I’ve been praying to the Airbus and Boeing gods for more overhead storage space for years now, to no avail.
Just last week on a flight home from Scotland, largely due to my commitment to the aisle seat, I got stuck in the last row of the aircraft, closest to the lavatories. I’m a pretty lax flier, so no sweat. The thing is, I was also in the third-to-last boarding group. In theory, this should have been fine…save for the fact that three of the furthest overhead storage bins were already being utilized for safety equipment and the flight attendants’ personal effects, leaving no room for those belonging to passengers in the last two rows, who, again, were among the last to board (a reason I’m a big proponent of back-to-front boarding!). As it wasn’t a full flight, no one had been asked to check their bags at the gate prior to boarding, and yet here we were, six rows up, trying to wedge our into whatever semblance of space we could find (and, spoiler alert, there wasn’t much!).
Now, if you’re a frequent flier, you’ve seen this movie — roll credits. You know that you aren’t entitled to the overhead storage space above your seat. You also know the onus isn’t on the flight attendants (of course, the life jackets take priority over my carry-on). Further, no is to be blamed for the fact that travelers are carrying on more than ever thanks to the last few year of hell that was checking, and often losing, a bag. Rather, the issue is that most aircraft are still fitted with storage bins that weren’t designed with the modern day carry-on roller suitcase in mind.
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But that, more than anything else, begs the question: How is this still an issue in the year 2023? Am I to believe that some aircraft manufacturers are accounting for amenities like bunk beds in newer models, but a more practical approach to overhead storage bins is still out of reach?
According to CNN, my prayers may soon be answered thanks to French aircraft maker Airbus’s new “Airspace L Bins.” Described as “specially shaped overhead compartments,” the new bins (sized 61 centimeters x 38 centimeters x 25 centimeters) “promise to create 60% more cabin luggage space by allowing travelers to load their carry-on roller bags vertically instead of having to lay them flat.” The best part? They’re designed to be retrofitted in just three to five days, meaning airlines could begin installing them almost immediately. The even better news there is that, per CNN, at least one airline is already on board. German flag carrier Lufthansa has already agreed to start retrofitting 38 A320 aircraft with the new Airspace L Bins starting in 2025.
All of that said, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, U.S. airlines earned more than $6.7 billion in baggage fee revenue in 2022. In other words: it wouldn’t be a total surprise if many of them still opted out.
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