How to Store Your Carry-On Bag, According to Flight Attendants

Most passengers don't realize that luggage bins have increased in size — and there's one simple way to make your bag fits properly

Traveler woman open overhead locker on airplane, Passenger put cabin bag cabin on the top shelf.
Almost everything this passenger is doing is wrong
Natnan Srisuwan/Getty Images

Airlines would like you to put your bags in the carry-on bins on their sides like a book or a “taco,” as the Wall Street Journal reported this week. One problem: Passengers aren’t really getting the message.

“There is definitely a learning curve, especially for our less-frequent travelers,” as Susannah Carr, a flight attendant for a major U.S. airline, told the paper.  So while airlines are repeating the message frequently before and during boarding, and even resorting to TikTok to get the proper luggage stowing message across, it’s apparently still an issue.


Answer @im_siowei had to show our new overhead bins some love travel traveltiktok luggage comedy unitedairlines

♬ Up and down girl – mik :-))

One holdup is that most passengers aren’t aware that about six years ago, planes made by Airbus and Boeing started having larger overhead bins. As well, airline crews that are using books as a reference point may not realize some people stack books flat (or use an e-reader and have no idea what you’re talking about).

But let’s be honest: The problem with carry-ons involves passengers (many of you bring on too many bags and/or oversized bags, knowingly), the aforementioned flight crews (for providing occasionally confusing instructions) but mostly the airlines, which create these bottlenecks by 1) charging too much for checked bags, 2) creating a haphazard boarding process that encourages people to do anything possible to get on board early and throw their bags anywhere and 3) not offering up enough instructions in advance to passengers on boarding and carry-on policies, which can admittedly change per airline or even by flight (note to United: my parents aren’t gonna see that TikTok).

Since no one has figured out a solution yet, I offer up some advice from years on the road: Take as little on board as possible (preferably a bag that could fit under your seat and still allow leg room). If you do have a carry-on, take on that’s soft-sided — I’ve never had an issue getting my bag in an overhead bin, or being forced to check one upon arriving at the gate. And also, yes: Put your bag up like a taco.


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