- Load and unload baggage and cargo in airports
- Physical work with lots of lifting
- Team environment and variable shift patterns
- Transferring luggage from check-in areas to departure areas
- Making sure luggage gets onto the right plane
- Moving luggage to and from aircraft holds using trucks, cargo loaders and conveyor systems
- Storing cargo in warehouses
- Loading luggage onto conveyors in the arrivals hall
- Reporting baggage that's damaged or suspicious
- If you're employed by a ground services company, you may also help clean and de-ice planes and keep runways clear of debris and snow in winter
As a baggage handler your job will be physically active and will usually include some work outdoors in all weathers. This is shift work and not 9am-5pm. Shifts can last up to 12 hours and include evenings, weekends and public holidays. The work may be seasonal.
You'll work in airport buildings, cargo warehouses, aircraft holds and outdoors in all weathers. You'll usually need to wear ear defenders, high visibility clothing and safety shoes. You'll need a good level of personal fitness to lift and move heavy loads.
There are no specific entry requirements but you'll need to be over 18 and pass security and medical checks to get this job. Some employers may also prefer you to have a few GCSEs. You'll also need good physical fitness, the ability to work in a team, and a sense of responsibility.
To get started you could do a college course, which would teach you some of the skills and knowledge you need in this job. Relevant courses include the Level 2 Certificate or Diploma in Aviation Environment. You could also get into this job through an apprenticeship.
Experience of warehouse work and an LGV (Large Goods Vehicle) or forklift truck licence could be helpful, but you may also learn these skills on the job. Seasonal work may be available, with large increases in the number of travellers in busy holiday periods.
With experience, you could work as a 'lead ramp hand', lining up planes ready for the next flight. You could also train staff on equipment and procedures or you could move into supervisory management or passenger handling operations.