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New baggage system at Charlotte Douglas may cut down on lost luggage

A new $11 million baggage transfer facility at Charlotte Douglas International Airport could help you avoid lost luggage.

American Airlines, along with its regional carrier Piedmont Airlines, unveiled the project on Wednesday. It is housed in a standalone building on the E concourse, and will serve as the center for all connecting baggage transfers from mainline to regional aircraft for American and Piedmont flights.

Jeff Garver, director of Piedmont Operations Hubs, said around 80% of passengers who travel through Charlotte Douglas are changing planes, which means a lot of bags will go through the new facility.

Luggage is entered into the tracking system using the barcode on the bag tag. Once the initial scan is read, the system determines which belt the bag should go on. As the bag makes its way to the correct bag room, airplane or other destination, it goes through several more manual track points.

“Bags can always get misplaced, but because of the new tracking ability we have a better idea of where they are, whereas when they were out (on the tarmac), you didn’t really know if your bag was even out there or not,” said Patrick Wegmiller, senior manager of Piedmont customer operations.

Garver said at Wednesday’s unveiling that this project has been in the works since 2015.

Earnest Taylor, director of Piedmont operations for CLT, said the facility will handle about a third of the approximately 50,000 bags that go through Charlotte Douglas every day.

The facility opened in May, and Wegmiller said he already foresees a decrease in the number of missing bags because of the new tracking capabilities.

The indoor facility also keeps bags out of the elements. Luggage, which was previously left in carts on the open tarmac to face rain, snow or heat, is now housed inside.

But protecting baggage isn’t the only benefit. American and Piedmont cited a desire to improve employee working conditions as a major reason for constructing an indoor facility.

Wegmiller said customer operations previously had 20 employees manually handling baggage transfers without moving belts, scanners or sensors. They now have 30 working inside the new facility.

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