The Lowly Baggage Cart: A Multi-Purpose Tool

An airport requires various pieces of equipment to keep the traffic – both airplanes and passengers, flowing smoothly. To accomplish this, airport personnel use what is termed airport or aircraft ground support equipment (GSE). They are there to accomplish a variety of tasks. They range from pushing the aircraft into and out of place to cargo loaders. Yet, one key tool for many aircraft passengers is the baggage tractor.

What Is a Baggage Tractor?

A baggage tractor is a common piece of GSE found at private and public aircraft facilities around the globe. Also known as a baggage cart, these simple pieces of equipment have two basic tasks:

1. To take the luggage from the hold of the aircraft to the main terminal where it will be sent up and on to the baggage carousels

2. To remove the baggage from the terminal and deliver it to the plan’s cargo for the flight

As a vital component of the airport GSE, the baggage tractor is one device known and seen by all as it scurries about its tasks. Most people recognize it. Passengers even look out the windows to watch the baggage go from the baggage cart up the loader to the hold of the plane. Some, particularly children, make a game of trying to recognize their own luggage as it makes its way up the cargo ramp and disappears inside.

The Typical Baggage Tractor

While they are available in different brands and models and operate on fuel that ranges from gas to electricity, there is a commonality among the various models. The typical airport baggage tractor features some of the following characteristics:

  • The ability to link together to form a small convoy or train
  • Have a draw pull bar that can safely tow between 40,000 to 60,000 lbs. The latter if DBP rated
  • Can easily increase the amount of weight they can pull by adding counterweight
  • Are able to address all types of weather
  • Are selected to meet the demands specific airport conditions
  • Are multi-purpose vehicles
  • It is important to consider such things as weather and usage when deciding on what baggage tractor to purchase, lease or rent.

Uses of a Baggage Tractor

Baggage tractors have one major purpose: to tow luggage. However, they are also capable of performing other tasks around the airport. In fact, the baggage tractor is a quite versatile piece of GSE. If the tractor comes with a tow bar, it can act as an airplane tug – pushing or pulling an airplane into position. They can also act as general dog’s bodies by:

  • Carrying water servicing carts
  • Hauling power units

In fact, if an airport or airline chooses the right size, it can be employed to transport a wide variety of goods and items. In this way, the popular baggage tractor becomes one of the hardest working GES at the airport.

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