Where Is Luggage Stored On A Plane?

Oh so you wanted to know what happens to your lovely suitcase behind the scenes?

If you are curious what happened to your luggage after you check in, and where do they keep luggage on planes?

This detailed post will walk you through the baggage handling process from check in, when it gets loaded and unloaded on planes until you get your bag at the baggage claim.

Let’s dive right in.

airplane on clear blue sky
Photo by UMUT DAĞLI on Pexels.com

Where Does Luggage Go On Planes?

Luggage generally goes through five different steps.

  1. Check in and tagging
  2. Sorting to the proper destination using (DCV) short for destination-coded vehicle, like a rollercoaster ( also goes in some complicated underground systems that moves bags to wherever they need to go).
  3. Screening and inspection process
  4. Loading and storing on planes using unit load device
  5. Unloading luggage

Whenever you check in your bag it goes directly to the screening machines to make sure it does not contain any prohibited items.

If the screening machines can not detect what is inside a bag it will be transferred automatically for a manual inspection.

After screening the bag and all is good, it proceeds to the sorting station where luggage handlers place suitcases in carts or use containers to load them into airplane cargo.

Luggage handlers use scanners to scan luggage tags and ensure each suitcase goes to the right gate and identify each suitcase destination.

How Luggage Is Stacked On Planes?

After luggage gets sorted and directed to the right gate it is time to be loaded on airplanes.

Luggage is stacked underneath the airplane ( the cargo hold) ; there are no specific size for each compartment, it depends on aircraft type, for some airplanes the compartment may be smaller, that is why airline have limits for the amount of checked baggage passengers bring, even though sometimes luggage handlers will successfully fit all the luggage inside them thanks to their skills.

There are few restrictions when storing bags at the airplane cargo hold, heavy suitcases will be placed first and bags that will be transferred in a connecting flight will be stored in a separate area.

Luggage handlers are already knowledgeable of that at the sorting phase before handing luggage to the ramp agents.

Airplane baggage compartments are pressurized, that means you can take any type of live species, like pets and live animals.

You don’t need to worry when traveling with some types of fresh food or items that can be spoiled in low or high temperatures, even though it is not recommended to place such items in checked baggage. 

How Is Luggage Loaded Onto Planes?

After luggage gets cleared and sorted it is time for it to get stored in the airplane hold cargo or luggage compartment using ULDs or Unit load device (especially on wide body aircraft).

As mentioned above usually heavier suitcases will be placed in front or in the bottom to maintain the balance of the airplane, sometimes that will affect the time you are going to wait and get your suitcase after landing.

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What Happens To Luggage After The Plane Landed?

After a flight landed at any destination all luggage will be offloaded from the airplane and sent directly to the baggage claim.

However; it goes first from the screening process, especially on international flights.

That will influence the time you will spend at the baggage claim waiting for your bag.

For connecting flights, the airline agent will quickly transfer luggage to the next flight as soon as the airplane has landed.

Final Thoughts

Even though most airlines are doing their best to ensure a smooth and efficient handling of passengers bags.

And with millions of suitcases being handled every day at the airports, it is really a challenging job to keep everything organized and neat.

Airport baggage handling systems need more effort to keep up with the increasing rate of passengers and flights.

We hope this helps

Happy travels.

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