How to share overhead bin space

Occasionally I look back fondly at my first couple of years as a business traveler (over a decade ago, hard to believe). 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 flying  standby is almost unheard of and getting a domestic upgrade takes an act of Congress. Plus flights are  so crowded that you’re lucky to have enough room for yourself, much less your stuff.

However, there are a few steps you can take to make what small space exists fit as many bags as possible. Here are tips for how to share 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 may 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 in the bin as close to your seat as possible. 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. Timely as it’s raining all over the country and we’re about to start sliding into winter. 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. Unless your coat is enormous it’s likely you’ll be able to squeeze it in between a couple of bags or on top of your own bag. I actually try to put mine in  my suitcase before boarding so it’s not even an issue.
    4. Don’t put two bags up. This may be obvious to those of you who travel frequently. But if you put your suitcase in the overhead bin you need to put your personal item under the seat in front of you. If by some miracle there is enough room for your second bag, great! Put it up there. But don’t assume there will be. (And definitely don’t be this guy.)

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

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

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