Behind closed doors: how do suitcases travel separately from their owners?

Imagine: you’re going on vacation to a warm country. You’ve already bought your tickets, put your bathing suits and sunscreen in your suitcase, arrived at the airport, and… Checked your bags with all your things. And while you go through passport control and get on the plane, your socks and T-shirts are going through an equally difficult journey, and several people are working with them at once. “Dialogue” found out what happens behind closed doors, and how a suitcase gets from point “A” to point “B.”

There and back

So, your suitcase is weighed and tagged, and then it solemnly left you – the next time you will see him is at the airport of arrival. You go to passport control and inspection, and the suitcase goes to the checkpoint, where it is scanned for prohibited items.

“Then, if everything is in order, the luggage is sent on a special luggage belt, where by scanning tags “360 °” it is delivered to the luggage handling service to the right lateral – this conveyor, which brings the baggage to the luggage system operator, “- said the head of the luggage handling service of Pulkovo airport management company” Northern Capital Gateway “Igor Belykh.

The task of the operator is to pack luggage in special carts or containers. Here the luggage goes through a sorting process: all bags are divided into priority, transfer, main, crew luggage and other types. A special tractor transports the luggage, distributed by “categories,” to the plane.

“Then the suitcases are loaded into the luggage compartment according to type: the main luggage is loaded first, then the priority luggage, and the transfer luggage is loaded last. The luggage is loaded by an aircraft specialist,” explained Igor Belykh.

So you get on the plane – and your luggage gets on the plane. During the flight, of course, nothing special happens to it – no one offers light snacks or soft drinks. However, the journey back begins almost immediately after landing.

“The baggage handlers unload the luggage from the plane. Upon unloading, they sort again into priority luggage, transfer luggage, and main luggage. Next, the suitcases are taken to the baggage yard. There the luggage system operators, respecting the priority and handing over luggage to the delivery belt in the arrival halls”, – summed up Igor Belykh.

Stories of lost luggage

Ekaterina Gerasimenko, head of the luggage search of the management company of Pulkovo airport “Northern Capital Gateway” told “Dialogue” that most often the luggage is simply delayed in transfer points and arrives at the destination airport on the next possible flights. But sometimes suitcases are lost because of the owners’ negligence.

“Old stickers containing a bar code can be mistakenly recognized by the tag reader system. It is necessary to ensure that the suitcase has only those stickers, which were affixed at the check-in desk for the current flight”, – explained Ekaterina Gerasimenko.

It may happen that when you have a connecting flight, the luggage is not taken to the final destination, but to the intermediate one. At the registration desk before dropping off the baggage you can specify where you want to get it: in the city of transfer or at the final destination.

Round-shaped suitcases are lost more often, simply because they are more likely to roll off the sorting lines. But there are also quite trivial cases – passengers with similar suitcases sometimes get them mixed up.

“To always distinguish your luggage on the belt, buy a brightly colored or unusually colored suitcase. Attach a recognizable detail and a card with personal information in Latin: last name and first name, current address of residence, contact phone number and e-mail. In this case it will be easier to find it if you lose it,”.

If your suitcase is lost, do not panic: most often it is found and sent to the owner within 1-2 days, although in theory the search for the luggage may last up to three weeks. The airline is responsible for your valuable (and not so valuable) things.

“If a passenger does not find his suitcase on the belt, he should go to the “Lost and Damaged Luggage” desk and draw up a statement of non-arrival. In the statement you must specify the name of the airline, data from the luggage tag (it is attached to the ticket), and a detailed description of the loss”, – the expert explains.

After you leave the application, it will go to the tracking system WorldTracer, to which most airlines and airports are connected. When the “lost luggage” is announced, it will be sent to the destination airport, and most airlines deliver luggage directly to your home or hotel. So if this unpleasantness happens to you, you should find out if the carrier provides such a service when drawing up a no-show report.