I’ve seen two recent stories about things falling out of the overhead bin and injuring people. In the first instance an older lady was knocked unconscious by a shoe falling out of a bin during a flight. In the second story a man says he suffered a compressed disc when luggage fell on him from the overhead bin during the boarding process. What may be surprising to you is in both of these stories the victims are blaming the airlines. The elderly woman said the incident with the shoe happened because airlines are charging fees for checking bags, which encourages people to overpack their carryon. The man that had the carryon luggage fall on him is blaming the airlines (and suing for $49,000) for letting the passenger bring luggage on board that’s too big for the overhead bin, and for not training the flight attendants to properly deal with luggage in packed overhead bins.
While I do agree that airlines bear some of the burden for incidents such as these, I also believe passengers have a responsibility to consider the safety of others using the overhead bins. Here are some things to remember when using the overhead bins.
Listen to the flight attendants. As you board, the flight attendants will be making a variety of announcements, including any special instructions on getting your suitcase to fit in the overhead bin. Some aircraft the suitcase has to go in wheels first, on some they have to be handle first, and on a few planes full size rollaboards can only fit sideways. On some of the bigger American airplanes the direction doesn’t matter. If the flight attendant doesn’t advise you ask them for clarification because more suitcases fit when people put them in correctly.
Don’t overpack your bag. When you overstuff your bag you end up having to force it into the overhead bin. When you force a bag in you’ll have to force it out as well. I’ve seen a scary moments from people essentially ripping their suitcase out of the overhead bin. There have been some really close calls where people are dodging to not get smacked by flying luggage. If you are packing your carryon so full that you have to force it into the overhead bin you should either be checking your bag or have overflow in your personal item under the seat in front of you. Make sure you can lift your suitcase as well. Flight attendants can’t help you lift your suitcase, and if it’s so heavy that you strain to lift it you’ll have an even harder time controlling it when removing from the overhead bin.
Share the space. Overhead bins are shared space. All too often I see people putting bags in the overhead sideways when it could easily go long ways, or putting a second bag in the overhead that should go under the seat in front of them. These actions affect everyone on the plane. Not only could it cause other passengers to unnecessarily gate check, it delays the boarding process which could cause a late departure. Respect the space.
Don’t bring bags that won’t zip. If you are bringing a carryon that’s not a suitcase but too big to fit under the seat in front of you make sure that the bag at least can zip up. A shoe (or any other items) should not be falling out of the overhead bin!
For a list of airline carryon polices see airfarewatchdog’s post.
Readers, what tips do you have for passengers using the overhead bins? Have you seen anyone injured by carryons from the overhead bin?
Be sure to check out my page with the best carry-on luggage according to readers.
Have a travel question or suggestion? Send it to RW @RoadWarriorette.com.
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