What happens to your bag after you check in? PHIL HEARD reports你的行李在寄艙後有什麼遭遇? Phil Heard告訴你箇中詳情

Discovery - - CURATED -

Of all the sinking feelings, the most profound has to be realising your suitcase is not going to appear on the airport conveyor belt – and the realisation that you’re now stuck in the clothes you’re wearing for the foreseeable future.

Fortunately, the number of incidents of lost or ‘short-shipped’ bags – those that do not make it onto your flight – are falling, particularly on flights from Hong Kong. To the Cathay Pacific team at Hong Kong International Airport, that’s a point of pride.

While above ground the airport is running to near capacity with evergrowing passenger numbers, deep in the basement something miraculous takes place each day. Passengers’ bags make their own journey from check-in counter or transfer aircraft through a labyrinth of conveyor belts – and pretty much always get to where they should be going.

It’s the technology that makes the difference. For departing bags, luggage is accepted at the check-in counter, a baggage tag containing a RFID (radiofrequency identification) chip is attached, which means it can be tracked – similar to the technology used to track online shopping purchases.

Bags are then dispatched along the conveyor belt into the baggage handling system. Bags are security screened, then sorted into the right loading area before being transferred into the appropriate container for flight. Then the container is towed to the aircraft for loading into the hold.

It’s critical this works, says Henry Lau, assistant manager baggage services. ‘ We are a customer- centric organisation and that is not just about passengers; their bags are an important part of the overall experience,’ he says.

While hold bags are often ‘out of sight, out of mind’, they come crashing to the fore if they’re not there when passengers get off the aircraft, as Parry Fung, assistant manager of baggage claims explains: ‘If a customer doesn’t have their bags, their experience is ruined.’

However, thanks to Lau and Fung – who have 48 years of baggage experience between them – and their team of 76 at Hong Kong International Airport, these incidents are becoming rarer; even as challenges mount.

Last year, more than 31 million pieces of luggage were sent on their way from Hong Kong, around 12 million of which belonged to Cathay Pacific passengers and nearly five million to Cathay Dragon’s.

當你站在機場的李行 輸送帶旁,發現久候不至的李行 最終沒有出現,而你就只有身上穿的著 這套衣服,未來幾天沒有其他衣物替換時,難免會感沮到喪。幸好,近年因遺失或「未能及時付運」的李目行 數 不斷下降,特別是從香港起飛的航機最為顯。著 對於香港國際機場的國泰航空團隊來說,這是一項值得自豪的。成就

雖然每日在機場地面往來出入的乘客人數不斷增,加 已接近飽的和 程度,但機場的地下室卻每天都有奇妙的事情發生。乘客在機場登機櫃檯寄艙的行李,或通過迷宮般的輸送帶運送的轉機行李,大多能準確無誤地抵達目的地。

能夠做到這一點,完全是科技的功勞。境李出 行 在登機櫃檯完成寄艙手續後,工作人員就會在上面貼上附有射頻識別( RFID)晶片行標的 李 籤,這樣就可以追蹤行李的下落。這種技術與追蹤網上購物後送貨的技術相仿。

寄艙的李沿行 會 著輸送帶送至行李處理系,統 通過安全檢查掃描之後,再分配至正的確 裝載區域,然後載入所屬班機的集裝箱內,再以拖車將集裝箱拉到飛機旁,再裝進機上的貨艙內。

行李服務助理經理劉浩然表示,這個運送系的用統 作 舉足輕重。:他說 「我們是一個以客為本的機構,牽涉的不只旅客本身,他們的李行 在整體旅途經驗亦中 佔有重要的位置。」

When transfers are involved, the likelihood of short-shipped bags increases. Transfer times are tight at the best of times, but air traffic control limitations (particularly on connecting flights from China) and the disruptive effects of the weather can narrow this if incoming aircraft are subject to delays. Nevertheless, in the year to May, just before the first of the seasonal typhoons hit, the team’s overall performance had met or exceeded the industry standard.

In part, this success is thanks to last year’s introduction of a programme to further reduce the mishandling of baggage at Hong Kong International Airport, improving communication between staff to ensure that the right flights are prioritised to reduce misplaced bags. This new programme almost halved the anticipated short-shipments during June’s Typhoon Merbok.

Nonetheless, each month the team has to deal with misplaced bags. Of these, around 95 per cent belong to transfer passengers; only a few will have been checked in at Hong Kong.

The recovery rate – that is, returning bags to their owners – is impressive. Fung leads this effort, and is rightly proud of the greater than 99 per cent success rate. ‘My job is to regain and restore the confidence of passengers in the airline,’ he says. ‘I pick up the baggage claims and make the settlement with passengers for damaged and missing bags.’

Sometimes bags will have passed through three or four airports, so communication is vital here as well. Lau adds: ‘ This recovery rate is an achievement because some of these bags involve multiple connections.’

While Hong Kong has adopted RFID technology, not all the world’s airports have yet, so rather than ‘track and trace’, it’s ‘describe and tell’. Fung says it’s common to receive calls from Cathay Pacific passengers at airports not on the airlines’ network. He adds: ‘ They will call Hong Kong because they have more faith in us.’

And that’s what this team does best – and they have letters and cakes delivered by grateful customers as proof. ‘Each bag has its own story,’ says Lau. ‘It’s not just about price, it’s sentimental value.’

And it’s one of the reasons that Fung and so many of the team have served 30 years or more. He says: ‘If this were just a job, if it were automated, we’d be like robots. But getting people back their possessions is real satisfaction.’













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