Airlines Announce Increased Overhead Bin Space – A Good Idea?
American, Delta, and United Airlines announced this past week that they be “upgrading” their overhead bin space, in order to accommodate more luggage. In this tug-of-war over passenger fees, the airlines’ checked baggage fees have resulted in customers pulling back by carrying more and more of their luggage on to the plane with them.
According to an article by USA Today, Boeing’s new 787 aircraft have been built to accommodate today’s standard 9 x 14 x 22″ roller boards, wheels first, as opposed to sideways.
American Airlines 737 aircraft are being updated with the over-sized bins, and the newer versions of the aircraft will feature room for 48 more overhead bags. Delta is adding larger overhead compartments on their 767 aircraft, specifically the internationally-configured ones to hold 26 more pieces of luggage. And United will feature larger storage bins on their Airbus A320s to accommodate 120 roller bags, up from just 64.
Since I heard first heard this news, I have remained skeptical of the idea on two accounts. Of course, I feel I should mention that this is an issue that doesn’t really effect me since I can usually stow my computer bag under the seat in front of me.
First, from a structural standpoint how much more weight can planes take on? I know just enough about the weight and balance issue to know that it is a precarious matter, and that they have been known to play musical chairs to even it out, and even sometimes dump fuel. If an aircraft has just 30 more pieces of luggage on board, at 30 pounds a pop, that is nearly 900 pounds of extra weight.
Also, there is the issue of the amount of time required to board a plane. It seems as if this would encourage more people to carry on luggage, thus increasing the time to plane and de-plane with all of the added luggage. Maybe gate-checked bags would offset that, but there it is quite reasonable to expect folks to desire to travel with their carry-ons with them.
And airlines have been reported to crack down on passengers carrying oversized baggage. They prominently announce weight limits for carry-ons, though I personally have never seen these rules enforced.
Maybe next time I fly I will carry around a bag of bricks to see if they try and stop me:! )