Depending on the system that is in place at a given airport, a baggage carousel may simply provide support for human baggage porters moving baggage closer to planes.
There are two main types of transportation systems found in airports, one of which is used to transport people and the other to transport luggage. An airport transporter used to transport people is similar to a horizontal escalator, although it can operate on slight slopes. These conveyors are typically installed at large airports to facilitate the movement of people between connecting flights or to and from terminals. Most airports also use extensive baggage transport systems, and in some cases, baggage has little or no human contact after being checked in by a boarding agent or removed from an aircraft by ground staff. This type of airport conveyor can use belt systems, interleaved metal plates and even free wheel rollers to transport luggage and cargo.
People carriers facilitate the movement of passengers between terminals.
One of two types of airport conveyor systems is commonly used to help people move faster. These conveyors are called horizontal escalators, moving walks, and other similar names. They are typically used over medium to long distances, move in a straight line and sometimes have gaps where it is possible to enter or exit. In between these intervals, moving walks usually have gratings as a safety measure.
Some airport conveyor belts help passengers to travel faster around airport terminals.
Airport transport systems intended for human use are typically designed to move in only one direction, so they are often paired. In other cases, there will be a conveyor moving in each direction and a third that is capable of reversing direction to compensate for excessive foot traffic. Sometimes it is also possible to intentionally stop a moving walk, at which point it simply provides extra space for people to walk normally in one direction or another.
The other main type of airport transportation system is used to transport luggage and cargo around an airport. These carriers are almost always found in the check-in and baggage claim areas, although each airport uses its own configuration. In some cases, the mechanical transport system simply delivers the luggage and cargo to motor vehicles, which are then used to transport the items through the airport. Other airports have significantly more complex transportation systems, and in some cases, baggage will travel through an entire facility without any human intervention.
Baggage transport systems can use a variety of different types of straps, including rubber sheets and metal plates. These conveyors typically have a horizontal orientation, although it is also possible for them to take changes in elevation into account. Baggage carriers can also utilize a number of different methods to connect one path to another, including 90° and 45° crossings. Another way of joining two airport conveyors is the power curve, which is a type of curved belt system that can accommodate 15° to 20° orientation changes.