Watching an airport operate can help pass the time while you’re waiting for a flight. As you watch the orchestra of people and vehicles prep a plane for its flight, a baggage tractor will certainly join the effort.
Bearskin Airlines at Thunder Bay International Airport in Ontario, Canada, has a very weird way to haul baggage around: It hooks baggage carts to hacked-up Neons, an econobox sold with Chrysler, Dodge and Plymouth badges — all the same car, though. These appear to be from the 1996-99 generation.
These pictures come our way from an epic Twitter thread from the airline’s passengers. If you need a good laugh today I highly recommend it. I’m used to seeing hacked up Dodge Neons doing stupid stunts on a Gambler 500, not doing serious operations at an international airport. Yet here we are.
I love it! Aside from the Neon that’s clearly missing its roof and doors, the airline appears to have two others with golf cart service bodies grafted onto the back. Woah. Once I stopped laughing, I realised this actually makes some sense. Hear me out.
A decent baggage tractor like this TUG MA-50 costs a lot of money. These are heavy-duty machines meant to withstand big loads, a lot of abuse and years of service.
A Neon — especially a beat up one — costs a tiny fraction of the price of a baggage tractor. These are cars an airline can buy for $US500 ($650). Wrecked ones are probably even cheaper. Take a reciprocating saw to the roof and install a tow hitch on back: Boom! You have a baggage tractor.
This is airline cost-cutting to the absolute extreme. A cut-up Neon isn’t nearly as strong or as robust as a real baggage tractor, but passengers of the airline have reported seeing a small fleet of the things over the years. So, apparently they do the job.
I love seeing regular passenger vehicles adapted for aviation use, though seeing a Neon haul around baggage is definitely a first for me. These sort of remind me of those 4×4 pickup trucks cut in half and adapted to tug float planes around.