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Bag storage in overhead bins on planes

I read this article today from the Travel: By the Way section of the Washington Post and wanted to share it, if possible. It seemed like the Packing forum would be the best place.

I'm a person who checks any bag rarely and only when I have to and who feels that if I can't manage my luggage on my own, I shouldn't be traveling. I never ask for help from anyone, but (there's always a but) I'll admit that I have accepted assistance in putting my international carry-on (which never weighs over 20 pounds) in the overhead bin on a plane. As my hair has gotten grayer and my face more wrinkled, the offers have all come from men who were young enough to be my son or grandson. Thanks to all those guys.

I would never ask a flight attendant for assistance for all the reasons listed in this article. This is the first time I've ever shared a WP article this way. I hope it works. 🤞

"Don’t get angry when flight attendants won’t lift your bag for you."

Posted by
8083 posts

Thanks Lo, yes I could read it.

I dont mind helping unless I see the person is abusing the size and number of bags rules. Then I demur. But I thought part of the issue is that the cabin crew isn't on the clock until the doors are shut, with the recent exception of Delta. Unless, maybe they see it is in their personal interest to get that door closed by getting people seated.

I am heading in the opposite direction and leaning towards always checking a bag, and only carrying on a bag that will fit under the seat. It was really freeing to do that on a recent trip to the Caribbean, and I dont have anything in the checked bag I cant live without or replace.

Posted by
3658 posts

This was an eye opening good point made in the article:

In addition to the economic and health risks for a flight attendant,
an injury could force the delay or cancellation of a flight, she said.

My only wish is that if the flight attendants aren't going to monitor the overhead bins then the check-in staff be more vigilant in monitoring the rules.

Posted by
4418 posts

For which I am always grateful, I get zone 3 for loading so, always have space for my overhead. However I am going in to separate directions. If a longer flight with a transfer and free checked baggage, I am starting to check it even if carry on size. Manoeuvering luggage through a km of corridors or train transfers between terminals is taking its toll on me. In the other direction, I am aiming to use under seat luggage only..if a simple flight of short duration.
I am 5 ft 8 so despite my white hair, I don't get many offers of help, and you can bet I raise eyebrows is some short woman looks at me expecting me to lift her stuff. Yes, it has happened more than once despite them being sometimes decades younger. I am part of the 'be responsible for your own stuff' team.
I also note that there are plenty of FAs on the more diminutive side. Some have to even stand on seats to close overhead hatches. They get enough of a workout without increasing injury risks helping travelers.

Posted by
3658 posts

I am part of the 'be responsible for your own stuff' team.

I want to emphatically agree with you but I have a 5'0" wife so have a soft spot for the vertically challenged. But like Stan, I'll help if a person needs it and isn't abusing the rules; 5'8" white haired women included.

Posted by
6203 posts

I’m surprised; I thought it was already airline policy across all airlines that flight attendants do not pick up travelers’ bags because of risk of injury from the potential weight or the repetitive twisting movement.

Posted by
4019 posts

Me too, Jean. I was surprised, although I probably shouldn't have been, that there was so much variety among the airlines about this.

I'm also 5'8" tall and have helped other shorter solo women with putting their bags in the bins for years. I always get an aisle seat and even at 76 last trip, I found myself adjusting the bags in the bin over my head to make more room by turning ones that were snoozing on their backs lengthwise to being side sleepers with their wheels at the back. If they don't fit that way, you know they shouldn't have been carried on.

Posted by
2720 posts

I’ll help people put up their smaller bags, jackets, etc.; but I’m not lifting a heavy bag up for them.
They packed it, they can lift it.
However , I will adjust the bags already up there if they are not “Side-sleepers”, in order to make room for others.
I checked my carryon coming home in April from Sicily… was nice not to have to schlepp it through Munich airport.

Posted by
1492 posts

Allan--I agree, the check in staff needs to be more vigilant, but people also need to play by the rules. I do and almost always do carryon, but I can manage it myself. I am like your wife though, and at 5' 1", sometimes it is tough, but I never ask for help. Often times people will offer to help and the only time I take them up on it is if it will make the line move faster. There was one flight that I could not reach the bin no matter what, but thankfully my husband was with me. Several other people around us were having the same issue.

Posted by
4528 posts

My sister-in-law is a long time flight attendant and she goes off about the people (both women and men) who bring heavy bags on board because they don't want to check them, then expect the flight attendants to help get them in the overhead bins. And when she politely refuses (citing Delta's policy) they get angry with her.

Just check the bag, and if you don't want to check it, lift it up above your head after packing it to make sure you can lift it later.

Posted by
557 posts

I am with you, Mardee. Check your bag. I have to stand and wait while the carryon people try and figure where to put their bags. Reverse when landing. They are the gate lice who crowd the boarding before their time because they are afraid of not getting room for their bag. I do not help lift anyone’s bag.
Even if flight attendants do not lift bags they have to run around turning the idiot sideways bags and help people find a bin. And those who manage to get their own bags into the overhead, remember it is overhead. And I am sitting there in the aisle seat and have to contend with this large bag going over my head you bobbling or dropping it.
Airlines should charge for carryons.

Posted by
2074 posts

I check my bag almost always on domestic flights and return international flights. I can usually manage if it isn’t there on arrival and I have to wait for it to catch up to me. That way those who need the space can have mine. I do carry- on internationally if I’m staying in my arrival city for less than 3/4 days. I’m short and getting shorter and last year I really struggled to get my carry-on into the bin on British Airways. For some reason, the angle when the door is down hits me wrong. I ended up having to stand on the seat to get leverage. I’ll see if I can do better on the upcoming trip.

Posted by
2720 posts

Very slight deviation……why do some overhead bins have lift-up doors, and others have pull-down doors??
I expect it’s the different types of aircraft, but some can be quite difficult to use.

Posted by
12718 posts

Currently in SLC waiting for my last leg home after my London to SEA flight was cancelled this morning. As I boarded and looked at the bin over my seat I saw it filled with FA gear. A man 2 seats in front of me stepped back, said let me help you and popped it up in another bin before I could say “I can do it”. On arrival, the man who’s seat my bag was over (he had plenty of room for his stuff) got it down when my back was turned. I flew Delta One and I am always shocked at how nice in the extreme the male passengers are. I CAN lift my bag up myself but I’m not going to wrestle someone over it!

Posted by
468 posts

I'm 5'7" my partner's 6' - but he's 10 years older than me and has heart issues which means sometimes he has trouble lifting things above his heart. As a feminist I rather like that I can do all our bags - plus as a woman I'm much better at getting them to fit!

What stuns me is that people will happily put hats and jackets in a bin and then get upset when they get moved so people can put actual bags in!

Posted by
4019 posts

Glad you brought this up, Lissie: "What stuns me is that people will happily put hats and jackets in a bin and then get upset when they get moved so people can put actual bags in!"

It's one of the things I've noticed in my bin organization efforts. I thought we weren't supposed to put loose jackets and hats in the bins because they take up space that's supposed to be for real carry-on bags. I guess some people don't know that, don't care or think they deserve the extra space for some reason.

Something else I've seen is humongous backpacks that somehow sneaked through the boarding gate. These are not the ones often discussed here that are the typical 22x14x9 or smaller size but rather the much larger ones with all kinds of bells and whistles and nothing secured together to make them a neat package.

Then there was the couple I saw in some airport within the last 5 years that I thought might have time traveled from the 60's. I hadn't seen anyone that disorganized and disheveled since then. They were wearing very few clothes and were covering themselves with blankets. They had multiple large tote bags for their clutter. I was flabbergasted that they made it through TSA. I couldn't imagine that they would be allowed on any plane. Did they think the one carry-on and one personal item didn’t apply to them? Then I laughed at myself when it occurred to me that the answer to that question might be yes and that they might be somebody's rich kids who would be flying way up front. 🥴

Posted by
3988 posts

At 5'5" I really appreciate help with my carryon(not heavy) on international flights where the bins are higher. I'm ok on domestic.

Posted by
49 posts

I've been carrying what is actually a carryon, but I always check it. I'm 5'1". I just can't lift the bag. (I also need a personal item which is a backpack (usually use an REI 25 L Trail). I stopped trying to carry on after one really bad experience with it and two times I had to check it anyway. I was unable to reach the carry on and no one was willing to help me. Finally some taller person did help, but I was afraid it would just sit up there. The flight attendants won't and it's not their job anyway. I'm too short to ever reach it. So I check. In the US I take Southwest mostly which is one free bag. Not sure I am taking Luftansa, and I'm thinking I'll have to pay for it, but oh well I have to pay. I am letting them plan the whole flight because there are no European international flights out of Albuquerque. That way though I have one airlines responsible.