Airport baggage handler

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Airline baggage handler, cargo handler, ramp hand

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

Salary range: £15,000 to £20,000

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How to become an airport baggage handler

You can get into this job through:

  • a college course
  • an apprenticeship
  • applying directly
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College

You could do a college course, which would teach you some of the skills and knowledge you need in this job. Relevant courses include the Level 2 Certificate or Diploma in Aviation Environment.

Entry requirements

You’ll usually need:

  • 2 or more GCSEs at grades 9 to 3 (A* to D), or equivalent, for a level 2 course

More information

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Apprenticeship

You could train for this role through an intermediate apprenticeship as a aviation ground operative.

This will usually take 12 months to complete. You’ll do on-the-job training and spend time at a college or training provider.

Entry requirements

You’ll usually need:

  • some GCSEs, usually including English and maths, or equivalent, for an intermediate apprenticeship

More information

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Direct application

There are no specific entry requirements but some employers may prefer you to have a few GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), particularly in maths and English.

Experience of warehouse work and an LGV (Large Goods Vehicle) or forklift truck licence could be helpful when applying directly for this role.

More information

Career tips

Seasonal work may be available, with large increases in the number of travellers in busy holiday periods.

Jobs may be advertised on the websites of airport authorities and agencies, recruitment agencies and in local newspapers.

Further information

You can find out more about working as a baggage handler from Careers That Move.

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What it takes

Skills and knowledge

You’ll need:

  • customer service skills
  • patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations
  • the ability to work well with others
  • sensitivity and understanding
  • the ability to accept criticism and work well under pressure
  • excellent verbal communication skills
  • the ability to work on your own
  • a desire to help people
  • to be able to carry out basic tasks on a computer or hand-held device

Restrictions and requirements

You’ll need to:

You may need your own transport to get to and from the airport, as public transport may not cover all of your shift times. Some jobs ask for a full UK driving licence.

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What you’ll do

Day-to-day tasks

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

Working environment

You could work on an aircraft, at an airport or in a warehouse.

Your working environment may be outdoors in all weathers.

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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.