Video of Air Canada Baggage Handlers Will Keep You from Ever Gate Checking Gear

The video above is going viral, and as soon as you watch it, you’ll understand why. Filmed Thursday by a Vancouver man named Dwayne Stewart, it shows how a couple of Air Canada baggage handlers ‘handled’ the carry on luggage that had to be gate-checked because it wouldn’t fit on the plane.

We’ve told you before: if the flight attendant asks you to check your bags at the gate because they won’t fit in the overhead bin, take your camera equipment out before you hand your carry on over. If you ever doubted the wisdom in that advice, this video should convince you otherwise.

Air Canada is reportedly looking into the situation, and since they have the specific flight number, it’s very likely the parties responsible will be fired or disciplined before long. That’s all well and good, but the question on my mind is: how many baggage handlers haven’t been caught on camera doing this?


Since we won’t ever know the answer to this question, you may want to heed the advice of Reddit user c0reyann over on r/photography:

Go up to the desk as soon as you get to the gate if you aren’t in the first boarding group. Tell them you are carrying expensive equipment (I also usually toss in that I’m flying for a wedding b/c no one wants to f*** a bride’s day up) and ask if there’s any way you can board with an earlier group b/c you cannot check your gear. Most airlines have a small line in the contract stating they aren’t liable for any video or camera gear that is checked and it includes planeside checking. More often than not, I’ve been permitted to board with first class or the member club group.

Wise words. If you have any additional tips for your fellow travelling photographers, feel free to drop them in the comments down below.

(via CBC News)

  • Vin Weathermon

    Used to work in the airline biz; saw checked baggage literally run over by a tug (hard cases flattened) and then loaded into the plane as though nothing happened. Those who say “check your bags” don’t know what they are saying. If your gear can stay with you, you should do that no matter what. Having your clothes run over by a tug isn’t that painful..having your laptop and camera body flattened would hurt.

  • ksporry

    That’s disgraceful, and it warrants a claim! You can ensure this is a violation of procedures, and the video is evidence of that. In my experience, gate checked luggage was carried to the aircraft by the passengers, loaded by the loaders, and then after landing it was unloaded separately before other luggage was unloaded, so the passengers could pick it up at the stairs.
    What I find odd is why is it stored in the cabin and then after landing it is stacked with the rest of the check in luggage? That makes no sense to me. Any luggage checked, gate-checked or otherwise, should be cargo hold loaded.
    My camera gear never gets checked in. I had once a weight check of my hand luggage, which was of course grossly overweight, containing underwater camera equipment and all. They expressed a fake surprise that it was way too heavy when they checked the weight, so I told them with a smile it contains sensitive camera equipment and it doesn’t get checked in. They let me through…

  • ksporry

    Actually, people react the way they are treated. If a passenger treats staff like s**t, the staff will do nothing to accomodate them. The person that is diplomatic, courteous, etc, they will treat like a real person, because they themselves are treated like a real person. This applies to everything. You bully someone in a supermarket, they are not going to help you. It’s that simple. It all comes down to treating people the way you want to be treated.

  • ksporry

    Plus, it’s insured…

  • ksporry

    the worst is actually when airlines blatantly lie about it, even when you show evidence. And THAT is worth reporting. You can report such things to IATA. For example, once I had an 8 hour delay with Cebu Pacific in Manila. They blamed the weather in Shanghai. Although that is very possible, because Chinese ATC is incompetent and closes the airport when there is a drizzle, some chinese passengers had called to friends in shanghai to check the weather, and it was fine. Then they changed gates, but some people saw they unloaded the aircraft on the original plane, which had been standing there for 8 hours. Cebu Pacific insisted that the delay was caused by Shanghai airport, whilst the truth was that the plane had a technical problem they could not resolve. Now that’s a straight out lie, and they can be criminally prosecuted for that. It also puts their reputation in question, as what else are they lying about. It can result in an audit, which tends to snowball in teh aviation inductry and get sthem blacklisted rapidly.

  • Tzctplus -

    Uh…That’s how life works, trying to get most with the least possible, whining about it is likewhining about water being wet.

  • mokleTkcuF

    Studies have shown that children who lie tend to have higher intelligence. It’s not always the right thing to do but its something we all do to varying degrees. And besides, saying that you’re shooting a wedding is really just a white lie (pardon the pun).

    I agree with your point about planning in advance, but there are scenarios where you simply have to be selfish to protect your interests (ie expensive assets) at the cost of others. After all, isn’t this the American way?

    A few weeks ago I boarded a packed plane late because I was caught in traffic. I could see that I would never get my bag stowed above my seat towards the back, so I stuffed into the last remaining spot in business class. There were looks of consternation from a few people and I wasn’t proud of doing it, in normal circumstances I always try to be considerate. But at least my bag was safe.

  • mokleTkcuF

    Sorry, If you had +10k worth of gear, no matter what type of case it was in, do you really think it would be sensible to let it out of your sight?
    And being insured isn’t going to help if you have broken or lost gear arriving at a wedding.

  • Spacey Stars Scream

    I wonder what they are getting paid,what their benefits are, considering all the horrible things people are saying about these workers we should really look at how the entire airline operates to invoke such behavior from their employees. Yes, they are most likely to be fired, but who’s to guarantee the replacements are not going to do the same? Where is the beginning of this carelessness, does it stem from the lack of attention from these individual or exploitation of the workers on the airline’s part?

  • Bob Dobbs

    Well yes, everyone should be treated as equals. But they aren’t. Some people have suggested sweet talking, etc, but that doesn’t seem to be your approach. So, what is your practical advice for dealing with this inequity?

  • Mauricio Matos

    I’m not whining at all. I’m just saying that if us, as clients, try to get as much as possible for less, so do the airlines…and then that’s what you get as service.

  • Gary Eason

    Two, in fact, in proper English.

  • Theo Lubbe

    Want equal treatment? Put in equal effort. You may be paying for a service, but that doesn’t mean the airline operators will always be acutely aware of your exact needs unless you inform them.

  • Theo Lubbe

    I’m confused – what do orders from Blurb and passengers’ carry-on luggage have to do with each other?

  • Alan Cuthbertson

    over the years I have known a few baggage handlers at various airports with various airlines. While most do a great job they ALL told me to use hard sided luggage like Samsonite Oyster Shell cases as the handlers love to throw the bags around. I have been told of bag toss Olympics that happen. TSA or Security agents are no better at handling your luggage either!!

  • Alan Cuthbertson

    education or training does not dictate a persons character. The person in this video was simply a lazy union hack who needs to be disciplined or fired.

  • Alan Cuthbertson

    fed-ex uses automated loading that throws your boxes/luggage around more than this guy ever will. Fed-Ex still loads a plane the same way using the same personel. You are deceiving yourself if you think they handle your suitcase with kid gloves on!

  • Alan Cuthbertson

    having said this… in today’s world what dumbass gets on a plane carrying a bag too large to fit in the over head compartment or under the seat…seriously people give your heads a shake. Carry on your camera equipment and valuables in a small case and stop trying to take the kitchen sink on with you….

  • Ian

    I can’t speak for these particular guys, but generally speaking, I’ve heard that it’s a union gig and pays very well $60-70k/yr or so, so I don’t think that’s the issue here.

  • Richard


  • Charles Tribbey

    Yes, I was on a hopper flight with a rolling camera bag once, that would not fit. When I told them this was “$15,000+” in camera equipment and that I would not check it, the pilot kindly said, we can keep it in the cockpit for you. I am fine with that. Thank you Horizon Airlines.

  • Mark Patulski

    Not necessarily true. Would you go up and down those stairs multiple times if you were under the pressure of a tight deadline, to ensure that the plane left the gate on time? Would you carry those heavy bags in winter, with lots of snow and ice on the stairs? The airline (or airport) should provide luggage chutes or some elevator system to help transport those heavy bags. Poor baggage handler getting the blame but absolutely no help from anyone…ie. the airline or airport.

  • Mykeljon

    There is a much simpler solution. All airlines specify maximum size for carry-on luggage. Stick to it!!! I always make sure that my luggage fits the specs so I get really pissed off at passengers who take up more than their fair share of the limited on-board storage space.

  • TPA Bike

    Why do people insist in recording video vertically? Soon our TVs will be made with a vertical aspect ratio. This must stop.

  • JON

    GUYS! if what you are carrying is SOOOOOOOOOO precious just pay the freaking 25$ fee to check your bag! or if you can’t lift it… DONT PACK IT!!!

  • Alan Cuthbertson

    okay I admit your solution is a good one and makes sense to me!!

  • Jon

    no one is getting fired here… If you think his job is so good, why dont you go and do it… That guy probably gets up at 430 and freezes his ass in the winter and works on 40 degree weather in the summer… Not exactly what I call lazy…

  • Bill Binns

    If this is how they treat our bags when they know the owners of the bags can see them, why would you think the guys who handle the checked bags would be any better?

  • Bill Binns

    If you flew more than once a year you would know that this is no solution. The last people to board the plane get screwed on overhead luggage regardless of wether other people used “more than their fair share”.

  • Abel277

    don’t look after your staff and they won’t look after your interests as a company. It’s clear to see that the methods being used in that video could easily be streamlined for all parties concerned but it’s not cost effective – result, disgruntled staff who will (always) cut corners if they can get away with it.

  • Kevin Gibson

    It is everyone ones fault..I blame Air Canada and the Airport Operations..They should of had Baggage slides on the jet bridge.If you look they have done it before and they know it as they were dropping into a cart…Now days everyone tries to take a carry on bag on the plane,because most Airlines charges for bags.But if there is a full flight a lot of bags will be checked and passengers knows it..The company knows this and still wants a on time Dept,but when you have a 4 person crew good luck…That is Union or non union workers..If you think a flight is full and you are the last group check your bags………..We used to avg around 30 gate checks on a full flight…An retired airline employee.

  • kakakadaf

    ☆ Most cost-effective website, factory direct delivery, all kinds of luxury brands, safe and efficient http://WWW.SOGARED..COM i página web. Mi sitio web es: tienen marcas: Nike, Adidas, Puma, Gucci, LouisVuitton, Armani, Burberry, Moncler, Ralph Lauren, Lacoste, Dolce & Gabbana, Hugo Boss, Abercrombie & Fitch, CalvinKlein, Dsquared2, Yves Saint Laurent, Tommy Hilfiger sitio:
    ◥◤◥◤◥◤◥◤ We are not the usual Chinese wholesalers

  • Chris Blair

    This is why I just buy all new gear everywhere I go:)

  • empireinrecline

    I don’t understand what the point is. I didn’t see any problem at all. Bags get jammed into the underside of the plane in a giant pile, of course things are going to get jostled. If you’re taking a soft bag with thousands of dollars of delicate electronic gear in it and then handing it to an underpaid stranger you should expect bad things to happen. A plane is a bus with wings people it isn’t magic. Take responsibility for your stuff, which includes a 20 foot drop into a bin if you can’t follow simple rules for what you can take onboard with you.