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Luggage Blowers (1961)

Given the recent American Airlines decision to charge for your first checked bag, it seemed appropriate to look at this Closer Than We Think strip from the February 12, 1961 Chicago Tribune.

I fly out on US Airways tomorrow morning and would much rather be paying the extra 15 bucks.

Luggage Blowers


As our airliners increase their speeds, a greater proportion of total travel time is required for getting luggage off planes and into the hands of passengers. This problem is being intensively studied, and new methods of speedier handling are being researched.

One suggestion involves the use of aluminum containers floated on air cushions created by low-pressure jets. The next logical step would be the elimination of the containers themselves. Then just the luggage would be floated along ramps - faster than incoming passengers could walk to the baggage claim section.

Next week: Space Traffic Cop

See also:
Closer Than We Think! Throw-Away Clothes (1959)
Airport of the Future (1967)
Fuller's Traveling Cartridge (circa 1960s)
Passenger Air Travel (1945)


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Reader Comments (8)

I remember there were hotels around Dallas Airport that showed, to the amusement/horror of their guests, videotapes of the testing of the luggagesystem installed at DFW. Hours of fun to watch, with luggage being shredded in large conveyorbelts, samsonite shells cracking open as oysters spilling their contents between the mechanisms. Took them a year to get it right. No floating involved, though, only oldfashioned gravity.
I guess that adding low- or better even high-pressure jets to the process would inevitably result in luggage dropping upwards, spilling out over the ceiling... Anyway, enjoy the trip, Math!

May 23, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterTimeFlies

The high speed belts at my local International airport transport bags at 22 MPH from terminal to the baggage inspection areas underground. If straps get caught in the system's rollers the bags can get shredded. Any bag jams caused by a stuck piece of luggage will cause pileups. These will either dislodge the jammed bag, shred it, or plug the system entirely. In short, the airlines don't loose your bags, the belt system does.

Answer? Ship your luggage via UPS or Fed-Ex. It will get there when you need it to be. It won't go through the airport's conveyors. It won't go through security. It won't be lost. It may now be cheaper too.

Keep in mind that the airline industry is there to safely transport people. If their bags don't make the flight, no one really cares. Sorry. That is the reality of the industry.

May 23, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

Baggage handling is a nightmare. Every attempt to automate it has failed miserably. Denver was so bad they pretty much scrapped the whole thing. Heathrow Terminal 5 is still not working right.

May 23, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterandyross

What is that, a quadruple-decker plane? Love it. And it wouldn't be the future without the obligatory revolving restaurant, would it?!

May 23, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterWutzke

This is now my go-to pejorative phrase.

"Yeah? Shut up, luggage blower!"

May 23, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterFredProgGH

I agree with fred; there's no way you can't make this sound dirty.

May 23, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterbuzz

This is the internet as originally envisioned by Ted Stevens... A series of Tubes!

May 23, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterSteve Lodefink

I'm glad Metro Airport in Detroit doesn't have some automated nightmare. So far, no disasters with my bag.

The picture did get something right about future airports -- those moving sidewalks.

January 10, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterVictoria

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