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Behind-the-scenes: Luggage’s journey from check in to airplane
Published Thursday, March 7, 2019 6:00AM CST
Last Updated Thursday, March 7, 2019 9:07AM CST
Checking a bag at the airport is a simple task. But once the bag heads down the conveyer belt, the process to get the bags onto the airline is quite complex.
The Regina Airport Authority has installed a Glidepath baggage system. The system has 105 motors and 432 metres of conveyer belt. It takes bags from the front counter to the airline's carousel. Planning for this system started in 2014 and took two years to complete.
"Airports across Canada had to upgrade their baggage system to the new standards,” said Earl Spencer, vice president of operations and safety, with the Regina International Airport. “We were one of the first in line to get that done and airports across the country have until 2020 to accomplish that."
The airport had to expand the facility to fit the new system inside, costing the airport around $18 million.
"It's kind of like a smart baggage system,” Spencer said. “It doesn’t run all the time, it just runs when it needs to when it's processing bags and various conveyers will turn on and off. We call it going to sleep, thus saving on maintenance and saving on electrical energy costs."
Once a bag is dropped on the conveyer belt at the airline’s counter it's taken to the back of the airport in a secure area. The bag travels on a series of conveyer belts until it ends up at a device which adjusts the position of the bag. The bag then passes a series of cameras providing a 360 degree view, which also reads the baggage tag. All bags are X-rayed through a Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA) device. If the system has any issues with a bag, the bag is re-routed to CATSA employees to be searched.
"CATSA is mandated and authorized by the Canadian Air Security Act to screen passengers and their belongings,” said Christine Langlois, with CATSA. “In some cases this may include some physical search and may include the opening of bags.”
If the bag has no issues, it keeps travelling on the conveyer belts to its carrier's carousel. The airport has three carousels — one for each of its airlines. Then staff members put the bags on a cart and they are transported to the aircraft.
The airport said the system can accommodate more airlines if the airport expands.
"Regina is going to continue to grow and as it does we don’t want the airport (to impede) people doing business in the community or wanting to go out to other places in the world to visit or on holidays,” Spencer said. “We made sure we positioned the size of the system to accommodate any growth."