Yesterday I wrote Tips to Avoid Gate Checking Your bag.
Some of those tips were controversial.
This, especially, drew fire:
Once on the plane, take any space you can find don’t wait until you get all the way to your seat if you’re in the back of the cabin. You might get glares, but there may be room in the first class bins and that carries the added benefit of your not having to schlep the bag all the way to the back and also that it’s already near the front of the plane when you’re ready to disembark.
I hate it when I just make it into my business or class seat when connecting from another flight, only to find that the overhead bins are full from cattle class flyers taking it. I think your next to last advice is very selfish. I am surprised by it, as you usually fly business or first and would like your bin space, too.
No. Y pax should not stow bags in F, ever, unless the FA expressly directs them to do so.
Bear with me though. In the post I was talking about when the plane is mostly fully boarded and you’re one of the last to board just trying to find a space to put your bag overhead. I wasn’t meaening to suggest, heading back to your coach seat in the middle of the boarding process when there’s still overhead space left, that you just take up bin space at the front of the cabin. All things equal I’d prefer to have my carryons near me in any case.
That said, I think this raises an interesting question and I’m not sure I know the answer to it.
Whose bin space is it anyway?
Each passenger is entitled (Spirit notwithstanding) to one carry on bag and one personal item. The personal item is supposed to go underneath your seat (that’s your “primary storage area”).
That suggests that you should be able to put your carry on (that fits within proper dimensions) into an overhead bin. And in practice, it just means that your boarding pass is a ‘license to hunt’ not an entitlement to specific bin space. After all, if each passenger had designated bin space there wouldn’t be an issue of gate checking at all.
There’s not enough bin space to go around on most aircraft if the plane is full and everyone brings on a bag. Therefore no one is entitled to specific bin space.
But are they entitled to hunt in a specific area? Is it a violation of a rule, or an unwritten norm, to hunt in another area?
Is the space above your row — and only your row — yours? It generally overlaps with other rows, and it isn’t big enough.
Is it ok to use the bin in front of or behind that one? What about the bin on the opposite side of the aisle?
Is it ok to use the first bin you find in your ticketed cabin?
I’d argue that it’s probably not ok to take the bin above a bulkhead row if you aren’t seated in the bulkhead, because whomever is in those seats doesn’t have floor storage space and has to stow not just a carry on but also their personal item up there as well.
If there are unwritten rules, how do passengers know them? Especially infrequent flyers? And if infrequent flyers aren’t going to follow those norms, are they actually norms at all — ones you’re supposed to follow but they won’t — doesn’t that put you at a disadvantage?
Is overhead bin space a war of all against all?
In some sense the real problem here is that in a world of (1) full flights and (2) checked bag fees there are a lot more rollaboards being carried onto the plane than ever before — even compared to 14 years ago when you used to be allowed to bring on two, not just one. And since the space on most aircraft hasn’t grown to accommodate this, there’s too many bags chasing too little space.
And my primary advice, of course, was to strategize to ensure you aren’t one of the last passengers to board a mostly full flight.
But I’m genuinely interested in what people think on this — what bin space is a passenger entitled to use, and what empty space should a passenger not take (going so far as to gate check their bag rather than use it)?
At what point during the boarding process does this change — if you’re in the last minutes of boarding can you take any space at all, even if it would violate the norms during the beginning or middle of boarding?