Bad weather may delay bag arrival at airport

During rainy weather, ground handlers may temporarily stop retrieving baggage from the aircraft because there is no shelter where they work and it is a lightning-risk area. "Lightning cubes" with a message seeking passengers' understanding will be pl
"Lightning cubes" with a message seeking passengers' understanding will be placed on baggage claim belts. This initiative is being tested at Terminal 3, with plans for it to be rolled out at all terminals.PHOTO: CHANGI AIRPORT GROUP

With more thunderstorms expected in Dec, bag retrieval likely to be disrupted more often

Passengers arriving at Changi Airport this month may have to wait longer for their luggage to be unloaded from the planes.

This is due to the higher occurrence of thunderstorms during the monsoon season.

During rainy weather, ground handlers may temporarily stop retrieving baggage from the aircraft because there is no shelter where they work and it is a lightning-risk area, said Changi Airport Group (CAG) yesterday.

CAG said that last month, there were 225 cases of baggage delays due to bad weather, almost triple the monthly average of 78 cases recorded between January and October this year.

This means that it took more than 35 minutes for passengers to get their bags after the aircraft was parked.

CAG said that under normal weather conditions, nine in 10 passengers get their bags within 35 minutes.

The 225 cases in November accounted for about 1.5 per cent of the 14,971 arrival flights that month.


During rainy weather, ground handlers may temporarily stop retrieving baggage from the aircraft because there is no shelter where they work and it is a lightning-risk area. ST FILE PHOTO

Last month was one of the wettest Novembers, with at least 24 days of rain recorded by the Changi climate station. This is well above the long-term average of 18 rain days for November.

Wet weather is set to continue in the first fortnight of December, said Meteorological Service Singapore last week, with moderate to heavy thundery showers expected.

Singapore has one of the highest occurrences of lightning activity in the world. On average, the island experiences 168 thunderstorm days per year - days in which thunder is heard over the island and there is an indication of lightning activity.

CAG said that even when there is no rain, there could be lightning alerts issued by the authorities and baggage handlers have to temporarily stop work.

"When there is lightning activity, there is also the possibility of a 'side flash', where dangerous static electric discharge occurs even when the workers are standing close to the aircraft and are not in contact with any object," CAG said.

Passengers will be alerted to any baggage delays through monitor displays and signs at the baggage claim belts, CAG said, adding that a 90-second animated video will also be played to show passengers how baggage handling is affected when a lightning alert is issued.

Affected passengers will be given refreshments while they wait. CAG said it has also upgraded some areas in the baggage claim halls of Terminals 2 and 3 into arrival lounges for passengers to wait at.

To better protect its staff, CAG said that since 2015, it has enhanced lightning-protection measures.

These include getting ground handlers to use wireless headsets which cut off the physical connection between the workers and the aircraft, thus removing the possibility of lightning-induced static discharge through the headsets.

A lightning mast is installed at every aircraft stand to reduce the chance of lightning striking the tail fin of the parked aircraft, said CAG.

"The safety of airport workers is paramount to CAG. We seek passengers' understanding that we will do our best to present their bags for collection as soon as it is safe to do so, be it rain or shine," CAG said in a statement.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 05, 2017, with the headline 'Bad weather may delay bag arrival at airport'. Print Edition | Subscribe