Wednesday, June 26, 2024

Airport Baggage Handlers Give Gorillas a Bad Name

Someone recently took a cell phone video of an airport baggage handler, who was throwing bags of golf clubs onto the tarmac. The bags were coming down a conveyor belt, being off-loaded from the plane. The baggage handler pulled each golf bag off the conveyor, and tossed it about eight feet, where it crashed onto the pavement. From there, another employee picked up the bags and loaded them onto a wagon.

The golf clubs belonged to the East Tennessee State University men’s golf team. The team was traveling to an NCAA regional tournament. Naturally, the video of the less-than-delicate baggage handler’s behavior was posted to X (Twitter) with these words: “Nice of Delta to handle our clubs with such care…”

The video went viral, and the backlash was immediate. Delta Airlines issued an apology. They also asked the college for a second chance, which they labeled as a “mulligan.” (Clever idea from the marketing department — or maybe it should be called the damage control department.) 

Here is the official apology, from Delta spokesman Anthony Black: “We apologize to the ETSU Golf team and ask for a mulligan on how their equipment was handled. We’re in direct contact with the Bucs to ensure they have what they need to successfully compete in the NCAAs.”

No word on whether Delta officials are in direct contact with the baggage handler himself. I doubt it, since the union regulations probably allow him to have one or two or twelve “mulligans” before any disciplinary action can be taken.

Here are some random thoughts that went through my head as I read the news story and watched the viral video: 
  • No matter how roughly those golf clubs were treated by that Delta baggage handler, it’s nothing compared to the way I’ve treated my golf clubs after a particularly poor round. The game of golf is so frustrating, it just makes you want to throw something in anger across the parking lot, usually whatever is nearby: your clubs, a garbage can, your playing partner, a Mini Cooper, etc.
  • I’m surprised videos of airport baggage handlers go viral these days, since it happens so often now. I mean, who is even surprised? Ever since video cameras were added to cell phones, it seems baggage handlers are tossing suitcases around with greater gusto than they used to. It’s as if they’re showing off for people in the plane or at the boarding gate who are pointing their phones right at them. “Hey folks,” the baggage handlers seem to say, “Look at this!” And then they throw a suitcase with the technique and strength of an Olympic shot putter. Once the suitcase crashes to the asphalt, they turn and bow for the cameras, confident that their final throw will earn them at least a bronze medal. 
  • Remember those old TV commercials for American Tourister luggage, which showed a gorilla throwing suitcases all around his cage and jumping on them? It was meant to be an exaggeration, but the way things are nowadays, it’s actually fairly accurate. (I recently read that those commercials were quite memorable, but most viewers didn’t catch the name of the suitcase manufacturer. A survey found that well over 50% thought it was Samsonite.)

  • I always do my best to use only carry-on bags whenever I fly. Besides avoiding that annoying wait at the luggage carousel, it keeps my suitcases away from baggage handlers with anger management issues. If I’m going to be away for many days, I just wear all the clothes I need right onto the plane: four shirts, two pairs of pants, five pairs of underwear, etc. I just wish people would stop taking viral videos of me as I waddle down the aisle.

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