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This is what happens to your luggage after you check it

It's like a complex highway that tracks, sorts, and processes your bag. 

When you arrive at Pearson to board a plane, chances are you have some bags with you. Smaller, lighter bags, such as a small suitcase, backpack, briefcase or even a laptop bag, can be brought with you on the plane are called “carry-on luggage.” Airlines can vary on the amount, size and weight of carry-on luggage so always double check what is considered as a carry-on. Larger, heavier bags must go under the plane in the baggage hold. They are called “checked luggage.”

When you check in with a passenger service agent, they will weigh your bags and print a bag tag for your luggage. The tag has your information including your name, the airline you are flying on and the airport code. There is also a barcode on the tag for the computers to read them and ensure they are going to the right place. Your luggage is then placed on a conveyer belt taking it to a different part of the airport. What happens to your luggage once you check it in?

Checked bags get searched and sorted before departing

At Pearson, we have 30 kilometres of conveyer belts. In 2019, the system carried over 100,000 bags every day. The conveyer belt carries the luggage to get x-rayed and scanned by the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA). It is then sorted by the destination city and flight number on the tag and sent through a series of conveyer belts. 

Airport workers watch all the bags with cameras and computers to make sure everything moves quickly. When the luggage reaches the gate, it is picked up by a baggage handler and put onto carts to load on the aircraft. They go into the baggage hold which is in the underbelly of the plane.

When the bags are returning with you to Pearson, they are unloaded from the aircraft onto the conveyer belts to the carousels for passengers to pick up.

Arriving bags get delivered to the carousel by your airline

Your airline's baggage handlers will meet your plane at the gate, unload all pieces of luggage onto a trailer and drive them to the baggage carousels.

Your airline’s ground crew then begins loading bags onto the baggage carousel lane. Once it slides down the chute and onto the conveyer belt where you are waiting, its journey is done!

Picking up checked luggage after landing

Your airline's baggage handlers will meet your plane at the gate, unload all pieces of luggage onto a trailer and drive them to the baggage carousels.

Your airline’s ground crew then begins loading bags onto the baggage carousel lane. Once it slides down the chute and onto the conveyer belt where you are waiting, its journey is done!

What causes baggage delays

There are a few common causes, including:

  • A shortage of airline baggage handlers
  • The conveyer belt system slowed by loose pieces of material on suitcases
  • Extreme weather creating dangerous conditions for outdoor workers handling baggage, causing them to seek shelter temporarily 

How you can help your bag travel smoothly

Our baggage system is built to absorb all shapes and sizes of luggage, but you can make your bag “the perfect bag” with a few simple tips:

  • Make sure nothing loose hangs off your luggage
  • Place your bag with the wheels up to prevent it from sliding
  • When sticking on your luggage tag, put it in a flat, unwrinkled area so that scanners can easily read it
  • Weigh your bag and know the airline’s weight limits

Find out more about Pearson Airport baggage rules, such as hand luggage size, checked baggage weight and other restrictions.

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