How Are Overhead Bins Being Modified?

One of the worst parts of flying is the stress of finding an open overhead bin while boarding and the dread when you realize there isn’t one. While you don’t typically have to pay to check your bag in this scenario, you do have to endure the prolonged waiting times at the baggage carousel as well as the increased risk of your luggage being lost or mishandled.

This is why many passengers will usually spend the extra money to board the plane early to secure overhead bin space. Sparse bin space is one of the reasons annual revenue of checked bags is up approximately $3.5 million annually. But what if running out of onboard storage space wasn’t an issue? Many airlines have been modifying their overhead bin designs to maximize their space and reduce the chance of passengers who board later having to check their bags.

Why Is There Never Enough Room in the Overhead Bins?

In the 2000s, airlines started charging more to check bags to offset the rising cost of fuel. This led to passengers bringing more carry-ons on board, initiating the trend of insufficient overhead storage and last-minute checked bags. Even with roughly half of passengers on average checking their bags, the current overhead bin system can still quickly become overwhelmed.

This issue has been aggravated by the boost in travel after the pandemic that’s predicted to continue increasing. This upward trend  in the airline industry has resulted in many airlines adding more seats to their aircraft. Some even added entirely new sections like a middle tier between economy and first class known as premium economy. However, these additional seats have exacerbated the onboard storage situation. With more passengers comes more carry-ons and less overhead bin room to accommodate.

Overhead bins were already expanded before the pandemic by 50 percent to respond to this frustration, but with the historic escalation in passengers and carry-ons, changes to the aircraft storage system are once again in demand.

Changes Being Made to the Overhead Bins

Bigger

Boeing and Airbus, two of the biggest aircraft manufacturers, are introducing larger overhead bins (known as Space Bins and Airspace XL Bins respectively) that can fit more bags. While Boeing aircraft could typically only fit 118 carry-ons, their Space Bins are projected to fit approximately 187. Airbus’s Airspace XL Bins are 20 percent larger and can fit 19 more pieces of luggage. Even slightly more space can make the difference between you keeping your carry-on and having to give it to a flight attendant for checking.

Lower

Aside from being too small, some passengers have also complained about the overhead bins being too high. In a majority of aircraft, they are at least 72 inches above the floor but can be as high as 84 inches. For reference, 5’2 is 62 inches, meaning shorter individuals can have difficulty storing and removing their bags. Airlines are working to achieve the optimal height that allows for easy access without compromising passenger headroom.

App Connected

One day, you may learn which overhead bins are full before you board. The advances in aircraft technology and smartphone app connectivity mean you may soon be able to check your airline app to find open overhead bin space while boarding – though this is an update still in development. While interconnected overhead bins may not help with the storage issue, they can help passengers avoid walking to the back of the plane only to learn that there’s not enough room for their bags.

What Airlines Are Updating Their Overhead Bins?

  • United Airlines: United Airlines is developing bigger overhead bins that can comfortably fit six large roller bags each, though these developments won’t be implemented until 2026.
  • American Airlines: American Airlines is expanding their overhead bins’ size by 40 percent and has already added bigger bins to their aircraft.
  • Southwest: Southwest is implementing larger overhead bins in addition to faster internet and power outlets.
  • Alaska Airlines: Alaska Airlines is working to increase their overhead bins’ sizes by 48 percent.

Optimize Your Aircraft with Custom-Made IFE Technology and High-Definition Interfaces

While in-flight entertainment (IFE) technology may not be able to help passengers find space for their bags yet, it can help them relax in their seats and decompress with a robust, multimedia entertainment library. At Rosen Aviation, we’ve been improving IFE technology for aircraft for over 40 years. Our custom in-flight entertainment solutions are engineered to maximize your passengers’ comfort and enjoyment while flying.

Our team will outfit your aircraft with technology that keeps your flyers entertained throughout their entire flight. Call us at 1-888-668-4955 or send us a message to learn more about our customizable cabin entertainment solutions.