If you've ever been curious as to how things are run on the ground at an airport feel free to ask away!

Comments: 1677 • Responses: 70  • Date: 

n3wm3331225 karma

Where. Do. The. Missing. Bags. Go. ?! I swear they disappear like socks in the dryer.

skitchie968 karma

I don't work for a large airline so I'm gonna have to give you the cop out answer of 'every airline does it differently'. I will say a lot of the time we have an area in the bag room called 'default' where bags go if there's an error in the automatic system, it's perfectly possible on a busy day that bags get missed and don't get loaded that way.

clairdelynn96 karma

Follow up question based on recent experience w Austrian Airlines. We arrive after a direct flight to Vienna and are told that none of the bags made it. They flew without any of our checked luggage and everyone had to fill out missing bag claims. How is it possible that a flight takes off with none of the passengers’ checked luggage?

skitchie112 karma

Now THAT'S impressive.

I cant even hypothesize as to what happened but no doubt someone took some heavy fire for it.

brokenarrow94 karma

"Black '22' (rollerboard) with handles, pockets, and wheels," is the default description of most misdirected luggage.

Mark your luggage, people. Put a bag tag with your cell phone number on it, or a uniquely identifying strap or a swipe of paint, or any other color than black. Carriers do screw up from time to time, but, if your luggage ends up missing a connection, and the bag room can identify it ("Hey, that bag has a reflective PT strap around it," or, "There's a cell phone number on their tag," or, "He said that he's got a Hitachi Magic Wand on top"), then you're going to get your bag forwarded to your final destination, on the carrier's dime.

skitchie51 karma

Yep! A lot of people tie a patterned ribbon to it which, as long as you can properly secure it, I would totally recommend.

Squirrel_Whisperer7 karma

I was delayed for 24 hours and left my bags with the airport so I didn’t have to deal with them. They managed to only get one in the plane the following day. At no point can you be that busy where you only get half of my checked luggage into a transpacific flight.

skitchie12 karma

Unfortunately incompetent people get jobs on the ramp, bag room mishaps happen. Also keep in mind a million other factors can cause a bag to miss it's flight besides human error, especially at larger airports with heavily automated baggage systems.

jeewiz1618 karma

What is the.process for animal handling? The thought of it is horrifying.

skitchie1062 karma

I don't blame you, and to be honest I wouldn't put my animal through it. We basically take the animal as well as any other oversize stuff through a separate screening system that I can't describe in detail because national security yada yada, they then get loaded separately into the bin. While your furry companion will almost definitely live, it's loud, turbulent, and cold in those bins, I wouldn't put an animal through that for a million dollars.

qubaxianplebiscite481 karma

I'm sorry, but I have to correct you.

Majority of airlines wait until 30> minutes to departure time to bring the animal out to the plane, depending on climate.

The entire aircraft and baggage holds are pressurized to the same as the cabin. Smaller aircraft's cargo holds are temperature controlled. On larger aircraft; one of the cargo holds is temperature controlled and is designated for live animal stowage. Proper procedure states that the animal is kept away from stacked luggage/cargo so that nothing can fall on top of or into the animal. The animal crate is usually tied down for obvious reasons.

Lastly, the noise in the baggage hold is roughly 2 Db louder that in the passenger cabin on most aircraft. The noise and temperature abating insulation is constant around the entire aircraft. The only difference is that there is no plastic trim in the cargo holds.

It is very humane. The animals do tend to be scared due to the new and loud environments outside the aircraft. When they're loaded, they tend to calm down and relax.

To the post on regional jet's below. It's the same as above but more-so. More temperature and noise controlled. With most regional and private aircraft the partition between the passenger area and cargo hold is a 1 inch piece of composite, which is not airtight. What the passengers hear and feel is the same as the animal.

My experience in aviation is just over 10 years, equally in general and civil aviation in an operations management role.

skitchie241 karma

No reason to apologize at all! A lot of what I was saying around animal treatment was honestly anecdotal and I do appreciate the clarification! I really haven't had too much live cargo so I felt a little out of my element answering those questions so thanks for clearing it up, I'll remember to note that info next time someone asks.

StevenWongo273 karma

Cold in those bins

Not sure who you work for, but the airline I worked for, the front cargo spaces were kept at the same temperature as the cabins. The only thing that would suck for animals is that its pitch black and its loud.

skitchie90 karma

I should have clarified in flight, on the ground the pit's the best place to be! Out of the elements and free climate control.

monty845115 karma

How would you get a dog someplace, if driving wasn't an option?

skitchie374 karma

Put it in a kennel if I'm not driving or buy it a seat on the flight. There's a reason flatnosed dogs like pitties and bulldogs aren't allowed on some airlines, namely they can suffocate easily. That alone should be a big red flag

PaxLogh37 karma

I have SO many pictures of animals on the ramp. Mostly frightened dogs, some ducks, and a couple of cats.

skitchie53 karma

I'm a sap for animals but someone who has waaay more experience then me commented that you actually probably don't need to be as worried as I do. I'm just a worrywort when it comes to my pets, haha

ridl-1 karma

"Secret baggage screening that must be kept from the public", eh? Interesting. Does that mean you have some kind of security clearance?

Btw my guess? The "national security" bit is that each machine that does whatever cost like $500,000, each airport is required to have 10 of them, they barely function especially if subjected to public scrutiny, and the company that makes them is run by a close friend of Cheney. But what do I know?

skitchie1 karma

I can neither confirm nor deny, but I will say we need to badge in to get to the ramp, it's not a regular door someone else can use.

markymrk720607 karma

How long does it take to fuel your average jet?

skitchie634 karma

Depends on a bunch of different factors such as the plane type and route, but for your average narrowbody jet, it runs on average from 15-25 minutes.

ViewAskewed402 karma

Why did my flight just get delayed?

skitchie676 karma

A passenger was doing an AMA on Reddit and they had to hunt him down to get him on the plane

skitchie193 karma

Wow. Really well done! 10/10

Newatinvesting307 karma

What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever seen come out of someone’s luggage?

skitchie526 karma

I myself have not had anything too worthy of note, probably a big Tupperware box full to the brim of oyster crackers, but there's been some dildos that have been discovered. Mainly cause of them making the bag vibrate which means it has to be checked.

Commander_Broth59 karma

Hey! I work for a major US airline on the ramp. We are not allowed to check someone's bag if vibrating or making noise. If we think it needs to be checked we gotta take it off and call someone to look into it. Are you guys allowed to do that or is it just a hey I'll check real quick type thing?

skitchie95 karma

Nono we never open it ourselves, we hand it off to the TSA and they tell us what it was.

billyrob_CS290 karma

Is it required that bags are tossed with reckless abandon or is that just fun?

skitchie359 karma

Neither. It's an age old catch 22. Either we treat each bag like our first born and the flight gets out late which equals angry passengers. Or we rough up the bags loading them up to get it out on time equalling angry passengers. It's honestly just about finding a happy medium between the two.

AchingAss145 karma

Hard shelled bags with 4 roller wheels get treated more gently than anything because of how they roll in the bins. It’s almost a treat coming up the belt because you don’t have to throw it 15 feet to the next guy.

skitchie82 karma

Agreed 100%

PalaceL196 karma

What’s your favorite part of the job and why/how did you get into it?

skitchie710 karma

I love that we're in a fishtank. Everyone looks at you doing stuff. I always wave at anyone I make eye contact with and if a plane's waiting to push because of BS reasons I give the passengers a little performance from the ground, I have a whole routine and everything.

EDIT: thanks for the gold, whoever you are. I'll make sure my next rendition of the Single Ladies dance goes out to you

doggy_lipschtick193 karma

You sound rare.

skitchie303 karma

My inner thespian is just getting back at my favoritism ridden high school drama department for robbing me senior year

Awesalot52 karma

That's really cool of you! What's the routine?

skitchie231 karma

I start by deadlifting the cones that are connected with a PVC pipe. I also have a magic trick where I use the cone with a hole going through both sides and make a light wand go through it. It's dumb but the reception has been nothing but positive. Most of the routine is dictated by the passengers!

Awesalot72 karma

Not gonna lie, that sounds kinda fun, that cone trick seems like something I'd love to try. Thanks for the reply!

skitchie67 karma

No problem! Happy flying

skitchie180 karma

Realized I never answered the second part! I literally just googled 'airport jobs near me' and bada bing bada boom

Jfunkexpress29 karma

hows the pay?

skitchie76 karma

We get minimum wage for contractors in my state. Not rolling in the dough but it pays my rent

TractionJackson183 karma

Ever find a running electric razor inside a suitcase?

skitchie169 karma

Cant say I've had the pleasure, all I'd say is don't do that cause 9 times out of 10 it's gonna break big time.

WillLie4karma129 karma

Do the workers at the airport also hate the TSA?

skitchie191 karma

My airport's TSA agents are actually really cool! They like to make small talk at the employee checkpoints and they're all at least fairly friendly.

Miasllaakm116 karma

Why can I never get my stroller at my layover? Despite the bright red bag that says "gate check", my pleading with airport A to please give me my stroller at Airport B, and most definitely do not put it on the luggage carousel at Airport C (it will positively be broken, these things aren't made of steel) but instead I'm forced to lug baby and belongings throughout my connection, all because... whhhhhyyyyy?

skitchie97 karma

No clue! The company I work for drills it in our heads that the second the engines shut off the first thing we do is get gate checks to the jetbridge. Major US airlines might do it differently unfortunately for you :(

cp5184106 karma

Have you seen three kings? Can you explain tensile strength of luggage?

skitchie58 karma

Can't say I have! Second what the other guy said though, you start to acquire a sixth sense for baggage quality

skitchie70 karma

Hey guys! Loving the feedback thus far BUT I do have to drive home. So pardon me if I take a while to answer your question or forget to altogether! (Remind me if I do). Once I'm back in my humble abode I'll answer as much as I can.

Sexy_Rhino62 karma

Do you do any deicing?

skitchie80 karma

Haven't done a winter here yet! But word around town is that it's never pretty because our trucks (like every other vehicle on the ramp) kick the bucket every other week.

trynakick33 karma

As a frequent flyer that isn’t exactly comforting.

skitchie82 karma

Don't worry, the only thing that affects the passengers on that end is that the flight takes off later than scheduled. We never cut corners on safety, that's the number one rule.

elpaw59 karma

Do you want to talk about ramp art?

skitchie29 karma

I've seen a couple Instagram tags, nothing else too humorous though. @bingraffiti on Instagram is a great account about that sort of stuff though.

flyingducktile54 karma

Hey fellow rampie! Do you guys also bridge aircraft? It seems that every other company doesnt but we do.

Do you have groomers for your aircraft?

Whats the biggest aircraft you’ve personally pushed back?

skitchie51 karma

Realized I didn't answer your other questions, haha

Depending on the airline we groom them, some we do some we don't.

I haven't solo pushed anything yet cause I'm not a lead but I've sat in the tug for an A321 which I think has been my biggest push.

skitchie30 karma

Very very rarely. Normally above wing does that but occasionally if the stars align we'll bridge them if need be.

sirharryflashman51 karma

If I check in early and am one of the first to do so, will my bag be one of the last ones off. Is it a case of first on, last off?

skitchie47 karma

Unfortunately yep, pretty much. Im the same as you, I like to get there super early, I just kinda bite the bullet.

markymrk72039 karma

Do bags with priority tags on them get treated any differently than bags without?

skitchie134 karma

If you mean physically, no. A bag's a bag and it has to get loaded before the plane pushes back. Now when we offload it's usually the first bag we put on the carousel, but never at any point do we say 'thats a priority bag! Swaddle it and make sure it's comfy' or anything to that nature ;)

terrorama36 karma

I was once in an airplane waiting for departure when they announced that the flight would be delayed due to the wrong fuel being put in the plane. This announcement came after a good while of sitting there already.

We were not allowed off as boarding had been completed. If we got off, we weren't going to be allowed back on.

We sat on the tarmac for two hours, the inside of the plane getting warmer and warmer. It was a goddamn nightmare.

Question(s): How does that happen? What are the different types of fuel and why do they matter? How often does something like that occur?


skitchie19 karma

u/10RT4WX said it better than I ever could

mattleo35 karma

When your directing a plane in or out, you ever do any of those dances or funky moves to change it up with the orange light up cone things? Or do you even use them?

skitchie98 karma

Not when the plane is in motion, I don't want to get fired and some of my bosses will chew me up for doing it, but when the plane's sitting on the ground and there's nothing for us to do hell yeah! I got into a rousing 10 round match of rock paper scissors with this one kid, he was a good sport. Also did it with the captain (who also kicked my butt) and tossed me his peanut butter crackers out the window as a consolation prize.

mattleo22 karma

Haha, that's fantastic! Thanks

skitchie19 karma

No problem!

K3ystr0k322 karma

Give. Us. Insider. Info.

Tips/hacks - anything that can help get the most out of the experience?

Also, what's the job like?

skitchie49 karma

Biggest tip I can give is don't pack anything valuable in your checked bag. Not cause of pilferage, I don't think that happens nearly as much as it gets thrown around (pun intended) but just cause the bags get thrown, priority tag or not. If you've gotta do a checked bag keep it restricted to clothing and other non breakables.

Downgradd22 karma

Seeing as how you might be identified by your superiors as to the airport gate in the proof photo:

If there were,..and I’m not saying there are— but if there were Tug races that go on on the ramp, how fun would those be? and how many races have you won?

skitchie35 karma

They max out at 15mph so not too adrenaline filled. Also we'd lose our badges so goddamn fast. Not gonna lie though the thought of that is fun. You won't catch me trying it any time soon though, haha

skitchie19 karma

Loving all the questions and comments from people all over the place! You guys are dope. I have some friends coming over so I'm gonna hang out with them and check back here in a little bit, I'll probably intermittently check here and there and answer a few questions.

Scynthious15 karma

Why are you on Reddit and not doing a FOD walk? ;)

skitchie29 karma

Sorry it took me so long to get back to you I was just doing a FOD walk

UrsaPater13 karma

Can you toss a large orange cone from at least 15 feet away and make it land perfectly on a stack of orange cones?

skitchie16 karma

I'm working on the glorified bottle flip. I'll get there but I'm still pretty bad.

archronin13 karma

What mistakes do you make that will make us LOL?

skitchie22 karma

I almost knocked over the lav cart (aka the crap cart) which was sitting right next to a storm drain. I stopped right before I clipped it but man oh man did the world around me go into slow motion. Apparently some dude didn't check that the door was disarmed before opening it and the evacuation slide deployed into the jetbridge.

I doubt he still works here today.

indio244212 karma

How did you come into the job itself ? And what training did you have to do prior to applying

skitchie24 karma

I just googled airport jobs near my location! Most of my training was computer based so I just did it at home. Your most valuable training will be your hands on, on-site training, which you can argue never ends. There's always new stuff to learn on the ramp.

tobiboing12 karma

Thanks for the AMA! Really interesting job, I always wonder what an average day of the people I see outside the plane window looks like.

I sometimes have to check some bags with photo equipment. While I try to keep everything of high value (cameras, lenses etc) in carry on what would be the best way to pack & tag my checked luggage? Any kind of bag / case you would recommend? Any kind of special tags on the outside?

skitchie9 karma

All of the advice below is essentially what I would do for sure. As far as tags I wouldn't bother as we honestly disregard any markings that aren't from the ticket counter. That being said if you have some fragile stickers around there's no harm in putting them on there; but I wouldn't bet on them making too much of a difference.

Thanks for the kind words! Always a pleasure to talk about my work

Faktas11 karma

Would you advise someone to send his music instrument (such as an electro guitar) through cargo? I’m asking because i was told that some guys throw the bags quite rough, which would damage the delicate instrument. If not, would it be possible to take it into the cabin although length-wise it definitely exceeds the cabin limit? Can i trick cabin crew with candy?

skitchie28 karma

Generally where I work instruments get treated better then your run of the mill bag. Does that mean I would do it?

Gig bag= hard no

Soft shell case= you're rolling the dice

Hard shell case= you'll probably be ok, but still have it insured or something.

duh_metrius11 karma

What’s a story about your job you want to share but haven’t been able to yet because nobody has asked the relevant question?

skitchie14 karma

Probably something I mentioned earlier, namely a tournament of rock paper scissors I got in with a Sun Country first officer. He threw me his peanut butter crackers as a participation trophy. Generally flight crews are super cool and understanding with the ramp crews

StevenWongo10 karma

What planes do you throw? I used to throw 737-6/7/800's, and Q400s and I hated the 800's due to how deep the cargo bins go. Then in winter stacking a Q400 sucked with all the extra cargo since you stack upwards.

skitchie13 karma

Our airport doesn't get any widebody traffic short of the occasional charter 747, so the majority of my work has been on A320s and 737s with the odd Q400. Supposedly we'll be getting some ERJs soon which I've heard mixed reviews about.

ColdDesert773 karma

What's the best way to get my folding wheelchair back in the same position I left it?

skitchie7 karma

Tape it. I'd say about half of the wheelchairs/strollers that we get from the gate manage to unfold themselves before they get to the belt loader. It's almost comical how different they are in their operation.

luckytruckdriver2 karma

Ramp agent, is that the same job as flight dispatcher?

skitchie5 karma

Close! The dispatchers do route planning and load planning, we perform the loading to the outline in the load plan which usually says how many bags go where.

skanadian2 karma

Do you gotta watch out for hop ons? There's gonna be hop ons.

skitchie6 karma

Nope, our airport is run like a prison about badging. If you don't have a badge and you're unescorted on the ramp, the cops will be called and there's going to be a lot of explaining to do.

Brute_Baby2 karma

What are your work conditions like? I remember this guy working at the airport stealing a plane, flipping it over it's had then crashing it. He mentioned the work conditions were bad. So low pay, long hours etc. The airport was treating the workers bad in a drive for increasing profits. It was sad to hear him have a mental breakdown like that. Typically it's upper management that screws over workers. Are you unionised/part of a union? If so, what are they like? So many questions!

skitchie3 karma

I would say that it's for sure a passion job if you want to be in it for the long run. The management is admittedly really good at my company but it's mid summer in the deep South so it's not too fun to do back to back to back flights. Most people's shifts are as long as they would be anywhere else but they end up going later because you leave not at the time on the schedule, but when your last flight gets out. I've supposed to have been out at 9 and been there till 12:45 before, it happens.

trentthesomalian2 karma

How do you get a job like yours, or one similar?

skitchie14 karma

1.get a GED or equivalent (they really will hire just about anybody) "(airport near you) jobs" 3.?????? 4.profit

Nathan_readit2 karma

I debating whether to ship some non-rollable, non-foldable poster boards or take them on a flight with me (assuming I’ll have to check it in), they are 3x3 feet, I plan on putting them in a poster cardboard box, what are the chances they won’t be bent or damaged by something heavy on top?

skitchie3 karma

If you can't put them in a rigid case I would advise against it. Bags don't get put on the belt loader in any specific order so the odds a traveling circuses checked baggage that weighs 39 pounds over the limit is right after yours is plenty possible.

PhantomLord0881 karma

How unsafe is travelling with a guitar sending it to the plane storage?

skitchie2 karma

Admittedly safer than a random suitcase; most rampers have the forethought to treat instruments well. That being said make sure it's packed up REALLY well to be safe.

Mauser98k981 karma

What’s your person record for bag throwing distance?

skitchie2 karma

Not far, I have slim jim arms. That's why I owe all the thanks I can give to the people that invented 4 wheeled bags that are free rotating, those things are by far the best bags to work with.

Nevermore2171 karma

How often do you catch a terrorist/illegal substances?

skitchie1 karma

Almost never, short of improperly packaged wheelchair batteries. Aything fishy usually gets caught by the TSA.

Frank_the_Mighty1 karma

Do you like your job and what does it pay?

skitchie3 karma

I love it but it's definitely a passion job if you want to do it long term. If you're just trying to get a paycheck it's not really gonna be a fun time

kflores____1 karma

Have you ever seen a cone go through the round spinny thingy?

skitchie2 karma

Thankfully no. Saw some pictures of the aftermath of a dude getting sucked in during my training though. Not pretty.

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tyereliusprime4 karma

In all fairness, I could do this photo myself given that a RAIC gives access to airside.

skitchie11 karma

I can submit more proof if you'd like!