Photo: Flickr / nffcnnr
An anonymous ramp agent for a major airline hub in New York spilled on Reddit about what happens after you check in your luggage.Packing an iPad or crystal vase? You may want to think twice about that.
[Note: Although the information in Reddit’s “Ask Me Anything” series is generally credible, bear in mind that this information has not been confirmed.]
Baggage may catch fire
“I had a bag fall out last week and it lit on fire cause I dragged it a mile on the runway,” said the ramp agent, Throwaway4001101. “It was an accident, it fell out of a cart.”
How bags get lost
“Bags get lost a lot if they come down to the bag room late as the plane is leaving. Sometimes we drop a bag out of the carts,” said Throwaway4001101. “The only thing you can really do is not be late to check-in because then all of the bags will be accounted for.”
Watch the ramp for dead bodies
“We see body bags all the time,” said the agent. “Deal bodies getting shipped to where they are being buried. They weight a ton. We had a body once fall out of a cart and the box broke and the body rolled onto the runway. That sucked.”
How stuff gets stolen
Though he’s never seen stuff taken out of a suitcase, Throwaway4001101’s colleagues have definitely taken stuff “left in the back of a seat holder,” the most likely place it’ll happen. “One guy I work with has eight iPads from finding them. Another kid found a pro-basketball (NBA) player’s iPod.”
“I could easily go through someone’s luggage, but I just don’t,” he added.
People pack some pretty weird things
Especially animals, said Throwaway4001101: “We have had tons of weird animals like pigs, goats, monkeys, etc. … Sometimes people ship food if it’s only made in this area like hot dogs, tacos or cream cheese.”
As far as handling the pets goes, “Nobody really throws them ever. If anything, everyone tries playing with them and petting them,” said Throwaway4001101. “They are usually separated from everything, and if not, they’re the last thing on board.”
The best kind of bag
“Definitely plastic,” said Throwaway4001101. “It won’t get wet and can take a beating. Bags get left out in all kinds of weather, so get a hard plastic one.”
It’s hard to get hired
“You have to pass a 10-year FBI background check and a drug test,” Throwaway4001101 said. “They do random drug tests every month.”
The rigorous hiring process is worth it: The worker said he makes $27/hour, with overtime pay being twice that amount and holidays pay three times that amount. He earns about $95k yearly. He also can fly anywhere in the world for free.
But not every airline pays well: “Some pay as little as $7.25/hour to do the same hard work and it’s a joke. Reminds me of a sweatshop,” Throwaway4001101 said.
Those fragile stickers don’t mean a thing
“Nobody cares about those,” said the agent. “I honestly would keep all valuables in your carry-on. The only thing that can help is not making the bag heavy.”