ORLANDO, Florida. – When you travel by plane, is your biggest concern your luggage?
Orlando International Airport’s state-of-the-art baggage handling system at soon-to-open Terminal C should eliminate many fears about checked baggage.
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You’ll never see it and never know it, but as soon as you hand over your luggage at the Terminal C check-in counter, your bag will be deposited in a yellow “smart” bin – a plastic sled that has its own RFID tracking. (Radio Frequency Identification) – to automatically run the six miles of the internal conversion belt.
MCO provided News 6 with a behind-the-scenes video.
Think of it as your bag taking its own journey, on a freeway, getting off at certain exits at different locations under the new terminal.
It will be routed to a robotic storage location where baggage will wait if passengers check it in more than three hours before a flight.
Or it will be transported directly on the tarmac to a waiting plane, potentially at the same time as other baggage heading to that plane so that airline baggage handlers can load a plane more quickly.
Either, a bag will be directed to the exit: the baggage carousel.
There are more automated baggage collection points closer to more aircraft on the tarmac, so baggage will be taken a much shorter distance from aircraft to collection points compared to Terminal A and B.
Scott Goodwin, MCO airport operations manager, said once a bag is loaded onto the sled, it will go through all of Terminal C in five minutes.
“Think of it like bumper cars,” Goodwin said. “These bins collide and bounce off each other. And when they do, the system will pick up that RFID chip and say now I know what that bag is, I can always treat it differently. So your luggage doesn’t go to the wrong places all over the country. We always know where the bags are in the system.
Goodwin said the sled, along with your bag, will get to and from your plane faster compared to Terminals A and B.
“With those tall sidewalls, it’s contained here,” Goodwin said. “One of the things I like to talk about, [with the old system in Terminals A and B] we get two bags on a conveyor system that can work together and can be hooked together, and when the system says one is going to Philadelphia and the other is going to Atlanta on another airline, will they become one bag and will they go to that place. ”
But not at Terminal C.
“The RFID chip will match your bag tag with the bin, and we have over several thousand data points so we know where the bag is throughout the data process,” Goodwin said.
The new smart bins won’t get stuck – no loose straps or strollers will come out of the bins to snag and stop the treadmill. Hundreds of bags are delayed, caught or lost every day at old terminals.
“In Orlando, we have more car seats, more strollers and more golf clubs than anywhere else in the country,” Goodwin said. “It’s a challenge for terminals A and B because the conveying system, the straps that are in the car seats, can get caught in the system and delay the system. This is contained [with the yellow bins]no straps or wheel or anything dragging.
So how many delays, losses or mishandled bags does Goodwin expect in Terminal C?
“Close to zero,” Goodwin said.
Goodwin said the advance baggage storage area would ease the pressure of travelers arriving at the airport hours earlier. MCO leads the nation in passengers arriving at the airport too early, according to Goodwin.
“People have to leave their hotels at a certain time, cruise ships are a big ship that arrives in Port Canaveral in the morning, and just depending on flight times if someone has a flight that might leave at 6 or 7 at night or if they’re out of their hotel or if they don’t have a cruise ship, they could get here by noon,” Goodwin said.
The TSA approved Terminal C’s new baggage handling system in March. Goodwin continues to test it.
Terminal C is scheduled to open on September 19.
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