Ground Services Workers


Exploring this Job

One of the best ways to learn about a career in ground services is to talk with a worker in the field. Ask your teacher or school counselor to set up an information interview with an aircraft servicer, baggage and cargo handler, or other worker in the field. You can also observe the work of many ground services workers when you travel to the airport to take a trip. 

The Job

There are many different types of ground service workers. For example, air freight agents oversee the shipment of air freight. They receive shipments and supervise the loading and unloading of freight. Ramp service workers keep the exterior of the aircraft in top shape. They wash and polish the plane, touch up paint, and perform other necessary cleaning tasks.

Linepersons meet the arriving aircraft and guide it to an appropriate parking area. They secure the aircraft, check for fluid leaks or changes in tire pressure, and often serve as a greeter to passengers. At smaller facilities, linepersons may also coordinate rental cars, catering, and other services for passengers and employees.

Between flights, ramp agents prepare for arriving aircraft by readying the wheel locks, beltloaders (for baggage unloading), and other machinery used for landing and takeoff. Ramp agents also perform maintenance tasks such as spraying de-icing solution on the plane's wings during winter conditions and keeping the landing area free of debris.

Drivers transport supplies, equipment, and people throughout the airport. They include drivers of food trucks, mobile stairs, cleaning equipment, aviation fuel, and other supplies. These workers also drive maintenance specialists and other employees to specified terminals and aircraft in a timely manner.

Cabin service workers clean the inside of the airplane and the cockpit in between flights. These workers, who are also referred to as aircraft servicers, replace head-rests, fold blankets, and fill seat backs with magazines and safety information. Cabin service workers vacuum, pick up trash, clean windows and bathrooms, and ensure the overall cleanliness of the interior of the plane.

Baggage and air cargo handlers load and unload baggage, air mail, and air express and air cargo shipments for passengers. They must be both careful and precise in the handling and placement of baggage. Handlers must sort and stack baggage in the underside of the airplane, positioning luggage accordingly so that different groups of passengers will have access to their luggage at different destinations. Baggage handling involves heavy lifting and is a physically demanding occupation. There is little room for error as a baggage and air cargo handler. Baggage service agents assist passengers with delayed, lost, or damaged luggage.

Aircraft fuelers, along with drivers, operate fueling equipment. Fuel truck drivers transport the aviation fuel to the waiting aircraft, and the fueler then climbs onto the wings of the plane (or for some planes, maneuvers under the wing) with a hose and fills it with fuel. Workers in this occupation need to be agile and able to work under deadline pressure.

Food service workers prepare meals that are served during flights. They follow set recipes to prepare the food, and they make sure they have the correct number of serving dishes for each flight. Food service workers place the food in containers for pickup, and also clean dirty dishes. Other food service workers are employed in airport restaurants and bars.

Operations agents ensure that the flight process runs smoothly for both passengers and employees. They keep track of the number of passengers and pieces of luggage. Operations agents communicate information to and from pilots, ground crews, and aircraft fuelers. If a flight is overbooked, operations agents must make decisions to remedy the situation and keep passengers calm.

All ground service workers must be efficient, precise, and timely in their work. Their preparation and attention to detail makes the flight process enjoyable and safe for those aboard the aircraft.