Are Airplane Overhead Compartments Getting—Gasp—Bigger?
Two Seattle companies, Alaska and Boeing, might be fixing the carry-on problem. Or part of it, anyway.
The carry-on dance has become an integral part of air travel: cutting in line to be the first in your boarding group, sprinting to your row to claim some overhead compartment space, shoving your bag at an awkward angle, and hoping your bag isn't "gate-checked" due to lack of room. The new "Space Bins" just might make that dance easier.
In late 2015, Alaska Airlines will be the first airline to feature Boeing’s new bins, which will increase in-cabin baggage storage on new Next-Generation 737 airplanes by 48 percent. The bins will add space for about 57 more standard carry-on bags than the current overhead compartments hold. And they're easier to load, lowering two inches more than current bins.
On July 10, Alaska blogged about the potential improvements the Space Bins will bring to customers, highlighting more room for accessible personal belongings, easier access, reduced boarding times, and less need for flight attendant assistance. The company's Facebook page saw mixed reviews on the subject, with passengers preferring more leg room than bag room and worrying about poor carry-on etiquette.
There are two big questions about the changing face of overhead storage: Will it eat up the already limited headroom on the plane? Boeing 737 communications rep Dina Weiss says that due to the change in the bin's contour, it's hard to detect the two-inch reduction in the Passenger Service Unit (aka your personal space). "Passengers won’t feel the difference," she says.
And will increased storage space mean passengers can bring more or bigger carry-ons? An Alaska rep confirms that no, those guidelines won't change. Our best guess why: The new bins are built for bags at the current standard size (9 x 14 x 22 inches) and, ahem, airlines make money on checked-bag fees.