Etiquette tip: Wait to put your coat in the overhead bin!

I have been on the road a lot already this year, traveling literally from coast to coast. Some places are having lovely 2-19-15-1weather right now, but it seems like most of the country is in the grips of record-cold temps. I saw that today in Nashville it is -2! Crazy.

What does all this cold weather mean? Lots of coats on planes. Coats are great once you arrive, but are kind of a pain to travel with. If you’re lucky enough to have room in your carryon to pack your coat once you’re in the airport, lucky you! Unfortunately it doesn’t always work out that way.

When I flew to DFW on Tuesday there were coats everywhere. On laps, on the floor, and of course in the overhead bins. I had already placed my suitcase in the bin, with my purse tucked neatly under the seat in front of me. My coat was in my lap as I waited for passengers to finish boarding. It looked like there was a little extra room in front of my bag, so my plan was to cram my coat there once boarding slowed down.

The plane got more and more full. Eventually the flight attendants started making announcements about the overhead bins being nearly full and the remaining passengers may have to gate-check. One late boarder sitting across from me tried to find a spot for his bag, but the bins nearby were almost full. Then he spotted my bag, a little smaller and more easily compressed than others. He asked politely if he could move it, found a smaller spot where it barely fit, and put his bag where mine had been. While I was glad to save the guy the hassle of gate checking, initially I was a tiny bit annoyed that I would have to hold my coat the whole flight. But then I realized that his bag was a bit narrower than mine, and there was now a sliver I space between the two suitcases where my coat fit perfectly (along with someone else’s). Everyone wins!

While it may not always work out perfectly, please wait to put your coat in the overhead bin. Some are so bulky that they will take up the same amount of room as a small suitcase! There are often nooks and crannies available to cram your coat, but if not I would rather hold it or shove it under my legs for a few hours rather than leave late because people have to gate-check, taking the chance of missing a connection.

Readers, what do you do with your coats during flights?

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  1. I think it depends what else you’re carrying on. If you have a roller bag and a personal item, then yeah, you need to be prepared to hold your coat for the duration of the flight. If you *don’t* have a roller bag, I’d say you’re well within your rights to put your coat up top whenever you like.

  2. I rarely stow my coat because I usually end up using it as a blanket. Much more hygienic than anything the airline is passing out!

  3. I’m of the same school of thought and it really annoys me when I see coats taking up space in the overhead bins so early in the process.

  4. The bin space wouldn’t fill up so fast if people would put an item under their seat. I’m constantly amazed at how people with a roller board and normal size briefcase can not put the briefcase under their seat. And it’s usually men who have also put their coat in the bin on top of their small briefcase.

  5. I can fit my large leather coat in the outer pocket of my rollaboard if it’s not too full. The bag ends up a bit thicker than usual, but still fits fine in bins as small as those on E175s.

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