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Baggage Handling System

This document consist of, the History of baggage handling system, its importance and the
developments that makes the handling of millions of baggage easy and the future development
of baggage handling system.
A baggage handling system (BHS) is a type of conveyor system installed in airports that transports
checked luggage from ticket counters to areas where the bags can be loaded onto airplanes. A BHS also
transports checked baggage coming from airplanes to baggage claims or to an area where the bag can be
loaded onto another airplane.

Although the primary function of a BHS is the transportation of bags, a typical BHS will serve other functions
involved in making sure that a bag gets to the correct location in the airport. Sortation is the process of
identifying a bag and the information associated with it, to decide where the bag should be directed within the

In addition to sortation, a BHS may also perform the following functions:

 Detection of bag jams

 Volume regulation (to ensure that input points are controlled to avoid overloading system)
 Load balancing (to evenly distribute bag volume between conveyor sub-systems)
 Bag counting
 Bag tracking
 Redirection of bags via pusher or diverter
 Automatic Tag Reader (ATR) (Reads the tags on the luggage provided by the airlines)

Many baggage handling systems offer software to better manage the system. There has also been a
breakthrough with "mobile" BHS software where managers of the system can check and correct problems
from their mobile phone.
Post September 11, 2001, the majority of airports around the world began to implement baggage
screening directly into BHS systems. These systems are referred to as "Checked Baggage Inspection
System" by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) in the USA, where bags are fed directly
into Explosive Detection System (EDS) machines. A CBIS can sort baggage based on each bag's security
status assigned by an EDS machine or by a security screening operator.
The first automated baggage handling system was invented by BNP Associates in 1971, and this
technology is in use in almost every major airport worldwide today.

Brief History:
At the beginning airplanes were primarily used for military and postal purposes. However, it did not take
long until aircraft were also used for civil transportation which led to the opening of the first airports
around 1915 in the USA and Europe. These early airports used large grassy areas as runways and aircraft
carried between 16 to 20 passengers. Due to technological developments, such as the jet engine in the late
1940s, aircraft became bigger, safer and more comfortable than ever before, which made traveling by
airplane more attractive to customers. The resulting increased passenger flow led to the need for bigger
airports. Indeed, up to the 1960s, passengers brought their baggage directly to the airplane on the apron or
gate, which made the loading process slow as each bag had to be loaded separately. However, at the
beginning of the 1970s, with the era of the big size carriers such as the Boeing 747 having up to 400 seats,
the baggage logistics at airports had to change for efficiency and security reasons. Instead of waiting for
the passengers at the apron to collect all passengers’ baggage, the passenger and baggage flows were
separated in the terminal building at the check-in. They dropped off their baggage at check-in counters
and the airport transferred the baggage to the airplanes. With the separation, airports could collect
passengers’ baggage beforehand and load them into airplane cargo holds such that the baggage handling
and loading became more predictable, enabling airports to guarantee a given loading time for the
airplanes and a weight-balanced aircraft in the air. Modern baggage handling at airports was thus born.
Today, international airports, such as those found in Munich and Frankfurt, use high tech baggage
handling systems (BHS), which are fully automated conveyor belt networks to transfer baggage through
terminals. The BHS is also responsible for the baggage safety check by means of advanced security

Today for airports, baggage handling is their daily business. Baggage handling is one of the major and
most challenging tasks at airports and a major indicator of an airport’s service quality. Poor baggage
handling leads to passenger and airline dissatisfaction. However, the high competition of airports for
passengers and airlines makes service quality a crucial factor. Well-organized baggage handling with
short transfer times for the baggage from flight to flight (transfer baggage), passenger to flight (outbound
baggage) or flight to passenger (inbound baggage) attracts new airlines to the airport as a destination or
hub and motivates passengers to use the airport in the future.

Passenger Baggage Handling Information (IATA):

Carry-on baggage allowance can vary according to the airline, the cabin class you are traveling in and
even the size of the aircraft. As a general guide, carry-on baggage should have maximum length of 22 in
(56 cm), width of 18 in (45 cm) and depth of 10 in (25 cm). These dimensions include wheels, handles,
side pockets, etc.
Some airlines also enforce weight limitations, typically starting at 5kg/11lbs.
All knives, sharp objects or cutting implements of any kind and of any length, whether of metal or other
material, and some sporting goods must be packed in checked baggage. They cannot be carried in the
cabin baggage nor on your person.
Security regulations limit the amount of liquids aerosols and gels permitted in carry-on baggage.
The International Civil Aviation Organization, the UN's aviation standard-setting body, has defined
guidelines that more and more governments are adopting. The current restrictions for liquids, aerosols and
gels from ICAO and in effect in most countries are that they must be in containers 100ml or equivalent,
placed in a transparent resealable plastic bag with max capacity 1-litre.
If you require the use of medical syringes in flight, such as for insulin, you need documented proof of the
medical need and ensure that the material is professionally packed and labeled. If it is not, the medication
is likely to be removed at security screening.
We recommend that you keep all your Portable Electronic Devices with you in carry-on
baggage. Laptops, tablets and mobile phones may need to be presented separately at Security
Checkpoints for additional screening.
If you are traveling with spare batteries, electronic cigarettes/vapes or back-up power supply (power
banks),these must always be carried in carry-on baggage and not checked baggage. Any spare batteries
must be individually wrapped to prevent short circuit.
IATA has guidelines for baggage but the number and weight of baggage allowed free of charge can vary
by airline, frequent flyer status, routing and fare. To avoid additional costs, please check with your airline
before you travel so that you are fully aware of the checked baggage allowance included with your
Each bag should weigh less than 23KG/50LBS. This is an international regulation set for the health and
safety of airport workers who have to lift hundreds of bags daily. If your bag weighs more than this, you
may be asked to repack, or have it labeled as "heavy luggage".
The maximum weight for one bag is 32KG/70LBS in the EU and the US. Some airlines impose lower
The "piece concept" is generally in use on flights within, to and from Canada and the United States. This
concept defines the number of bags entitled by the passenger's ticket. Where the "piece concept" applies,
generally, two pieces of checked baggage are allowed per passenger, each piece weighing a maximum of
32 kilos (70 lb) and measuring no more than 158 cm (62 in) when adding the dimensions: height + width
+ length.
Lost baggage is often the consequence of the baggage label having detached from the bag. To allow
identification of your bag in all situations, make sure to have your name, telephone number and email
address appear outside of your bag and a copy of your travel itinerary inside your bag. When there is no
other way to identify your luggage, the airline will have to break it open and this identification piece will
be crucial to returning your belongings.
Globally 99.5% of all baggage travels with the passenger as planned and the vast majority of bags that are
mishandled are returned to the passenger within 48 hours. This does not detract from the fact that arriving
without your baggage is a significant inconvenience.
Many baggage mishandlings occur at the transfer point due to punctuality issues, and these are often
caused by air traffic control congestion. Sometimes it is simply not possible to move the bags between
flights in the time available. IATA and its members continue to work hard to improve baggage
performance further.
If your bag is not delivered at the baggage reclaim, it is important that you file a missing bag report in the
baggage reclaim area before you leave the airport.

The baggage handling process is separated into four sub processes:
1. Check-in process
2. Outbound baggage handling process
3. Transfer baggage handling process
4. Inbound baggage handling process.
The connection between the landside and the airside part is the terminal which contains the baggage
handling system (BHS), the central infrastructure for baggage handling. The BHS is an automated
baggage transportation system that also provides a storage to temporarily buffer baggage. Bags can enter
and leave the BHS from either landside or airside.
1. Check-in baggage handling: Check-In baggage is brought in by passengers arriving at an airports’
landside. At check-in counters the incoming bags are forwarded to the BHS (1).
2. Outbound baggage handling: Outbound baggage handling encompasses all process steps necessary to
forward baggage leaving the BHS to an departing flight (2). The outbound baggage either comes from
new arriving passengers through the check-in (1) or from incoming flights (3). Once in the BHS,
outbound baggage can either be temporarily stored or it can be forwarded directly to a baggage handling
facility where baggageis loaded into container and then transportedto the outgoing airplane.
3. Transfer baggage handling: Baggage brought in from an incoming flight that is forwarded to a
connecting flight is called transfer baggage. Transfer baggage is typically transported to infeed stations
and fed into the BHS (3) from where the further process is controlled by the outbound baggage handling.
In urgent cases, transfer baggage can be directly brought from an incoming to an outgoing airplane
without traversing the BHS.
4. Inbound baggage handling: Besides transfer baggage, incoming flights also bring along inbound
baggage, which leaves the airport through the claiming hall on the airport’s landside. Inbound baggage is
transported from an incoming flight to an in feed station and via the BHS send to a baggage claim
carousel where it is picked up by the passenger.

Resources In order to operate the baggage handling processes, resources are required. The primary
resource is the BHS. Further resources are baggage towing vehicles, baggage containers and human
resources (drivers, loaders, ramp agents).
The main infrastructure of an airport is given by the BHS which represents the most important and
complex of all airport resource. The BHS automatically transports baggage through the airport and sorts
baggage according to the departing flight. Figure 2.2 provides an overview of the parts of the BHS:
check-in counters, in feed stations, the baggage screening system, the baggage sorting network, a storage
system, handling facilities (baggage carousels or chutes) and baggage claim carousels.

In feed stations are the access points for baggage into the BHS. The in feed stations are either the check-in
counters at the landside or the transfer and inbound baggage in feed stations at the airside. At check-in
counters the bag is dropped either by an airline agent or in case of self check-in by the passenger on the
conveyor belt. A check-in bag is given an identification tag that indicates its itinerary and contains a
unique bar code, the Baggage Source Message (BSM). The BSM identifies a bag worldwide as long as
the bag does not leave the airside of an airport.
A checked in bag is screened before it is forwarded further into the BHS. Depending on the security
standard of the preceding airport, transfer baggage may be also screened before it is forwarded through
the BHS. Particular due to the risk of terroristic attacks.
Storage systems as part of the BHS have the task to store baggage which cannot be immediately directed
to a handling facility. The storage consists of several parallel lanes to store the baggage. Each bag in a
lane can be individually sent to a handling facility. If the addressed bag is not stored in the front of the
lane and thus cannot be immediately accessed, the baggage blocking the addressed bag has to be moved.
At the handling facilities ground handler load the arriving bag into containers. The location of the
handling facilities are either centralized or decentralized.
Baggage claim carousels are the final point of a bag’s journey from one airport to another. Baggage claim
carousels are grouped in baggage claim halls where arriving passengers pick up their baggage at landside.

World tracer (baggage solution)

Process missing bags anywhere

Slash the time required to process missing bags with a Bag Tracer mobile cart or tablet. Agents can use
the cart or tablet anywhere - in the reclaim hall, a re-flight area or an off-site warehouse. Once a bag is
found, the agent simply scans the tag and lets the automated software do the rt


The BagTracer mobile cart is a robust, manoeuvrable solution

for efficient processing of missing bags. Battery powered, with
very quick recharge times, the cart has everything an agent
needs to quickly and comfortably process a bag and print any
necessary labels or passenger documents


The BagTracer tablet is the ultimate mobile device for processing missing baggage. The lightweight tablet
connects with live flight schedules, World Tracer and a Bluetooth scanner and printer for all the
functionality an agent needs at their fingertips, in any location.

Mobile processing
A BagTracer cart or tablet brings processing from the back office to wherever a missing bag is located,
from the reclaim hall to a re-flight area or an off-site warehouse.

Easy to use
BagTracer’s intuitive, touch screen interface makes it simple for agents to find or create a missing bag file
and process it for delivery or re-flight, both with a passenger and behind the scenes.

End to end processing

From creating a World Tracer file to automated address verification and printing Rush tag or delivery
labels, BagTracer enables your ground agent to complete all stages of the process from one device.

To ensure high levels of security, BagTracer comes with user logon and off as standard. As BagTracer
carts and tablets are highly portable, it is easy to move the devices when not in use for added security.

24/7 availability and support

Support all time zones and shift patterns with BagTracer’s fully managed, 24/7 service and support.

Quick to implement
Start realising the benefits of BagTracer in just a few days, as the web-based application avoids
complicated internal system integration without compromising functionality.

The future of baggage handling

Every year more than three billion bags are checked in at airports worldwide – a staggering number that
will continue to rise sharply over the next two decades. Yet through the smart use of technology, only a
small percentage of bags are mishandled each year. Vice-President of Airports at SITA, Matthys
Serfontein, provides an in-depth look at how smart technology is transforming the industry.
According to the SITA Baggage Report 2016, the rate of mishandled bags was 6.5 bags per thousand
passengers in 2015, down 10.5 per cent from the previous year, and down 65.3 per cent cumulatively
from 2007. This improvement was largely achieved through the introduction of smart technology over the
past 10 years to enable efficient baggage operations.
Despite this dramatic drop in mishandling rates, each mishandled bag is an additional cost for airports and
airlines. And of course, no passenger wants to arrive at their destination without their personal
belongings. Simply put, every mishandled bag is one too many.
Therefore, the pressure remains on the industry to do even better, by further reducing the number of
mishandled bags while accommodating higher volumes every year. The industry is near the point where,
without a major change in how we think about baggage, all the gains have been made and the benefits of
optimised baggage operations have reached their limits.
A new approach is needed which will enable our industry to get mishandling rates down from 6.5 per
thousand today to below 4.5. Meeting this IATA target requires a proactive approach to baggage handling
supported by accurate tracking data.
This is where Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) can make a difference.
Why RFID matters
The benefits of RFID are clear for both airlines and airports. In October SITA, together with IATA,
published a Business Case for RFIDthat showed the global deployment of RFID technology will help the
air transport industry save more than US$3 billion in mishandled baggage costs, by reducing the number
of mishandled bags by up to 25 per cent by 2022.
This will be achieved by accurately tracking passengers’ baggage in real time across key points in the
journey. RFID will address mishandling during transfer from one flight to another, one of the key areas
identified by SITA and IATA where the technology could help improve baggage handling rates. Today
transfer baggage accounts for more than 45 per cent of all mishandled bags.
This has benefits for passengers whose baggage can be more accurately tracked throughout the journey. It
also benefits airlines which will have much better visibility of the baggage they are carrying and the
ability to proactively intervene before a bag is mishandled.
RFID is not a new technology. It has been around for many years, particularly in the logistics industry.
Walmart is perhaps the best example of a company that has exploited RFID to the full. It has credited
RFID with a long list of benefits, including reducing labor costs, increased accuracy, faster inventory
processing, increased customer service levels and, ultimately, higher sales.
RFID is not new to the air transport industry either. Back in 2007 IATA issued a business case supporting
the deployment of RFID across the industry.
The adoption of RFID is fast gaining momentum. Leading the charge is Delta Air Lines which will
replace barcode hand scanning with RFID for all 120 million bags its handles every year, using it across
344 stations around the world.
Other U.S. airlines are also seriously considering the widespread rollout across their networks while SITA
is working with air transport industry players to conduct RFID proof of concepts across major airports in
Europe and Asia.
It may still take time for the industry to fully adopt RFID as a new standard but the benefits speak for
themselves. The robotic baggage handler:
The robotic baggage handler at Amsterdam airport Schiphol can automatically load ramp carts from one
central facility, allowing human workers to concentrate on more complex tasks.
Top 10 Airport Baggage Handling System Companies:
1. Conveyor and Automation Technologies, Inc.
2. Dalmec, Inc.
3. KieTek International, Inc.
4. Siemens Corp.
5. Hamer-Fischbein
6. Cage Inc.
7. Absolute GSE, Inc.
8. Victor Ground Support Equipment
9. Omega Aviation Services, Inc.
10. FMC Technology

Siemens Baggage Handling Services:

With 7.4 million passengers every month, Dubai airport is the busiest airport for international passengers.
It’s baggage handling system is one of the world’s largest with the capacity of 15000 bags per hour. It
covers a surface area equivalent 75 football fields and is spread across six storeys underground. The total
length of the system is 140 km/h, almost the distance from Dubai to Abu Dhabi. Handle countless bags
for millions and millions of passenger, keeping the passenger transfer times as short as possible, no doubt
it is a difficult task.
Siemens is there working with Dubai International Airport at management level and even at the
operational level. Siemens provide state of the art solution that are perfectly adapted to its specific needs
with more than 90 kilometers of conveyer lines. The airport baggage handling system is one of the largest
worldwide. Retrack conveyer lines achieve a maximum speed of 7.5 m/s and can handle up to 15000 bags
per hour, reducing a transfer time to a minimum. Siemens developed and installed the new innovated
warehouse which automatically stores and distributes transfer package and allows individual retrieval on
request. It has 6500 storage locations and retains the baggage until the respective flight is ready to be
processed. Siemens baggage warehouse makes it possible to transfer many types of baggage completely
automatically just as in the distribution center. The baggage warehouse is driven via a warehouse
management system. The IT system knows the position of every tray in the rack and it can feed the
baggage separated accordingly.
Management system

Siemens Warehouse