The Fives: Inside The Bag System

Deep inside of Terminal 2 there exists another world. It’s a place where the whizzing of conveyor belts and the beeping of tugs fills the air. It’s a place where bright yellow catwalks cover the ceilings and where driving indoors is the norm.  This is the bag make-up room at RDU, and it’s our focus for this edition of The Fives. (But, for this topic, we’re throwing in a sixth picture for free!)

_DSC0950Where does your bag go when it heads through the flaps on the conveyor belt at the ticketing island or at the skycap stand? It comes here, to the bag make-up room. More specifically, it first makes its way through a section of more than 7,100 linear feet of conveyor belt along the ceilings. That’s 1.3 miles and 500 segments of conveyor belt.

_DSC0903Surrounded by catwalks and maintenance platforms, the conveyor system runs at 280 feet per minute (3.1 miles per hour) and processes an average 3,924 bags daily. The first stop for bags is for security screening, which is automated. Those that alarm the system are then sent to a TSA resolution room for additional screening before being sent back along the conveyor system.

_DSC0944A laser reading system scans all of the bags after they have cleared security. The scanner is looking for just the airline. During the conveyor process, bags from the various airlines are mixed together. After the laser reads the bag it is sorted onto a conveyor designated for a specific airline. Those that can’t be scanned are sent to a separate area for manual sorting via human eyes.

_DSC0951These large carousels are where bags end up when they complete their journey through the bag make-up room. From the furthest point in the system, the total transit time for bags in Terminal 2 is 4 minutes 20 seconds, though most bags have a quicker trip. Here, airline employees manually sort bags according to flights and place on carts destined for the specific airlines.

_DSC0952What happens to arriving bags? Good question. Airline employees remove bags from the aircraft and place them on carts and drive them into this part of the bag make-up room. Then, they simply place the bags on conveyor belts, such as this, for a very short two minute trip to the carousel where you pick up your items in Bag Claim.

About Andrew Sawyer

Andrew Sawyer is the External Communication Specialist for the Raleigh-Durham Airport Authority and is the main writer for RDU’s website, electronic communication and airport publications. He’s also the primary face behind RDU’s social media channels. Andrew also assists with many other things, from media relations to event planning. In fact, he has an advanced degree in "other duties as assigned."
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One Response to The Fives: Inside The Bag System

  1. Darrel says:

    Interesting to see. Thanks for sharing.

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