A mesmerizing video recorded at Schiphol, one of the world’s busiest airports, has revealed what happens to passengers’ luggage after it is left with airline staff at the check-in counter.
The video gives a fascinating look at a suitcase’s journey along a sophisticated conveyor belt system, complete with robotic arms that lift and lower suitcases onto different belts and platforms, that separates and delivers luggage to the appropriate holding area at the Amsterdam airport. It’s feels like you’re riding on a roller coaster, but without the nausea.
Not all airports are the same, of course — sometimes bags are simply tossed onto a trolley and pushed out onto a creaky conveyor. But at Schiphol, one of Europe’s and the world’s busiest air hubs, they embark on a roller coaster ride through the bowels of a vast, automated labyrinth of luggage transport belts.
Schiphol airport handles 50 million pieces of luggage per year, sometimes shifting up to 160,000 suitcases per day.
Its luggage transfer network includes 21 kilometers of conveyor belts and a five-kilometer rail system. The longest distance a suitcase can travel is 2.5 kilometers.
Despite the high level of automation, nearly 2,000 real-life people are employed to handle baggage at the airport — so passengers can shake their fists at both humans and machines if their bags ever go missing.
Check out the 360-degree interactive version available on Schiphol’s website, where you can drag an arrow for an even more immersive viewing experience.