The evolution of convenience: The luggage carousel

ByAndrea Thompson

April 29, 2024

The luggage carousel is an integral part of the travel experience, a silent witness to the joys and weariness of journeys. Its origin, while not as ancient as travel itself, has a history that reflects the evolution of modern transportation and the ingenuity of human innovation.

The Birth of the Baggage Carousel

The concept of the baggage carousel emerged in the 50’s, a time when air travel was becoming more accessible to the public.  As airports began to grow, there emerged a pressing need for an efficient system to manage the escalating volumes of passenger luggage.  Thanks to engineer, John Michael Lyons.

This invention simplified the baggage claim process, replacing the manual collection of luggage from stationary racks or carts with a more efficient, automated system. The luggage carousel has since become a standard facility in airports worldwide, greatly enhancing the travel experience by ensuring a smoother and more organized retrieval of checked luggage.

Design and Operation

The baggage carousel is basically a rotating conveyor belt that operates on a single level, delivering bags into the terminal through an opening in the wall and allows multiple passengers retrieving their luggage.  The system is designed to be efficient and user-friendly, ensuring that passengers can quickly find and collect their bags upon arrival.

Modern Adaptations

Over the years, the design of baggage carousels has seen various adaptations, from multilevel systems to increasing the speed.

The Future of Luggage Handling

As technology advances, so does the functionality of baggage carousels.  The future may see further integration of technology, such as real-time tracking and automated sorting, to enhance the passenger experience even more and reduce waiting times.


The luggage carousel, from its inception to its current state-of-the-art implementations has evolved from a simple conveyor belt to a complex, computerised system that symbolises the modern airport’s efficiency and foresight.