Airport Ground Crew: What is it Like to Work as a Baggage Handler?

When looking at potential jobs you can go into straight out of sixth form or college, working in an airport can provide an interesting career option.

Becoming an airport baggage handler as part of an airport ground crew means working within the larger chain to ensure luggage gets where it needs to go. For those who’re considering looking into airport baggage handling jobs, here’s a quick summary of what you can expect from the role.

How do you become a baggage handler?

There are three main routes into applying to be an airport baggage handler:

  • Enrolling in a course– such as the Level 2 Certificate or Diploma in Aviation Environmentrequiring 2+ GCSEs at grades 9 to 3 or A* to D
  • Taking on an intermediate apprenticeship as an aviation ground operative– 12 month split between on-the-job training and classroom learning
  • Direct application–there aren’t any specific entry requirements, but GCSEs between 9 to 4 or A* to C and experience in warehouses or with large goods vehicles can be advantageous.

What does it take to become one?

In order to work within a restricted area of an airport, there are a number of criteria which you will need to meet in order to be considered for a role.

You will need to be over 18 in order to apply for a job as an airport baggage handler, as well as passing a medical check, a security check, and an enhanced background check. This is to ensure your personal safety and the safety of everyone who passes through or works at the airport where your role would be based.

Daily tasks and responsibilities

The day in the life of a baggage handler will consist of an amount of required manual work which you will be trained on. Roles like this are perfect if you’re looking for a job which doesn’t rely on using screens or being sat at a computer all day.

You will be responsible for making sure the luggage of passengers gets to where it needs to go, managing it from check-in areas through to departure.From there, it will need to be loaded onto the respective plane.For returning flights, you’ll be pulling it from planes and getting it to the baggage claim area safely too.

As you’ll be working close to airplanes gearing up for take off and a generally loud area, there’s special uniform you’ll need to wear. Ear defenders, while high visibility attire and protective footwear keep you safe when carrying out luggage handing duties.

Essential cargo for planes will also be taken care of under your daily tasks, ensuring that all the necessary items are loaded onto planes for their journey. Anything damaged or suspicious will need to be reported to the relevant authorities, so you’ll need to do your due diligence when handing luggage.

Career prospects and pathways

From starting out as a baggage handler, you can progress to becoming a ‘lead ramp hand’ who is involved in coordinating plans which are getting ready for their next flight.

This can also come with more responsibilities around training new staff and showing them the ropes with equipment and procedures.

There could also be the option to move into a supervisory position after gaining a sizable amount of experience, or you can move into a customer-facing role with passenger handling operations.

With the right training and experience, you can progress far within the airport ground crew operations. If there is a particular role you would be interested, you can always speak to your team about what the best route to get there would be.

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