Behind the scenes of YWG’s Baggage Handling System

Your luggage is packed. You’re ready to go. But where does your luggage go?

As you arrive at Winnipeg Richardson International Airport to start your trip, your bags also begin a journey of their own. It’s a complex adventure along a hidden maze that spans two floors of the airport and seven kilometres of interconnected conveyor belts.

Bon Voyage!

After being weighed and assigned a luggage tag at the airline check-in counters, your bag is placed on a conveyor belt. Within a few seconds, it slips out of sight into a tunnel and heads towards the baggage sorting room.

Once there, your bag crisscrosses past dozens of automated tag readers which help identify and sort where it needs to go. The readers scan the luggage tag, which triggers a series of gates to either open or close, directing your luggage down the right path. There are even automated tag readers positioned under the conveyor belts in case the luggage tag is caught folded underneath a bag.

In the same way every passenger must go through security screening, so does each checked bag. Your luggage moves through a massive x-ray machine that automatically decides if it can proceed or needs to be looked at closer by a Canadian Air Transport Security Authority officer.

Once you drop your bag off on the Departures Level, it takes roughly six minutes (a little longer if secondary security screening is required) for your luggage to get to the airline baggage cart. That quickness comes thanks in part to new technology installed in early 2020.

The Baggage Handling System was upgraded to support growing passenger volumes well into the future. The new equipment replaced machinery that was nearing the end of its life cycle and modernizes the system to screen bags more efficiently. The Baggage Handling System is now roughly four times faster, which means it can process more bags per hour – a total of 1,800 pieces of luggage to be exact.

While efficiency is key, there are also enhanced measures happening behind the scenes to meet increased cleaning standards amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Baggage tubs, big blue bins used to help transport luggage down the conveyor belts, are sanitized after each use. The various partners YWG works with to sort checked bags have also implemented new health measures to further ensure a safe and clean environment.

Welcome to Winnipeg!

After touching down at YWG, your bag is unloaded off the plane by members of the ground handling teams. It then hitches a short ride on a baggage cart from the tarmac into the terminal where it’s placed on another system of conveyor belts. 

A few twists and turns later, your luggage is reunited with you at one of the five baggage carousels spread across the Arrivals Hall and Customs Hall.

As intricate as the Baggage Handling System at YWG is, with automated technology, tons of heavy machinery and countless conveyor belts, its goal is simple: help get your luggage where it needs to be as quickly and efficiently as possible. 

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