How to become a Airline Baggage and Freight Handler

Airline baggage and freight handlers work in the loading services area of an airline’s operations, transferring items between airport buildings and aircraft.

Personal requirements of a Airline Baggage and Freight Handler

  • Display alertness, attention to detail and common sense
  • Enjoy practical work and working with people
  • Able to cope with the physical demands of the job
  • Good problem-solving skills
  • Good interpersonal and communication skills
  • Good visualisation skills, with the ability to understand diagrams and maps
  • Sound literacy skills to understand loading instructions
  • Sound numeracy skills for interpreting weight specifications

Education & Training for a Airline Baggage and Freight Handler

You can work as an airline baggage and freight handler without formal qualifications. You will probably get some informal training on the job. You can also become an airline baggage and freight handler through a traineeship in Aviation (Ground Operations and Service). Entry requirements may vary, but employers generally require Year 10. For more details, see Section 2. Ask your career adviser about the possibility of starting some of this training in school.

Duties & Tasks of a Airline Baggage and Freight Handler

Airline baggage and freight handlers may perform the following tasks:

  • transport baggage and cargo around an airport
  • load and unload passenger baggage and freight (including animals and perishables) on and off planes and helicopters
  • use a motorised luggage cart, scissor-lift truck or forklift truck to carry baggage on the airport road system
  • operate and place mobile stairs to enable passengers to board or disembark an aircraft
  • unload and load any baggage and freight that needs to make a connecting flight
  • read luggage labels and follow lists to ensure baggage goes to the right place
  • check for any priority baggage and assign all baggage to the correct carousel.

Working conditions for a Airline Baggage and Freight Handler

Airline baggage and freight handlers have to work shifts, which may include weekends, public holidays and nights. Earmuffs are worn due to noise from the aircraft engines. The work involves bending, lifting and carrying heavy items.

Employment Opportunities for a Airline Baggage and Freight Handler

Airline baggage and freight handlers work for airline companies and are based at airports. There is strong competition for the limited number of entry-level positions. However, temporary positions are often available during busy seasons. With experience, and sometimes further training, you may be able to work as a supervisor, work on runways or arrange transport for crew.

Additional Information
The minimum age for entry is normally 18 years, and a drivers licence is required for most jobs. You will need to undergo a hearing test and medical examination before commencing work. All persons working in the airline industry must also satisfy security clearance requirements.
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