3 tips for sharing overhead bin space

Victorinox werks 20Sometimes I look fondly back  at the days when  I first started  traveling for work (ten years ago, whoa). Upgrades were plentiful, you could easily hop on an earlier flight, and there was plenty of room for carry-ons. Alas, things have changed. These days flights are  so crowded that you  are lucky to have enough room for yourself, much less your stuff. Flying  standby is almost  unheard  of, and  getting  an upgrade takes an act of Congress. It can  be pretty frustrating for  those of us who  fly all the time! But there are a few steps you can take to make what room there is fit as many bags as possible. Here are  my top three tips for sharing the overhead bin space.

  1. Put  your bag in the right way. Planes are weird. They’re all shaped differently–even two planes of the same model at the same airline may not fit bags in exactly the same way. It can be wheels out, handle out, or  sideways. Sometimes a bag will  fit in  the middle of the  plane that won’t fit toward the front. On some planes carry-ons only fit on one side. Regardless, make sure that you are listening to the flight attendants. If your bag will fit wheels out but you put it in sideways that is space someone else could have used!
  2. Put your bag above your seat. It is SO frustrating to be sitting in row 8, and see someone snag the last space over your seat then make their way to the back of the plane. I know it’s not always feasible, but whenever possible put your bag as close to your seat as possible.
  3. Don’t put your coat in until all the  bags are up. This is a pet peeve of mine. Yes, coats are annoying to hold and it would be great if we could all fit our coats in the overhead bins without problem. But if  you put a coat up there before all the  bags are in, you are taking space away from a carry-on. There is a really good chance that you’ll be able to squeeze your coat in between a couple of bags. I actually try to put mine in  my suitcase before boarding so that it’s not even an issue.

Of course, another problem is people bringing on bags that are too big for the guidelines.  But that’s a complaint for another day!

Readers, what are your best tips for sharing the overhead bin space?


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  1. Three good points. As far as #2, yes you should try to get your bag as close to your seat as possible but if I get on half way through boarding and I am in row 17 but I see when I am standing at row 12 that the upcoming bins are clearly full I will put my bag in the bin at row 12 and not wait to find out “my bin” is packed to the gills. Then I would have to walk against traffic to find a bin and I am NOT doing that. Now, lazy jerks who throw it into the first coach bin in say row 6 and then walk back to row 32, yes that guy is a punk.

  2. I always check my bag. Even for business trips. On one right now. We were told, boarding, that the overheads were in short supply, so I was glad I didn’t need to worry.

  3. 4. Stop putting laptop bags overhead!! Those people that get on the flight early just to put their small laptop bag overhead are so selfish. The flight attendants clearly ask to put those underneath the seat in front, but those flyers are so entitled. Even if someone checked their rollaboard, doesn’t mean they need to take up that space for others.

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