The job of a baggage handler is one of the most important airport jobs because the baggage handler team ensures passengers’ bags are loaded and unloaded safely, efficiently and in good time. This helps ensure that the passenger turnaround can go as planned and the airport functions as it should. There are many baggage handler airport jobs in British airports offering regular work. Shift work should be expected for most baggage handler positions
As with all airport jobs, it is essential that the baggage handler team can work quickly and effectively to minimize delays and ensure that all the passengers get their correct luggage. The baggage handler will also be tasked with loading and unloading commercial cargo items. Although the job of a baggage handler may seem simple, it requires just as much attentiveness and care as other airport jobs as even small delays can quickly become larger. Those with baggage handler jobs need to be able to work under time pressure and as a team. Although baggage handler jobs are available to both men and women, it is generally men that hold these airport jobs as there is a large amount of heavy lifting for long periods of time. Airport jobs like that of a baggage handler require employees to be physically strong.
Most airport jobs, including baggage handler often require shift work because airports are active 24 hours a day. Many baggage handler jobs also work a ‘condensed week’ which means that the baggage handler may work three shifts of 12hours rather than 5 shifts of 8 hours and then have three days off. Adaptability is the key to these airport jobs and weekend shifts are common. The job of a baggage handler needs to be done regardless of the weather conditions so those with baggage handler jobs should expect to have to work in the summer heat as well as the winter cold and rain. It is also common for a baggage handler to have to work in lots of cramped spaces.
• Loading and unloading freight between aircraft flights
• Checking and sorting luggage against flight lists
• Overseeing the transfer of luggage from the check-in area to the departure area
• Command baggage transportation devices
• Consult with warehouse staff for the storage of cargo
• Assist with the cleaning and de-icing of aircraft
• Load baggage onto conveyors for collection
• Ensure runways are kept clear of snow and ice during the winter months
You could find work with airport authorities, airlines or ground staff service contractors, and recruitment agencies. As seasonal work is common, you may find more job opportunities during the busy holiday periods.
London's two major airports, Heathrow and Gatwick, are among the largest employers, along with major regional airports such as Birmingham and Manchester.
With experience, you could become a lead ramp hand, then supervisor or manager, with responsibility for training new staff.
You need to be over 18 to work as a baggage handler. You would have strict security checks before starting a job, and you may need to pass a medical check.
You would normally need your own transport to get to and from the airport, as public transport may not cover all of your shift times. Some jobs insist on a full UK driving license.
Although not essential, experience of warehouse work and an LGV (Large Goods Vehicle) or forklift truck license could be useful when applying for work.
Training and development
Once you are working, your employer would train you on using luggage conveyor belts, barcode scanners, airport vehicles and lifting equipment. You would also receive training in health and safety, and security procedures.
You could work towards several qualifications, including:
• Level 2 Certificate/Diploma in Aviation Operations on the Ground
• Level 3 Certificate/Diploma in Aviation Operations.
These qualifications have options in baggage processing, loading, handling cargo and lining up aircraft. They also cover general skills in customer service and leadership.