Baggage Handlers: A Species on the Brink of Extinction?

Sick of turning up at LAX, only to find your luggage has been sent to JFK? We hear you. And so too does IBM.

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That’s why the computer company long known as Big Blue has come out with a new robotic baggage handling system that, it says, will cut down on the amount of lost baggage being transferred between connecting flights, as well as improve connection times and cut down on operating costs.

Of course, an added benefit that IBM doesn’t mention is, robots don’t go through your underwear and steal your digital camera. At least, not yet.

Under the new system, each piece of luggage is tagged with an RFID chip — a miniscule computer chip that holds a tracking number. Wal-Mart already uses them in keeping track of their deliveries (rip a box of $4 Made-in-China sandwich grills apart and, eventually, you’ll find the little guy), and IBM and Vanderlande Industries see the new tracking technology as the perfect way for their robots to send your luggage to the destination it’s supposed to go to.

For starters, 60% of the work of handling bags will be dealt with by the robots, but if they manage to do the job well, expect the old school baggage handler to be extinct quicker than you can say, “I was sure I packed my laptop”¦”

Finally, one last advantage of the new system: according to the folks behind it, is it will reduce workplace injuries of handlers ”¦ I guess that’s true. If there are no baggage handlers left in three years, you can bet there will be a lot less back injuries to moan about.

  1. Will never happen. As a baggage handler, I can tell you right now the logistics of it would not work. You have no idea what goes into how your bags are packed into the aircraft. The reasons why bags go missing is one of 2 reasons. They missed their connecting flight due to a quick turnaround of that flight which can be caused by a number of reasons including shortage of staff or not enough time for connection or 2 human error. With the number of different flights we do, mistakes are going to happen. If you have a decent baggage handling system in place and the right amount of staff, it works well but knowing how the airline industry works, they don’t work like that, they prefer to make things harder than it really should. And for the record, we don’t go through your bags and take stuff, the reason you sometimes lose stuff is due to terrible packing or a damaged bag, most of the time it’s just terrible packing in which case the bags usually bust open and WE have to pick up the mess and repack it properly then shut it down with tape. When you pack your bag next time you travel, do a decent job, contrary to what you might think, we don’t like handling your underwear and shampoos ok?

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