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Airport baggage handler Airline baggage handler, cargo handler, ramp hand

Airport baggage handlers load and unload luggage and cargo from aircraft.

Salary, a pound sign Salary: £15,000 to £20,000 average per year
Hours, a clock face Hours: 35 to 40 per week

1. Entry requirements

You'll need to be over 18 and pass security and medical checks.

Experience of warehouse work and an LGV (Large Goods Vehicle) or forklift truck licence could be helpful.

You could get into this job through an apprenticeship.

Careers that Move has advice on jobs in the travel and transport industry.

2. Skills required

You'll need:

  • the ability to work quickly
  • the ability to follow loading instructions and pay close attention to detail
  • practical skills to work with conveyors and lifting equipment

3. What you'll do

Your day-to-day tasks could include:

  • 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.

4. Salary

Starter: £15,000 to £18,000

Experienced: £20,000 (supervisor)

You may be on a salary or paid be the hour.

Overtime and shift allowances can increase your income. Some airlines provide subsidised travel.

These figures are a guide.

5. Working hours, patterns and environment

You'll usually work a 39-hour week in shifts. 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.

6. Career path and progression

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.

You could move into supervisory management or passenger handling operations.

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Last updated: 13 April 2017