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Job Photographs

  • The entrance to an airport.

    Airport baggage handlers work at airports in various parts of the country.

  • A man, wearing a high visibility tabard, is driving a small truck through a large warehouse.

    The baggage handler drives a tug to collect a consignment of baggage to be loaded onto an aeroplane.

  • A man, wearing a high visibility tabard, is placing a blue suitcase onto a trolley.  He is speaking into a radio.

    If a case has been left unattended or is thought to be suspicious, the baggage handler alerts airport security.

  • A man, wearing a high visibility tabard, is removing a blue suitcase from a conveyor belt.

    Passengers' cases are loaded onto a conveyor belt.

  • A man, wearing a high visibility tabard, is standing next to a car.  The car has loudspeakers on the roof.

    Recorded bird distress calls are used to clear the runway of birds.

  • Airport Baggage Handler

Airport Baggage Handler


Airport baggage handlers transport, load and unload luggage and cargo. They are responsible for checking luggage against flight lists and taking it to the aircraft or to the reclaim conveyor belt. They need to work quickly and accurately while taking care not to cause damage.

Also known as

  • Baggage Handler, Airport
  • Ramp Agent
  • Luggage Handler
  • Airline Porter
  • Airport Operative
  • Ground Station Attendant

Video: - Andrew: Baggage Handler

Work Activities

As an Airport Baggage Handler, you will move all sorts of baggage, such as luggage and cargo, on and off planes. You drive vehicles that carry large amounts of baggage.

You check outgoing baggage against flight lists, transport it, and load it onto the aircraft using lifting equipment. Smaller items may be loaded by hand.

Incoming baggage is taken off the aircraft to the reclaim conveyor belts. It is sorted to ensure that each article is loaded onto the correct conveyor.

You need to work accurately while taking care not to cause damage. You also have to work quickly as turnaround times between flights can sometimes be very short.

Airport Baggage Handlers have responsibility for keeping an eye open for suspicious-looking cargo or baggage items. These items are reported to airport security or the police.

Much of the work is done outdoors in all types of weather. In smaller airports, you may also clean both the interior and exterior of aircraft.

In winter, you may assist with de-icing the aircraft. You may also help with:

  • portering
  • keeping the runways clear of birds
  • helping people requiring assistance onto the aircraft

Being able to read, write and speak Welsh may be an advantage when you’re looking for work in Wales.

Personal Qualities and Skills

To become an Airport Baggage Handler, you'll need to be:

  • a good teamworker
  • able to work quickly
  • physically fit and have the stamina for all the lifting, carrying and bending that the job involves
  • able to use mechanical handling equipment
  • a careful worker as some of the items you'll be handling will be expensive and fragile
  • able to cope with early and late shift work

A driving licence is often required for people wishing to get into this job.

Some employers will expect you to live near the airport. This usually means being within one-hour's travel from the airport.

Pay and Opportunities


The pay rates given below are approximate.

  • Starting: £20,500 - £22,000
  • With experience: £24,000 - £27,500
  • Senior Airport Baggage Handlers earn £29,500

Hours of work

Airport Baggage Handlers usually work 40 hours a week. Shift work and work at weekends and public holidays is normally required. Overtime is usually available in busy periods.

Where could I work?

Employers are ground services providers, handling agents, airlines or airport authorities.

Opportunities for Airport Baggage Handlers occur at airports throughout the UK.

Where are vacancies advertised?

Vacancies are advertised on all the major job boards, on Universal Jobmatch, and at Jobcentre Plus.

You might also find vacancies on the websites of:

  • ground services providers
  • handling agents
  • airlines or airport authorities

Entry Routes and Training

Entry routes

There are no set entry routes into this career. You should apply directly to companies for vacancies.

Maths and English skills will be useful and GCSE passes in those subjects may give you an advantage over other candidates.

Some people enter this career from an Intermediate or Advanced Level Apprenticeship. Take a look at our information article 'Apprenticeships – How do I apply', for more details about applying for apprenticeship positions.


Training is usually on-the-job and covers the safe and efficient use of equipment and how to deal with lost, damaged and suspicious items.

If you would like some training, City & Guilds offer a level 2 qualification in aviation environment. This course has a range of units, which include:

  • health and safety within aviation
  • aviation security
  • aviation communications
  • airport baggage processing
  • loading and unloading of aircraft
  • airport baggage facilities
  • aircraft load instruction reports

Other courses could be available in your area.

Work Experience

Previous practical experience, for example, in warehouses and stores, using your hands is helpful.

A clean, current driving licence is needed.


Experienced Airport Baggage Handlers can move into supervisory positions. Some Handlers become Trainers.


To get onto an Intermediate or Advanced Level Apprenticeship, you’ll usually need five GCSEs at grade C/4 or above, possibly including English and maths.

Adult Opportunities

Age limits

Age limits apply to this career. To become a baggage handler, you must be aged over 18, due to the shift work involved.


Previous practical experience, for example, in warehouses and stores, using your hands is helpful. A clean, current driving licence is needed.


Some people enter this career via an Aviation Operations on the Ground Intermediate Level Apprenticeship.

Further Information

Contact individual airports and handling agents.

Apprenticeships: Get In. Go Far

National Apprenticeship Service (NAS)

Tel: 0800 015 0400



Skills Development Scotland - Modern Apprenticeships

Tel: 0800 9178000



City & Guilds

Address: 1 Giltspur Street, London EC1A 9DD

Tel: 020 7294 2468



British Airways



Aer Lingus

Irish enquiries

Address: Aer Lingus HR Department, Head Office Building, Dublin Airport



Careers in Aerospace


Menzies Aviation

Address: 4 New Square, Bedfont Lakes, Feltham, Middlesex TW14 8HA

Tel: 020 8750 6000





Careers Wales - Welsh Apprenticeships

Tel: 0800 028 4844


Croeso i Gyrfa Cymru

Dewiswch iaith


Welcome to Careers Wales

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