Qantas Baggage Handlers Filmed Slamming Bags

Qantas Baggage Handlers Filmed Slamming Bags

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When you check your bags at the airport, you shouldn’t expect that they’re handled with particular care. However, you probably also shouldn’t expect that they’re intentionally thrown around with extra force. Along those lines, video footage has gone viral of some pretty egregious baggage handling at Melbourne Airport.

Viral video of Melbourne baggage handlers slamming bags

In a video posted online, baggage handlers at Melbourne Airport in Australia can be seen carelessly handling the bags of passengers. It’s not that they don’t gently place them on the belt, but rather they slam them with extra force, throw them in the air, and in some cases miss the baggage belt altogether.

On the plus side, they all seem to enjoy their jobs, as they can be seen smiling and laughing throughout the video about their performance.

The baggage handlers work for Swissport, a global ground handling company that Qantas contracts to for its baggage handling services. In 2020, Qantas fired most of its own baggage handling staff, instead replacing them with outsourced employees.

The three employees shown in the video have all been suspended pending the results of an investigation.

A Qantas spokesperson states that “the behavior in this video is clearly not acceptable, and our contracted ground handler is conducting an urgent investigation.” Meanwhile a spokesperson for Swissport states that “Swissport trains and manages all staff to handle customer possessions with care and diligence, and the actions of staff in the video appear to have contravened those service level standards.”

Interestingly this video footage was first posted on TikTok, and the context for that isn’t known:

  • Was someone with access to the security footage horrified by this, and wanted to expose it?
  • Were the baggage handlers proud of this and intentionally posted the video, given that they were even smiling and laughing in the video?

Obviously this is wrong, but…

It goes without saying that what’s shown in the video is wrong, full stop. It’s even confusing, because clearly they’re just having fun slamming bags, and I’m not sure why?

However, bigger picture I can’t help but feel bad for baggage handlers, and reflect on the overall situation at Qantas:

  • Qantas in late 2020 outsourced all of its baggage handler jobs, as a cost cutting measure; Qantas management has repeatedly shown that the company views employees as being completely replaceable (that includes pilots, flight attendants, and more), and that’s reflected here
  • Baggage handlers are among the hardest working, lowest paid, and most under appreciated workers in the airline industry, not to even mention the physical toll the job can take; they’re moving heavy bags all day under time pressure, and never really get appreciated for when they do a great job

So while there’s of course no excuse for the extent to which the employees pictured here are intentionally slamming bags, you should expect that when you check a bag, it won’t be handled with care. Well, except in Japan…

Bottom line

Some Swissport baggage handlers working on behalf of Qantas have been seen slamming bags at Melbourne Airport. It’s not entirely clear what exactly was going on here — is this just how they usually work, or were they filming their own video for entertainment, or something?

Regardless, all three baggage handlers have been suspended pending an investigation. It’s also probably not a coincidence that all of this happened after Qantas outsourced all of its baggage handling jobs.

What do you make of this video?

Conversations (37)
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  1. Euro Aviation Guest

    Those guys work for Samsonite/American Tourister but their contract prohibits gorilla suits on the job.

  2. Exit Row Seat Guest

    See what you get with outsourcing, minimum wage, failure to pay overtime, work-on-demand hours, etc!!!!!

    Realize that gate agents at most major ULCC are contract employees like the above baggage handlers.
    Can you imagine the agent's attitude when the PAX has an issue???
    You get what you pay for!!!

  3. MD Guest

    I worked as an outsourced ground handler and I did the same thing.
    Not because I wanted to, because I had to.
    It was a toxic work environment with significant turnover. I was paid $9 per hour in 2013-4 with no benefits or paid time off. If you wanted to trade shifts, you often had to pay your coworkers to trade.
    They worked us hard - and unnecessarily so - we usually...

    I worked as an outsourced ground handler and I did the same thing.
    Not because I wanted to, because I had to.
    It was a toxic work environment with significant turnover. I was paid $9 per hour in 2013-4 with no benefits or paid time off. If you wanted to trade shifts, you often had to pay your coworkers to trade.
    They worked us hard - and unnecessarily so - we usually had 10-15 minutes to sit around on the ramp before the plane pushed.
    I developed tendonitis in my shoulders and the continued repetitive motion of picking up bags made it nearly impossible to reach my arms up, so I started flinging bags that were high up since I couldn't carry them properly. If I went to management and claimed workman's comp, I would have only been paid as a part time employee, since we were technically hired part time, but expected to work full time. I couldn't make ends meet without going to work.

    I ultimately ended up leaving, and moved into a role as a fueler with much better quality of life (I now work well outside of the field). My shoulders healed, and I miss many aspects of the job. I have some regret for breaking customer's bags, but I was responding to the environment I was placed in.

  4. D3kingg Guest

    The bags marked “fragile” always get thrown the hardest.

  5. GlobalWanderer Guest

    I have seen this kind of thing in the UK, US, & Europe. I have not seen anything like this in Asia, Africa, or Latin America. It seems to be solely a “first world” problem.
    I guess I do not understand the mindset of these people. Are they just feeling sorry for themselves & taking out their resentments on the folks who ensure their jobs exist or is it typical insecurity, low self esteem,...

    I have seen this kind of thing in the UK, US, & Europe. I have not seen anything like this in Asia, Africa, or Latin America. It seems to be solely a “first world” problem.
    I guess I do not understand the mindset of these people. Are they just feeling sorry for themselves & taking out their resentments on the folks who ensure their jobs exist or is it typical insecurity, low self esteem, & lack of good parenting?
    The problem is these people & their parents, not the company.

  6. Luciana Lanza Guest

    Thank you Ben for a considered piece on this viral video. I’m an Australian and am appalled by Alan Joyce (CEO of Qantas) and can’t help think that these baggage handlers are too. They probably lost their job thanks to his egregious greed. He took a $24 million bonus whilst sacking workers and yet calling the Qantas staff family. He has single handed driven a complete cultural shift at Qantas where no one is proud...

    Thank you Ben for a considered piece on this viral video. I’m an Australian and am appalled by Alan Joyce (CEO of Qantas) and can’t help think that these baggage handlers are too. They probably lost their job thanks to his egregious greed. He took a $24 million bonus whilst sacking workers and yet calling the Qantas staff family. He has single handed driven a complete cultural shift at Qantas where no one is proud anymore to refer to Qantas as our national carrier. I was appalled to see the mistreatment of the luggage but am more distressed by the mistreatment of people at Qantas !!

    1. CAROLYNNE Guest

      Is it true all people employed in Australia get at least a mandated salary of $20/hr?

  7. KW72 Guest

    It seems like Qantas’ outsourced baggage handlers are not match fit. Pay peanuts get monkeys.

  8. Brianair Guest

    Qantas…
    You broke my Taylor guitar!
    Qantas…
    Some big help you are!

  9. iamhere Guest

    This is biased. You should check videos of various airlines and not just one of each to get the full idea. Nobody checks a bag with the idea that it will be well looked after. Most people just hope they will receive their bag promptly and in one piece on the other side. Agree this situation is done on purpose, but I don't think even not outsourced employees care much too. Their job is to load and unload.

  10. Samson Musarika Guest

    My comment is that those handlers should work less hours at least 4 to 6 1 or 2 planes. Otherwise from a labourers point of view, this job is disgusting so the best is to rotate employees 1 plane at in a day, and then other duties. However in the century I encourage in innovation and technology to play the biggest role.

    Note if you need ideas and innovation to reduce this attitude contact and...

    My comment is that those handlers should work less hours at least 4 to 6 1 or 2 planes. Otherwise from a labourers point of view, this job is disgusting so the best is to rotate employees 1 plane at in a day, and then other duties. However in the century I encourage in innovation and technology to play the biggest role.

    Note if you need ideas and innovation to reduce this attitude contact and we can analysis the process together and find ways to stop this. Otherwise this is in human nature so they is a way to solve this without pointing fingers. It happens all over the world. IATA and some board need to help in this process otherwise workers as humans will not stop this play.

  11. Aykayla Guest

    I’ve done ramp agent,and your on a time limit,every air line ,ramp agent throws the bags on cart,and then hurry drive them and throw on belt,you can’t carefully grab each bag,there coming off a belt off the plane,then your throwing on a belt trying to hurry and get to passengers.No one is trying to ruin your bags,it’s just a fast pace job,and the pay sucks. I am a nurse,I worked there part time,wanted learn about...

    I’ve done ramp agent,and your on a time limit,every air line ,ramp agent throws the bags on cart,and then hurry drive them and throw on belt,you can’t carefully grab each bag,there coming off a belt off the plane,then your throwing on a belt trying to hurry and get to passengers.No one is trying to ruin your bags,it’s just a fast pace job,and the pay sucks. I am a nurse,I worked there part time,wanted learn about airport,to become. A flight attendant,started a wheel chair agent ,,part time,and then transferred to ramp agent,learning more about the planes ,and airport,and regulation,but it got to be to much,especially still working full time nursing.

  12. yepnope Guest

    who's actually shocked by this? lol. what are they going to reveal next? people steal things out of the bags?!

  13. RareBus A380 Guest

    Just two years ago: I was a contractor for a major airline. Even when things got hectic I never treated luggage like this and neither did any of my colleagues. Then again I worked at a smaller station and I likely dealt with a fraction of what they’re dealing with. We never had to unload air cans (or ULD’s as they’re also called) but we’ve had many a full flight to contend with. I do unload those same ULD’s as of current and we don’t handle bags like this.

  14. koggerj Guest

    I expect this in Atlanta all the time.

  15. Jimmy’s Travel Report Diamond

    I expect this to happen to my bags every time I check them at the gate. I also expect them to be rummaged through by the occasional dishonest handler. I also pack accordingly.

  16. Jean Guest

    There is no excuse for this behavior. And this has been going on for a long time. I do not understand your reasoning. You should not excuse these people

  17. Hobbs Guest

    My first job was paperboy. You were a provided rubber bands, and a shopping cart. At the age of 10, I had to wake up at 5AM, roll up the newspapers, load up a shopping cart, and push it up a 20° incline. Sundays we’re the worst as you couldn’t roll up the Sunday edition, and you couldn’t toss them either. I had to collect weekly subscription payments door to door. Customers that weren’t home...

    My first job was paperboy. You were a provided rubber bands, and a shopping cart. At the age of 10, I had to wake up at 5AM, roll up the newspapers, load up a shopping cart, and push it up a 20° incline. Sundays we’re the worst as you couldn’t roll up the Sunday edition, and you couldn’t toss them either. I had to collect weekly subscription payments door to door. Customers that weren’t home would have to be re-attempted until every address was checked off. No one had thought of leaving an envelope for payment. A few days per month, I would knock on doors for new subscribers.

    The job sucked. The pay sucked. There were no benefits. It never occurred to me that I should chuck a paper at someone’s window, rose bush, or dog. Grow the eff up.

    1. LEGALIZE ALL DRUGS Guest

      You had white privilege.

    2. koggerj Guest

      @LEGALIZE ALL DRUGS

      Thats a phrase only used by people that suffer from success envy.

  18. derek Guest

    This is like a psycho nurse who secretly kills her patients.

    The baggage handlers are killing their patients, which is luggage. They totally lack professionalism. Professionalism is when you do a good job when nobody is looking.

    They deserve a huge pay cut. In 2023, Congress is cutting Medicare payments for office visits so that is a pay cut. It should be a pay raise. That is happening because Congress combined the cost of...

    This is like a psycho nurse who secretly kills her patients.

    The baggage handlers are killing their patients, which is luggage. They totally lack professionalism. Professionalism is when you do a good job when nobody is looking.

    They deserve a huge pay cut. In 2023, Congress is cutting Medicare payments for office visits so that is a pay cut. It should be a pay raise. That is happening because Congress combined the cost of drugs with doctors' office visits. When drug prices go up, Congress punishes doctors. Congress doesn't pay less for drugs. They pay the asking price. Corruption. Medicare is just as bad as Putin, almost.

  19. whitney Guest

    Seems to always be about hiring the cheapest labor you can get as far as management goes, and keep paying upper management far too much money.

    Pay people garbage wages, get garbage results. Good for you Qantas, mission accomplished, well deserved :-)

    1. Pete Guest

      Don’t blame Qantas, the CEO works for the shareholders and we expect him to do everything he can to maximise our dividend.

  20. frrp Gold

    That piece of garbage deserves to be tasered in the testicles.

  21. Regis Guest

    Baggage handlers should not handle luggage that way but I don't share the outrage. It is a minor job performance issue, akin to gate agents or flight attendants being rude to passengers, which we I witness every time I fly. A brief suspension without pay and retraining should suffice.

    1. Donna Diamond

      Regis - No agent or FA has ever damaged my luggage or it’s contents. Hardly a “minor job performance issue,” it’s a deliberate action intended to damage luggage. You might not consider it “minor” when your luggage shows up on a carousel looking like it was run over by a 747.

    2. Regis Guest

      We passengers are generally treated with the utmost disrespect and contempt by airline personnel. They interact with us like a rancher does with cattle. That is not how they were trained or should deal with passengers. But we have come to accept this deviation from professional standards as normal. Now when baggage handlers aren't doing their jobs properly we are shocked. A bit of a double standard. Those baggage handlers fly too. I bet they...

      We passengers are generally treated with the utmost disrespect and contempt by airline personnel. They interact with us like a rancher does with cattle. That is not how they were trained or should deal with passengers. But we have come to accept this deviation from professional standards as normal. Now when baggage handlers aren't doing their jobs properly we are shocked. A bit of a double standard. Those baggage handlers fly too. I bet they were handling that luggage the same they feel they were treated by the airlines when flying.

    3. LoaderTosh Guest

      Why “without pay and retraining”? Surely without pay and WITH retraining would be considerably more productive.

  22. Never In Doubt Guest

    Video showing workers, who are normally unseen by the public, not doing their jobs properly?

    Will the next newsflash be “Video showing rain making the ground wet”.

  23. Christian Guest

    How’s that outsourcing working out for them? Maybe, just maybe, they should hire personnel to work for the airline directly again to get people who actually care a little.

    1. ClydeLouis Guest

      Honestly. Why would they? I’m sure the money they pay in damage claims is much less than they save in hiring cheaper, third-party labor. With customer facing interactions for the handlers to worry about, it would almost be fiscally irresponsible to pay more for that labor.

    2. Donato Guest

      Or the alternative; have an airline provided person to observe and supervise these hidden jobs. I was aware that at one point, SQ had an agent supervise baggage handling to avoid pilferage.

  24. TravelinWilly Diamond

    No matter how low their pay, they’re taking out their unhappiness on the possessions of others.

    I’m glad they’ve been stood down, and absent any effective retraining, they should be terminated.

    Let’s just hope they don’t have significant others of pets.

    1. John Guest

      @TravelinPenis

      "Let’s just hope they don’t have significant others of pets."

      How's that auto-correct going for you? LOL
      You just said they were in intimate relationships with cats and dogs!

  25. JP Guest

    Judging by the Red Bull in the front, it's almost like they were testing whether Red Bull does in fact give things wings...

  26. skimegheath Gold

    This has been all over the news and Qantas FB pages (not affiliated to QF) for days. Qantas is not Australia's favourite airline at the moment - to be fair you only hear the bad news stories, of which there seem to be many.

Featured Comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

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.

Hobbs Guest

My first job was paperboy. You were a provided rubber bands, and a shopping cart. At the age of 10, I had to wake up at 5AM, roll up the newspapers, load up a shopping cart, and push it up a 20° incline. Sundays we’re the worst as you couldn’t roll up the Sunday edition, and you couldn’t toss them either. I had to collect weekly subscription payments door to door. Customers that weren’t home would have to be re-attempted until every address was checked off. No one had thought of leaving an envelope for payment. A few days per month, I would knock on doors for new subscribers. The job sucked. The pay sucked. There were no benefits. It never occurred to me that I should chuck a paper at someone’s window, rose bush, or dog. Grow the eff up.

4
Donna Diamond

Regis - No agent or FA has ever damaged my luggage or it’s contents. Hardly a “minor job performance issue,” it’s a deliberate action intended to damage luggage. You might not consider it “minor” when your luggage shows up on a carousel looking like it was run over by a 747.

4
Christian Guest

How’s that outsourcing working out for them? Maybe, just maybe, they should hire personnel to work for the airline directly again to get people who actually care a little.

4
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