Have you ever wondered what happens to your bag once it enters the cargo bin? In this article that originally ran in Southwest’s Employee magazine, LUVLines, Michael Harris, a Ramp Supervisor in Atlanta, explains how he perfected the art of “bag stacking” when he was a Ramp Agent.
Our Customers receive first-class treatment on Southwest, and it should come as no surprise that their bags do too. As a former Ramp Agent, and current Ramp Supervisor at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, one of the busiest airports in the country, I see, grab, and stack a lot of luggage!
In order to build anything, a strong foundation is essential. Before I step foot on the ramp or climb in the cargo bin, I remind myself—it’s all about attitude. On the Ramp, we are dealing with weather, and operational challenges, while trying to turn our planes safely and on time. Maintaining a positive mindset is crucial.
Like any role, communication is key. When I start my shift, I take a look at the schedule and touch base with the Team I’m working with. I let them know how I like bags placed on the conveyer belt—turned to the side. I was lucky when I first joined Southwest that I had a great mentor who shared her tricks: from laying, to positioning, to crafting the best finished product.
Once I’m in the cargo bin, it’s go-time: grab it, stack it, repeat. Stacking is a real-life game of Tetris; you’re working against the clock to fit different size and shaped suitcases, assistive devices, and equipment into neat rows. I always put transfer bags in the back, local ones in the front (all tags facing out) and short stack with 20 bags in a row whenever possible.
Although our Customers may never see the inside of the cargo bin while traveling, presentation and taking pride in your work is everything. No Customer wants to arrive at their destination and find their luggage damaged. Regardless of whose bag I’m handling, I always treat it like it is my family’s belongings.
My grandmother always told me, “Whatever you do in life, work hard at it and be the best you can be.” I’ve taken her advice to heart since working at Southwest. No matter the position I’m currently working in, I want to be the best at it. As an airline, we’re playing the ultimate team sport and no matter our role, we need the will to win it!