Skycaps are the first to greet and acknowledge the passengers in any airport. They’re the porters outside the doors of the airport, but they’re not airline employees. They work for tips mostly, and are the hardest working people in the industry.
I was a part-time skycap off and on for 16 years. I also trained the new hires in how to greet passengers, check in the bags and do whatever was necessary to get the bags to their proper destinations.
When I worked at Miami International, there was always problems with the baggage systems because the airport was too small for the volume of daily passengers and bags. It could take two hours after arriving in Miami to claim your bags!
I did my best to improve the situation, learned every trick in the book, and had connections in the tickets counter and on the ramp. If you got me as your skycap, your bag would be on your plane, no matter what. When others have made mistakes, I’ve run through the airport with bags to get them on the plane. Before 911, as long as it stayed below the weight limit, my customers could ship anything anywhere in the world — and they did.
Unfortunately, baggage handling, in general, is the most corrupt area in any airport, and that’s still true. The corruption start at curbside and ends on the ramp. That’s the pipeline where I met the Columbia Cartel.
Excerpted from the forthcoming memoir, The Baggage Handler.