If you choose to check your bags, Alaska Airlines guarantees you’ll get in in 20 minutes or less — and promises a choice between a $25 voucher or 2,500 Mileage Plan miles (worth about $50) if it’s late. But I still choose to carry on my bag on almost every flight, even when I have a dozen excuses to get the fee waived, like a long-haul international journey in first class with top-tier elite status. I just hate the thought that I might lose my bag, and I hate even more the thought that I will lose time waiting at the conveyer belt. The time adds up over a lot of flights and the “convenience” will only encourage me to overpack.
The rise of checked baggage fees, however, means more people are carrying on like me. Competition for overhead space is stiff. While I would love to saunter in as the last person to board, I need to be first not for the sake of my ego but to ensure I get a spot for my bag that’s reasonably close to my seat. Add to this the fact Alaska likes to get people on its planes so early they’re often calling my name at the podium when I show up at the scheduled boarding time.
So I suppose I should be grateful that Boeing is introducing what it calls “Space Bins” that are 48% larger than average overhead bins and can — in theory — let you stack six carry-on bags in each on on their sides. Alaska Airlines will be their first launch partner.
Most bins today only store about three bags, and that’s if put the wheels out and meet all the other size requirements. (For a long time Megan used to have a bag that was slightly too large on certain planes, and so we had to be careful about the aircraft type when we flew United.) I say “in theory” because even today most people don’t know how to stow a bag. I see them just toss stuff up there all the time, and even when it is clearly small enough they nonetheless turn it lengthwise to take up the maximum space, inconveniencing everyone else.
So we’ll see how well the new bins work out. Will people turn their bags on their sides? Will they even have appropriately sized bags that can be turned on their sides? Will the bins be too difficult to open and push up (rather than flipping down the simple door that current bins have)? There’s a comment in the Alaska Airlines blog post that says flight attendants prefer these new Space Bins over the Sky Interior bins, so that’s as good a sign as any until we see them in action.