American Airlines Baggage Handling Hero Caught On Camera

American Airlines Baggage Handling Hero Caught On Camera

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All too often we see videos of baggage handlers go viral for all the wrong reasons, due to checked bags being violently thrown around, as if it’s a game. Well, here’s a video of ramp agents going viral for a completely different reason.

Ramp agent held accountable for throwing bags

Let me acknowledge that we don’t have a whole lot of context here, but this is such a feel-good video that you can’t help but share it. And clearly I’m not alone, because the video has been viewed more than 27 million times on Twitter/X in the short 15 hours since it has been published.

Presumably this video started to be filmed by a passenger because a baggage handler was scanning checked bags, and then carelessly throwing them to the ground. However, there’s a twist — just a few seconds into the video, the “crew chief” sees what’s going on, and approaches the baggage handler.

They proceed to have quite a conversation, and while we can’t hear what they’re saying, the assumption is that the crew chief is telling the baggage handler that she’s not handling the bags the way that they should be handled. He gestures toward the bags scattered across the apron.

Interestingly the baggage handler seems to get pretty defensive, so I am curious what’s actually being said. Honestly, based on his body language, he’s doing a great job managing the situation — after she’s initially angry, he seems to try to talk to her calmly, and then eventually she walks away less angry. She proceeds to pick up all the bags, and then they continue loading bags onto the aircraft.

This level of accountability is rare

Given the incredibly challenging logistics involved, it’s amazing how efficiently the airline industry runs. That being said, if there’s one area where the airline industry sometimes fails to deliver, it’s when it comes to accountability with frontline employees.

Whether it’s flight attendants, or gate agents, or baggage handlers, it’s all too common to see people not following company procedures or to not be providing good service, yet to not be held accountable in any way.

Admittedly this largely comes down to the hierarchy in the airline industry. For example, with flight attendants at US airlines, there’s not actually a flight attendant who supervises the crew. Sure, you might have a purser who gets paid a few extra dollars per hour to do paperwork, make announcements, and assign positions, but that’s hardly a supervisory role.

Compare that to Emirates, where the purser is responsible for evaluating the performance of other crew members, and where they actually have the ability to discipline them.

Similarly with baggage handlers, it’s sad how there rarely seems to be any accountability. You’ll see some baggage handlers drop bags from many feet up with their colleagues directly seeing it, but of course no one usually says “hey, that’s not cool.”

But it’s also not surprising, on many levels. Baggage handlers have physically challenging jobs, they’re not compensated very well, they’re constantly under time pressure, and there’s not much direct accountability in terms of the way in which they handle bags. They also don’t directly interact with customers, so they probably don’t associate the bags they’re mishandling with the people that they belong to. It’s not surprising that some of them treat handling bags like a game.

That’s also why the above video is so remarkable, and why it’s resonating with so many people. We don’t expect this level of accountability among baggage handlers, though it sure is nice to see.

Bottom line

A video is going viral of an American Airlines crew chief seemingly reprimanding a colleague of his for unnecessarily throwing bags. At least I think that’s the conclusion most of us are coming to, because this is the kind of stuff we want to see in the airline industry.

What do you make of this video?

Conversations (22)
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  1. Anita Guest

    I never check my bags, and I always slide the bag into a stretch cover just in case, for some reason, my bags and I are separated and the bag has to be checked. Even on extended overseas trips, I ensure I have enough items for trip day and carry washable items that can be handled at my hotel if needed. I'm a retired consultant with a lot of European trips and Delta was the...

    I never check my bags, and I always slide the bag into a stretch cover just in case, for some reason, my bags and I are separated and the bag has to be checked. Even on extended overseas trips, I ensure I have enough items for trip day and carry washable items that can be handled at my hotel if needed. I'm a retired consultant with a lot of European trips and Delta was the first and last checked bag. It was lost and showed up at home base 3 days after I arrived home. Travel lightly, use carry-on luggage and a larger under-seat bag, and that's it. Mostly, never let it out of your sight.

  2. Right-This-Way Guest

    I'm tired of the age old comment about various groups of airline employees making low salaries. Even newer employees generally start at $15, $18/ hour and certainly those with any seniority are probably up in the mid-to-high $20's/hour. You took the job so obviously you agreed to the salary - and depending on the airline, one can get regular increases. No excuse for lazy, brazen work "with an attitude" or complaint they do not make...

    I'm tired of the age old comment about various groups of airline employees making low salaries. Even newer employees generally start at $15, $18/ hour and certainly those with any seniority are probably up in the mid-to-high $20's/hour. You took the job so obviously you agreed to the salary - and depending on the airline, one can get regular increases. No excuse for lazy, brazen work "with an attitude" or complaint they do not make enough. Go work someplace else if you hate your job or feel underpaid - see what you find elsewhere - right, it's all the same.

  3. Cindy Guest

    Now I know why my checked bags come back looking beat up, dirty and damaged. Did you know if your bag is damaged by the airline the warranty of the piece of luggage is voided?!? I learned this when a wheel was damaged on a flight. The shop I took it to said, “Just don’t tell me it was damaged during the flight and I can fix it under the warranty.”

  4. Amy Neal Guest

    Where is this guy? I will find him and thank him.

  5. Juan San Guest

    Speaking of AA, what's your strategy on using system wide upgrades, which I now have several of.

  6. Randy Diamond

    The handler doesn't look big or strong enough to have that job. Baggage handlers need to have a certain level of strength. To lift 50 lbs bags continuously - there should be a physical test.

  7. Paul G. Guest

    Many airlines use contractors to handle their ground workers including baggage handlers. There is no vested interest in them being careful with your bags. As the article said, it's all about time constraints. I work at an airport and see this every day.
    The C-Suite needs to see that excellent service from beginning to end, whether the passenger sees it or not, can result in greater efficiency, a happier workforce and a better bottom line.

  8. Stu Guest

    In addition to this excellent colleague or supervisor approach, accountability, and redirection, easy access video recording is serving as a game changer. People who do their job with excellence, welcome being recorded. Others are leaving jobs (and careers) or not choosing them in the first place when they know recording their behavior is a part of the arrangement. Accountability, support, and training are key in any position that affects others.

  9. DKBingham Guest

    Body language is everything here. The chief made sure to touch the handler's shoulder when he was making a point. In many situations this might not have been appropriate, but here, it was applied with magical results. Good management!

  10. Santastico Diamond

    Un less it is a very long trip, I gave up checking bags a long time ago. I bought 4 carry on bags that follow EU size and my family of 4 uses them in all our summer trips to Europe. Now, we do bring an empty duffel bag with us that we check on the way back with dirty laundry and stuff we bought during our trip but nothing valuable. They can do whatever...

    Un less it is a very long trip, I gave up checking bags a long time ago. I bought 4 carry on bags that follow EU size and my family of 4 uses them in all our summer trips to Europe. Now, we do bring an empty duffel bag with us that we check on the way back with dirty laundry and stuff we bought during our trip but nothing valuable. They can do whatever they want with the duffel since it won't break. I add an AirTag to it and we are good to go. It is disgusting to watch from the plane what baggage handlers do with checked bags.

  11. yoloswag420 Guest

    It's crazy how airlines have turned checking bags into such a punishment. They charge absurd fees with arbitrary weight and size restrictions. All for them to destroy or lose your property while handling it. And with no security measures when it comes out on the carousel. If anything they should be paying us to check our bags.

  12. Ira N. Guest

    I believe this is not a story about mishandled bags but about how humans interact.
    The supervisor seems to have had a civil conversation and helped someone do better in their job - which is what team work is all about. I found it very heart warming.
    Regarding using physical contact - I don't recommend that unless they already had an understanding.

  13. D3kingg Guest

    The ones that say “fragile” they throw the hardest. If it’s that important get your items insured or don’t travel with anything valuable. For the majority of passengers flying commercial they don’t own any valuable possessions anyways ; more sentimental.

  14. emmoceb Guest

    American Airlines baggage handling hero captured in action, Their dedication and quick thinking not only exemplify excellent customer service but also ensure that passengers' belongings are handled with care and efficiency. It's moments like these that remind us of the unsung heroes behind the scenes who make travel experiences smoother and more enjoyable. Well done, American Airlines, for having such committed employees who go above and beyond to make a difference

  15. Tim Dunn Diamond

    cultural change in an organization as large as AA takes time but someone gets it - whether AA corporate is telling its crew chiefs to clean up their act or the crew chief just has a decent work ethic.

    Crew chiefs like pursers or FAs in charge or whatever title you want to use don't have "supervisory authority" but every employee can drop a note to their supervisors regarding another employee's performance if they choose....

    cultural change in an organization as large as AA takes time but someone gets it - whether AA corporate is telling its crew chiefs to clean up their act or the crew chief just has a decent work ethic.

    Crew chiefs like pursers or FAs in charge or whatever title you want to use don't have "supervisory authority" but every employee can drop a note to their supervisors regarding another employee's performance if they choose.

    Given that there are cameras everywhere and planes have windows, the era of carelessly handling passenger baggage should have ended years ago but might be finally reaching its last gasping breath - at least anywhere that passengers can see.

  16. Airfarer Diamond

    My last trip on VS ex TPA I arrived at LHR and my checkin bag had been cracked in multiple places. They replaced it immediately at the airport. Great service.

    1. LP Guest

      "They replaced it immediately at the airport." - with a brand new bag? Do airlines stock brand new luggage at the airport to replace luggage that's damaged? I had assumed they would eventually send you a check if you filed a claim for a damaged bag.

    2. NedsKid Diamond

      Many airlines do, especially at larger stations. It's not typically very nice luggage... usually in the $40-80 retail range. If you've had a Tumi or Hartmann damaged, you won't be resolving your issue at that moment.

    3. Airfarer Diamond

      Yes. At the baggage service counter. A new bag with tags. Just fine for me. I'd just arrived in Upper Class, perhaps that had some influence on the outcome.

  17. Airfarer Guest

    He touched her shoulder, harassment claim coming up.

  18. Icarus Guest

    These handlers should go and work in the claims departments of the airlines they handle when throw a usd2000 rimowa. I don’t envy them working n a ramp in all kinds of conditions , but nowadays these videos go viral very quickly. Especially when WiFi on aircraft enables customers to upload them within a few moments.

  19. UncleRonnie Member

    Those are the smaller (probably gate-checked) bags she's throwing around. That'll cause an even bigger scene at the next gate when AA ask pax to check some bags. :)

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The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.

Ira N. Guest

I believe this is not a story about mishandled bags but about how humans interact. The supervisor seems to have had a civil conversation and helped someone do better in their job - which is what team work is all about. I found it very heart warming. Regarding using physical contact - I don't recommend that unless they already had an understanding.

3
DKBingham Guest

Body language is everything here. The chief made sure to touch the handler's shoulder when he was making a point. In many situations this might not have been appropriate, but here, it was applied with magical results. Good management!

2
Santastico Diamond

Un less it is a very long trip, I gave up checking bags a long time ago. I bought 4 carry on bags that follow EU size and my family of 4 uses them in all our summer trips to Europe. Now, we do bring an empty duffel bag with us that we check on the way back with dirty laundry and stuff we bought during our trip but nothing valuable. They can do whatever they want with the duffel since it won't break. I add an AirTag to it and we are good to go. It is disgusting to watch from the plane what baggage handlers do with checked bags.

2
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