Any flight attendant can tell you that one of the most stressful parts of their job is the boarding process, and specifically dealing with the mountains of baggage that passengers feel the need to bring with them.
Addressing individual airline hand luggage policies is a whole other debate, but people want to bring hand luggage onboard, and some carriers are willing to cater to their desires… after all, it sells tickets.
Thankfully, aircraft manufacturers have been busy designing supersized overhead lockers that can swallow up huge amounts of hand luggage… if they are used correctly.
The Boeing 787 Dreamliner was the first widebody aircraft to feature larger overhead lockers, while Airbus has responded with even bigger overhead lockers on its A350 (so spacious that flight attendants have raised serious concerns about closing them without injuring their backs).
Popular short-haul aircraft are also now being manufactured with supersized lockers like that XL Locker that can be found on Airbus A320s. Even older aircraft can be retrofitted with larger bins.
Lufthansa and Spanish flag carrier Iberia will soon start retrofitting with overhead bins that can fit up to 60% more luggage than older style bins.
I say ‘up to’ because it all depends on how passengers load their luggage into the bins. In older bins, you nearly always had to load your bag flat into the locker, but with the latest generation of overhead bins, baggage is loaded sideways (just like in the main photo above).
This is the case on the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, Airbus A350, and Airbus A320 series aircraft, as well as the Space Bins that feature on Boeing 737s.
So it’s not like this style of overhead bin is in short supply. They’ve been around for a good few years now and are pretty ubiquitous.
So why, then, do passengers struggle to load their luggage correctly? Most of these supersized bins even feature supersized pictorial instructions showing exactly how luggage is meant to be loaded.
I know that old habits are hard to break, but please, for the mental health of all flight attendants out there, please load your luggage correctly.
Now, I understand that not everyone brings on perfectly sized rollaboards… luggage comes in all shapes and sizes no matter what the luggage sizer at the gate claims. This way of loading hand luggage does require some compromises.
Sadly, there isn’t room for your Canada Goose jacket to take up the entire overhead bin. And, unfortunately, your Louis Vuitton luggage might also have to share an overhead bin with other luggage as well… this is mass transit, after all.
The perfect scenario for airlines is as follows: One big bag slides into the locker on its side, a smaller bag goes under the seat in front and jackets are worn on laps or sat on. Everything else goes into the locker at the end of boarding.
Easier said than done, I know, but this is just a friendly PSA, and something approximately resembling this will make boarding a plane a lot quicker and mean everyone has room for their hand luggage
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.