In the long list of grievances travelers have against airlines, scrambling to claim overhead luggage space during boarding arguably rivals the misery of cramped seating and crying babies during the flight.
Boeing has a solution: a redesigned overhead bin on its new 737 planes that enables 50% more baggage storage than current models. The new design, termed the “Space Bin,” will fit six standard-sized bags, rather than the four that fit in its bins currently, according to an April 14 statement by the company.
The key innovation is making the bins tall enough so that bags can be inserted on their sides, rather than flat. Boeing said that the lip of the bins will also descend lower, making the aisle-to-bin hoist easier on travelers. While current 737 models can fit 90 to 132 overhead bags, 737s outfitted with Space Bins will fit between 130 and 194.
US airlines have raked in billions of dollars in recent years by charging fees for checked bags and other services that were once free. That has led many passengers to haul more luggage onto the aircraft, which clogs up overhead bins and seating space and adds to delays.
So incensed by this trend was one travel journalist that he started a Twitter campaign to shame carry-on baggage hoarders.
Although baggage fees have boosted airline profits, they still only account for a fraction of overall earnings for US airlines, according to the latest data from the US Department of Transportation. Charging for checked bags is also less lucrative than what airlines can make off carrying cargo.
Meanwhile, airlines risk losing money as passengers scramble for limited carry-on space. Every minute of delay can cost an airline $76, and delays cost US airlines a total of $8 billion in 2013, according to a report by Airlines for America, an airline trade association. Larger, more user-friendly bins aim to shorten the boarding process. ”Airlines can expect quicker boarding and turnaround time at the gate,” Boeing said in its press release. Alaska and Delta Airlines are already sold on the concept.
Boeing has also released a video that shows six suitcases fitting into the new bins.