The Spanish flag carrier Iberia has become the second-only airline to select a new type of overhead bin that promises to ease hand luggage woes with the ability to swallow 60% more baggage compared to the standard bins that are currently fitted on the majority of Iberia’s single-aisle Airbus A320 fleet.
Iberia signed the deal last month with aircraft manufacturer Airbus, who have developed a new overhead bin design that can be retrofitted on older aircraft but with significant cost savings and with minimum downtime compared to many other designs.
The airline is already taking delivery of brand new A320-series aircraft that come factory fitted with Airbus’ so-called XL bin which allows all passengers to bring a large piece of hand luggage onboard, but retrofitting this bin on older aircraft is a costly and time-consuming process.
That’s why Airbus created the Large Bin or ‘L bin’ which uses 30% fewer parts in the retrofit process compared to the XL bin by reusing much of the existing cabin parts.
The end result, however, is the same. Although the dimensions of the L bin are slightly smaller than the XL bin, it can still fit eight large carryons items per bin – three more than the older version of overhead bin found on the majority of Iberia’s fleet.
Iberia intends to start the retrofit process in early 2025, as planes are required to go into the hangar for standard maintenance. Each retrofit shouldn’t take any longer than 3 to 5 days.
Although costly, Iberia can clearly see the benefits as they try to differentiate their passenger experience from low-cost carriers that increasingly heavily restrict how much hand luggage passengers can bring onboard in order to reduce boarding delays and maintain on-time performance.
Iberia is already one of the most punctual airlines in Europe, but the Madrid-based carrier hopes to reduce boarding times while also easing one of the most stressful parts of flying for many passengers – making sure their hand luggage isn’t gate-checked because of a lack of room in the overhead lockers.
Unlike other retrofit options, the L bin uses significantly fewer parts that could break and don’t require cabin crew to push shut weight-laden bins.
“The L Bins are a game changer, enhancing passengers’ experience and streamlining cabin crew workflow,” commented Charbel Youzkatli, Airbus’ head of commercial services for Europe.
“We are very happy to see the L Bin being part of Iberia’s unwavering quest of excellence and punctuality,” Youzkatli continued.
Despite the obvious benefits of the L bin, the only other airline to have so far chosen this retrofit option is Lufthansa, which will also start fitting the new bins in 2025.
Lufthansa is only going to retrofit less than 30% of its older Airbus A320 fleet with the new bins, although Iberia hasn’t confirmed how many aircraft it plans to fit out with the ‘game changer’ bins.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.