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What is luggage?

Luggage is defined as broadly as “the set of things taken on trips.” Like the related concept of travel, it has evolved over time. From the impedimenta that Roman troops carried on their journeys to the hand luggage we carry today, there’s a wide spectrum that has varied over time. Still, it always has a direct relationship with the concept of travel and the needs that arise from it.

Modes of transportation and luggage

The development of modes of transportation throughout history expanded the possibilities of travel, both out of necessity and for pleasure. The advent of maritime transportation, for instance, made the emigration of many Europeans who came to the United States possible in the 18th century.

As for land transit, from stagecoaches to railways and, later, automobiles, the evolution of the first vehicles that enabled transporting luggage was a key point in the development of the concept of travel, and it expanded the possibilities for luggage that could be taken on those trips.

Finally, the development of mass air transport was the most recent revolution in the concept of travel, making travel for pleasure affordable and widespread.

When was the suitcase invented?

The first luggage was carried in trunks or chests, a practice that spanned centuries. It wasn’t until the 19th century that the invention of the suitcase as such took place; that was when bags and suitcases like those we know today began to appear. Initially, they were built with materials like wood and leather, which made them very heavy. The greatest shift took place well into the twentieth century: in 1970, American Bernard Sadow patented the rolling suitcase. It wouldn’t be until 1987 that pilot Bob Plath created the first suitcase with wheels and extending handles, thus facilitating taking luggage on airplanes and other modes of transportation.

What is a luggage organization system?

Today’s airport terminals have developed luggage organization systems to manage the transfer process and handle the staggering amount of luggage that passes through their facilities on a daily basis. The best systems are equipped with an integrated management model that significantly accelerates and streamlines processes. The goal is to minimize the time required to transport passenger luggage from check-in desks to aircraft holds, maintaining traceability and security at all times.

What benchmarks are there worldwide in terms of organization systems and luggage handling?

Heathrow Airport’s integrated baggage handling system is one of the world’s leading references in airport luggage management. The project was carried out by Ferrovial Airports, and it has equipped one of the busiest airports in the world with an efficient, agile, and secure management system.

Completion of this cutting-edge project is the result of Ferrovial’s commitment to innovation; it has also focused on ensuring the health and safety of the workers and users of the infrastructure pieces that comprise it. We’ve been able to improve the experience of the thousands of passengers who come through its terminals daily. Not a single incident was recorded during the over one million hours required for the project’s entire development.

The project has received numerous awards in the sector, including the 2015 Eco-Innovation Award, presented by ACI Europe, and World’s Best Airport Terminal in 2019 and Best Terminal in Western Europe in 2019, presented by Skytrax.

Fun facts about luggage

  • The forerunners of today’s suitcases not only served to transport clothes or belongings; they often also had other more utilitarian functions, such as the suitcase-bed, commissioned by Savorgnan de Brazza for a trip to Africa, or the suitcase-writing desk, made for orchestra conductor Leopold Stokowski.
  • Heathrow’s integrated baggage management system is essentially a small underground city with tunnels, streets, and even traffic signals to ensure that baggage is handled efficiently and reaches its destination.
  • At Heathrow, more than 30 miles of conveyor belts simultaneously process up to 7,200 bags per hour, which move between terminals at speeds of up to 700 meters per minute. This new baggage management concept has increased efficiency at Heathrow Airport, reducing cases of lost or delayed baggage by 22%. It has also improved working conditions for employees, who now lift 12 million fewer bags each year.

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