I’ve always been fascinated by airports (I know, pretty strange but that’s me). I like to think of airports as part of my travel journey, not just as a means to an end. I’d even compare airports to small cities, after all, you can find everything you need there – restaurants, shops, some even have hotels, gyms and IMAX theatres.
For many passengers, travelling through an airport is quite easy. Get there, go through security, make way to the gate and hop on the aircraft. Sounds effortless and hassle-free, right?
But have you ever wondered about everything that goes on behind closed doors at airports to ensure that your journey and the journey of thousands of other passengers goes as smoothly as that? From what happens to your luggage after you drop it off at check-in to how the aircraft is prepared before you are allowed to board it – continue reading, and you’ll find out.
Before I explain what happens behind the scenes at an airport, let me introduce myself. I work at Aviation Spares & Repairs, a supplier of aviation equipment for airports around the world. We have over 30 years’ experience working within the aviation industry and within that time, we’ve gained a great amount of knowledge of what happens at airports.
What happens to your suitcase when you drop it off at check-in?
So, you get to the airport and are ready to get rid of your large suitcase. You drop it off at the check-in desk and then make your way to the duty-free shops. Whilst you are buying those large Toblerone bars or the new red lipstick from MAC, your suitcase is going on a rollercoaster ride. Wait, what?
I know, when I found out I thought to myself: “why can’t passengers do the same to get to their flights?” I think everyone would be so much happier if that was the case, but that’s not the point. Less rambling, more explaining.
Let’s start again. So, you get to the airport and are ready to get rid of your large suitcase. The airline staff at the check-in desk attaches a tag to your suitcase which has all the information about your flight and places it on a conveyor belt.
Then, your luggage starts making its way to the baggage handling system, where your suitcase’s tag will be scanned to ensure your suitcase is routed in the right direction. And there it goes – it is taken up and down, right and left through thousands of other suitcases. It really does look like a rollercoaster. Don’t believe me? Check this video by The Thrillist, which shows the whole journey of a suitcase.
After your suitcase has the time of its life, it reaches the collection area where a baggage handler will scan its tag again and put it on a baggage cart, ready to be taken to the aircraft you’ll be flying on.
How is the aircraft prepared before boarding?
As an article on The Smart Local mentions, while the passengers are busy getting their tickets checked and bags scanned, a ground staff crew assist in clearing the aircraft and auxiliary police officers conduct a series of checks, so passengers can safely board the plane.
Plus, there are also other tasks to complete, just as refueling the aircraft, restocking the bar and undertaking pre-flight checks. Once everything is checked, you are ready to board the plane.
Some airport facts that you (probably) didn’t know:
Hong Kong International airport has the largest IMAX theatre in Hong Kong with 350 seats. If you don’t enjoy cinema, the airport also has a nine-hole golf course.
At the main international airport of Israel, Ben Gurion Airport, lost helium balloons that float up to the ceiling are collected and taken to children in hospital.
There are on average 9,728 planes with a total of 1,270,406 people at any given time, making the skies the 159th most populous country in the world.
Are you a lover or a hater of airports? Have you ever been to any particularly fascinating airports with any unique features?
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While I’m not a fan of airports as a whole, I do love a good mooch around the duty free! It’s a great way to ease my anxiety around flying 😂 I think where they’re always so busy it’s easy to forget that there’s so much going on behind the scenes too. Great post, really informative 😊
Singapore is probably the most interesting airport I’ve been to. They have pretty much everything including butterfly gardens, a cinema and so much more. Usually ranks as one of the best airports in the world and it’s hard to disagree on my experience 🙂
I didn’t know Hong Kong had a full IMAX theatre in their airport!!
In person I am an airport hater because they are too busy and frantic and crowded for me. Last time I flew I had a hidden disability sticker and got some extra help through fast track security lane which really helped me because I didn’t feel under so much pressure and as clumsy.
We then got to sit in the disability area which seemed to confuse most people there because I wasn’t using a wheelchair.
Best Airport was the tiny one coming back from Co. Kerry in Ireland. It was a tiny tiny airport so you weren’t allowed through security unless yours was the next flight, then you had to queue up outside to board the plane! Fortunately it was nice weather on the day we flew back. It was in all seriousness both nicer and smaller than some bus stations I’ve been in!
I am fascinated by behind the scenes at airports, I love watching documentaries about them haha.
Cora | http://www.teapartyprincess.co.uk/
It is interesting to learn about the whole process of how airports work behind the scenes. Though, I have seen luggages being handled before – I get nervous when they start tossing them around. Thanks for sharing these fun facts!
Nancy ♥ exquisitely.me
I did some checking based on two large airports I have flown through (DFW and Amsterdam). In both cases, they are larger than 3 towns and one small city I lived in.
I had an interview at an airport, and I was really shocked at how much goes on behind the scenes!
I looooove airports!!! My wildest dream is to someday design one because I think they are abolutely fascinating! I used to watch TV shows that showed how airports work, what an airport manager does, how the crew and staff deal with “events” like drunk people, lost people, delays which affect flights…. so amazing!
My husband loved planes and airports