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How Does a Checked Bag Make It to the Plane at the Airport?

Red luggage going through airport screening device

What Does Your Checked Baggage Go Through at The Airport?

When you go to the airport, you’re traveling with some of your most prized possessions and favorite outfits, making a lot of people nervous about the checked bag process. Relinquishing that control can be challenging, but you can feel more secure in the process by learning more about it. If you want an answer to the question, “how does a checked bag make it to the plane at the airport?” read through this blog to lift the veil of mystery.

Entering the Labyrinth

Once you turn your bag over to the representative at the ticket counter, they place your bag on a conveyor belt. The airport trusts in reliable conveyor belts to function, quickly moving and sorting all of the packages through the massive complex of terminals. With the help of the tag on your bag, smart computers can quickly identify your bag and move it onto the right track.

TSA Screening

Before being sent to the plane, every bag must be screened by the TSA. Most average-sized bags get sent through giant machines called Examiner 3DX. These devices look like the screeners used for your carry-on but much bigger. The device is specifically used to inspect your bags for explosives, but it also can make officials aware of anything that could be deemed suspicious. Since it would be impossible for every bag to be hand-searched in a timely manner, most bags pass through this machine within a minute without ever being opened.

Hand Searches

If your bag is too big to fit into the scanner or if they identify anything suspicious, your bag will get hand-searched. While there are no official numbers on how many bags are hand-searched, it’s thought only to be a small percentage. Also, security is required to leave a note in your bag if they have to open it.

Bearing this in mind, if you want to put a lock on your bag, make sure to use a TSA-approved one. This means that the TSA will have a master key to your lock, so they can put it back on when opening up your bag.


After being screened, your bag gets sent to the cart with the rest of the bags for your flight. From there, an airport official will drive your bags to the plane, where they will get loaded into your aircraft. If you look out the window before takeoff, you should see them loading everything into the belly of the plane.

After Landing

Once you land, your bag is taken from the plane to the baggage claim to get picked up. Since it’s arriving, the bag does not need to pass through a security scan. Instead, the priority is getting your bag back to you as soon as possible.

Now that you’ve learned how a checked bag makes it to the plane at the airport, you can rest a little easier, knowing where your luggage is.

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