Baggage claim crowding solution: the Hog Buster

(Update below)

If you are a frequent flyer like me, you are probably constantly frustrated by the inconsiderate throng of people packing around the baggage claim carousel preventing you from seeing and retrieving your bag while they are waiting for their checked bags to show up. What i do not understand is why can’t those carousel hoarders, as i like to call them, move next to the carousel only after they have seen their bags. By merely moving back from the carousel by a few feet while waiting for the bags, so many more passengers will be able to have a better view of the carousel and therefore be able to get to their bags quickly without having to fight through the heedless crowd.

I think i have a perfect solution for this problem. Loosely based on the theory of “negative reinforcement”, the Hog Buster will make sure that only passengers with bags physically on the carousel are allowed within 5 feet (naturally, this range is configurable) of the carousel. If passengers step onto the “courtesy zone” without their bags on the carousel, they will be subjected to a mild localized electric shock. If this mild electric shock fails to do the trick, the strength of the shock will be increased gradually, until the offenders are rendered uncomfortable enough to leave the “courtesy zone”. Eventually, the passengers will learn, most likely painfully, that they should only be next to the baggage claim carousel when their bags are actually on the carousel. Problem solved.

So, how can this be achieved? During the check-in process, as it is now, you are issued baggage claim ticket for your bag to be checked in. With the Hog Buster system, each claim ticket is inserted with a RFID device which has a unique signature. A similar RFID device is placed on the baggage label attached to your bag. On top of the baggage claim carousel at the destination airport, there will be a giant electronic display board. When your bag is placed on the carousel, the RFID sensor on the carousel will acknowledge that and will send the information to the giant display notifying you that your bag is ready to be picked up. When you stand next to the carousel to retrieve your bag, sensors around the “courtesy zone” will confirm that you are indeed permitted to be in the “courtesy zone” by validating with the RFID claim ticket that you have on you. Passengers without their bags on the carousel are subjected to the localized electric shocks. The only remaining technical issue is how the electric shocks can be applied to the offending passenger without affecting other legitimate passengers?

More questions? Check out the Hog Buster FAQ below.

  • Can the Hog Buster be configured with a more “humane” negative reinforcement system?
  • Yes, most definitely. Instead of sending electric shocks which could potentially be fatal to some inconsiderate fools, the Hog Buster can be configured with an audible notification system. For example, instead of sending a mild electric shock to the offender, the audible notification system will announce, over the speakers, with a message like “Mr. John Doe, please kindly step away from the courtesy zone until your bag is ready.” If that offender chooses to remain there, the message will be upped to something like “Mr. John Doe, move away from the courtesy zone until your bag is ready.” If offender continues to ignore the previous messages, the next warning can be something like “Mr. John Joe, move your inconsiderate ass out the courtesy zone. You are blocking others from retrieving their bags, you stupid fucking moron…”, you get the point.
  • What happens if English is not the native language of the passenger?
  • Very simple. During the check-in process, the native language of the passenger can be stored in the RFID claim ticket. If that passenger is in the “courtesy zone” before his bag is ready, the system will make announcements in the passenger’s native language, making sure that the passenger fully understands his/her selfish behavior.
  • What happens if the passenger has lost his claim ticket?
  • If the passenger has lost his claim ticket, by right he should not be able to claim the luggage unless he can prove that he is the rightful owner. The system can be configured to disable the electric shock applicator or the audible notification system if more than 90% of the bags have been retrieved. So when the “all clear” sign has been issued, the passenger can move on to the “courtesy zone” to retrieve his bag.
  • What other options are available to deal with unruly passenger who refuses to budge no matter how much electric shock and insults have been hurled at him?
  • For the extremely difficult passenger, if both the electric shocks and verbal abuses proved to be ineffective, the Hog Buster system can be configured with the Bamboo Kabob module. The Bamboo Kabob module is basically a bunch of sharpened bamboo sticks coated with Komodo dragon saliva and wild boar feces that, when combined, is guaranteed to cause maximum infection in the shortest amount of time. The Bamboo Kabob module works like this: when final attempts of both the electric shocks and the verbal insults have been exhausted, the bamboo sticks will pierce upward through the perforated floor in the “courtesy zone”, into the feet of the offending passenger. The severe pain and the infection that will soon follow should be sufficient to remind the passenger not to repeat his thoughtless act again.
  • Can the Spotlight module be added with all other modules?
    All the modules, including the Spotlight module, are designed to work individually as well as together for maximum effectiveness. The Spotlight module will be crafted with one of the most powerful lighting elements available in the industry. When the offending passenger is identified by the sensors in the “courtesy zone”, at least three separate spotlights will be shined upon the individual. If the embarrassment alone is not enough to make the offender move out of the “courtesy zone”, the G.I Joe-plastic-toy-melting heat from the spotlights will.

    Update 2010-01-29:
    My friend Jaime just came up with a brilliant idea for a hog buster module: The Incinerator Module. Instead of trying to figure out how to implement a localized electric shock or having to worry about the potential lawsuits from people being humiliated, shocked, amputated, burned or killed by the hog buster, the incinerator module will incinerate a passenger’s luggage if he stands in the courtesy zone when he is not supposed to. We just have to make sure passengers sign the luggage waiver during check-in acknowledging that any violation of the courtesy zone will result in their luggages being vaporized. I think nothing motivates some people more than burning (literally) a hole in their wallets.


    StHalcyonSeptember 15th, 2007 at 10:53

    So it has been 2 years now… When is the prototype coming out, and when is the proof of concept? Because I hate those carousel hoarders. Even more so when people are hoarding the tiny carousel for oversized items like golf/ski/snowboard bags. (Denver International is the exception, with its large rotating carousel.) Any reason why they need to block the entire view of a short 20 feet length of conveyor belt when nothing has come out yet?!?

    Jose CalderaDecember 12th, 2007 at 11:42

    Excellent, I have the same thoughts. I detest that people crowd the baggage claim, and eventually you have to *shove* yourself to the front to grab yours as people don’t make room.

    I end up saying “excuse me” and push myself up to the front when I see my bag, and sling it into somebody’s legs if they did not make any effort to step back and let me through (and they are not retreiving their own bag, of course.)

    Airports / airlines should paint a dotted line and put “please stand behind this line unless retrieving luggage.” This would most likely solve the problem.

    JasonDecember 30th, 2008 at 18:12


    I think you’ll connect with this book!

    Step Back from the Baggage Claim:
    Change the World, Start at the Airport

    Help spread the word!

    ktulaJanuary 26th, 2010 at 10:58


    I generally enjoy your book but not quite sure about the religious part of it.

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