine of a fork, a plastic comb, a key or anything remotely stiff and pointy. Just gotta be patient and work one tooth at a time.

TL;DR there's always, always a way to get at the precious, precious beer.

hauntedfox51 karma

I used jumper cables once

hauntedfox18 karma

I have four. I keep finding them. So many people with unopened beers, but if they're just laying there then they're free game.

Tilt16871 karma

Hm, never seen an airline baggage handler AMA before, good stuff!

1) Regional or Large airport? 2) What airline? 3) What sort of advice for us travelers can you give from your experience? (other then the fragile items in carryon that you already provided) 4)What's the coolest or most fufilling aspect of your job?


hauntedfox99 karma

  1. Large

  2. Dipping into personal info territory here, but Alaska

  3. Don't fly Alaska Don't be late I guess. The flight will not even wait an extra 30 seconds for you.

  4. Most fulfilling is that it keeps me active, and I encounter something new every day :) Thanks for the great questions!

Tilt16822 karma

Ok comeon you have to have some sweet Alaska flight line stories! Moose wandering onto the runway and halting planes from taxing? Someone trying to ship a live bear cub home? Entertain us!

hauntedfox107 karma

Alas, I work for the airline, not in the state. I did hear there was a bear cub once, but I didn't see it.

Something that might be interesting to some people is that the airport employs snipers. If a stray animal gets onto the runway, and its a last case scenario, they will be shot. Sad but true.

willtoss8766 karma

Does the luggage sorting area look anything like the scene in Toy Story 2?

hauntedfox101 karma

Gosh, been too long since I've seen that one. If I remember correctly, yes, kind of. I don't usually see fighting toys though :/

Gerry-Gergich54 karma

What are your thoughts on this?

hauntedfox64 karma

United gets paid more than I do -_-

Lol there are idiots at every airline. I would never mishandle a guitar.

probably_has_herpes46 karma

Do you ever have to handle anyone's personal baggage? Like, do people come to you with the heir daddy isssues?

hauntedfox43 karma

Oddly, I quite often get stares, sometimes scowls. Perhaps its the reflective vest. Most customers are nice. Some are hell. Just like anywhere.

up_my_butt31 karma

Does it feel like you're doing squats all day?

hauntedfox114 karma

I just don't know what to do with all these big, bulgy muscles.

DelugeBunny27 karma

I sometimes travel with my bike - will you treat it with more care knowing it's in a cardboard bike box or shall I invest in expensive bike luggage?

hauntedfox86 karma

Bikes are big and annoying anyways, so we'll generally be careful with them by default, for fear of hurting ourselves.

Seriously, those things are a ramper's nightmare. I'm trying to stack and then I get like, six bikes, and I have to start tetris-ing that shit. Then I wake up.

DelugeBunny26 karma


hauntedfox96 karma

They are light, but god damn, what did I ever do to you? :P

bookitsouth27 karma

Do you get deals with the airlines for free/reduced travel?

How wind up getting your job? I saw you say you have a lot of turnaround. Is it an easy business to get into with regular hiring?

hauntedfox41 karma

Ech. By deals, do you mean I would have to plan it probably 2 months in advance, still pay 10% plus tax, fill out a small mountain of paperwork, and possibly get rejected after all that? Then yeah, I get mad deals.

Got my job through some friends. Getting hired probably isn't the hardest, but some people drop out during the process (trust me, you do not yet know the meaning of 'background check'). Also, the paperwork. If you need a job though, by all means, go for it.

dubmiks26 karma

Once I saw a video on how to open one of those trolley luggage with just a pen inserted in the middle of the zipper. Like this one: Open A Locked Suitcase With A Pen

Is this a thing?

Also, how secure are those plastic wrapped baggage?

Nice AMA btw! :)

hauntedfox27 karma

Thanks :) I don't know if thats a thing, I don't sort through people's stuff!

The plastic comes out if someone's bag came open or if someone can't stand the thought of their bag getting hit by a couple of raindrops. I suppose its secure enough for those purposes.

dubmiks9 karma

Thanks for the answer. I meant secure in the way that it's easily spotted if it was tampered with.

hauntedfox20 karma

That's not how the security works, people are designated to certain stations and if stuff goes missing, its not hard to track down who did it. That said, yeah, the plastic holds up. Sometimes.

DirtFueler25 karma


hauntedfox67 karma

Yes. Fuck skychefs though. They can eat a dick.

Chubbstock25 karma

if you see a nice bag, like a fancier leather one or something, does it usually get handled better?

hauntedfox109 karma

Nope! We are not baggage nazis, and there is no LouisVuitton masterrace

biggyww24 karma

If I check my large backpack, do all the straps put it at risk of getting caught up in your equipment? "Travel" packs seem to be more streamlined, but they're not as comfortable to haul around with a full load.

Also, I've heard at least one photographer suggest taking a flare gun with them, which is technically a firearm, so that their bag gets special treatment when checked. Any truth to that? It seems clever, but also a bit like a pain in the ass.

hauntedfox42 karma

Not sure about flare guns. To your first question, which was a good one: yes, backpacks and camping packs get caught more often than normal luggage.

Once, an airport representative walked across the airport, picking up every zipper he found. There were thousands.

biggyww21 karma

Thanks for the reply. TSA does say that flare guns and starter pistols have to be checked like a real gun, but I was under the impression that they put a sticker on the seam of the hard case to "seal" it so that you know if anyone has tampered with it during transport. Do you see anything like that, or are hard cases with guns pretty anonymous to you guys? I don't know why I care, I have no intention of flying with a gun or fancy photography equipment, but I've always wondered for some reason.

hauntedfox23 karma

You could probably get away with anything so long as you don't put it up your butt.

The guns are anonymous and locked.

wind_sun_right23 karma

Has there ever been a case, where there were drugs or some other illegal stuff in the bags? What did you people do about it?

hauntedfox68 karma

Haven't heard of it. I imagine that even if something like that were discovered, we'd just shut up about it. Security is not our job.

The most illegal thing that happened was one of our supervisors along with a small group of employees got caught doing organized theft and running a smuggling ring for the stolen items. They're in prison now, I believe.

Also someone stole a gun.

Wetwipey21 karma

Would you rather fight 100 carry on Bag sized Zebras or 1 Zebra sized carry on bag?

hauntedfox37 karma

I would want to fight the former using the latter. Or vice versa. Just think, it would be my own fucking mini zebra army...

BurgNast20 karma

Do you increase staff for the holidays? Is there plenty of overtime?

hauntedfox45 karma

Overtime for the holidays. We get paid time and a quarter on Christmas, its pretty fucked. I don't work thursdays though, this year I'm golden. Gonna rub it in all my coworker's faces like a jackass too!

throwaway45692519 karma

How often is it a vibrator and not a bomb?

hauntedfox62 karma

Its never a bomb. That's all I'll say.

jsevenofnine15 karma

Usually, how much time do you have to finish loading and unloading the luggages?

hauntedfox22 karma

We have to have all the bags dropped off at the carousel in 20 minutes. We are expected to be at a flight an hour early to load bags. Its usually more than enough.

trigunned14 karma

what happens to unclaimed luggage?

hauntedfox45 karma

TSA gathers in groups and has "unclaimed baggage" parties

I honestly don't know.

hauntedfox19 karma

Ha! That made me smile.

billdietrich111 karma

If we completely banned luggage in the overhead compartments inside the cabin, would that luggage fit in the main luggage compartment ? I guess I'm asking if there is an equivalent amount of empty space left in the main luggage compartment on a typical flight.

I think banning overhead luggage would speed the security lines, speed boarding and deplaning, actually increase security. I know it would be enormously unpopular with some people.

hauntedfox28 karma

Enormously unpopular because carry-ons are a guarantee that their stuff will be unbroken. But I would say that usually we do.

cmde4510 karma

I was a luggage handler at a smaller airport in the MidWest. Just curious if they treat you like crap (management and customers alike) at a big airport too?

hauntedfox20 karma

Yep, possibly moreso. Even in an industry known for being shit to its employees, my airline has a bad reputation. They have so many ridiculous rules that a work-to-rule would probably work.

[deleted]4 karma


hauntedfox22 karma

Thanks mate :) How come all the bags we get from Australia are upside down? ;)

Clueless_NinjaM2 karma

Can I carry a butterfly knife or switch blade in my check-in, traveling in and out of country Or will I get spanked if I do?

hauntedfox9 karma

Google that shit son!

Lol I think most knives are ok, switch blades not as much. They just changed it so I'm not sure.