Although the RAF is most associated with combat missions, a large part of its role has always been more humdrum and the vast majority of its flights have been concerned with transport and logistics- ferrying the army around the world for its various deployments. Since the end of the Second World War the RAF has therefore maintained a fleet of transport aircraft, many of them specifically for passenger use. These aircraft have frequently been bought from commercial carriers and the RAF has adopted many civilian practices to transport men and their baggage. This includes replicating the baggage handling procedures seen in civilian airports. Today we are looking at a luggage tag used for an outbound flight by the RAF from Brize Norton. It is made of card, printed in red and the front of the tag gives details of where the flight is taking place from together with the instruction to attach this label to the bag and that the flight was being provided by No 38 group:
The rear of the label has space for the flight details, date and owner of the baggage to be recorded, together with the weight of the bag- essential when calculating the overall weight of an aircraft with its fuel, passengers and luggage for take-off:
Although modern luggage labels look slightly different and use barcodes to keep track of everything, the principal remains the same and every bag carried by the RAF is issued with its own tag to allow efficient loading and emptying of an aircraft.
They adopted civilian practices in more ways than one.
On a flight from Chatham, New Brunswick to Gander, Newfoundland my bag ended up in Colorado Springs, USA…