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If you subscribe to my free newsletter, then you know that one of my top tips for travelers is, whenever possible, to not check a bag. When I first met my wife, we were on a trip five-day trip in Florida and when I saw the suitcase she’d brought, I had to laugh. It was the size of one of those old-timey steamer trunks. OK, that’s an exaggeration but it’s much funnier this way. RELATED: 12 Ways to Save Money on Baggage Fees
Once we started dating, our first big trip together was to Maui and Australia. Natalie lived in Toronto and had to fly to meet me in L.A. before we headed off to Hawaii. Before leaving on our trip, I told her that she’d have to pack a carry-on suitcase for this trip and she laughed at me like I was off my rocker. We were traveling for about 16 days and at the end of our trip, were flying back to L.A. for a wedding.

She pleaded her case that she needed cute dresses and the right shoes and bags, not to mention her shoes and dress for the wedding. I laid out all the benefits of not checking a bag: You can show up to the airport late, you don’t need to stand in any long check-in lines, if your flight gets delayed you can switch to an earlier one much easier, if your flight gets cancelled you don’t need to sit around waiting for your bag to go to a hotel … 

But wait, there’s more: When you land, you don’t need to wait around what feels like an eternity for your bag to come out (or worry about it not coming out), or having someone steal from it. And finally, you can easily take public transportation, which is much cheaper and usually much quicker. By the way, did I mention you also don’t have to pay for baggage fees?

To be honest, none of that really phased her but the one thing that did? I told her that we would be traveling on a small, four-seater plane to a remote Australian island and that there were strict weight restrictions. That did the trick. And from that moment on, Natalie turned into a master packer and became a much better packer than me. She really mastered the art of traveling with just a carry-on bag and put her skills to the test when we used to do month-long, around-the-world trips.

Those days are long gone since we now have two little ones (ages six and three) and they obviously can’t carry any luggage for themselves. But they’re getting close! So our bags are now oversized, heavy and have to be checked. It’s annoying to sit around waiting at baggage claim, especially when flying Air Canada to Toronto).

I tell this story because I just came across a viral TikTok video (embedded below) that has over 10 million views. It shows an American Airlines baggage handler loading luggage onto a 737 plane at New York’s JFK International Airport. This video is fascinating to watch and shows something that most people have probably not really thought too much about before. It will also make you think twice about your heavy bags and what happens to them after you drop them off at the check-in counter. The video creator’s handle is @islandvib33 and he titled the video: “How 200 bags looks like in the belly of an 737 aircraft”



@islandvib33 If you didn’t well now you know 🫡✈️💯 #fyp #foryou #jfktiktok #aviation #rampagent #ramplife #ramptok #airport #airportlife ♬ Part II (On The Run) – JAY-Z

Although I’ve been in the underbelly of a plane before (photo below), I’ve never been in it while someone was loading bags, just cargo. I went in an Air France 777, which was obviously a much bigger space. I suspect loading bags, especially on a smaller plane, is way more difficult.
Like many people who commented on the video, I don’t know if I could do this job for a number of reasons:
1. It’s really hard work.
2. You have to be really strong.
3. You can’t be claustrophobic.
4. It doesn’t pay a lot.
5. You don’t get a lot of respect from passengers.

Here are some of the top comments:
-“i got claustrophobia by watching this.😳😳”

-“Often in life, we enjoy the luxury but forget how and who is making it possible ! Thank you to all of the bag handlers, we appreciate you!”

-“Now I feel bad for packing heavy bags“

-“I didn’t know … much respect.”

-“We don’t appreciate our aircraft workers enough. Thank you for your hard work and service”

-“he should get like $150/hr”

So the next time you pack a heavy checked bag or it takes a while to come out, just think about @islandvib33 and all the other baggage handlers who do an incredible job, one that many of us have no desire to do and probably can’t do. They’re all doing their part to make the whole process work.

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