April 5, 2012

Unpacked: Baggage

Got baggage? Who doesn’t? ;)

We’re in the busy spring break travel season now, and you’re all set to jet.

Whether you neatly fold your clothes and check off each item as it goes into your suitcase two days before your trip, or the type who throws everything into your bag ten minutes before you leave for the airport, we take your belongings seriously.

You get to the airport, grab your boarding pass, and hand your bag over to us to get your favorite jeans, that gift for grandma, and your shaving lotion to your destination safely (remember that first checked bag flies free with JetBlue!). What is the journey of your luggage from the time you hand it off until you pick it up on the carousel at your arrival airport? As you wait to board your flight, we’re doing lots behind the scenes to ensure that your bag meets you at your destination.

When you drop your bag at the ticket counter (we recommend checking in at home or at our kiosk so you can head straight to the bag drop line, which is often shorter than the regular check-in line), your bag is tagged with your destination airport code and placed on a belt by one of our airport operations crewmembers. In some cases, you might be placing the bag on the belt yourself (if you already have your boarding pass in hand and head to the bag drop line – highly recommended during spring break peak travel).

Your bag then travels through a series of tracks and enters a secure area managed by TSA, where every bag is individually screened by TSA employees.

Screened bags are then placed on another belt, where our ground operations crewmembers quickly load the bags onto carts based on the tagged destinations, transport them to the appropriate planes, and load them into the baggage compartment in the belly of the plane. The same process happens in reverse when your flight arrives to your destination, and your bag is placed on the belt that travels to the baggage claim area, where you can grab it and watch the smile on grandma’s face when you present her with that gift.

Check out the below video from Bloomberg TV to follow a bag’s journey at T5

Lost/Mishandled Baggage

JetBlue is consistently at the top of the list when it comes to getting your baggage home (see DOT Air Consumer Reports http://airconsumer.dot.gov/reports/) and we invest substantial resources into tracking, identifying and recovering lost baggage. The majority of our customers receive their bags within 24 hours after their arrival.

One tip for ensuring your bag’s quick return in the event that it gets separated from you is to include a printed copy of your itinerary with your cell phone number(s) as well as the name of the hotel where you are staying inside before you check it. In regards to unclaimed luggage, JetBlue opens this baggage to check for any identifying items that may help in locating the owners. We otherwise won’t ever open your luggage. We leave inspections to the TSA (which they take seriously). Bags that are unclaimed for over 90 days are then sent to the Unclaimed Baggage Center in Scottsboro, Alabama.

Unfortunately theft from baggage does occur on occasion and this is something airlines and the TSA take very seriously. JetBlue proactively identifies reports of theft from baggage in all of our BlueCities, working closely with our internal stakeholders to assess our security needs to minimize the potential for theft,  allocating resources to swiftly address the problem and working closely with law enforcement to identify and subsequently prosecute those responsible for any reported thefts. We consider each act of theft as unacceptable behavior and will pursue all means to address these reports, including seeking prosecution for those involved in such criminal activity.

Learn more about our ground operations team in A Day in the Life: Ground Operations
Read more Unpacked columns

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